2008-09 Catalog

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Program Description

Microbial Ecology

Revised Last Updated: 05/12/2008

Fall quarter

Faculty: Steve Scheuerell microbial ecology, Elizabeth Kutter microbiology, biochemistry

Major areas of study include biology, ecology, genetics and writing.

Class Standing: This all-level program accepts up to 25% freshmen as well as supporting and encouraging those ready for advanced work.

This program will introduce students to historical, theoretical, and applied aspects of microbial ecology. Microorganisms were the first forms of life on earth, and billions of years of evolution have allowed for an amazing array of microbial life forms and interactions to develop. Microorganisms have fundamentally altered the composition of the atmosphere and are a critical link in the biogeochemical cycling of nutrients and carbon on the planet. Furthermore, the evolution of plants and animals has been directly influenced by microorganisms through symbiosis, competition, parasitism and pathogens. Humans have increasingly become aware of the diversity and functional capacity of microbes, and we have focused considerable energy on manipulating microbial interactions to benefit humankind.

Through lecture, lab, reading, seminar, film, and field trips, we will explore how humans manipulate microbial communities to promote human health, protect crop plants, transform food and beverages, treat wastewater and transform organic wastes into fertile soil. We will learn about the science, policy, and ethics of genetically modified organisms and associated intellectual property rights that are central to current activity in industrial microbiology. We will also explore emerging areas of microbial ecology research that offer sustainable solutions to major problems such as antibiotic resistant bacteria and bioremediation of polluted water and land.

During the second week of the quarter, students and faculty will go on a 3-day, 2-night field trip. We will observe natural areas and learn about the microbial communities and microbial processes that support ecosystem functioning.

Credits: 16 per quarter

Enrollment: 48

Books: www.tescbookstore.com

Special Expenses: $130 for lab supplies and and an overnight field trip.

Program is preparatory for careers and future studies in microbiology, environmental studies, health sciences, waste management and education.

Planning Units: Programs for Freshmen, Environmental Studies, Scientific Inquiry

Program Revisions

Date Revision
May 12th, 2008 An overnight field trip at a cost of $100 has been added to this program.