Experimental Biochemistry (BCM 341) is an upper-level course designed for the biochemistry major, but useful to biology, chemistry and neuroscience majors who want to become proficient in reading, analyzing and writing technical scientific literature.

Through an National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded extension of the course, Dr. Keri Colabroy (instructor and Biochemistry program co-director) integrates her own original research on enzyme mechanism into the course laboratory, and students participate in collecting original data that contributes to the overall NSF project goals. Students from BCM 341 have traveled with Dr. Colabroy to national conferences to present their work conducted during the semester.

The writing-intensive goals of the course are met through the semester as students explore and then write a mock graduate-research fellowship proposal on a topic of interest to them. Students not only learn to articulate what personally motivates them to do science, but students also develop a mastery-level understanding of research in a particular area – where it has been, and where it is going.

Oral presentation is a cornerstone of scientific communication, and in BCM 341 students learn how to prepare and present professionally to peer scientific audiences.

Students are supported in achieving course learning goals by:

  1. Instructional video on laboratory instrumentation
  2. Writing Center support and
  3. Digital archives of class lectures recorded in real time and with digital annotation.

The instructional video archive is essential to mastery of laboratory skills goals in BCM 341. The product of a Teagle-funded initiative on blended-learning, the instructional video archive now houses over forty videos on biochemical instrumentation used in Muhlenberg laboratories.

As Professor of Chemistry Keri Colabroy notes, “At Muhlenberg, we are well-equipped with modern scientific instrumentation and we engage students with instrumentation at all levels of our curriculum.”

“Instructional video allows students to learn the mundane details of instrument operation before the laboratory session so they can effectively engage with the instrument in problem-solving tasks during the laboratory.”

BCM 341 Learning Goals

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Read and analyze technical literature with confidence
  • Critically evaluate the experimentation used by another to understand a biochemical problem
  • Recognize, understand and compose the components of a scientific research paper
  • Improve writing skills in the proposal and reporting of scientific research through the completion of course assignments.
  • Propose experiments to solve an original biochemical problem or answer a specific biochemical question.
  • Proficiently execute fundamental biochemical technique necessary to produce, characterize and analyze proteins.
  • Collaboratively work with student colleagues to conduct experiments, solve problems and report findings with limited assistance from the instructor.
  • Develop and deliver oral and written presentations on original research.