Sabrina Abdulla

PhD Candidate

[email protected]

Department of Microbiology

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Outreach experience and examples of outreach related projects

Communications Chair - MCB Graduate Student Association (2017-2018, 2019-2021)
Using microbiology techniques to demonstrate the learning framework: information creation is a process  (IS471 assignment; Audience: other instructors; Goal: teaching how different methods provide different information and how  that is useful in different scenarios)

I chose to demonstrate the ACRL framework point – information creation is a process using microbiology lab materials because an important part of teaching information literacy to students is demonstrating why things are important and how to make conclusions based on data. People start out thinking that a single method of information is enough to come up with a conclusion or think that the more boring methods are not useful, but in reality, multiple methods are required to come up with a formal conclusion, and points that are made in published literature always (should) come from multiple sources of information. That being said, different methods convey different things in different situations. 

Shown are two ways of growing the same bacteria – although both show growth of the same bacteria, they provide very different information. Liquid cultures (tubes), show these bacteria grown overnight. Growth looks relatively the same. Plate cultures show growth on a solid surface – although the liquid cultures showed that all these bacteria grow, the plates show the fine details. While growth looks the same in the liquid cultures, the strains vary in how well they grow, which can be determined by how big the colonies (individual circles) are. In addition, the plate can be made to make the media turn blue – this makes it an ideal technique for making the information more appealing for science communication AND for providing minute details. When doing science communication with children, I might stick to conveying my points with the plates that I can dye blue and present more visual data. When teaching college level students, they need to understand each step, and understand why we need to do both together to decide.