Microbial Ecology (MBI 475/575): Video Transcript

Dr. Rachael Morgan-Kiss [Assistant Professor, Department of Microbiology]: In addition to the opportunity within our laboratory for research for our undergraduates and graduates, we have integrated our Antarctic samples into a new course in microbial ecology. The students within this course are senior undergraduates and graduate students and they will be working directly with the samples we've collected from Antarctica. So they will have the opportunity to learn top-level molecular biology techniques as well as the ability to cultivate uncultivate-able or difficult to culture microorganisms from an extreme environment.

This is really exciting for the students who — of course, not all of them have the possibility to go to Antarctica — They learn new techniques and this work is novel. Nobody has ever worked with these samples before, and so the students are aware of that…that they're really on the cutting edge of designing science projects on samples which have never been studied before.

Dr. Annette Bollmann [Assistant Professor, Department of Microbiology]: We taught them molecular techniques. That includes DNA isolation, PCR and sequencing. And we will, in the next weeks, still teach them how to evaluate those data, and that is a big part of the class is also the data evaluation rather than just obtaining data. In addition, we will teach them how to cultivate microorganisms and how to inoculate growth experiments, experiments where they test how they grow, under which conditions, and then how also to evaluate the data from those experiments.

I think this class offers to the students a very unique possibility because they learn really cutting-edge background science, theoretical knowledge. We incorporate a lot of really recent publications into our lectures and so on. And then they will use that knowledge and transfer it to the lab. They develop their own research projects for the lab. They then do research with the newest techniques and the evaluation of the data.

The benefit is that the students work on samples that are very unique. It is a big benefit, of course, for us because they are very, very excited about the opportunity they have. We are very excited about giving them the opportunity. And they will learn modern techniques, microbial ecology on really these unique Antarctic samples.

[Spring 2012]