Lecture Syllabus

Lab Syllabus

Howard Home Page

Miskowski Home Page




Dr. David R. Howard

Dr. Jennifer Miskowski

3016 Cowley, 785-6455

3018 Cowley, 785-6456

Labs:  L53 = M 7:45-10:50

Lab: L54 = M 1:10-4:15; L51 = T 7:45-10:50; L52 = T 11:00-2:05



            The laboratory segment of this course is designed to provide an atmosphere of inquiry and experimentation.  It will give you an opportunity to obtain hands-on experience with the scientific process, to enhance your powers of observation, to learn some specific techniques, and ideally, to reemphasize important concepts that were discussed in lecture. It will also probably demonstrate that scientific research is not always perfect and can reveal unexpected results.  To this end, some of the Cell Biology labs involve you performing experiments of your own design, with some guidance from the instructors, instead of simply doing “cookbook” labs where there is one expected outcome.  Therefore, the data that you generate will not be inherently “right” or “wrong”, but will need to be explained by you and supported by literature. 

The labs are organized into multi-week modules, so you will have time to learn the necessary techniques and then to use them in your independent investigations.  We expect you to draw upon ideas and experiences from previous classes or research opportunities, to incorporate concepts from lecture and your Cell Biology text, and to use analytical and critical thinking skills when designing experiments or interpreting data.  In addition, your laboratory reports (discussed below) will give you practice in scientific writing which should be as clear and concise as possible.


Entrance Requirements

Because you are actively involved in shaping your lab experience, you cannot simply show up to lab unprepared and follow a list of instructions.  To help you succeed, you are required to complete a set of “entrance requirements” before each lab period.  These pre-lab assignments are each worth 3 points.  Entrance requirements are geared to (1) help you understand WHY you are performing a particular type of experiment, (2) to assure that you carefully plan WHAT you will be testing, and (3) to give you practice with relevant data calculations.  You will be given two copies of each week’s entrance requirements, and you must fill out both (or make a photocopy of one).  One copy will be handed into your instructor as you enter the lab and subsequently graded.  The other will be kept for your own use during the pre-lab lecture and throughout the lab module.


Expectations and Grading

·  LAB IS MANDATORY!  Any unexcused absence will result in a full grade reduction of your final lab grade for the semester.  For a university-approved absence, follow the guidelines outlined in the lecture syllabus. 

·  You are expected to have your entrance requirements completed before you enter the laboratory.  Students without the completed entrance requirements will lose 5 points from their lab grade in addition to receiving a zero on the entrance requirements (a net loss of 8 points).

·  Bring a floppy disk to lab every week. 

·  Unless otherwise announced, lab reports are due at the beginning of lab the following week.  Reports handed in that same day, but after the beginning of lab will receive an automatic half-grade reduction.  Reports handed in up to a week late will receive an automatic full grade reduction.  Reports will not be accepted after a week late.


Laboratory Reports

            You will be responsible for a lab report (written, oral, or poster) after each of the three major sections/modules.  See the table below for the type, due date, and point total for each lab module.


Grading Your Laboratory Performance

            As stated above, the labs that you will perform are not “canned” experiments, hence, there is not usually a “right” or “wrong” answer.  Therefore, it is up to you to critically analyze your data and explain your results.  However, it is first essential that you carefully design your experiments and accurately and precisely follow the provided protocols.  Unexpected results should not always be explained by the scapegoat of experimental error.  In order to give you credit for your preparedness and technical prowess, lab instructors will assign up to 15 points for each group’s laboratory performance over the semester.  As scientists, we fully understand that mistakes are sometimes made and accidents happen resulting in an unsuccessful experiment.  However, it is unacceptable to frequently make substantial errors, repeat the same mistakes, or do sloppy and careless work.  A rubric for assessing your lab performance is below.


Laboratory Performance Rubric


For 14-15 points

For 11-13 points

For 8-10 points

Below 8 points

Protocols are followed accurately with few to no mistakes, interpret- able data are obtained from all experiments, work is done in a careful, but timely, manner.

Mistakes are some-times made when per-forming experiments, interpretable data are obtained from most experiments, work is sometimes careless and/or delayed due to lack of preparation.

Mistakes are frequent-ly made when per-

forming experiments, interpretable data are obtained from some experiments, work is often careless and/or delayed due to lack of preparation.

Mistakes are usually made when perform-ing experiments, interpretable data are obtained from few experiments, work is usually careless and/or delayed due to lack of preparation.



Group Grades

            Your assignments and your laboratory performance will be graded as a group.  To account for any discrepancies in the effort put forth by different members in your group, you will be doing a self-assessment and a peer assessment of the other members of your lab group.  Each student will be assigned a number of points by themselves and their fellow lab members that reflects the amount of effort they put forth in the laboratory part of this class.  Based on the scores you receive from your group members, you, as an individual, will eventually receive a fraction of the total group points as your grade.  For example, if your three other group members give you an “8.5”, “9.5”, and a “9”, respectively, you received 27 of 30 points possible. That is an average of 0.90.  Therefore, you would receive 90% of the group points that had been awarded to your group throughout the semester. This assessment is included in the lab manual, and it will affect your final grade.  

Cell Biology Laboratory Schedule


Week of                                              Topic                                                      Report deadlines

Sep.   13

Mastering the Micropipetter, etc.

No report due.


Localization and Activity of ALP in Earthworm TissuesER



ALP continued – Enzyme Simple Activity Assays ER


Oct. 4  

ALP continued – Specific Activity Assays ER



ALP lab calculations &

Discs lost Bioinformatics lab ER




Discussion of hINADl – Discs lost paper

15 pts


Immunofluorescence: Labeling of cells ER

ALP report due 10/25 = 40 pts

Nov. 1

Immunofluorescence: Digital imaging & analysis ER



Immunofluorescence: Digital imaging & analysis continued



Poster presentations on Immunofluorescence module

Poster = 40 pts


Thanksgiving Week – No lab.



Eukaryotic Cell Growth and Division ER


Dec. 6

continued ER



Oral presentations on the Cell Growth and Division module

Presentation = 40 pts




ER = Entrance Requirements due at start of lab.



Break down of lab points:


Lab reports: oral (1), written (1), & poster (1)

120 points

Bioinformatics & journal article presentation

  15 points

Entrance requirements (3 pts X 8)

  24 points

Laboratory performance

  15 points

Total lab points

174 points