Volume 3 - May 2002

VOLUME 3 · MAY 2002 · NUMBER 1

A subscription to MicrobeLibrary is required to read Microbiology Education journal.  Its contents are available as both a PDF of the full volume and as individual articles. 

Table of Contents

  • Bacteriophage: A Model System for Active Learning
    Carl S. Luciano, Matthew W. Young, and Robin Patterson
  • An Activity-Based Format Increased Student Retention in a Community College Microbiology Course
    Mary F. Lux
  • Development of a Microbiology Course for Diverse Majors: Longitudinal Survey of the Use of Various Active, Problem-Based Learning Assignments
    Diana R. Cundell
  • Bacterial Diversity Studies Using the 16S rRNA Gene Provide a Powerful Research-Based Curriculum for Molecular Biology Laboratory
    Sarah M. Boomer, Daniel P. Lodge, and Bryan E. Dutton
  • Learning Microbiology Through Cooperation: Designing Cooperative Learning Activities that Promote Interdependence, Interaction, and Accountability
    Janine E. Trempy, Monica M. Skinner, and William A. Siebold

Editorial Committee

Amy Cheng Vollmer, Chair, Swarthmore College
D’Maris Allen, Austin Community College–Rio Grande Campus
Jeffrey Byrd, St. Mary’s College of Maryland
Janine Trempy, Oregon State University
Christopher J. Woolverton, Kent State University

Ad Hoc Reviewers

Gail E. Gasparich, Towson University
Eileen Gregory, Rollins College
John P. Heggers, University of Texas Medical Branch - Galveston
Linda Husmann, University of Tennessee - Martin
Craig Laufer, Hood College
Stanley Maloy, University of Illinois - Urbana- Champaign
Luz Mangurian, Towson University
Rita Moyes, Texas A&M University
Tami Mysliwiec, Penn State Berks Lehigh Valley College
Jeffrey Pommerville, Maricopa Community College
Laura Tuhela-Reuning, Ohio Wesleyan University
Christina White-Ziegler, Smith College

Message from the Chair

We are pleased to present the third volume of Microbiology Education. Current events have brought topics in microbiology to the attention of many people. We strongly believe that this moment should be seized to reemphasize the importance of microbiology education. The unfortunate trend in many research universities has been to subsume the microbiology departments under the cellular and molecular heading and to deemphasize the biology of prokaryotes. Even some liberal arts colleges have been known to have departments of biology without a single prokaryotic biologist. Only the community colleges, ever responsive to the actual needs of their communities, have kept in their curriculum microbiology lecture and laboratory sections available to train allied health professionals. Perhaps it should also be required for those in the new media!

Now is the time to take a good look at our own institutions and those with which we are otherwise familiar. Is there someone there who teaches microbiology and not simply one who uses Escherichia coli to produce plasmids? Is there a resource person who can explain the historical connections between microbiology and immunology? Can anyone address the coevolution of hosts and pathogens? We found it astounding that news coverage of the anthrax episodes did not clearly address the issue of differential susceptibility of individuals to inhalation pathogens, with the exception of the oldest victim, whose immune system was probably compromised due to her age. Nor was there coverage of sporulation and the fact that not all bacteria can form spores. Finally, the press’ inability to distinguish between viruses and bacteria is also disappointing.

We urge a renewed effort on the part of all of our colleagues to highlight the benefits, interactions, and evolution of microbes as well as to explain accurately the effects of pathogenic ones. We hope that courses dealing with bioterrorism can be offered with a broader perspective that includes the historical impact of microbes, as well as microbial physiology, genetics, evolution, and immune responses. While prerequisites for courses help us to focus on advanced students, we should also be able and willing to offer formal instruction to those who possess less experience, but with great interest in microbiology.

In this issue, we highlight the use of two important subjects of microbiological research, bacteriophage and 16S rRNA, as important vehicles for teaching microbiological concepts. In other papers authors have used news topics and futuristic scenarios to focus attention on the impact of microbes on society. Faculty from very different types of institutions describe the organization and assessment of innovative courses—ones that serve diverse student populations: introductory and advanced biology majors, nonbiology majors, traditional premed and physician assistant students, and part-time students in a 5-hour class.

We believe the diversity reflected in these papers mirrors the population of professionals who are our readers. We look forward to the ASM’s continued support of our efforts to recognize the scholarship of teaching and to communicate new knowledge in the field of microbiology education.

Amy Cheng Vollmer