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Confocal microscopy

Capstone Experience in Microbiology

Table of Contents

Overview

Note: All classes within the Microbiology Capstone require the signature of the instructor before enrollment.

This capstone experience was designed to foster your ability to integrate information, ideas and concepts from earlier courses, to apply them to current research and to communicate your findings both in written form and in a formal presentation/discussion format involving other students. Microbiology Capstone Experience is a combination of two senior-level microbiology courses for a total of three credit hours:

  • The first course is the Research Component. It is selected by the student and consists of at least two credit hours of one of the following:
    • Research Problems (MBI 440.C) - library research in conjunction with a faculty mentor.
    • Independent Studies (MBI 477.C) - laboratory research in conjunction with a faculty mentor.
    • Departmental Honors (MBI 480.C) - laboratory or library research in conjunction with a faculty mentor, but open only to students with a GPA of 3.5 or higher.
  • The second course is the Seminar Component, one credit hour of Undergraduate Seminar (MBI 490) which continues the theme of independent learning, combined with reflection, critical thinking, engaging other learners in a format that includes presentation and discussion.

For the Research Component of your Microbiology Capstone Experience you will pursue independent study in conjunction with a faculty mentor. As you begin your research, you will choose a faculty mentor whose research area you find interesting. With your mentor's help, you will choose a topic that is within her/his field of expertise, but uniquely yours. Although it is your responsibility to carry out your research project, you will do it under close supervision of your faculty mentor. Typically, you will meet at least once a week with him/her to review your progress.

  • If you are doing library research (MBI 440.C or 480.C), you will choose a topic, conduct extensive literature review, discuss your findings with your mentor and write an analytical paper based on what you have learned. 
  • If you are doing laboratory research (MBI 477.C or 480.C), you will generate a proposal based on literature review and discussions with your mentor. You will then perform the proposed research in your mentor's laboratory and submit a written report based on your findings.

Pursuing independent research in-depth promotes integration of knowledge, ideas and concepts from earlier experiences with new information for synthesis of new concepts and ideas. It provides opportunities for you to build on your previous course work, and should help focus your attention on social responsibilities and ramifications of scientific research. Thus, it will foster your development of a better understanding of microbiology and its relationship to other topics of social significance. Further, you will recognize that most scientific issues can be viewed from a variety of important perspectives and become better able to distinguish between evidence and emotional rhetoric. You will keep a journal that recounts your notes, thoughts and ideas pertaining to your literature review and research experiences, and you will submit a written project report to your faculty mentor at the end of the research component of your capstone experience. To allow time for adequate reflection on the outcome of the research component and to put it into social as well as scientific perspective, you are encouraged to complete the research component of your capstone before you enroll in the seminar component.


For the Seminar Component of your Microbiology Capstone Experience, you will enroll in:

  • Undergraduate Seminar (MBI 490)

which continues the theme of independent learning, combined with engaging other learners in a format that requires individual oral presentations and encourages discussion. This component will provide you with experience in public speaking, which will foster development of your ability to communicate orally. Because you will answer questions asked during your presentation, you will also improve your ability to think on your feet in a public forum. It will also engage everyone in your seminar group in open discussions, with dissenting opinions, concerning how data support or refute positions on current scientific issues and on the social ramifications of those positions. Further, it will provide you with experience in effective analysis of oral communication when you analyze a scientist's presentation of her/his research in a forum outside this class.


In summary, the Microbiology Capstone Experience blends laboratory research and/or literature review, discussions with a faculty mentor, writing a formal report and giving an individual oral presentation. It will foster development of your:

  • responsibility to carry out your own research;
  • ability to integrate and synthesize information from diverse areas;
  • capacity to share your ideas for critical review, evaluation and recognition;
  • potential for reflection, leading to thoughtful decisions and informed action based on ethical understanding and personal moral commitment.

