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Datt to Boston to Study Microbiology

Mrs. Susan Datt, high school Biology teacher, went to the Boston in the U.S. in the month of January for a microbiology staff development course. The program was funded by WOSA member T.Z. Chu (Class of '52 and generous friend to the science department) and sponsored by a Dr. Bijoy Mukeji from the University of Connecticut. Susan was hosted by several alumni families, the Steve Alters, Tom and Cathy Kidder, and Rachel and Mario Wyon during her stay in New England and with Paul and Ruth Taylor in England on her return trip.

The two-part program of training that Susan went through was also attended by the Biology teacher from Kodai. The first part of the experience was one week of work at a place affiliated with the Boston School of Medicine, called City Lab. The purpose of the lab, funded by federal money from the National Institutes of Health, is for schools who cannot afford to have the sophisticated laboratory equipment needed to teach microbiology and who do not have access to the advanced techniques being developed in that field. Schools can call to schedule the lab, bringing whole biology classes to [++page 7] learn specific lab protocols and experiments. All the supplies and materials (some quite expensive) are free to the students and teachers using the lab. Susan said the people running the lab were very generous, teaching her all the labs they provide for schools as well as giving her the written curriculum to bring back for use at Woodstock.

The second part of the training was two weeks at the University a Connecticut School of Medicine in Farmington where she was a guest in the home of Dr. Mukerji. There she studied for one week in Dr. Mukerji's research lab, and was shown the latest techniques in molecular biology. Although Susan had studied the theory in textbooks since her graduation from college, the lab methods associated with those theories can only be learned in a lab where an experienced technician can explain the procedures. Molecular biology, that is the investigation of the structure of cells, is extremely delicate work requiring very precise actions, measurements and recordings. The experiments she was taught involved moving pieces of DNA from one cell to another. She said the opportunity to actually learn these advanced techniques will be most beneficial to her teaching in the high school.

The second week in Farmington was spent in the lab of Dr. Asis Das, also a microbiologist. Susan said the post-docs in both labs were Indian students pursuing research in the U.S. She enjoyed very much the opportunity to work with them. They were Dr. Aruna Behera who had done her post-graduate college work at Delhi University and Dr. Nitya Chatrabarty. Specifically they worked on lab procedures for bacterial transformations - how DNA can be moved from one cell to change another cell in some significant way.

Susan can now teach many of the things she learned as the supplies and equipment for some of these labs have been ordered for Woodstock. There will not be a molecular biology unit, per se, in the high school, but various units will occur throughout the science curriculum. She said "I think this is a very exciting and interesting field of study for students."

She has a further idea that Woodstock should create an opportunity similar to City Lab where science teachers from our neighboring schools could come to Woodstock for week-long courses during the summer to learn these advanced techniques. She is most grateful to all the people who made the experience possible as it will greatly enrich the science curriculum of the school.

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