Introduction to the 305 lab

Laboratory and manual organization

The 305 lab is a single, semester-long project. Our intention is to give you a taste of the real research experience (both the exciting and frustrating aspects).

Over the next eight to nine weeks we will be working our way through a single project. If you were working in a research lab, this project would be completed over a few consecutive days. Our three-hour weekly time slot means we have had to subdivide protocols into artificial chunks. Some of the protocols you will use will require multiple lab periods to complete, and in some lab periods you will be dealing with more than one protocol. Additionally, you will use some protocols repeatedly in many lab periods. For these reasons the how-to (the protocols) has been separated from the what-to-do.

To help you prepare for the labs, you have a weekly outline of what-to-do (see the menu Weekly Guides). Please see Preparing for the lab for more on how to use your weekly guide.

Please allow yourself one to two hours to prepare for you lab each week. If you have not prepared for the lab you will be lost! Pre-labs will be very short and will focus on the technical aspects of the lab. We will be close by to answer any questions during the lab but we will not walk you through the lab.

Overall learning objectives

By the end of the semester you should be able to do the following:

  • Read, understand and use standard laboratory protocols.
  • Explain the purpose of each protocol used, including the purpose of each step and component used in the protocol.
  • Describe the purpose of each enzyme used, both as a tool in the lab and its original in vivo role.
  • Describe two strategies used to subclone DNA.
  • Explain the rationale behind the subcloning strategies used.
  • Analyze your results and present what you have found in a formal research paper.
  • Apply what you have learned to plan an original cloning experiment.

Techniques you will learn

  • how to accurately measure small volumes (micro-pipetting)
  • how to calculate concentrations and volumes
  • how to set up molecular enzyme reactions
  • how to isolate plasmid DNA
  • how to prepare, use and analyze agarose gels
  • how to size and quantify DNA fragments
  • how to make and use competent E.coli cells
  • strategies for subcloning DNA fragments
  • selection methods for identifying recombinant DNA
  • how to keep a useful lab notebook

Bring to lab every week

Do not depend on electronic devices; print and bring what you will need with you to the lab. Make sure you print and bring the weekly "to do in lab".

  • the weekly guide for that week
  • the weekly guide for the next week
  • the protocol manual
  • protocols you accessed yourself
  • notebook
  • calculator
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License