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Virus, bacteria attack Biology department

In conjunction with the department of biology at USF, students from general microbiology class are presenting a display of 80 deadly viruses and bacteria at an event called “Microbe Extravaganza.”

The event is being held to showcase projects that were completed by students in MCB 3030 and to inform students and the community about the reality of deadly microorganisms, said Johnny El-Rady, an instructor in the Biology department.

“I think they have done a real good job. This is a way of showing that there is a lot of creativity in them and it allows them to really express it,” El-Rady said.

The 80 models will be replications of various pathogenic microorganisms, tiny organisms that are capable of causing diseases, and will stress the characteristics of the organisms including size, shape and the amount of DNA.

“They’re all drawn to the same scale so that way you can tell how big a bacterium is versus a protozoan versus a virus and how much DNA fits into each,” El-Rady said.

The models will be accompanied by posters that will explain each microorganism and its characteristics but in an autobiographical format. Some examples will be presented in the style of wanted ads and personal ads, El-Rady said.

Examples of microorganisms that will be featured at the event are viruses such as Ebola, HIV, polio, herpes; bacteria such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis as well as different types of fungi and protozoa, a group of one-celled animals which can cause diseases in humans.

During the event, judges from USF’s faculty will evaluate the student’s models. The judges include Kathleen Heide, the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; Georg Kleine, the associate dean of the honors college; Sidney Pierce, the chair of the department of biology; Daniel Lim, a professor of pathogenic microbiology; Diane Williams, the director of the Center for 21st Century Teaching Excellence; and William Patterson, the associate director at the Center for 21st Century Teaching Excellence.

The idea for the models and event were developed by El-Rady after he saw a similar exercise done by a professor at the University of Connecticut. El-Rady said the professor had done the exercise on a smaller scale without the posters.

“I just expanded it and opened it up to the public with posters and things like that,” El-Rady said.

El-Rady decided to do the project because he felt it was better for students to learn by interaction instead of constant lecturing.

“I try to incorporate some active learning in there and not just have me lecture to them and then they take notes, go home and memorize a few things and then come back and regurgitate them,” El-Rady said. “I try to get them involved”

The event will take place today from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Educational Building, Room 115.