The School of Life Sciences (SLS), IUB, conducted a two day workshop entitled “Laboratory Techniques In Biochemistry and Microbiology” for 11th and 12th grade students from Scholastica. On November 11th & 12th, 2016, eighteen highly motivated students from Scholastica participated in the two-day session. The workshop was designed by faculty members of SLS to provide a glimpse of what laboratory-based research in the fields of Biochemistry and Microbiology entail. The importance of such exposure cannot be understated for students at this critical juncture in their academic lives where they will soon need to decide on an undergraduate major.
For their first experiment, concentrating on techniques in Microbiology, students were taught how to spread a sample taken from a food item on a bacterial culture plate in order to grow and visualize bacteria present in the sample. Staining the bacteria already grown in the plates with the Gram staining technique allowed them to observe the bacteria under the microscope. On the second day, students counted the total number of bacterial colonies that grew overnight from the food sample, and used that to determine the total number of bacteria in the sample. As an introduction to Biochemical techniques, students learned how to extract and visualize DNA from onion cells. Subsequently, students were introduced to the use of the highly sophisticated fluorescent microscope in the SLS Labs where bacterial cells were stained first with the fluorescent stain DAPI which allowed direct visualization of nuclear DNA inside the cells.
Ms. Noshin Azra Rahman and Ms. Mariz Sintaha, Senior Lecturers in SLS conducted the microbiological and biochemical experiments, respectively, during the two days while Mr. Zain Omar Ali, Lecturer, SLS, demonstrated the fluorescence microscopy methods. Current SLS students provided crucial support throughout the workshop. All Scholastica students were given a thorough introduction to laboratory safety protocols at the beginning of the workshop and monitored at all times by SLS faculty members. At the end of the workshop, each student was presented with a certificate of completion and a small souvenir from SLS. The workshop was a huge success and the enthusiastic students and faculty from supervisors from Scholastica requested that such initiatives be taken more frequently.