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Biology 210 Scanning Electron Microscopy

Course summary: Taught during the first seven weeks of the Spring semester, this laboratory course introduces students to use of the scanning electron microscope (SEM), as well as associated techniques and equipment. Successful completion of the course allows students continued access to the SEM for research projects in subsequent semesters.

Course description: Scanning electron microscopes permit the examination of surface features of cells, tissues, and non-biological materials at high magnification.  In this hands-on course, students learn how to prepare specimens for electron microscopic study, and how to use the SEM to examine and photograph these specimens. Techniques to be used include tissue fixation, critical point drying, materials polishing, specimen coating, and x-ray microanalysis. The theory behind these techniques and use of the SEM also will be considered. At the end of the course, students with no prior experience will be able to prepare specimens, align an SEM, and obtain secondary electron (SE) micrographs. This course is ideal for students interested in independent research in the sciences. This course does not count towards the Biology major. Enrollment limited to 8. (1/2 credit).

Format: For the first three weeks of the semester, the course meets for one lecture/lab period PLUS one additional lab session per week. For the balance of the course, the course meets for one lecture/lab period per week, but students should plan to invest the time equivalent of at least one additional lab period every week in order to practice the techniques. More time is beneficial!

Prerequisites: Pre-reqs include patience, persistence, AND permission of the instructor. A laboratory course experience such as Biology 152 is helpful but not necessary.

Instructor: Ann Lehman, Director of the EM Facility