Search

Microbiology

Chair

  • Patrick M. Schlievert
Undergraduate major: microbiology (B.S.)
Undergraduate minor: microbiology
Graduate degrees: M.S. in microbiology; Ph.D. in microbiology
Faculty: http://www.medicine.uiowa.edu/dept_primary_apr.aspx?appointment=Microbiology
Web site: http://www.medicine.uiowa.edu/microbiology/

Study in the Department of Microbiology is dedicated to the branch of biological sciences that deals with the smallest living things: bacteria, archaea, fungi, algae, protozoa, and viruses. It is coupled with immunology, the study of the response of higher organisms to foreign substances.

Microbiology and immunology are at the forefront of the modern biological revolution. Microbes are often the experimental subjects of choice for examining basic genetic and biological phenomena because of their small size, rapid growth rate, and relative simplicity. A significant portion of contemporary biochemical research employs microbiological and immunological methods.

Current research is making theoretical and practical advances concerning microbial species and viruses that infect animals, including man, plants, and other microbes; the use of comparative genomics, gene expression profiling, and recombinant DNA methods to analyze basic biological processes and generate valuable products; the nature and occurrence of microbial life in extreme or unusual environments; microbial synthesis and modification of antibiotics and other natural products; the role of microbes in stabilization of the biosphere by recycling and detoxifying waste products; the genetics and regulation of metabolic processes; and the genetics and regulation of the immune response, including characterization of mechanisms used by bacteria to signal one another and characterization of interactions between different types of immune cells and their targets.

The Department of Microbiology offers an undergraduate major, an undergraduate minor, and graduate degree programs and determines the curricula for those programs. Undergraduates majoring in microbiology receive their degrees (Bachelor of Science) from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and are governed by that college's undergraduate academic policies. Graduate degrees in microbiology are conferred by the Graduate College.

Undergraduate Programs of Study

  • Major in microbiology (Bachelor of Science)
  • Minor in microbiology

Microbiology is an excellent major for undergraduate students who want a good general education with emphasis on an important and interesting branch of biological sciences. Graduates find employment opportunities in government, hospitals, public health laboratories, research laboratories, and industrial laboratories (food, dairy, chemical, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology companies). Those who pursue advanced degrees have more advanced career opportunities in these same areas as well as in college and university teaching.

Bachelor of Science

The Bachelor of Science with a major in microbiology requires a minimum of 120 s.h., including 63-64 s.h. of work for the major (21 s.h. in microbiology and 42-43 s.h. in supporting course work). Students must maintain a g.p.a. of at least 2.00 in all courses for the major and in all UI courses for the major. They also must complete the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences General Education Program.

Students must complete at least 12 s.h. of the required 21 s.h. in microbiology courses at the University of Iowa.

The major in microbiology requires the following course work.

MICROBIOLOGY COURSES

Students earn 21 s.h. in microbiology courses, as follows.

MICR:2157 General Microbiology (with a grade of C or higher)5 s.h.
MICR:4163 Seminar: Microbiology (taken during the last two semesters before graduation)2 s.h.
Additional microbiology courses, with at least 14 s.h. in courses numbered MICR:3147 or above, excluding MICR:3164 and MICR:522014 s.h.

Students must earn a grade of C or higher in MICR:2157 in order to take more advanced microbiology courses.

Students must take MICR:4163 once for credit during their last two semesters before graduation. They may apply a maximum of 2 s.h. earned in the course toward the major, but they are encouraged to take it for 0 s.h. during other semesters after they have completed MICR:2157.

A maximum of 4 s.h. earned in MICR:4161 Undergraduate Research in Microbiology may be counted toward the major. However, honors students must complete 23 s.h. of microbiology courses for the major and may count 6 s.h. earned in MICR:4171 Honors Undergraduate Research in Microbiology; see "Honors in the Major" below.

SUPPORTING COURSE WORK

In addition to the required 21 s.h. in microbiology, the major requires the supporting course work listed below. These courses may not be taken pass/nonpass.

