Hunting Novel Viruses in a Lab Course

Last Fall the Biology department mounted a new course (BIOL 152B),  the Virus Hunter Lab. This course combines practical experience in the lab with computer based approaches in bioinformatics. Students in the class isolated a type of virus that infects bacteria called a bacteriophage. In the wet lab, they learned basic microbiology techniques for isolating the viruses and basic molecular biology techniques for extracting the DNA of the viral genomes. With the biological material in hand the class prepared next generation sequencing libraries. The students assembled and annotated the complete genome of two previously unknown bacteriophage using next generation sequencing data from the samples they prepared. To find out more about it you can read their paper. Grad students Meghan Harris (MCB), their TA, and Tereasa Ho (Biotechnology) along with the inaugural group of undergraduate students are all authors on a paper recently published in the journal Microbiology Resource Announcements (MRA).

Harris MT, Ho TC, Fruchtman H, Garin ME, Kubatin V, Lu T, Xue L, Marr MT. Complete Genome Sequences of Two Vibrio natriegens Bacteriophages. Microbiology Resource Announcements. 2020;9(45).

Electron microscope image of the novel bacteriophage (VH2), photo by Jesse Cochrane

Postdoc with confessed aversion to genetics

“… now inspiring a new generation of neurophysiologists”

There’s a nice story on the ADInstruments website about Stefan Pulver (PhD ’09) and Nick Hornstein (’11) and the tools they developed in the Griffith lab for “Optogenetics in the Teaching Laboratory” using Drosophila and channelrhodopsin-2. Stefan is currently in Cambridge (England) doing a postdoc, and Nick is starting his MD/PhD at Columbia real soon now.

Undergraduate Biology Lab Students All Get Cataracts

After a series of renovations and modifications, the fall semester of introductory biology (Biol18b) is now an 11 week project-based lab course focused on Molecular and Structural Biology.  Students in the course now design their own mutant of γD crystallin (a human protein implicated in congenital and age-onset cataractogenesis) using site-directed mutagenesis, purify and express their protein, and then study its stability using fluorescence and AFM.

A new paper in CBE – Life Sciences Education by Brandeis undergraduates Dan Treacy, Rebecca Miller, Stefan Isaac, Danielle Saly, and Saumya Sankaran, together with grad student Susannah Gordon-Messer and Assistant Professor of Biology Melissa Kosinski-Collins,  discusses a two-year study focused on assessing both student perception of the course and analyzing the levels conceptual understanding and knowledge retention of participants.  This paper marks the second in a series of articles highlighting studies performed by life science undergraduates enrolled in an educational internship course (Ed92a) with Kosinski-Collins.

The Changing Face of Science Reflected in Exciting New Courses

Exciting advances in science are reflected in at least 9 new courses to be offered by the Division of Science. From epigenetics to medicinal enzymology to stem cells to MATLAB, these courses will expose students to some of the frontiers of new knowledge in science.

Details of the courses offered can be found on the following pages

Melissa K-C wins Louis Dembitz Brandeis Prize

Brandeis NOW reports:

At the 2010 Brandeis commencement exercises this week, Assistant Professor of Biology Melissa Kosinski-Collins was awarded the Louis Dembitz Brandeis Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Melissa’s enthusiasm and energy in teaching are infectious, and her efforts in the development of our undergraduate teaching lab and other courses are vastly appreciated.


Department of Education grant awarded to Dr. Melissa Kosinski-Collins

As a former T.A. for Introduction to Biology Lab, the core Biology course required of all undergraduate Biology and Pre-med majors, I remember the challenges of trying to help 25 students all try to load their DNA samples onto one gel.  Then there was the subsequent Great Trek to the Gel Doc which was housed up a flight of stairs in a space only large enough to permit groups of 4 students to see what was going on.  Yes, Science is tough– but limited equipment should not be the main reason for this.

Thanks to Dr. Melissa Kosinski-Collins‘ efforts in applying for and receiving a grant from the Department of Education, future students of Intro Bio Lab will have access to their own Gel Doc, specrophotometers, new incubators, a fluorimeter, and perhaps most impressively an atomic force microscope.  And all of this housed in beautiful new teaching labspace  in the Shapiro Science Center.

The official title of the grant is “Key to the university program: Equipment for development of an interdisciplinary research experience into the undergraduate science laboratory.”

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