2000 Annual Science Report
Marine Biological Laboratory Reporting | JUL 1999 – JUN 2000
Education and Public Outreach Activities
Living in the Microbial World: Summer Teacher Enhancement – August 1999
Eighteen middle- and high-school teachers from eleven schools (Appendix 1) spent a week in residence at the Marine Biological Laboratory attending our teacher enhancement summer workshop. They met with Astrobiology Institute Co-Is and other researchers and heard one lecture each day on current topics including biomineralization, the effects of life on earth’s environment, Archaean microfossils, microbial ecology and physiology, protist diversity and symbioses, life in extreme environments, and planetary protection issues (Appendices 1 and 2). The majority of the day was spent in the lab, engaging in such activities as making devices to capture microbes, making media, observing and experimenting with fungi using an inquiry-based approach to learning, isolating lactic acid and luminescent bacteria, making Winogradsky columns, and isolating bacteria with multiple antibiotic resistances (Appendix 2). Lab activities were augmented by a field trip to observe and collect microbial mats, exploration of microbiology- and astrobiology-related internet-based resources, and an open discussion session on hands-on activities used by the teachers in their classrooms.
Workshop in Molecular Evolution at Woods Hole – August 1999
Sixty graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and established investigators participated in a three-week workshop in molecular evolution. The workshop consisted of two three-hour lectures each day plus a four-hour computer laboratory where the students were able to put theory into practice. The first week of the workshop focused upon theory and computer programs required for aligning DNA sequences and inferring phylogenetic relationships. The second week emphasized use of modern computational tools in genome sciences for exploring early evolution of life on the planet. During the final week, students analyzed data sets from laboratory-based research at their home institutions.
PROJECT MEMBERS:Michael Cummings
RELATED OBJECTIVES:Objective 2.0
Develop and test plausible pathways by which ancient counterparts of membrane systems, proteins and nucleic acids were synthesized from simpler precursors and assembled into protocells.
Expand and interpret the genomic database of a select group of key microorganisms in order to reveal the history and dynamics of evolution.
Define how ecophysiological processes structure microbial communities, influence their adaptation and evolution, and affect their detection on other planets.
Identify the environmental limits for life by examining biological adaptations to extremes in environmental conditions.
Understand the natural processes by which life can migrate from one world to another. Are we alone in the Universe?