All of these:

BIOC:3120 & BIOC:3130 Biochemistry and Molecular Biology I-II6 s.h.
BIOL:1411-BIOL:1412 Foundations of Biology - Diversity of Form and Function8 s.h.
CHEM:1110 & CHEM:1120 Principles of Chemistry I-II8 s.h.
CHEM:2210 & CHEM:2220 Organic Chemistry I-II6 s.h.
CHEM:2410 Organic Chemistry Laboratory3 s.h.

One of these sequences:

PHYS:1511-PHYS:1512 College Physics I-II8 s.h.
PHYS:1611-PHYS:1612 Introductory Physics I-II8 s.h.

One of these:

BIOS:5110 Introduction to Biostatistics3 s.h.
MATH:1460 Calculus for the Biological Sciences4 s.h.
MATH:1550 Engineering Mathematics I: Single Variable Calculus4 s.h.
MATH:1850 Calculus I4 s.h.
STAT:3510 Biostatistics3 s.h.

In addition, the following course may be recommended for some students.

CNW:2680 The Art and Craft of Creative Nonfiction3 s.h.

Four-Year Graduation Plan

The following checkpoints list the minimum requirements students must complete by certain semesters in order to stay on the University's Four-Year Graduation Plan. (Courses in the major are those required to complete the major; they may be offered by departments other than the major department.)

Before the third semester begins: BIOL:1411 Foundations of Biology, CHEM:1110 Principles of Chemistry I, CHEM:1120 Principles of Chemistry II, and an approved calculus or biostatistics course

Before the fifth semester begins: BIOL:1412 Diversity of Form and Function, CHEM:2210 Organic Chemistry I, CHEM:2220 Organic Chemistry II, CHEM:2410 Organic Chemistry Laboratory, and MICR:2157 General Microbiology 

Before the seventh semester begins: five more courses in the major and at least 90 s.h. earned toward the degree

Before the eighth semester begins: another 10-12 s.h. of course work

During the eighth semester: enrollment in all remaining course work in the major, all remaining required General Education courses, and a sufficient number of semester hours to graduate

Honors in the Major

Students majoring in microbiology have the opportunity to graduate with honors in the major. Departmental honors students must maintain a g.p.a. of at least 3.33, both cumulative and in microbiology courses. To graduate with honors in the microbiology major, students must complete 23 s.h. of course work in microbiology, including 6 s.h. in MICR:4171 Honors Undergraduate Research in Microbiology, which introduces them to experimental research. At the end of the research, they must successfully present written and oral reports.

In addition to honors in their majors, undergraduate students have a variety of opportunities for honors study and activities through membership in the University of Iowa Honors Program; visit Honors at Iowa to learn about the University's honors program.

Joint B.S./Ph.D.

Students majoring in microbiology who are interested in earning a doctoral degree may apply to the joint Bachelor of Science/Doctor of Philosophy program in microbiology. The joint program permits students to count 12 s.h. of credit toward both the B.S. and Ph.D. degree requirements before they have been granted the B.S. degree. Contact the Department of Microbiology for more information.

Minor

The minor in microbiology requires a minimum of 15 s.h. in microbiology courses, including 12 s.h. in courses considered advanced for the minor taken at the University of Iowa. Courses numbered MICR:3147 Survey of Immunology and above are considered advanced for the minor, except MICR:3164 Nursing Microbiology. Students must maintain a g.p.a. of at least 2.00 in all courses for the minor and in all UI courses for the minor. Course work in the minor may not be taken pass/nonpass.

Students may count a maximum of 2 s.h. earned in MICR:4161 Undergraduate Research in Microbiology or MICR:4171 Honors Undergraduate Research in Microbiology and a maximum of 2 s.h. earned in MICR:4163 Seminar: Microbiology toward the minor. They may count MICR:5218 Microscopy for Biomedical Research toward the minor but not MICR:5220 Advanced Microscopy for Biomedical Research.

