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BIO 3351 Microbiology

Starting points to Find Potential Project Topics

Here are a few starting points for finding possible topics:

  • Skim Wikipedia's List of Infectious Diseases - an extensive list of infectious diseases organized by infectious agent. Click on any word to see the Wikipeida entry for it.
  • Skim the CDC's Diseases & Conditions A-Z index list - extensive list of diseases and conditions, but be careful, not every disease listed here is caused by an infectious agent.
  • Skim the Medscape List of Infectious Diseases - this list is organized by type of infection an body system, so starting here can be good if you know you want a certain type of infectious disease, e.g. one attacking the bones or the central nervous system.
  • Look through SPU Reference Books - we have ebooks on many of topics and organized in different ways, for example geographically oriented books, or books organized by condition or disease.
  • Search article databases

As you search, remember to keep track of your sources to include in the Topic Research assignment.

Scientific Names of Organisms

In microbiology, when discussing the pathogens, or organisms, that cause diseases it is important to use the appropriate scientific name.  You may also hear this called taxonomy or binomial nomenclature.  If you are not familiar with this method of naming organisms, you may want to check out this video which covers the basics.  Binomial nomenclature is used for all living organisms including bacteria, parasites, fungi, and yeast.  Viruses and prion diseases don' t always have binomial nomenclature, so recommendations for finding their taxonomy is below.

Scientific format for organism names

  • for bacteria, parasites and fungi list Genus species, for example Staphylococcus aureus
  • ​for viruses list Genus (or Family is no genus is available) and common name. For example,

    Orthohepadnavirus Hepatitis B Virus (check here for viral taxonomy and here for formatting). 

  • for prion diseases try Wikipedia, it is one of the things that site does well.

Poster Project Directions


Introduction: The objective of this assignment is to study a single microbe and one disease it causes in detail. The process of independent in-depth investigation into a particular microbe and a disease it causes will help you better understand clinical medicine, diagnostic processes, patient and physician experiences and how microbes interact with their hosts and the environment. Due dates for each of the following assignments are available on Canvas.

Project timeline: 

  1. Topic research (10 pts): Your first job is to identify five disease/pathogen pairs that you would be interested in reviewing for your project. You will need to record the following for each of the five pairs you select:
    1. Disease name
    2. Organism name
      • for bacteria, parasites and fungi list Genus species, for example Staphylococcus aureus
      • ​for viruses list Genus (or Family is no genus is available) and common name. For example,

        Orthohepadnavirus Hepatitis B Virus (check here for viral taxonomy).

      • for prion diseases try Wikipedia, it is one of the things that site does well.

    3. Description of main symptoms
    4. Two citations (In any standard citation style, although this is a good time to practice CSE) that contain reliable information on your disease topic.
    5. You will submit this assignment on Canvas as a PDF or Word document.
    6. It is important to have the full and correct organism nomenclature when signing up for your topic.

       (Links to an external site.Links to an external site.). You will identify five disease-pathogen pairs and note: a) disease, b) organism, c) diagnostic symptoms and d) two citations. The assignment is due on Canvas at the start of your second lab (two page limit, typewritten only). You must focus on human pathogens unless your selection is approved by Dr. Wood. 
  2. Topic selection (5pts): Be ready to provide the pathogen (genus/species) and disease combination when the sign-up sheet is posted. You must review the entire sign-up list prior to adding your topic to the bottom of the list to ensure that no other students have selected the same disease-pathogen combination. If you sign up for a combination that someone higher up on the list has selected, your name will be removed and you will need to go to the bottom of the list to select a new topic. Spelling and accuracy count, your selection will be rejected if your disease pairing or spelling is incorrect - and you will lose 5 points - this reflects on your precision and preparation which are critical in medicine. Links to an external site. 
  3. Book Citation (4pts): You will identify an SPU reference book relevant to your topic and provide a proper CSE citation. This will be submitted on Canvas.
  4. Journal Citation (4pts): You will identify a journal relevant to your topic and provide a proper CSE citation. This will be submitted on Canvas.
  5. Project outline (13 pts): You will share your outline as a document (3 page max). Outlines provide a brief bulleted description of the pathogen – disease combination that you are researching. They should cover each of the seven sections in your outline. If you are unsure of what an outline is, please ask your TA or instructor. Outlines are limited to three pages and must include at least two references that will be part of your final presentation.
  6. Image Citation (4pts): You will identify an image relevant to your topic and provide a proper CSE citation. This will be submitted on Canvas.
  7. Storyboard (20 pts): Your storyboard will be submitted in PowerPoint format. This is a final layout including all the text and figures that you will use in your final poster. In addition to the storyboard, you will be turning in a separate table with your reference list for Carrie Fry, sciences librarian, to review (references must be in the table and on your storyboard). Your TAs will review and provide comments which should be used refine your final poster. 
  8. Final Poster presentation (50 pts): You will prepare a physical poster and present it to your lab TA and peers during the lab session prior to the lab practical. If your poster is not present you will not receive credit for this assignment. Late work will not be accepted due to the nature of this activity. 
  9. Review (10 pts): You will review present your poster during lab in three ten minute presentations to the TA and your classmates. Each student must complete the review of three posters. All posters will be displayed in the hallway and present a great opportunity to review for the final!

No credit will be given if you change your disease-pathogen selection between the time you submit the outline and your final presentation. Make sure you pick a topic you will enjoy researching for the final project.

Poster organization:

The final poster will be printed on a tri-fold poster board (36in tall, 24 in wide center panel with two 12 in wide wing panels). You will prepare your materials as PowerPoint slides that must be organized into the following named sections: 

1) Title: Include title, your name, course name, term, course number, lab section, department and university in a banner format on the first slide. 

