Learning Labs

The highly popular Learning Labs will return for a second year!  If you want a fast-paced, informal, and interactive learning experience, drop in on a 30-minute Learning Lab at asm2015. Learning Labs will be offered between 10:45 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. on May 31 and June 2; and from 10:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. on June 1.  Seating will be limited.


A BLAST Tool for Microbiologists, and Other NCBI Tools
Sunday, May 31 | 11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
We have resources and data at NCBI that we know appeal to researchers in microbiology.  Some tools are relatively new and may not be well known.  And there are always questions about the best way to find and retrieve data from NCBI, which seems like a sure-fire interactive experience.


Exploring Clinical Cases in Microbiology
Tuesday, June 2 | 10:45 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.
This Learning Lab has as objective to improve the participant skills in identifying pathogenic organisms in clinical specimens.  The presenter will bring Case Studies in Medical Microbiology in the form of PowerPoint presentation and also "fake" cultured media plates and reactions to the classroom. The participants will be asked to form groups and they will be given an worksheet to facilitate the analysis of each case as: Patient demographics and history, patient clinical symptoms, type of specimen that it was collected, tests performed and tests results and patient final diagnosis and prognosis.


Flow of Information
Sunday, May 31 | 12:15 p.m. – 12:45 p.m.
Horizontal gene transfer is a lot like the flow of information in a crowded room.  There is information we are willing to share, and information we keep to ourselves.  For this lab, participants are responsible for learning the transferrable information of a single microbe, mingle with a crowd, then evaluate what information has been shared with them.  The lab will comprise of individual reading comprehension, role playing, interacting with a larger group, and then bringing it back to a small group level to discuss what information has been transferred.  The goal is to have fun with it, and the objective is to gain an understanding of the impact of horizontal gene transfer.


To Infinity and Beyond: Developing a Microbial Observatory on the International Space Station
Tuesday, June 2 | 1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
A short generation time, an ability to thrive in extreme environments and potential astrobiological association has put microorganisms at the center of a vast amount of NASA research. Can you define what is fact, fiction, or simply sensationalized stories after reviewing some of NASA’s most famous microbial-related studies? This session will explore the truth behind several NASA-associated microbial research projects, delve into current research, and direct investigators toward opportunities to obtain NASA funding for their research.


Influenza Diagnostics and Testing Learning Opportunities:  New “Influenza Preparedness and Response” and “Strategies for Improving Rapid Influenza Diagnostic Testing” Courses
Sunday, May 31 | 1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Influenza made headlines this year. It remained widespread across most of the country, and severity indicators were still high as of February 2015.  This learning lab approach will involve an engaging activity in which participants respond to scenario-based questions using their mobile phones and “Poll Everywhere” technology.  Real time responses will be displayed on the screen, followed by interactive group discussion to enhance learning. Resources pertaining to the subject matter will be provided.


My Favorite Microbe
Monday, June 1 | 11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Contestants from the audience are invited onto the stage for two minutes to present their favorite microbe and convince the audience to cast a favorable vote.  Performance can be through role-playing, dance, poetry, singing, or any mode that will get you that positive reaction – it’s entertaining and educational!


PowerPoint Rescue
Sunday, May 31 | 10:45 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.
Despite the ever increasing demand for excellent communication skills in research, teaching, and beyond, there are few opportunities for professional scientists to objectively and critically review their presentations with the assistance of peers.  Moreover, while it is easy to recall what did not work in a presentation, more thought is required to identify those features that create an engaging and attractive one.  This lab will focus on training participates to identify and remedy points of confusion, distraction, and audience disengagement in their PowerPoint presentations while also avoiding many common missteps in the first place.  Working in groups, participates will evaluate and revise provided slides to improve clarity and appeal.  These evaluations will be shared amongst the different groups to provide a period of reflection and the opportunity to consider alternative means of achieving the same desired effect.  For most individuals, presentations are often put together last minute due to the need for including the latest results and other time-consuming obligations.  Therefore, it is important that good presentation preparation skills be nearly instinctual.   This lab will facilitate the development of this mindset so that the participants’ future presentations are more engaging and effective.


Roll the Dice and Make Your Best Bet: A Game Explaining Microbial Hazards, Risk and Outcome
Monday, June 1 | 10:45 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.
The recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa, with several cases in the USA, has re-ignited the discussion of risk-based mitigation strategies to prevent the spread of a disease.  Understanding the key terms is important to developing robust microbial mitigation programs; yet, people have difficulties understanding the differences among hazard, risk, and outcome. The objective of this Learning Lab is to employ a dice game to explain the differences between hazard, risk, and outcome.


Social Media 101: How to Navigate the Sea of Postings and Make Your Science Known
Tuesday, June 2 | 12:15 p.m. – 12:45 p.m.
For a beginner, social media can seem like a foreign culture.  The thought of joining in the miasma of texts, posts, and tweets, can be overwhelming, but it does not have to be.  Today, so many are on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, etc., but following the crowd is certainly no reason to sign on.  However, the ever-growing population of people getting news from and sharing news through these platforms is.  Research suggests people are significantly influenced by the tone of social media posts following online articles regardless of credibility.  While this may be frustrating to hear, it should also be heard as a call to join the social media ranks to promote science literacy and appreciation.  But how does one dive into the sea of posts and make an impactful effect without being drowned out?  Where can one learn the language of social media?  This lab will address these questions, introduce participants to the various social media platforms, and aid participants in developing a sense of the communication styles and “rules” used therein.  Participants will dissect social media posts to uncover both effective strategies and pitfalls to avoid, followed by making a contribution of their own.


The Tropical Lab
Tuesday, June 2 | 11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Tropical Lab will be an interactive and dynamic way displaying a quick slide show and opening the debate on 10 tropical cases: 'a what would you do approach' will be encouraged in a resource-poor setting.