Lecturing Faculty: John Goss and Louise Darling
Laboratory Instructors: Melissa Beers, John Goss and Louise Darling
Study Group Leader/Course Peer Mentor:
Lab: Monday 1:30-5; Tuesday 12:30-4; Thursday 1-4:30; Friday 1-4:30
Welcome to BISC 220!
Over the course of the semester, you will perform experiments that use three model organisms: the bacterium, E. coli, the budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and mammalian cell lines. Your experiments will explore protein structure, the secretory pathway, and apoptosis and will use some of the most important techniques in cellular and molecular biology.
The success of your experiments is largely in your own hands. Please read through the entire set of experiments before beginning a lab series. Then, read again, carefully, the portion to be done in lab that day before starting your work. Try to avoid the “hands-on, brain-off” pitfall common to lab students; instead, think as well as do. Be aware of what is actually happening in your tube during each step of a protocol. Know where you are in the stepwise progression toward answering your experimental questions as you complete each part of an experiment or series. Success in these labs depends on paying meticulous attention to detail and on following instructions precisely. It is equally important to understand the conceptual basis of your experimental design and its goals. By doing all this, you will eventually see the results of your hard work: you will have modeled the way science is done by professional scientists.
Many of the reagents used in these experiments are expensive, and they require many hours of preparation "behind the scences" by faculty and staff. Please exercise care and common sense to avoid contaminating reagent stocks and to make sure you do not “hoard” shared reagents. A considerable amount of effort and money has been spent to provide enough equipment of adequate sophistication so that each student will have “hands-on” experience. For example, you will be using micropipettes to accurately dispense tiny volumes of solution. These micropipettes cost approximately $250 each. Please treat all of the equipment with care so that future classes of cellular physiology students can use them.
At times you will be required to follow specific instructions concerning the handling or disposal of materials. Please obey these instructions precisely, both for your own protection and to comply with established guidelines for use of these reagents. You should read the Wellesley College Safety Information. This site has specific safety information related to the type of experiments you will perform. There are times when you should wear gloves in lab to prevent contaminating your samples and also to prevent your samples from contaminating you. Please remember, however, that your gloves can be easily contaminated if you touch your face, hair, etc. and that you can contaminate door-knobs, computer keyboards, phones or other non-lab equipment with your gloves. Change your gloves often and never touch non-lab equipment (such as computer key boards) with gloved hands unless specifically directed to do so.
On occasion you will be expected to come into lab outside of your regularly scheduled lab section to examine the progress of your experiment or to inoculate cultures in preparation for the following lab. We have tried to keep the extra time to a minimum but please understand that BISC220 lab is an ambitious program in cellular physiology requiring your full commitment and cooperation.
The three series of experiments you will perform during the semester are:
Series 1: Enzyme Structure/Function
Series 2: Secretory Pathway
Series 3: Apoptosis
You will be expected to keep a lab notebook of all the work done in these experiments. This notebook will not be collected or graded but will be useful when you write a scientific paper at the conclusion of each series of experiments. Protocols will be provided in lab but an outline should be found in your notebook along with all raw data, calculations, and results.
Acquisition of scientific writing skills is a primary goal of the lab experience; therefore, writing about your experiments in the form of scientific research reports will constitute the bulk of your lab grade. The process of learning scientific writing will be accomplished with both small practice assignments and by writing complete papers. There is a 5% per day penalty for late work. Unless there are exceptional circumstances (which require a note from your dean), no work will be accepted for point credit more than one week after the due date.
In addition, in order to pass the entire course you MUST pass lab with a 60% or greater.
Another good way to learn to write effectively about your work is to read well constructed research reports. Therefore, during the semester you will read and discuss several primary research articles that are related to your experiments.
We sincerely hope that you find your introduction to the world of cellular physiology both exciting and intellectually stimulating. As always, we appreciate comments and suggestions for improving the program. Good luck and have fun!