Graduate Programs of Study

  • Master of Science in microbiology
  • Doctor of Philosophy in microbiology

Graduate study in microbiology is designed to help students become highly qualified in microbiology research and teaching. Admitted graduate students usually pursue the Ph.D.

Graduate study is offered in six subdisciplines: pathogenic bacteriology, microbial genetics, immunology, microbial physiology, animal virology, and bioinformatics. Several areas involve interdisciplinary training both within and outside the department, so students gain broad experience during their course of study. Students also may pursue interdisciplinary Ph.D. programs in genetics, immunology, and molecular and cellular biology.

During their first year, students rotate in up to three laboratories of their choice and are advised by the Graduate Student Advisory Committee. At the end of May of the first year, they choose a research supervisor who chairs their advisory committee. The committee provides intellectual and research guidance for the student's training.

The Department of Microbiology cooperates with other University of Iowa departments to give students ample access to diverse course offerings, seminars, and research programs. For example, microbiology students may participate in courses and seminars in immunology, genetics, molecular and cellular biology, biocatalysis/biotechnology, and electron microscopy.

All students admitted to advanced degree programs are expected to assist in departmental teaching.

Master of Science

The Master of Science program in microbiology requires a minimum of 30 s.h. of graduate credit. M.S. students are required to earn a minimum of 12 s.h. in microbiology courses chosen from three of the department's six subdisciplines. They may substitute a course they have already taken (at the University of Iowa or elsewhere) for a course requirement, with the M.S. advisory committee's approval. Additional course requirements depend on students' interests and the advice of the examining committee.

Students must write a thesis based on their own research and defend it satisfactorily in an oral examination. No more than 9 s.h. of credit for thesis research may be counted toward the 30 s.h. required for the Master of Science.

Doctor of Philosophy

The Doctor of Philosophy program in microbiology requires a minimum of 72 s.h. of graduate credit. Ph.D. students are required to earn approximately 10 s.h. of credit in graduate-level microbiology courses. They may substitute a course they have already taken (at the University of Iowa or elsewhere) for a course requirement, with the Ph.D. advisory committee's approval.

Students must pass a comprehensive examination before the end of their fourth semester in the program and write a thesis based on their own research. The thesis must be defended satisfactorily in an oral examination.

Admission

Applicants must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate College; see the Manual of Rules and Regulations of the Graduate College. They should have a cumulative g.p.a. of at least 3.00 and must have completed courses in biology, chemistry (inorganic and organic), mathematics including calculus, and physics. Those admitted with deficiencies must complete the relevant course work during their first year of graduate study. Admission is determined through a review and formal vote by the faculty. Preference is given to students applying for the Ph.D. program.

Facilities

The Department of Microbiology is situated on the University of Iowa health sciences campus, where it shares the Bowen Science Building with the Departments of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Biochemistry, Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, and Pharmacology. Laboratory space and modern equipment are available for teaching and research.

Courses

Lower-Level Undergraduate

MICR:1006 The Microbial World3 s.h.
Basic principles of microbial world for nonscience majors; introduction to bacteria, viruses, and fungi; how they differ from more complex cells, how they are found in every environment on earth and on every human body, their uses to benefit humans, their ability to cause illness in humans and animals.
 
MICR:2157 General Microbiology5 s.h.
Principles of bacterial and viral diversity, structure, genetics, physiology and metabolism; in contexts of molecular biology, immunology, infectious disease, and environmental microbiology; laboratory emphasis on basic techniques. Prerequisites: BIOL:1411
 

Upper-Level Undergraduate and Graduate

MICR:3112 Pharmacy Microbiology4 s.h.
Medical microbiology: bacteriology, immunology, pathogenic bacteriology, virology, mycology, parasitology. Requirements: pre‑pharmacy standing
 
