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Class: BE 167L
This is the Bioengineering Laboratory class that all undergrads have to take, and although it is doable (especially with a good lab partner), it is far from perfect and is in need of improvement.
You meet twice a week for lab and start with PDMS (kind of boring unless you are really into it) and bioconjugation (my favorite topic of the class). For the first couple of weeks, you should finish lab early. However, when you first start HeLa cell culturing (which you do for the rest of the quarter), you will most likely stay in the lab for the whole period since there are a lot of steps that need to be taken. However, you get used to it after a while, and in retrospect, the labs were not as confusing or as bad as the chem/physics ones. However, what annoyed me is that the lab protocols would get changed on the day of the lab itself, which can confuse students in and of itself.
The grading scheme is as follows:
1. 5% participation/lab performance-Easy points if you show up to all of your labs
2. 6% Lab Notebook Check (there are three of these with 2% each one)-Again, not too bad as long as you follow the guidelines. I got 28/30 (I did not write down the total magnification of some images AND I didn't sketch a hemocytometer), followed by 30/30 and 30/30
3. 5% Pre-Lab quizzes-This is not too bad if you have a good TA. I had Jason Low, who was good but seemed to get tired and kind of lose it around the end of the quarter. However, his pre-lab quizzes were doable since they covered only the lab protocols and pre-lab reading on these protocols. He never gave us calculations and stayed away from asking us questions on the lengthy articles that Seidlits also uploaded.
4. 9% Case Studies (3% each one)-Not too bad as long as you answer the questions in detail and use single-spaced. My recommendation is to look at what Seidlits says about the articles on her slides since she posts her slides for that week since the assignment is due. Then, you have an idea on what to write since the articles are dense and dry-they deal with fibronectin, ECM, and other boring LS2 structural/mechanical biology topics (I am more of a molecular biology person)
5. 30% Homework (10, 10, 10)-These are the post lab questions at the end of the lab protocols. The first one was graded harshly. Be sure to include your calculations, units, and raw data. In the second one, I kept adding the wrong error bars. For the third one, I did well.
6. 10% Lab Practical-Has a written part that is fine as long as you skim lecture notes, read the lab protocols, and look at any online supplementary videos; For the lab portion, be sure to follow sterile techniques and don't be too slow
7.20% Exams-10% MT 1 Week 5, and 10% MT 2 on week 10-There is no final exam
The exams are fair and the professor gives you lengthy study guides as well as practice exams. DO THE PRACTICE EXAMS.
HOWEVER...This is where I can talk about my main issues with this professor.
She seems engaging but her slides are not good. For many of them, she has pure pictures with barely any words, and when she tries to relay her message, she sometimes rambles on until she says what she means to say. Record lectures, otherwise it is easy to tune out. Also, for the study guides, I had to find the answers to many of her questions online, and it's one thing to look at websites for supplemental information, but you can tell how bad her slides are when you have to look online to really answer many of her study guide questions. That said, the tests are fair and are not out of the blue, although the second midterm was not too similar for the corresponding practice exam.
8. 15% Final Lab Report-5 pages max and this is what saved me in this class, as I got 100% on it! Listen to the guidelines well, and as long as you are a good writer and communicate well with your lab partner and analyze the independent lab results from weeks 8-10 well, you should not have too much of a problem. Try to dedicate a whole day or two to this on the weekend so that you are not stressed out with this paper during final weeks though.
Overall, I wish we had learned more in this class rather than just getting exposed to a lot of HeLa cell culture techniques. Other bioengineering departments (e.g., UCSD, UCR) have a biotechnology lab where you can work with plasmid vectors and other related topics-maybe that could be incorporated in this course?
If you are a sophomore, this class will not be as bad as BE 100 but is somewhat less enjoyable because Kamei>>Seidlits (especially in his slides), but just take your lab work and everything seriously because there are so many different components that make up your grade in this class.