TitleDo you kiss your mother with that mouth? An authentic large-scale undergraduate research experience in mapping the human oral microbiome.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsWang JTH, Daly JN, Willner DL, Patil J, Hall RA, Schembri MA, Tyson GW, Hugenholtz P
JournalJournal of microbiology & biology education
Date Published2015 May
AbstractClinical microbiology testing is crucial for the diagnosis and treatment of community and hospital-acquired infections. Laboratory scientists need to utilize technical and problem-solving skills to select from a wide array of microbial identification techniques. The inquiry-driven laboratory training required to prepare microbiology graduates for this professional environment can be difficult to replicate within undergraduate curricula, especially in courses that accommodate large student cohorts. We aimed to improve undergraduate scientific training by engaging hundreds of introductory microbiology students in an Authentic Large-Scale Undergraduate Research Experience (ALURE). The ALURE aimed to characterize the microorganisms that reside in the healthy human oral cavity-the oral microbiome-by analyzing hundreds of samples obtained from student volunteers within the course. Students were able to choose from selective and differential culture media, Gram-staining, microscopy, as well as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and 16S rRNA gene sequencing techniques, in order to collect, analyze, and interpret novel data to determine the collective oral microbiome of the student cohort. Pre- and postsurvey analysis of student learning gains across two iterations of the course (2012-2013) revealed significantly higher student confidence in laboratory skills following the completion of the ALURE (p


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