Learning Labs

Solving Problems, Developing Skills and Practicing Science

The clock is ticking . . . with 30 minutes per timeslot, crowd participation and engagement drive the Learning Lab experience. Learning Labs encourage one to recall and analyze information, compare views, share information, draw conclusions, and practice new skills, etc.  Developed as short 30-minute activities, Learning Labs foster audience participation and provide opportunities for practicing ones communication, interpersonal and team-building skills. The 2014 Learning Labs are sponsored by the ASM Education, Membership and International Boards, and ASM Committees on Professional Practice and Communications.  The 2014 program includes:


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Clinical Microbiology Jeopardy | 10:45 a.m.
Jesse Jacob and Paulina Rebolledo, Emory University, Atlanta, GA

Introduction. Everyone knows how to play Jeopardy, but in this version led by both microbiologists and clinicians, you’ll grapple with common and classic scenarios in the microbiology lab and patient care.  Identify the likely pathogen based on clinical and laboratory clues.  Decide the work to pursue for both the patient and clinical specimens.  Answer the question and crack the case.  Solve the image daily double. The clinical microbiology laboratory plays an essential role in providing optimal patient care.

Target Audience. All conference attendees aged 18 to 88 interested in clinical microbiology and its direct impact on clinical care.

Learning Goals. Participants will identify and apply their knowledge to scenarios across a range of practical topics in clinical microbiology, while gaining a greater appreciation for the critical interaction between clinical microbiologists and clinicians.  

Engagement Approach. Participants will collaborate using everyone’s knowledge to get a consensus answer for the Jeopardy questions. In the final round, teams will provide a response and defend it.


Science in 30 Seconds: The Elevator Speech | 11:30 a.m.
Leader.  Erika Shugart, Communications, ASM, Washington, DC

Introduction.  Scientists need to be able to present their research concisely, accurately and meaningfully.  Whether you are explaining your work to a guest speaker or to your Aunt, being good at giving a quick elevator speech can mean the difference between starting a conversation versus seeing glazed eyes.  In this session you will have the chance to hone your message and practice your elevator speech to get your audience to ask for more.

Target Audience. Conference attendees who want to improve their communication skills

Learning Goals.  Participants will be able to (i) know when and why to use an elevator speech, (ii) prioritize important information for their target audience, and (iii) describe their research accurately and concisely in 30 seconds or less.

Engagement Approach. Participants will work in pairs to practice their “elevator speech.”  They will use provided worksheets to help refine their talk.  At the end of the session they will reprise their “elevator speech” and see if it is improved.


Joining the New Frontier: Research on a Spaceflight Platform | 12:15 p.m.
Leader. Mark Ott, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX

Introduction. The International Space Station provides a unique environment that stimulates novel responses during microbial culture, such as alterations in gene expression, phenotypic characteristics, and microbial virulence. This session will describe several of these findings, capabilities and limitations of spaceflight research, and avenues/opportunities to perform spaceflight experiments for both seasoned investigators and students.

Target Audience.  Conference attendees who want to use this unique environment to expand their research portfolio.

Learning Goals. Participants will have a general understanding of the basic findings from previous spaceflight research, experimental design and process of a spaceflight experiment, and current and future research opportunities.

Engagement Approach. Participants will work in groups to design simple experiments and work through potential challenges of implementation.


New Global Challenges, New Career Paths for Scientists | 1:00 p.m.
Leaders. Jason Rao and Sanjana Patel, International Affairs, ASM, Washington, DC

Introduction.  Scientists have career opportunities in international development beyond the laboratory bench. In this two-part session, you’ll first hear from scientists who have made a career transition from scientific research to areas such as policy-making, diplomacy, program development, and social entrepreneurship.  You will then have the opportunity to exercise your own transferrable skill set and participate in a team simulation to develop a solution to a global health crisis from the perspective of those alternative roles.

Target Audience. Conference attendees who want to explore careers that will allow them to apply their scientific background to meet global challenges.

Learning Goals.  Participants will be able to identify how the skills that they develop during scientific academic training are transferable to alternative careers.

Engagement Approach.  Participants will be divided into 3 groups. Each group will be given a specific case study of a global health crisis (i.e. domestic outbreak of anti-microbial resistance infection) and a specific job responsibility (e.g. microbiologist turned staffer on the Hill). They’ll need to identify which skills that they developed during their microbiology training that they can now utilize to solve the crisis. Engaging this audience to identify their valuable, transferable skills will allow them to see the broader applications of their bench science. After each group briefly shares their proposed solutions, participants will be invited to continue the discussion, engage one-on-one with the moderators, and learn about additional career opportunities in the International Lounge later in the evening.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Break the Fever | 10:45 a.m.
Leader. Kevin Alby, University of Pennsylvania, Phildelphia, PA and Elitza Theel, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN.

