The SPH Teaching Lab

The SPH Teaching Lab

Newly renovated last year, the SPH Teaching Lab introduces approximately 25 students a year to general microbiology and gives them hands-on practice with the characterization of microorganisms, biochemical and genetic testing, growing and evaluating biofilms, broad sociomicrobiological concepts and techniques, and the role of polymicrobial communities in health and disease.

The refurbished lab is significantly brighter than its predecessor and has new sinks, benches and storage space, new CO2 and large-format incubators, and 14 new microscopes, both compound-light and stereo. Also “new” is high-tech equipment from the National Institutes of Health donation program. The remodeled lab “enables us to perform experiments more effectively and in greater detail,” says Alex Rickard, an assistant professor of epidemiology who teaches Epid 504: Polymicrobial Communities Laboratory, one of two lab-based classes for students specializing in hospital and molecular epidemiology. During the final four weeks of Rickard’s course, students pursue individual projects examining microbial communities in domestic and hospital environments, including showers, refrigerators, and food. Last year, a student project on antimicrobials and dental biofilms was published in a peer-reviewed journal.