Library Component of Microbiology Capstone Experience

Library Component Courses


Library Component Objectives

These courses were designed to allow you to pursue independent library research on a microbiology topic in conjunction with a faculty mentor. By extensively reviewing the literature on your topic, you will learn how to determine the state of the art in a scientific field. By keeping a journal of your research notes, experiences, ideas and thoughts about what you are doing, you will learn how to analyze your experiences and incorporate them into your world view. By writing your research paper, you will learn how to interpret and present scientific findings and conclusions. This combination of activities promotes integration of knowledge, ideas and concepts from earlier courses with new information that is used for synthesis of new concepts and ideas, and is intended to foster development of a better understanding of microbiology and its relationship to other topics of social significance.


Library Component Requirements

  • Choose a faculty mentor and an appropriate research topic (that will provoke discussion as well as necessitating reading of and familiarization with background literature and issues).
  • Begin your journal (summarizes and analyzes your thoughts and those of others, including notes pertaining to your literature review and research experiences).
  • Perform a preliminary literature search.
  • Discuss your progress with your faculty mentor (at least on a weekly basis).
  • Generate an outline of the major sections of the paper to be written.
  • Perform an extensive literature search for each section (so you come to understand the basic arguments underlying a currently debated scientific concept, idea or policy in detail).
  • Generate an outline of the main considerations of each section.
  • Write each section (in an analytical manner that will foster better understanding of the microbiology involved and its relationship to other topics of social significance).
  • Write appropriate Introduction and Conclusion sections.
  • Integrate all sections and submit your ~20-page (double-spaced) paper to your faculty mentor. (In this paper, you will be expected to critically evaluate your work, including discussing strengths and potential limitations of your research methods, and socioeconomic, moral and ethical issues related to your topic in addition to evaluating and discussing your library research findings.)

Library Component Evaluation

Your course grade will be based on your performance of the activities listed above.

  • Twenty percent of your grade will be determined by the quality of your library research and your preparation (outlines, etc.) for your weekly interactions with your mentor.
  • Twenty percent of your grade will be determined by the quality of entries of your journal, especially entries that demonstrate development of new insights about social implications as well as moral and ethical issues related to your topic.
  • Sixty percent of your grade will be determined by the scientific quality of your research paper, with emphasis on its analytical aspects.

Laboratory Component of Microbiology Capstone Experience

Laboratory Component Courses


Laboratory Component Objectives

These courses were designed to allow you to pursue independent laboratory research on a microbiology topic in conjunction with a faculty mentor. By writing a research proposal, you will learn how to determine and describe the state of the art of your research area, develop a hypothesis and generate specific aims to serve as foci for designing experiments to answer scientific questions about your research topic. By learning the techniques needed to carry out your research project, you will expand your horizons and develop scientific expertise. By keeping a journal of your research notes, experiences, ideas and thoughts about what you are doing, you will learn how to analyze your experiences and incorporate them into your world view. By performing your experiments and writing your research report, you will learn how to generate, interpret and present research results. This combination of activities promotes integration of knowledge, ideas and concepts from earlier courses with new information that is used for synthesis of new concepts and ideas, and is intended to foster development of a better understanding of microbiology and its relationship to other topics of social significance.


Laboratory Component Requirements

  • Choose a faculty mentor and an appropriate research topic
  • Begin your journal (summarizes and analyzes your thoughts and those of others, including notes pertaining to your literature review and research experiences)
  • Perform a preliminary literature search
  • Discuss your progress with your faculty mentor (at least on a weekly basis)
  • Generate an outline of the proposed research, including a statement of the problem (hypothesis) and specific aims of the research project
  • Perform an extensive literature search (to foster your ability to reflect on details relating to an important, controversial topic in your field, and so you come to understand the basic arguments underlying a currently debated scientific concept in detail)
  • Outline and write the experimental plan for each specific aim
  • Submit your research proposal to your faculty mentor
  • Conduct your proposed research (including ordering materials and developing appropriate methods to accomplish your stated specific aims)
  • Describe (Figures, Tables, text) and interpret your results
  • Write appropriate Introduction, Materials and Methods, and Discussion sections
  • Integrate all sections and submit final research report to faculty mentor (In this report, you will be expected to critically evaluate your work, including discussing strengths and potential limitations of your research methods, and socioeconomic, moral and ethical issues related to your topic in addition to evaluating and discussing your laboratory research findings.)

