Good Germs, Bad Germs: Microbiology and Infectious Disease in San Francisco

Brian Thornton 

BIOL 195
Core B2

Course Description:

This introductory microbiology course investigates life science through the study of microbes. Microbiology plays an integral role in events of our everyday lives. Some disease-causing microbes have caused tremendous suffering throughout history while others have provided countless benefits. This course examines the science of microbiology and its impact on the human condition. The principles of microbial diversity, cell structure, growth and reproduction, genetics and biotechnology, disease and prevention of disease, food and environmental microbiology are covered. Each topic provides a basis for discussion of current issues where microbes play a role.  Special emphasis is placed on topics that relate to San Francisco, such as the production of sourdough bread and ecology of the bay, and these will be combined with field trips.  In addition, the laboratory provides an inquiry-based approach to examining the diversity of microbes and their application in disease, genetic engineering, food and antibiotic production, agriculture and the environment.  This course fulfills Core Area B2.

Faculty Bio:

Brian Thornton received his B.S. in Genetics from the University of California at Davis, and his Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of California, San Francisco. His graduate studies were on the genetic control of cell division in the budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and he worked for a short time after graduate school on the pathogenic microbe, Francisella tularensis. He teaches Introductory Microbiology, Genetics, and other courses at USF, and in collaboration with lab instructors has authored the lab manual for the Introductory Microbiology Lab.