Integrating Molecular Biology Research, Teaching, and Professional Outreach in Environmental Engineering and Science


Over the past 15 years, molecular biology tools to track environmental micro-organisms have become a common analytical technique available in many environmental engineering and science research laboratories. To introduce students and adult practitioners of environmental engineering and science to molecular biology analytical tools, three educational activities were undertaken. First, five offerings of a term-length course to a total of 55 students demonstrated that teams of engineers completing the full cycle 16S rRNA approach were able to significantly improve their individual understanding of biology concepts without the need for prerequisite courses in the biological sciences. Second, a 2-week-long international workshop demonstrated interdisciplinary education can successfully overcome nationalistic differences. Third, six offerings of an intensive 1-day-long seminar to adult professionals provided sufficient introduction to uncommon vocabulary and critical concepts needed to begin to understand the benefits of using molecular biology analytical tools in the day-to-day practice of environmental engineering and science. Sustained efforts over a 5-year period have successfully integrated research, education, and professional outreach to introduce more than 250 students and adults to the applications of molecular biology analytical tools in environmental engineering and science.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Chemical laboratories; Engineering education; Environmental engineering; Research and development management; Students; Sustainable development; Analytical tools; Authentic learning; Laboratory course; Peer teaching; Molecular biology; RNA 16S; adult; continuing education; education; engineering; environment; environmental science; female; human; interdisciplinary communication; laboratory; male; microbiology; normal human; research; teaching

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


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© 2006 Mary Ann Liebert Inc., All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jun 2006