MICR:3147 Survey of Immunology3 s.h.
Important principles and key concepts in immunology; overview of innate and adaptive immune systems and their functions at cellular and molecular levels. Prerequisites: MICR:2157 with a grade of C or higher
 
MICR:3159 Pathogenic Bacteriology5 s.h.
Pathogenic bacteria with emphasis on mechanisms of pathogenicity and structure‑function; laboratory methods for isolation and identification with emphasis on advanced methods of experimentation. Prerequisites: MICR:2157 with a grade of C or higher Requirements: grade of C or higher in MICR:2157 
 
MICR:3160 Microbial Physiology3 s.h.
Bacterial genomes, cell structure, growth, energy metabolism, biosynthesis, mechanisms of signal transduction and regulation. Prerequisites: MICR:2157 with a grade of C or higher and (BIOC:3110 or BIOC:3120) Requirements: biochemistry course and grade of C or higher in MICR:2157 
 
MICR:3164 Nursing Microbiology4 s.h.
Overview of bacteria, viruses, and eukaryotic microorganisms that cause human disease; microbial structure, growth control and reproduction; immunology in the context of host defense mechanisms. Prerequisites: BIOL:1140 or BIOL:1141 or BIOL:1411 Requirements: pre‑nursing standing
 
MICR:3168 Introduction to Animal Viruses3 s.h.
Physical, chemical, and biological properties of animal viruses with emphasis on their remarkable strategies for infection and replication and their association with human disease; how to read primary literature. Prerequisites: MICR:2157 with a grade of C or higher Requirements: grade of C or higher in MICR:2157
 
MICR:3170 Microbial Genetics3 s.h.
Genetics of bacteria, bacteriophages. Prerequisites: BIOL:2512 with a grade of C or higher or MICR:2157 with a grade of C or higher Requirements: grade of C or higher in BIOL:2512 or MICR:2157
 
MICR:3175 Microbial Genetics Laboratory3 s.h.
Introductory research experience in bacterial genetics; students generate original data, formulate hypotheses, design and interpret experiments, read primary literature, and write a scientific manuscript on findings. Corequisites: MICR:3170 or MICR:3179, if not taken as a prerequisite
 
MICR:3178 Animal Viruses Laboratory2 s.h.
Basic techniques and approaches in animal virology, including virus detection, virus growth measurement, and virus genetics. Prerequisites: MICR:2157 with a grade of C or higher Corequisites: MICR:3168 Requirements: grade of C or higher in MICR:2157
 
MICR:3179 Bacterial Diversity3 s.h.
Physiological and biochemical basis of microbial diversity; focus on synthetic and systems biology with primary emphasis on roles of small regulatory RNAs and their affects on development of diverse microbial populations, including human microbiome. Prerequisites: MICR:3170 with a grade of C or higher and BIOC:3120
 
MICR:3190 Web-Based Nursing Microbiology4 s.h.
Nursing microbiology, principles of immunology; web‑based instruction. Prerequisites: BIOL:1140 or BIOL:1141 or BIOL:1411 Requirements: pre‑nursing standing
 
MICR:4161 Undergraduate Research in Microbiologyarr.
Experimental research under faculty supervision. Prerequisites: BIOL:1411
 
MICR:4163 Seminar: Microbiology2 s.h.
Current topics in microbiology, immunology, and virology. Prerequisites: 2 of the following are required: MICR:3147 with a grade of C or higher, MICR:3159 with a grade of C or higher, MICR:3160 with a grade of C or higher, MICR:3168 with a grade of C or higher, MICR:3170 with a grade of C or higher, MICR:3179 with a grade of C or higher Requirements: senior standing and grades of C or higher in at least two of these — MICR:3147 or MICR:3159 or MICR:3160  or MICR:3168 or MICR:3170 or MICR:3179 
 
MICR:4169 Topics in Viral Biology and Pathogenesis1 s.h.
Topics include viral life cycles, immune response, antiviral treatments, potential for vaccine, animal models; lectures introducing subject matter; discussion of literature relevant to each week's topic. Prerequisites: MICR:3168 with a grade of C or higher
 
