BIOLOGY R120 Lab; Principles of Biology I Lab (39797); 1 unit


Spring, 2017

Meeting time & Place

Lab = W 3:30-6:20 PM (LS 2)


Dr. Michael Nicholson

Contact information

Office = Liberal Arts Building, South Wing, room “T”

e-mail = -or-

web page =

Office phone = (805) 678-5197 -or- (805) 498-8451

Office hours

Office Hours = M/W 12:15-1:30; T/Th 9-9:30 & 12:15-1


Description from course catalogue:  The laboratory course compliments the lecture. The current methods employed by investigators in the biological sciences are presented. These include, but are not limited to microscopy, differential centrifugation, chromatography, electrophoresis, spectrophotometry, recombinant DNA methods and PCR. This course is recommended for biological sciences majors seeking transfer to university programs as well as students anticipating careers in a broad range of health care and medical professions.


Lecture and Laboratory are separate for grading purposes.  Lecture must be scheduled separately.  Lab will be comprised of hands-on and virtual (computer-based) laboratory work with predesigned experiments and exercises, as well as presentations, brief lectures, and discussions.  Presentations will most likely be video or physical demonstrations of experiments.


Objectives/SLOs:  At the end of the Laboratory course, students should be able to demonstrate skills with observation, collection and evaluation of data, apply standard lab protocols in a safe and conscientious manner, demonstrate critical thinking skills as applied to scientific reading and the ability to report data in a scientific format, be able to use a microscope, operate a micro-centrifuge properly, independently use a spectrophotometer, be able to measure weights and volumes with a variety of tools/devices, operate electrophoretic equipment to determine molecular weight, copy DNA with PCR or transformation, analyze routine sequencing data from DNA originating from Oxnard College lab experiments, and manipulate the components of a bioreactor that could be used for manufacturing a biopharmaceutical.  These learning objectives will be evaluated during the semester; a lab journal will be reviewed for some specific objectives.


Texts:  The required text for this class is:


Morgan, J., & Brown Carter, M. (2011). Investigating biology laboratory manual (7th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Benjamin Cummings. [ISBN 9780321668219] Laboratory Manual.


Not everything in the manual will be completed in lab.  Please make it a point to review the lab material prior to lab, so that you have some indication regarding what will be accomplished.  Handouts will be provided for some labs, though not always in advance of the lab itself.  For some labs, neither the book nor lab handouts will be provided, and students will be expected to maintain a record of the laboratory in their lab manual.


Grading:  There will be up to 15 lab quizzes or assignments, each worth up to 20 points.  Although each quiz or assignment is likely to focus exclusively on the most recently covered laboratory material (from the past week), some of the questions on quizzes (specifically) may be cumulative in nature.  DO NOT MISS THE QUIZZES because there are no make-ups.  Most quizzes will be graded, however, parts or all of some quizzes may directly evaluate learning objectives, and may therefore be performance-based.  Graded quizzes will be given first thing during laboratory, and will require no more than 10 minutes.  Graded quizzes will generally be short-answer, though some may be fill-in-the-blank or multiple-choice.  The lowest graded quiz grade will be dropped, so missing or doing poorly on a specific graded quiz (for any reason) will not hurt your grade.  Too many missing quizzes will ultimately ruin a grade.  There will be one lab book due, as well, worth a total of 60 points.  A laboratory notebook must be kept for specific labs only (noted with “*” in the schedule), and the lab notebook will be graded on the following criteria:  Format (2 pt/lab), following standard rules (2 pts/lab), and content/accuracy of material (6 pts/lab) [6 labs worth 10 pts each totals 60 pts].  Standards and expectations for the lab notebook are described in a separate document.  Lab notebooks are due during the last lab exercise date, or the last lab before the lab final exam.  There will be a comprehensive final exam at the end of the semester (the last laboratory date).  The final will be comprised of multiple-choice, short-answer, and fill-in-the-blank questions, and will be worth 50 points.  There will be a maximum of 410 points available.  Grading will be scaled with 10% brackets (i.e. 90+% is an A, 80-89% is a B, 70-79% is a C, etc).


Internet Access:  It is expected that students will have internet access, even if only through the library on campus.  Emails and notifications, if distributed, will be sent to the address on file in Banner, so please make sure your information is up-to-date and accurate.  This syllabus is available for review/printing online only.  Other materials required for points during the course may be available online only, including information, handouts, and homework assignments or “take-home” quizzes or exams.