2) Abstract: The abstract is a one-paragraph summary of the key points of the presentation. This should be contained entirely on the second slide.

3) The Microbe: Description and highlights of the microbe and its biology. What does it look like? Where is it found in the environment? Provide a brief background of the discovery of the microbe. Describe key virulence/pathogenicity mechanisms that result in disease progression and note how they work to cause disease (e.g. neurotoxin binds to axons to prevent signaling). You may use more than one slide for any of these sections, but the first slide should have the title exactly as shown (e.g The Microbe.)

4) The Disease: How is it transmitted? Describe the symptoms and temporal progression of the disease. What is/are the KEY distinguishing symptom(s)? What are the differentials?  Describe any unusual features or sequelae of the disease.  

5) Epidemiology: How is the disease transmitted? Where does it live between hosts? What is the incidence and prevalence? Does it have an animal or insect vector? Does it affect other animals? 

6) Clinical identification and treatment: How is the disease diagnosed? How is it identified in the laboratory? What specific tests are used?  Discuss the current treatments and include highlights of any unusual clinical aspects of the disease. 

7) Social implications and current research: You have two options for social implications. 1) select a Non Governmental Organization that is helping manage this disease. Share the website and briefly describe how the organization is working to eradicate the disease, and how you might help. 2) Discuss the relevance and impact of the disease historically and in present times. Highlight relevant moral or ethical issues uncovered in your research on the disease. Regardless of which of these you choose, you must also identify and briefly describe one current research direction being pursued by scientists who work with the disease. 

8) ReferencesA minimum of 5 text references is required. A minimum of three must be dated 2019 or newer (no more than 5 years old) with the remaining two being published 2014 or newer (no more than 10 years old). At least two of your references must be research, clinical, or review articles of at least five pages in length from peer-reviewed journals. At least one of your references must be an SPU library owned Reference source. 

Once you have met the above criteria further sources may also: (1) be selected from the following websites:;;;;; (note that you may only use articles within these sites; links to external sites from within these sites are not acceptable); (2) include additional books, pamphlets, and scientific, review, newspaper and magazine articles. In the text of your poster (as opposed to references for the images you use) you may not cite general encyclopedias (such as Wikipedia), the dictionary (such as Webster’s), or the Bible. Your textbook and generalized Web pages may be used as sources for pictures, figures or diagrams only. 

Use the CSE Citation-Name Superscript format to reference and cite sources, see the Citation Style tab of this subject guide for instructions on this style.  Reference and cite all online resources, websites, ebooks, and online journals according to the specific CSE formatting rules for electronic sources. Font size for the Reference panel may not be smaller than 11 point. With foresight and planning all articles can be obtained through the SPU library and/or interlibrary loan. 

Style: Use 14 to 16 point font so that viewers can easily read the text in your video or poster. Spelling, grammar, presentation, and focus are considered in grading. All figures must have a legend. Creativity, neatness and organization are all factors, however they will not make up for a lack of content. Make sure that Genus is capitalized, while species is not, and that both of them are underlined or italicized - even if you use the abbreviation for Genus (e.g. E. coli). Additional tips for a successful video are: 

  • Bulleted, succinct text is easier to read than lengthy paragraphs. Text should be accurate, dense and concise.
  • Informative and targeted graphs, figures, drawings, illustrations, pictures, and/or tables are critical. As long as proper citation is given these may come from any source: books, the Web, or articles. If no citation is given, it is considered plagiarism.
  • Color scheme, imagination and artistic layout matters to the viewer/reader. Make it enjoyable, neat and inviting. Make it a video that everyone wants to watch.
  • Condense your research to synthesize key points. Accurately and concisely cover all eight of the sections described above.

Microbiology References Table Checklist

Once you have found the resources you plan to use, please check them against this list to make sure they are appropriate for this assignment. Filling out the Microbiology References Table (which will be turned in at the same time as the storyboard) will help you determine that you have met these requirements.

  • I have at least 5 references for the text (spoken parts) in my project AND they
    • meet the date requirements:
      • 3 references are less than 5 years old (publication date of 2019 or newer)
      • 2 references are less than 10 years old (publication date of  2014 or newer)
    • meet the format requirements:
      • 2 references are research, clinical or review article of at least 5 pages in length from peer-reviewed journals
      • 1 reference is from the Reference Books page of this guide
  • Any website references used in the text/body of my project come from the approved list (see above).
  • Both in-text citations and references are in CSE (Council of Science Editors) Citation-Name format
  • All images used in your project must include a title, description, and citation as outlined in the Citation Style - CSE page of this guide.  (Additionally, all image references will also be included in the Microbiology References Table, in a separate table on page two of the document - the references are separated for ease of grading.)

Essential Library Questions for the Poster Project

Essential Library Questions for the Poster Project question mark logo

When there are many requirements for an assignment, sometimes they can seem like they are just hoops to jump through, but each aspect of this assignment has been carefully considered for learning opportunities.  Here are some essential questions to consider as you work on this project:

  1. Can I work with a high degree of precision as would be required in health care? 
    For example: creating references with no errors equates to charting or writing prescriptions with no errors
  2. Can I recognize the various types of information sources that health professionals use, and why one might be selected over another?
    For example:
    • Reference Books - quick source for established information on a topic
    • Peer Review Articles - up-to-date information on a topic, part of the scholarly conversation
    • Government websites - statistical and background information
  3. Can I recognize the difference between sources geared towards the general population and sources written for scientists, researchers, and health care professionals?
    For example: While Medscape and WebMD are both produced by the same company, Medscape is geared towards health professionals, while WebMD is directed towards the general public.
  4. Can I find the most current information on my topic? How has the information known about my topic changed over time?
    For this assignment find:
    • At least 3 sources less than 5 years old
    • At least 2 sources less that 10 years old

Video covering these essential questions.