MICR:4171 Honors Undergraduate Research in Microbiologyarr.
Experimental research under faculty supervision. Prerequisites: BIOL:1411 Requirements: microbiology major, junior or senior standing, 3.33 overall g.p.a., and 3.33 g.p.a. in microbiology courses
 

Graduate

MICR:5218 Microscopy for Biomedical Researcharr.
Basic microscopy methods for research including optics, preparation, and analysis of biomedical specimens; light, fluorescence, confocal, transmitting electron, scanning electron, atomic force microscopes, elemental analysis; immunochemistry and stereology techniques; individualized laboratory instruction. Prerequisites: BIOL:2723 Same as ACB:5218, BIOL:5218.
 
MICR:5220 Advanced Microscopy for Biomedical Researcharr.
Technically advanced microscopy and instrumentation for research; individualized laboratory experience with opportunity to explore applications of microscopy methods. Requirements: for ACB:5220 — an introductory microscopy course; for BIOL:5220ACB:4156 or ACB:5218 or CBE:4156 or EES:4156 or MICR:5218; for MICR:5220 — an introductory EM course Same as BIOL:5220, ACB:5220.
 
MICR:5264 Directed Study in Microbiologyarr.
 
MICR:5875 Perspectives in Biocatalysis1-3 s.h.
Applied enzymology, protein design, structure‑activity relationships, biosensor technology, microbial transformations, biodegradation of environmental pollutants. Requirements: graduate standing in a participating department supported by the Predoctoral Training Program in Biotechnology Same as CHEM:5875, PHAR:5875, CBE:5875, CEE:5875, BIOC:5875.
 
MICR:6201 Graduate Immunology3 s.h.
Ontogeny, activation, and function of T lymphocytes and B lymphocytes; innate immune effector mechanisms; major histocompatibility complex; antigen presentation; thymocyte positive and negative selection; signaling of T lymphocytes, B lymphocytes; emphasis on experimental methods for analysis of these processes. Requirements: for IMMU:6201 — college biology, general chemistry, and introductory immunology courses; for MICR:6201 — courses in college biology, genetics, general chemistry, and introductory immunology Recommendations: for IMMU:6201 — courses in biochemistry and genetics; for MICR:6201 — biochemistry course Same as IMMU:6201.
 
MICR:6247 Graduate Survey of Immunology4 s.h.
Important principles and key concepts in immunology; overview of innate and adaptive immune systems and their functions at cellular and molecular levels; learning enhanced by case‑based, small‑group discussion and written assignment. Same as IMMU:6247.
 
MICR:6250 Mechanisms of Parasitism Journal Club1 s.h.
Reviews of recent publications in molecular parasitology research and thesis research by training grant or journal club students. Same as MCB:6250.
 
MICR:6259 Graduate Pathogenic Bacteriology3 s.h.
Pathogenic bacteria with emphasis on mechanisms of pathogenicity, structure‑function, and experimental design.
 
MICR:6260 Graduate Microbial Physiology3 s.h.
Bacterial genomes, cell structure, growth, energy metabolism, biosynthesis, mechanisms of signal transduction and regulation.
 
MICR:6267 Graduate Introduction to Animal Viruses3 s.h.
Physical, chemical, and biological properties of animal viruses with emphasis on their remarkable strategies for infection and replication and their association with human disease; focus on topics and techniques used in primary literature and development of specific aims for a mini‑proposal.
 
MICR:6268 Biology and Pathogenesis of Viruses2 s.h.
Molecular biology of animal DNA and RNA viruses, viral immunology and pathogenesis, and interaction of these viruses with eucaryotic cells; mechanisms of viral latency, persistence, cellular transformation, oncogenesis; virology literature. Prerequisites: MICR:3168 or MICR:6267
 
MICR:6270 Graduate Microbial Genetics3 s.h.
Genetics of bacteria, bacteriophages.
 
