Teaching Laboratories

Langley Teaching Lab

In the past two decades, biology and medicine have played an increasing role in our society, especially here in Pittsburgh.  In response, the Dept. of Biological Sciences has increased the number of lab course spaces available to students, as well as redesigned their purpose.  While teaching the necessary skills needed in a modern biology or a clinical lab, our courses also teach our students to be knowledge producers, not just consumers.  Our upper level lab courses challenge students to develop questions of their own making and answer them empirically by experiments of their own design.  We attempt to create experimental scenarios for which the outcomes are unknown, even for the instructor.  Some labs extend existing departmental research.  In such cases, the students readily develop a sense of project ownership and are drawn into the excitement of scientific discovery of the outcome, instead of carrying out decades old cookbook recipes.

The departmental lab facilities include:

Foundations of Biology Laboratories

Clapp Hall, Ground Floor, Rooms G06 - G11

Lab Managers and Instructors:  Meredith Barbieri and Jean Schmidt

The Foundations Laboratories offer a two-course introductory sequence on the study of organisms.  We apply laboratory techniques to illustrate basic biological principles with emphasis on cell biology, genetics, ecology, and evolution.

Vertebrate Morphology Laboratories

Clapp Hall, First Floor, Room 102

Lab Manager and Lecturer:  Dr. Tony Bledsoe

BIOSC 1200:  A study of the gross anatomy, histology, development, and evolution of the vertebrate body. Topics: Vertebrate origin, phylogeny, and classification; basic histology; early embryology; evolutionary morphology; integument; skeletal system; muscular system; sense organs; nervous system; endocrine system; body cavity and mesenteries; digestive system; respiratory system; circulatory system; excretory system; reproductive system. Each system is examined in terms of its embryonic development, histology, functional anatomy, and evolutionary history.

Ecology Laboratories

Crawford Hall, First Floor, Room 170

Lab Managers & Lecturers:  Dr. Walter Carson

BIOSC 0390:  The objective of the laboratory course is to provide students with practical experience in ecological methods and in the design, conduct, and analysis of ecological studies. Laboratory exercises are designed to correspond with major lecture topics presented in BIOSC 0370. Exercises will include laboratory and field studies.

Phage Genomics Laboratories

Clapp Hall, First Floor, Room 102

Lab Manager & Lecturer:  Dr. Zuzanna Swigonova

BIOSC 1740:  This course is designed to give each student practical experience with the methods and techniques used in the study of bacterial, insect, and animal viruses and the reactions of host cells to viral infections. Included are tissue culture techniques, methods used in the isolation, characterization and assay of viruses and purification of viral DNA. In some portions of the course students are encouraged to design and implement experiments of their own choosing.

Microbiology Laboratories

Clapp Hall, room G5

Lab Managers & Lecturers:  Tiffaney Czapski, Leah Golcano, Kim Payne, and Zuzana Swigonova

BIOSC 1860:  This laboratory course introduces basic techniques used for isolation of microorganisms in pure culture, identification of groups of microorganisms, and study of microbial physiology, genetics, and ecology. Some topics in applied microbiology that are covered include food microbiology, water and waste water analysis, and identification and antibiotic sensitivity-testing of pathogenic isolates. Viruses, archaebacteria, bacteria, algae, protozoa, and fungi that students isolate from soil, pond water, human skin, and other sources are used to illustrate these methods.

Langley Teaching Laboratories

Langley Hall, First Floor, Rooms A146 – A148

Lab Manager and Lecturer: Dr. Vern Twombly


BIOSC 0190, 0191: Dr. Nancy Kaufman, Dr. Beth Roman, Dr. Brian Traw

BIOSC 1005: Dr. Andrew VanDemark, Dr. Vern Twombly

BIOSC 1510: Dr. Kirill Kiselyov, Dr. William Saunders

BIOSC 1530: Dr. Gerard Campbell

BIOSC 1830, 1950: Dr. Vern Twombly, Dr Craig Peebles

Langley Teaching Labs (LTL) host upper division students in Introduction to Biochemistry (Biosc 1005), Cell Biology (Biosc 1510), Developmental Biology (Biosc 1530), Biochemistry (Biosc 1830), and Molecular Genetics (Biosc 1950) laboratory courses, as well as the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) funded freshman biology course, Discovering Life: An Introduction to the Biological World 1 and 2 lab sections (Biosc 0190 and 0191).  The labs host several summer workshops for the HHMI and Department of Biological Sciences OutReach programs.