Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology
Peter Weiss, PhD
UCSC Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Nettie Calvin, PhD candidate
UCSC Department of Ocean Sciences
Preferences: Biology and Chemistry
Summary: This cluster focuses on the intersection of microbes, chemical toxins, and human health. Students will do lab and field experiments, analyze data, and will be introduced to bioinformatic databases via the UCSC Genome Browser to gain a deeper understanding of the direction of current research in this field.
All students in this cluster will be enrolled in the following courses:
This cluster will cover the fundamental concepts of environmental chemistry and toxicology, and the effects of chemical agents on human health. Students will investigate these concepts through experiential learning with activities specifically designed at the introductory college-level. Students will learn about pollutants in air and water, make measurements of these pollutants, and evaluate the human health and wildlife risks. After completing this course, students will gain a deeper understanding of the importance of chemical toxins to human health and the environment, as well as an ability to critically examine data and assess health risks.
This course will cover the fundamental concepts of microbiology including microbial diversity, physiology and nutrition, microbial growth, environmental and human health, and environmental toxicology. Students will investigate these concepts through laboratory-based, hands-on experimentation including isolating bacteria from diverse sources, culturing bacterial colonies, extracting DNA, and conducting PCR (polymerase chain reaction) to determine bacterial identity. Students will i) quantify fecal indicator bacteria in the water ways of Santa Cruz and determine their host origins (e.g. humans, birds), ii) investigate the microbial contamination of food with antibiotic resistant bacteria, and iii) explore a bacterial gene of interest and compare it to a corresponding human gene by learning to navigate the UCSC Genome Browser. By completing this course, students will gain a deeper understanding of the importance of microbes and environmental factors to human health and the environment.