For many of you this will be the first time in a research lab and for others it will not, but it is our goal to make this class a useful and fun introduction to experiments and techniques in biological engineering. There is not time enough to show you everything you’ll need to know if you go on to do research, but after taking this class you should feel confident and familiar with some fundamental experimental approaches and lab protocols. You will develop good habits at the bench, ones that will increase the likelihood of success in your work and ensure the health and safety of you and those around you. By the end of the semester, you should also be aware of good scientific practice, having had some experience with report writing, notebook keeping and publicly presenting your data. All of us involved in teaching 20.109 hope you will find it a satisfying challenge and an exciting experience that has lasting value.
Course Meeting Times
Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1 hour / session
Labs: 2 sessions / week, 4 hours / session
How 20.109 Varies from Term to Term
20.109 is offered twice per year in the fall and spring semesters, with rotating instructor responsibilities. Reflecting the instructors’ specific expertise and the evolving biological engineering field, the topics covered will change over time. The fall term focus, led by Natalie Kuldell, reflects her molecular genetics, microbiology, and synthetic biology expertise. The spring term focus reflects Agi Stachowiak’s biomaterial and tissue engineering background.
Layout of the Class: Labs and Assignments
You will perform three series of experiments (called ‘modules’) over the course of the semester. The modules differ in length and in the ways you will be assessed. The experiments and major assignments are:
|Oral presentation plus written text
You will be working as pairs throughout the semester, but you will submit individual lab reports and give individual oral presentations.
In addition to the module assignments listed above, there are several other forms of required coursework.
Each student will give an oral presentation on a paper associated with either Module 1 or Module 2.
Daily Lab Quizzes
These are intended to refresh your memory about the experiment you are performing. They will not be hard and should take no more than 5 minutes at the beginning of lab. [These quizzes are not provided in this OCW site .]
These will vary considerably in content and points associated with each assignment. You may be asked to perform a calculation, draw a conclusion, and/or make a figure using the data you have collected. The homeworks can be found in the “for next time” section of each lab day. You can work with your lab partner, friends and teaching assistants on these assignments but you will hand in individual assignments.
You will record your data on the white pages of a bound notebook. The yellow, duplicate pages will be collected and evaluated by the teaching assistants. Be sure you follow the guidelines for lab notebooks. Late work will be penalized 1/3 of a letter grade for each day late and will not be accepted after a week.
Since 20.109 is a lab class, we think the students, TAs and instructors would benefit from having a shared space in which to discuss experimental protocols and results. By putting all course materials on the 20.109 (Fall 2007) OpenWetWare Wiki , they can be updated and improved instantly by everyone (not just the instructors).
Lab attendance is mandatory and there are no make-up labs. A family crisis or severe illness requiring attention from the infirmary and prohibiting you from all your coursework are acceptable reasons for missing lab and every effort will be made to accommodate you in these exceptional circumstances.
|Genome engineering assignment
|Expression engineering assignment
|Biomaterial engineering assignment
|Journal club oral presentation
|Daily lab quizzes
Each class session in the following calendar actually consists of a 1 hour lecture and a 4 hour lab.
|Module 1: Genome engineering
|Start-up genome engineering
|Agarose gel electrophoresis
|DNA ligation and bacterial transformation
|Examine candidate clones
Lecture on oral presentations
Lecture on environmental health and safety
|First draft of genome engineering portfolio parts 1, 2, and 4 only is due before you arrive in lab
|First draft of genome engineering portfolio part 3 only is due before you arrive in lab
|Module 2: Expression engineering
|siRNA design and start-up in cell culture
|Luciferase assays and RNA prep
Journal article discussion
Lecture on written reports and scientific writing
|cDNA synthesis and microarray
|Microarray data analysis
|Lecture on high throughput technologies; no lab
|First draft of expression engineering report is due by 5 PM on the day you meet for lab
|Module 3: Biomaterials engineering
|Growth of phage materials
|Phage by design, part 1
|Phage by design, part 2
|End of term celebration