Cluster 7

Microbiology and Toxicology

Instructors:
Peter Weiss, PhD
UCSC Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Carlos Diaz Castillo, PhD UCSC Department of Biochemistry and Environmental Toxicology

Prerequisite: None

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 and analyze data 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:

Environmental Toxicology ​

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.

Microbiology

This course will cover the fundamental concepts of microbiology including microbial diversity, physiology and nutrition, microbial growth, environmental and human health, and environmental toxicology, including the concepts of exposome, endocrine-disrupting chemicals and transgenerational epigenetic inheritance. Students will investigate these concepts through laboratory-based, hands-on experimentation including isolating bacteria from diverse sources, culture-dependent, DNA-based approaches, and stem cell work. 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) investigate the metabolic disrupting effect of environmental pollutants such as microplastics or arsenic on stem cells in culture. By completing this course, students will gain a deeper understanding of the importance of microbes and environmental factors to human health and the environment.