Monthly Archives: November 2014

A really challenging puzzle – even with hints

Unknown-2I’ve been watching cryptography videos again on Khan Academy. In doing so, I created this puzzle. But don’t worry about it. It’s really hard, even with the hints I provide.

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Posted by on November 23, 2014 in Uncategorized


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A Pointer

For my Microbiology students….

Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 11.53.01 AM

“I feel kinda sick”

As we finish up the year dividing out time between Immunology and Epidemiology, you may find it useful or just interesting to take a look at the online Epidemiology course offered at Coursera. It is a six-part course taught by Lorraine Alexander and Karin Yeatts of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

As all Coursera classes, this is 100% free unless you would like to receive a signed certificate of completion.


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Posted by on November 21, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Bell Ringers

liberty-bell_14540_lgToday, my wife and I toured a school that we are considering for our (present) fourth grader to move into when he starts sixth grade. It was a great little school with a motivated, engaged staff from whom I stole an idea or two that I think I can apply to my own teaching and am eager to start in with.

The first was the idea of starting every class with ‘Bell Ringers’, short worksheets that joggle students’ memories with concepts and simple questions that review prior work and provide a glimpse into future study. I’m not sure exactly how he operates these assignments, i.e. cooperative work vs single-person exercises and whether they are actually graded for a score or not. Regardless, I think they represent a fun way to get into the proper state of mind at the beginning of each class.

An article about these kind of exercises can be found at the Edutopia website.

In the same article, I found another activity that is used to open classes that I may consider using to finish each day. That idea, roundtable review, has students compile a list of idea-statements discussed in that class. I was thinking that this might be a good way to collaboratively compile a list of study notes. Maybe the best, or best-stated, idea can receive extra credit (??).

Both of these techniques echo ideas that I have been trying to come up with a way to actualize for some time. Perhaps this is just the right nudge I need to get started.

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Posted by on November 19, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Blue Man Group – Kentucky Style

One of the more interesting cases of oddball genetics can be found by the banks of Kentucky’s Troublesome Creek. Some of the families these exhibit a hereditary condition known as methemoglobinemia which makes their skin appear a deep blue. E. M. Scott reported cases of this condition in his 1960 article in the Journal of Clinical Investigation (vol. 39, 1960).Scott found that “In normal people hemoglobin is converted to methemoglobin at a very slow rate. If this conversion continued, all the body’s hemoglobin would eventually be rendered useless. Normally diaphorase converts methemoglobin back to hemoglobin.” However, in people lacking the enzyme, diaphorase, hemoglobin is converted into methemoglobin and cannot be converted back resulting in a general blue coloration.

How blue? This blue.    —>


The condition is extraordinarily rare, and typically is seen only in inbred families. Given the pedigree below, suggest a pattern of inheritance that this condition may be exhibiting.

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One thing you may notice from the beginning is that Zachariah Fugate is married to, and has children by his mother’s sister (that’s the odd looking relationship outlined in the top two rows). This consanguineous relationship is further illustrated by the double line between Zachariah and his (un-named) wife.

Once you’ve taken a stab at determining the inheritance of this trait, take a look at the excellent write-up of this condition here.

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Posted by on November 11, 2014 in Uncategorized


Microbiology Quiz Prep

virusConsidering what you know about micro-organisms, germ theory, and experimental methods to address the following:

A new pathogen has recently been reported as spreading through the American Midwest. Currently, the pathogen is known only as MidAmerica1 (MA1) and thought to be a retrovirus. You work in a lab studying this disease and hope to make a vaccine.

MA1 infects both humans and mice (which makes it especially easy to do lab experiments with).

What experiment can be done to determine whether MA1 is a virus or not? How would you distinguish between a virus, a bacteria, and a toxin?

How ho each of the following treatments work? And which treatments might be effective in treating patients?

1. Amoxicillin

2. Augmentin

3. reverse transcriptase inhibitor

4. Tetracyclin

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Posted by on November 9, 2014 in Uncategorized


Looking Glass Genetics : Gene Mapping

The Mad Hatter and March Hair setting up a breeding experiment in a teacup

The Mad Hatter and March Hair setting up a breeding experiment in a teapot

In addition to Genetic Counseling for the cards, your lab has been investigating the genetics of the Dormouse.

Dormice have either the ability to Speak (S) – or are Mute(s).

Additionally, they are either Cruel or Kind.

You wish to map the distance between the Speech and Disposition genes and determine whether Cruelty or Kindness is dominant. (Here, not a metaphysical question)

You begin by obtaining true-breeding animals:

  1. A Speaking , Kind Male
  2. A Mute, Cruel Female

(oh, the cries of misogyny!)

Once bred, this coupling gives rise to a litter of six offspring. All six can speak and are unfailingly kind.

These offspring are then bred to true-breeding homozygous recessive mates. The results of these matings are:

      #                     Phenotype

35                   Speaking, Kind

15                   Speaking, Cruel

15                   Mute, Kind

35                   Mute, Cruel

  1. What can you determine from these results?

In similar experiments, Cruel, Longhair and Kind,Shorthair animals were examined. Both parentals were true breeding and the F1 litter consistend entirely of Kind, Longhair animals. These F1 were then crossed with homoztgous recessives for both traits, resulting in:

    #                     Phenotype

20                   Kind, Longhair

80                   Kind, Shorthair

80                   Cruel, Longhair

20                   Cruel, Shorthair

What do these data add to your understanding of Dormouse genetics? Can you map the three genes to one Chromosome? What experiment do you want to do next?

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Posted by on November 8, 2014 in Uncategorized


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The first hand : Mendel in Wonderland

In wonderland, much depends upon the suit and rank of a card. In the time of Alice, the Hearts held power, but since then, the Queen of Hearts has been imprisoned and the Kind of Spades now rules the land.

Families now strive to have children of high suits in order to give them the best chance at a good life.

Suit values are as follows:

Clubs < Diamonds < Hearts < Spades


Conveniently, the inheritance of the suits follows the same order. That is Spades are dominant over all suits, Hearts are dominant over Diamonds and Clubs, and Diamonds are dominant over Clubs.

SC < SD < SH < SS

Two cards come into your clinic to get genetic counseling. They want to know what chance they have of having a Hearts or Spades baby.

Mom is the Three of Hearts

Dad is the Five of Diamonds

They already have three children: a Two of Hearts, a Seven of Clubs, and a Jack of Clubs.


From the information provided above, what do you know?

Is it possible that they can have a Hearts Baby?


Posted by on November 7, 2014 in Uncategorized


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