BMB 488 (Communities of Practice) is a 2 cr. course that integrates the practice of primary research with the acquisition of key concepts of biochemistry and molecular biology, including the philosophy of science, central concepts and details of experimental systems, ethics, and the societal implications of research. Students in BMB 488 join a research laboratory and pursue an independent project that relates to the major goals of the lab. Students from different labs investigating similar research questions meet once per week in a seminar setting to discuss critical issues surrounding the research topic. Students engaging in research through BMB 488 have two support networks: scientists at different career stages in the research laboratory, and a peer group of other students in the seminar. Because students in the course are from different labs, they learn from each other about different research perspectives and methods and provide each other with support and advice. Students continue their independent projects and remain in BMB 488 over multiple semesters, allowing them to strengthen this network and build skills over time.
How do I get involved in BMB 488?
Some faculty prefer for students to first be accepted into their lab for independent research, and then they encourage students to enroll in a corresponding BMB 488 section. Other faculty will consider students that apply directly to a BMB 488 section. So, if you are interested in a BMB 488 section, you are encourage to apply through the 488 application as well as reach out to the faculty member through email, expressing interest in their lab.
Section 001: Antibiotics: Development and Resistance
Is a section that integrates primary research in antibiotic discovery with a student-driven seminar investigating scientific, societal, and ethical issues associated with antibiotic development and the spread of antibiotic resistance. Participation in section 001 of B M B 488 is application based. Applications are taken the start of every semester. Instructor approval is required for enrollment in this section.
Section 002: Genetic Control of Organogenesis
The goal of section 002 of B M B 488 is to provide authentic research experiences to students who are entering the major and to engage students in a community of practice, a group of scientists with varying levels of experience working toward a shared scientific objective. The scientific objective is to identify genes that direct morphogenesis of biological tubes by using RNAi and DIC microscopy to screen a selection of candidate genes for those with defects in morphogenesis of the C. elegans vulva. Applications are taken the start of every semester. Instructor approval is required for enrollment in this section.
Section 003: Genetics and genomics: principles and practice
Is a section that integrates primary research in genetics and genomics with a student-driven seminar investigating scientific, societal, and ethical issues associated with gene discovery and the molecular genetic basis of human diseases. Applications are currently not being accepted.
Currently not accepting applications
Section 004: Gene Regulation
B M B 488 section 004 will enhance laboratory research experience with a community of practice in the Penn State Center for Eukaryotic Gene Regulation. Participants will perform gene regulation research in the laboratory of Joseph Reese, Song Tan, David Gilmour, Lu Bai and Shaun Mahony and participate in weekly student-driven seminars investigating scientific, societal and ethical issues associated with gene regulation and the molecular basis of human diseases.” Instructor approval is required for enrollment in this section.
Currently not accepting applications
Section 005: Structural Biology: An Integrative Approach
The goal of BMB488 Structural Biology: An Integrative Approach is to achieve a holistic understanding of challenging biological questions through the lens of structures. In the community of integrative structural biology, student researchers critically discuss and apply multiple structure-determination, modeling and bioinformatic methods to piece together and interpret structural information in order to elucidate the three-dimensional cellular context of the macromolecular world. This goal is attained by integrating the practice of primary research with acquisition of key concepts in Structural Biology with a student-driven seminar investigating scientific, societal, and ethical issues associated with molecular basis of human health and diseases.
Section 006: Host-Microbe Interactions
This section of BMB 488 will focus upon how various microbes (bacteria, parasites) can interface with their host, in both pathogenic and beneficial ways. We will discuss how these interactions work, and what their outcomes are for the organism on both sides of the interaction. We will accomplish this through group discussions and presentations of these topics as concepts, but we will also investigate Host-Microbe Interactions by performing original research in the laboratory. Research will be hosted by the laboratories of Drs. Manuel Llinas, and Tim Miyashiro, and will focus on interactions that are new, relevant, and exciting for this field. Instructor approval is required for enrollment in this section.