BIO101L: Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology Lab

Course Syllabus for "BIO101L: Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology Lab"

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This lab course supplements BIO101: “Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology.”  Although we cannot virtually replicate a true lab experience, this “lab” will allow you to become familiar with scientific thinking and techniques and will enable you to explore of some key principles of molecular and cellular biology. The material in this lab supplement directly relates to the material covered in the lecture and reading portion of the course.  While the lecture and reading portion focuses on big-picture concepts, here we will focus more on visual understanding, manipulation, and practical use of your knowledge.  In each unit, you will work through tutorials related to important scientific concepts, and then will be asked to think creatively about how your knowledge can be put to practical or experimental use. There are also activities devoted to learning important techniques in scientific study, including microscope use, DNA extraction, Polymerase Chain Reaction, and DNA microarrays.  As these are frequently used, and you will be expected to understand their use in your future studies, take this opportunity to become familiar with the proper equipment, procedure, and use of each technique.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this lab supplement, student will be able to:

  • Identify the important components of scientific experiments and create their own experiments.
  • Identify the molecular differences between proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, and explain the molecular behavior of water.
  • Describe the process of photosynthesis.
  • Describe the process of cellular respiration.
  • Identify the differences between DNA and RNA.
  • Describe the entire transcription/translation process, from gene to protein.
  • Explain how recombinant genomes are formed.
  • Use critical thinking to find ways that any of the above natural processes might be altered or manipulated.
  • Explain how to use a compound light microscope for data collection.
  • Explain how to conduct and use various experimental techniques, including DNA extraction, PCR, and DNA microarrays.

Course Requirements

In order to take this course, you must:
√    Have access to a computer.
√    Have continuous broadband Internet access.
√    Have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (i.e., Adobe Reader or Flash Player).
√    Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer.
√    Have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.).
√    Have competency in the English language.

Course Information

Course Designers: Olivia V. Ambrogio and Kitty Carney
Primary Resources: This course is composed of a range of different free, online materials.  However, the course makes considerable use of the following materials:

  • University of Rochester: Life Sciences Learning Center
  • University of Utah: Genetic Science Learning Center 

Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all of its assigned materials.  Please note that while some units involve readings rather than lab exercises, these readings should not be treated lightly, as they will provide you with in-depth information on the ways in which hypotheses are formed and tested.  All units will have exercises for you to work on in order to learn more about the subject area, but in addition to exercises you will also need to complete questions in the following units and subunits:

  • Unit 2.2
  • Unit 3.2
  • Unit 4
  • Unit 5.3
  • Unit 6
  • Unit 7
  • Unit 8.2 

Time Commitment:This lab course should take you approximately 26 hours to complete.  Each unit includes a time advisory that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit.  These should help you plan your time accordingly.  It may be useful to take a look at these time advisories and to determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit, and then to set goals for yourself.
Table of Contents: You can find the course's units at the links below.