Laboratory Component Evaluation

Your course grade will be based on your performance of the activities listed above.

  • Forty percent of your grade will be determined by the quality of your research and your preparation (outlines, etc.) for weekly interactions with your mentor.
  • Twenty percent of your grade will be determined by the quality of entries of your journal, especially entries that demonstrate development of new insights concerning social implications as well as moral and ethical issues related to your topic.
  • Forty percent of your grade will be determined by the scientific quality of your final research report, with emphasis on its analytical aspects.

Note: Departmental Honors (MBI 480.C) is open only
to students with a GPA of 3.5 or higher.


Seminar Component Microbiology Capstone Experience

Seminar Component Course

  • Undergraduate Seminar (MBI 490)

Seminar Component Objectives

Oral presentation is one of the most important means of communication used by scientists to present and share their results and ideas. By presenting a seminar and becoming involved in the presentations made by other students in your class, you will learn how to prepare, deliver, participate in, interpret and critically evaluate scientific seminars. In addition, you will learn a great deal of new microbiology, because you will be discussing a number of research projects that have come to fruition during the past year. Throughout the preparation and presentation of your seminar, and your participation in the seminars of your classmates, you will be expected to reflect on the socioeconomic, moral and ethical implications of the research, to consider and evaluate strengths and potential limitations of the methods used and to critically evaluate your work as well as that of others. You will be strongly encouraged to integrate this information into the "world model" you are generating as a result of your exposure to new concepts and ideas in your courses and in your other life experiences. Successful completion of this course will require you to accomplish four basic goals of a liberal education: thinking critically, understanding contexts, engaging with other learners, and reflecting and acting.


Seminar Component Requirements

As the semester progresses, each student in this course will deliver a seminar during class time. Seminars will be based on results of original scientific research in microbiology, and will consist of a 30-35 minute oral presentation followed by a 10-15 minute discussion period. The source of the information upon which your seminar is based depends on your prior experience. Those who have conducted independent research (either laboratory-based or library-based) will present the results of their research. Those who have not conducted research of their own will present a paper that has been published by someone else in the professional literature of microbiology during the past year. In your seminar, you will be expected to critically evaluate your work, including discussing strengths and potential limitations of your research methods, and discussing socioeconomic, moral and ethical issues related to your research topic as integrated features of your presentation. You are expected to attend each presentation, to actively participate in the discussions and to serve as a peer evaluator for each speaker. In addition, you must attend one seminar outside class and provide a written critique of that presentation (for content, style, manner of presentation, etc.)


Seminar Component Evaluation

Your grade in this course will be based on a combination of factors.

10% preparation, 10% participation and evaluation, 10% journal, 70% presentation

  • 10% - Preparation of your seminar, with special consideration of:
    • visual aids generation and use
    • practice session performance
  • 10% - Participation and evaluation of seminars, including:
    • attendance at every class session
    • asking questions or making substantive comments at seminars presented by your peers
    • evaluation of:
      • all seminars given in this class
      • one seminar given outside this class
  • 10% - Preparation of a journal that chronicles your thoughts and experiences as you participate in this course and develop your seminar presentation
  • 70% - Presentation of your seminar ... based on:
    • content and organization
    • manner and style of presentation
    • use of visual aids
    • clarity of expression
    • evaluation of strengths and potential limitations of methods
    • consideration of socioeconomic, moral and ethical ramifications
    • responses to questions

Seminar Component Schedule

  • Weeks 1-3: Organizational and Informational Meetings
  • Weeks 4-15: Student Presentations and Discussion (one student per week)

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This document was last modified on: Tuesday, November 23, 2010 at 16:53:53