Teaching Microbiology

Microbiology education blog for undergraduate and graduate faculty

The ASM Undergraduate Research Fellowship (URF) positively impacts students, sparking their interest in microbiology and helping them achieve success. But it’s not just students who benefit from the URF program – faculty who mentor URF students report increased productivity in their labs, greater funding success, and a honing of their mentoring skills.
The iGEM cloning competition offers unique opportunities for both students and mentors.
Tuesday, 31 January 2017 11:29

ASMCUE Travel Award Winners Share Tips for Faculty

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Planning is underway for the 2017 ASM Conference for Undergraduate Educators (ASMCUE), and applications are now being accepted for the ASMCUE Textbook Travel Award. We recently checked in with past award winners, who shared their current teaching and research activities as well as tips for fellow faculty.
Many educators shy away from active learning in large groups of students because it takes extra hands to run the activities. Undergraduate Learning Assistants can provide the help you need.
Educators teaching physiology, evolution, climate change, basic scientific/research literacy and other science topics can find resources in ASM’s open-access Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education (JMBE) as our scope extends beyond microbiology.
Tuesday, 10 January 2017 09:26

Make Mentoring Work in Your Classroom or Lab

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January is National Mentoring Month; mentoring helps students, beginning researchers, and early-career faculty persist and succeed in science.
Tuesday, 03 January 2017 12:15

How One Undergraduate Got Hooked on Clinical Research

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Sameer Shaikh was helping his mother, a physician, transcribe notes in the clinic when he learned about a patient with cystic fibrosis who was suffering from an infection of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.  He didn’t know what this bacterium was, and his mother explained that it’s ubiquitous in nature. “Ok,” Sameer thought, “If it’s everywhere, then why isn’t it affecting me?” His curiosity about microbiology was sparked, and with his mother’s encouragement, he started to read about cystic fibrosis, Pseudomonas, and immunology.
Many new microbiology faculty members, having finished a Ph.D. and then held a postdoc position (or two… or more…), get their first teaching position at a primarily undergraduate institution (PUI), and find that they no longer have the same resources they had in the larger labs they had previously been in. How do you start an undergraduate research program? Or compete for funding? Or find the right journal to publish in?
Be one of the first to read some of the newest Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education (JMBE) articles--and then check out the entire recently-published issue! 
The most-downloaded Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education (JMBE) articles of 2016 cover flipped classrooms, serious games, biosafety guidelines, research on student learning, and more.
Thursday, 08 December 2016 09:02

Supporting Microbiology in the Nursing Curriculum

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Do you teach microbiology to nursing students? Has your institution faced pressure to reduce or eliminate microbiology in its nursing curriculum? ASM is aware of this issue and is taking several steps to address it. 
Monday, 05 December 2016 14:41

Basing a curriculum on discovery-based research

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If you are currently a microbiologist, chances are your introductory microbiology lab course syllabus hadn’t changed for decades. The course likely culminated in each student receiving an unknown bacterial sample, the identity of which was uncovered by applying techniques learned during the semester. Deducing unknowns may require students to apply their critical thinking skills, but it fails to engage students in the discovery process that is one of the foundations of scientific practice. The Small World Initiative (SWI) aims to change student engagement with science by incorporating discovery-based research into the laboratory classroom. 
As World AIDS Day approaches, consider the following resources from ASM’s open-access Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education (JMBE) to help your students understand the mechanisms behind the spread of disease and how the human immune system works. 
Students are the focus of the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) meeting, held most recently November 9-12, 2016, in Tampa, Florida. Undergraduate and postbaccalaureate students make up over half the roughly 4,000 program participants, and many participants belong to minority populations often underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. What is the student experience like at ABRCMS? How do they prepare for their research presentations? We spoke with several ABRCMS attendees and alumni to find out.
“Welcome to Tampa, where diverse voices, diverse science at ABRCMS awaits you!” This was the message from Avery August, Ph.D., Professor of Immunology and Chair at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine and chairperson of the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) as the conference kicked off on November 9th, 2016. The day after the U.S. election, at a time of uncertainty and deep division, so many were inspired as they looked across the sea of diverse young scientists at the opening dinner and keynote address, ready to step up and address the scientific challenges of today and…
Tuesday, 15 November 2016 08:22

5 Ways to Get Your Students Involved in Citizen Science

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A great way to get started with active learning is to get your students involved in citizen science. Active learning and citizen science go hand in hand—through crowdsourced data gathering, students can discover and make meaningful contributions to the greater body of scientific knowledge.
Are you curious about Backward Design? Have you ever heard of it before? ASM recently spoke to Sue Merkel, Senior Lecturer in Microbiology at Cornell University and chair of the ASM Committee on Undergraduate Education, about Backward Design and how to get started using this course design technique that helps instructors organize their teaching, promote critical thinking, and set clear goals for their students.  
Thursday, 03 November 2016 08:02

10 Tips for Writing Scientific Journal Articles

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Writing a research manuscript can be overwhelming, particularly for early-career researchers. Without published papers, it can be difficult—if not impossible—to obtain funding or a promotion, so writing a paper well is a crucial skill for career development. Below, ASM President-Elect Dr. Peggy Cotter  gives 10 handy tips on writing up your research, focusing on the introduction and discussion sections. Her general approach to composing a scientific paper? “You want to write it in a way that the reader doesn’t notice the writing. The thoughts flow into their head, it makes sense, it's interesting and they want to follow along.”
October is National Biosafety Month, and with the fall semester well underway, this is a great time to evaluate your teaching lab biosafety plans and practices and see whether any changes are warranted.
The fact that students learn more, earn better grades, and are more likely to persist in STEM fields when they are engaged in active learning is well known. The challenge lies in catalyzing widespread adoption of evidence-based teaching methods like active learning.
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