What should students know?

sysop at microbiol.org sysop at microbiol.org
Fri Mar 15 06:49:55 EST 1996

You are absolutely right - that is why it is so difficult to interview
new job candidates.  We prefer ones with a heavy microbiology
background, but hire mainly on attitude and personality as we know we
will have to train them in virtually every aspect of a bench-level job.
And despite their clear understanding, they will not be hired to run
the laboratory with a bachelor's degree.  The attitude is critical
when reality begins to intrude upon their expectations.  For those of
you concerned, no I am not an academic, but rather a director of
microbiology at a pharmaceutical company.

Scott Sutton
sutton at microbiol.org
The Microbiology BBS
(USA) 817-557-0330 (N/8/1)


EC>Apologies in advance.
EC>But I have been the the business of training microbiologists for a long
EC>Don't ask academics, do what some of the "Learned Societies" are
EC>starting to do and ask the employers.
EC>Pressure on teaching time and the need to be "with it" are making many
EC>University Courses a farce. The student is presented (or even worse -
EC>-having demonstrated to him/her) the latest thing in  .............
EC>(fill in the blanks yourself).

EC>(1) They know very little about basic aseptic technique.
EC>(2) They are unaware about the methods of sterilisation of basic
EC>(3) They have little knowledge of the requirements of different groups
EC>of organisms.
EC>(4) Their basic chemical knowledge means that they are unaware of such
EC>facts that i.e. most metal phosphates are insoluble and will cause nasty

EC>Try this out for size:-

EC>Ask your third year students the following questions:-

EC>(1) What is an autoclave?
EC>(2) How does it work and what precautions are necessary in its use ?
EC>(3) What are the melting points of commonly used laboratory plastics ?
EC>(4) What effects might commonly used buffer solutions have - apart from
EC>controlling pH?
EC>(5) Is it safe to assume that agar-agar is chemically inert ?
EC>(6) Do the same molar concentrations of Sodium chloride and glucose have
EC>the same osmotic effect ?

EC>Get the right answers to 4 out of six and you are doing well.

EC>Peter Harris,
EC>Department of Soil Science,
EC>The University of Reading,


The Microbiology BBS                                  817-557-0330 (USA)
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