Introduction.  Want to be a detective? Help clinical microbiologists figure out why a transplant patient has a fever of unknown origin (FUO) and a culture that reveals multi-drug resistant gram-negative rods (MDR GNR). Where does the investigation begin? What might be appropriate initial therapy and how might this change after microbiology tests are completed? What diagnostic tests should be performed?  Clinical microbiologists help patients every day, and in this session, you, too, can help while learning more about the profession.

Target Audience.  Students, Educators, and anyone who is interested in the topic or clinical microbiology.

Learning Goals.  Using clues and hints, participants will be able to identify the steps to determine the source of a fever, possible causes of the infection, and how MDR bacteria are impacting patient care.

Engagement Approach.  Working with the leaders, participants will analyze the case study, identify clues, summarize information, and argue and defend positions.


Are Viruses Living or Not? | 11:30 a.m .
Leader.  Cynthia Keler, Delaware Valley College, Doylestown, PA

Introduction.  Are viruses living? Discussion of this topic helps undergraduate microbiology students and 7-12 grade teachers review the characteristics biologists use to define life and debate whether viruses have these characteristics or not.

Target Audience. Undergraduate students, faculty who teach undergraduates, and scientists involved in outreach activities with 7-12 classroom teachers, parents or the public

Learning Goals. Participants will experience an activity to engage undergraduate students and other public members to help understand the similarities and differences between viruses and cells.

Engagement Approach.  The audience is divided into small groups and asked to come up with reasons viruses should be consider living or nonliving. Representatives from the audience are invited to debate the issues on stage, and the audience votes on which side of the debate he/she is with regard to viruses being living or nonliving.   


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Solve the Outbreak: Bioterrorism or Nature? | 10:45 a.m.
Leaders. David Craft, Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, PA, and Marie-Claire Rowlinson, Florida Bureau of Public Health Laboratories, Jacksonville, FL. 

Introduction.  What is the meaning of detecting a select agent in a patient or the environment?  Natural occurrence?  Isolated infection?  Act of bioterrorism?  In this session, participants will review clues and learn how to respond, detect, confirm, and report the presence of a select agent.  

Target Audience.  Students, Educators, and anyone who is interested in the topic or clinical microbiology.

Learning Goals. Participants will be able to identify the steps to respond, detect, confirm and report the presence of a select agent.

Engagement Approach.  Working with the leaders, participants will analyze case studies while identifying clues, summarizing information, and arguing and defending positions.   


Adviser, Teacher or Friend: The Case for Good Mentoring | 11:30 a.m.
Leader. Amy Chang and Kelly Diggs-Andrews, Education, ASM, Washington, DC

Introduction.  Mentoring is supporting microbiologists to manage their own learning in order to develop skills, improve performance and maximize their potential.  Mentoring programs link young microbiologists with more experienced microbiologists for the purposes of professional growth by sharing knowledge and insights that have been learned and practiced through the years. In this session, you will discuss case studies from a research environment, drawing on your own experiences as mentor and mentee.

Target Audience.   Attendees who want to improve their mentoring skills.

Learning Goals.  Participants will be able to identify elements of effective mentoring and consider how these elements influence or not one’s thinking and behavior in a research environment.

Engagement Approach. Participants will work in 2-3 person groups to analyze the cases and report back to the whole group.  At the end of the session participants will reflect on their learning and consider ways to apply new information in their own situation.  


My Favorite Microbe 1 and 2 | 12:15 p.m. and 1:00 p.m.
Leader.  Wade Bell, Virginia Military Institute, Lexington, VA

Introduction.  Friend or foe?  Helpful or harmful?  Living or nonliving?  Microbes play a central role on our planet improving global health and the environment.  In this session, ASM offers contestants two minutes to present their favorite microbe attempting to convince the audience to cast a favorable vote.  How effective are you in persuading colleagues that your microbe is the best in its class?  

Target Audience.  All conference attendees aged 18 to 88 interested in microbiology and its role on improving life on planet earth.  

Learning Goal.  Participants will be able to identify salient characteristics of various microorganisms.
Engagement Approach.  Participants will learn from peers the characteristics of various microorganisms and judge their skill at persuasive speaking and creativity by voting for My Favorite Microbe.