Attendance:  Failure to attend may reduce the final grade.  Attendance will be tracked with sign in sheets and by receipt of lab deliverables.  Attendance itself does not contribute to the grade, but missing class can hurt a grade if material is being missed or is not being completed as a result of absences.  Laboratory grades are based on experience-based and participation-based assignments, as well as evaluations of knowledge of the same through quizzes and/or exams – absence reduces a grade by disqualifying work and evaluations relevant to the laboratory.  Missing the first date of class is grounds for being dropped.  Furthermore, if a student misses 1/9 of the course (about 2 days), he/she should expect to be DROPPED from the course or receive a failing grade.  Failure to attend is NO GUARANTEE of being dropped!  To avoid receiving a failing grade, students who stop coming to class are urged to drop the course on their own, instead of expecting to be automatically dropped.  Special note on being late to lab:  Being tardy to lab is not acceptable, and may result in a point reductions to deliverables from lab (some items are due within the first few minutes of lab, for example).  Furthermore, entering lab late is a distraction to the entire lab, which requires separate treatment according to the section on Cell Phones and Other Distractions and Disruptions.


Academic Honesty:  Cheating is not tolerated and any student found cheating will receive a summary grade of zero on the material at hand.  Academic Dishonesty Reports will be filed as appropriate for a student who performs any acts of cheating.


Cell Phones and Other Distractions or Disruptions:  Cell phones and other electronics cannot be used during lab and must be muted or otherwise silenced.  Recognizing that emergencies can occur and that some students may have a specific responsibility, if an incoming call MUST be answered, please exit the laboratory to do so.  During exams or quizzes, cell phones must be turned off, so students with responsibilities to others must prepare for a temporary break in communications at these times.  Other disruptions may be interpreted as (to name a few examples) arriving late to class, excessive attention to or reliance on messaging/paging/texting, casual/off-topic conversation, eating, and using electronics for purposes not directly related to the course material at-hand.  Students who choose to ignore cell phone/distraction/disruption rules or who decide to engage in distracting or disruptive activity may be summarily dismissed from class, and may therefore miss points as a result of the forced departure.


Laboratory Safety:  Students are required to follow laboratory safety guidelines as described by the instructor, as well as in the lab manual.  Specific directives may be given for specific labs.  Failure to follow safety guidelines is justification for summary dismissal from the laboratory.  Students may be required to use a laboratory coat during laboratory sessions; they can be obtained locally or online for less than $20 (, for example, has them for about $19; has women’s sizes for about $10).


Educational Assistance Center (EAC):  Students with disabilities, whether physical, learning, or psychological, who believe that they may need accommodations in this class, are encouraged to contact the EAC as soon as possible to ensure that accommodations are implemented in a timely fashion.  Authorization, based on verification of disability, is required before any accommodation can be made.  The phone number for the EAC is (805) 986-5800 ext 5830 and they are located in the Student Services Building (behind business office and admissions and records).


Financial Aid:  Educational costs can be a burden, but options exist meeting the costs!  Talk to someone at Financial Aid, in the Student Services Building, Room 140, to identify the best options for you.  The phone number for Financial Aid is (805) 678-5828.



Lab assignments will be due at the start of lab.  Lab quizzes, when offered, will be offered at the start of each lab only.  While most lab quizzes will be comprehensive in nature, the subject focus for any specific lab quiz will be the subject matter that was covered in the lab from the previous week.


Labs related to Lab Notebook entries are identified with (*).









Classes Start



Scientific Method

Lab 1



MLK No Classes




Lab 2



Last day to drop w/refund




Lab 3



Last day to drop w/out "W"




Lab 4



Fingerprinting 1 – Cell lysis* and Pipetting




Fingerprinting 2 – DNA purification*




Presidents' Birthdays No Classes




Lab 5



Photosynthesis - chromatography

Lab 6



Fingerprinting 3 – Gel Electrophoresis*




Spring Break No Classes



Cell communication




Fingerprinting 4 - RAPD-PCR*




Fingerprinting 6 - Data Analysis (not for journal)





Lab 7



Fingerprinting 5 - Fingerprinting*




No classes



Last day to drop w/ "W"



Inheritance I




Population Genetics




Final in lab (open-note and comprehensive)




Final Exams Week