MICR:6279 Graduate Bacterial Diversity3 s.h.
Physiological and biochemical basis of microbial diversity; focus on synthetic and systems biology with primary emphasis on roles of small regulatory RNAs and their affects on development of diverse microbial populations, including human microbiome; design and presentation of primary research abstracts.
 
MICR:7207 Advanced Topics in Immunology3 s.h.
In‑depth analysis of selected areas. Prerequisites: IMMU:6201 or MICR:6201 Same as IMMU:7221.
 
MICR:7217 Integrated Topics in Infectious Diseases1 s.h.
Clinical cases used to raise questions in host‑microbe interactions; case/scientific exposés followed by related journal club discussions at next class session. Same as IMMU:7217.
 
MICR:7221 Advanced Topics in Prokaryotic Biology Module 11-2 s.h.
Development of critical thinking, experimental approach and design, writing, and oral presentation skills through primary literature and course specific assignments (proposal writing, writing manuscript reviews, oral presentations, small group discussions). Requirements: graduate standing in microbiology
 
MICR:7222 Advanced Topics in Prokaryotic Biology Module 21-2 s.h.
Development of critical thinking, experimental approach and design, writing, and oral presentation skills through exposure to primary literature and assignments (proposal writing, writing manuscript reviews, oral presentations, small group discussions). Requirements: graduate standing in microbiology
 
MICR:7223 Advanced Topics in Prokaryotic Biology Module 31-2 s.h.
Development of critical thinking, experimental approach and design, writing, and oral presentation skills through exposure to selected topics in microbiology and assignments (proposal, writing manuscript reviews, oral presentations, small group discussions). Requirements: graduate standing in microbiology
 
MICR:7224 Advanced Topics in Prokaryotic Biology Module 41-2 s.h.
Development of critical thinking, experimental approach and design, writing, and oral presentation skills through exposure to selected topics in microbiology and assignments (proposal, writing manuscript reviews, oral presentations, small group discussions). Requirements: graduate standing in microbiology
 
MICR:7225 Advanced Topics in Prokaryotic Biology Module 51-2 s.h.
Development of critical thinking, experimental approach and design, writing, and oral presentation skills through exposure to selected topics in microbiology and assignments (proposal, writing manuscript reviews, oral presentations, small group discussions). Requirements: graduate standing in microbiology
 
MICR:7226 Advanced Topics in Prokaryotic Biology Module 61-2 s.h.
Development of critical thinking, experimental approach and design, writing, and oral presentation skills through exposure to selected topics in microbiology and assignments (proposal, writing manuscript reviews, oral presentations, small group discussions). Requirements: graduate standing in microbiology
 
MICR:7227 Advanced Topics in Microbiology1 s.h.
Presentations by graduate students on selected research topics in microbiology; different topics each semester. Offered fall and spring semesters. Requirements: graduate standing in microbiology
 
MICR:7261 Graduate Research in Microbiologyarr.
Requirements: microbiology graduate standing
 
MICR:7263 Graduate Student Research Seminar1 s.h.
Presentation of thesis work in progress. Requirements: microbiology graduate standing
 
MICR:7265 Topics in Virology Literature1 s.h.
Papers of current interest in primary virology literature.
 
MICR:7269 Graduate Topics in Viral Biology and Pathogenesis1 s.h.
Topics include viral life cycles, immune response, antiviral treatments, potential for vaccine, animal models; lectures introducing subject matter; discussion of literature relevant to each week's topic. Prerequisites: MICR:6267
 
MICR:8202 Principles of Infectious Diseases5 s.h.
Principles and methods essential to study of microorganisms, their isolation and identification; microorganisms in infectious diseases; current immunology concepts. Requirements: M.D. enrollment
 
MICR:8230 Dental Microbiology3 s.h.
Medical microbiology: bacteriology, immunology, pathogenic bacteriology, virology, mycology, parasitology. Requirements: D.D.S. enrollment