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Working with a sampleFour research teams have designed experiments in Dr. Gary Wilson’s BIMS 3410 Microbiology Lab. Students are isolating and identifying Staphylococci and related bacteria. The “Card Authorities” are sampling students’ credit cards to determine if men’s or women’s cards are more likely to harbor dangerous bacteria. Sterile swabs were used to collect samples from an array of cards, and the bacteria recovered are now being identified.

Another group, the “Phone Police”, is doing similar work with cell phones.

A third group is comparing the microbes recovered from the feet of men vs. women. Swabs were used to collect samples from between the toes. They are known as the “Foot Patrol”.

And the fourth group, the “Sanitizer Squad”, is looking at the effectiveness of hand sanitizer for eliminating Staphylococci from the hands. Fingertips from one hand were pressed into selective agar and the process was repeated with the other hand once hand sanitizer was used.

In each of these groups, students are learning to design experiments, improve their aseptic technique, and getting practice identifying bacteria. And today the students tested all the bacteria isolated the four projects for antibiotic resistance. Add to this the comparison of samples from males vs. females and other controlled variables and you have an excellent (and fun) lab experience.