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Facilities, Equipment and Methodology

Facilities

The BTEC laboratory is set up to maximize work efficiency for teaching and independent research. The laboratory space is approximately 2200 square feet in rooms 5 and 7 of the Fleming building on the University of Houston main campus. The laboratory has 6 stations for the teaching laboratory and can comfortably sit 20 students. Adjacent to the teaching laboratory is the sample processing room and the research laboratory.

Laboratory Equipment and Rationale

We currently have two shaking incubators, one bench top and one floor model to grow microbial cultures as well as a Class II Biosafety Cabinet for handling samples to minimize outside contamination. A fume hood is available for preparation of volatile organic compounds, including OP pesticides, petroleum hydrocarbons, and other miscellaneous industrial aromatics used as substrates for our microbial collection.

Students enrolled in BTEC laboratory courses will undertake methods used in both upstream and downstream processes of biomaunfacturing. Upstream processes include DNA extraction, PCR amplification, recombinant DNA cloning and transformation. Downstream processes may utilize either culture flasks or our seven BioFlo 115 bioreactors as a primary fermentation device to grow and analyze microbial cell cultures. A series of high-speed centrifuges, five GE ionic chromatography units, and 1 GE UPC-10 unit are available for purification of DNA and protein products. Stations have been set up for UV-Vis spectroscopy and gel electrophoresis complete with a UV camera unit to allow students to both visualize and quantify their final products.

Online Resources

A server has been created for the storage and dissemination of collected student sample bioinformatics data. In addition to the server an online database exists where students can directly post their data and observations, and access sample material posted by students in previous semesters.