STEM Education Seminar: Dr. Rob Bellin
Location of Event:
Dr. Rob Bellin, Professor and Chair of Biology at College of the Holy Cross
Title: Purification and characterization of Taq polymerase: The development of a multi-week, skill-development based laboratory project for undergraduate students.
Abstract: To promote the training of undergraduate students in protein purification and analysis procedures, a 9-week undergraduate laboratory series focused on the purification and characterization of Thermus aquaticus DNA polymerase (Taq) was developed. Our aim was to provide undergraduate biochemistry students with a full-semester continuing project simulating a research-like experience, while having each week’s procedure focus on a single learning goal. Since its original development, this laboratory series has been taught repeatedly by multiple different instructors at Holy Cross, and since its publication in 2009, has been adopted by additional undergraduate departments at other colleges and universities. Survey-based assessment of the effectiveness of the laboratory series indicate that it is both effective in teaching students the theory and practice of protein purification and analysis while also demonstrating positive results in more broad areas of scientific skill and knowledge. Amongst the findings, the largest reported increases in knowledge were related to students’ understanding of how patent law relates to laboratory science, a topic of great importance to modern researchers that is readily discussed in relation to Taq polymerase.