Teaching Summary

Principles of Microbial Diversity textbook

plateTitled Principles of Microbial Diversity, this book is being written for the American Society for Microbiology Press as a textbook is intended for undergraduate seniors in Microbiology curricula. The perspective in this textbook will be phylogenetic and organismal, from the Carl Woese school, and will be based on the MB 451 course listed below.

Want to know more? See a copy of the textbook proposal

Associate Head / Director of Academic Programs

As Associate Head of the Department of Biological Sciences, Jim Brown oversees both undergraduate and graduate academic programs in the department, including teaching staff and student support staff. Jim serves as chair of the graduate and undergraduate courses and curriculum committees, and also serves as Director of Microbiology undergraduate programs.


nullJim Brown’s teaching was recognized by an Outstanding Teacher Award in 2005, which makes him a member of the NCSU Academy of Outstanding Teachers.

Jim also received the 2005 Alumni Outstanding Teacher Award.

Want to know more? See a copy of Jim's OTA Teaching Portfolio

Jim was also awarded the 2009 CALS Outstanding Advisor Award.

Jim was awarded the Alumni Association Distinguished Professor Award in-2014.

MB 103
Introductory Topics in Microbiology

graphicIntroductory Topics in Microbiology is for freshmen and transfer microbiology majors in their first year at North Carolina State University. The course provides basic instruction in computing, academic policies, and study skills related to reading, comprehending, and discussing scientific information in general and microbiology in particular.

Want to know more? Visit the MB 103 course web site

MB 360
Scientific Inquiry in Microbiology : At the Bench

MB 360Scientific Inquiry in Microbiology is for students who wish to get involved in undergraduate research. topics include scientific questions, controls and variables, designing, preparing for and carrying out experiments, keeping a notebook, interpreting results, and presenting findings: i.e. the pragmatic things a student must know in order to work efficiently in a research lab regardless of the discipline. The experimental system of choice for this class is the bacterial growth curve.

Want to know more? Visit the MB 360 course web site

MB 451/452
Microbial Diversity (& Lab)

graphicMicrobial Diversity is a senior-level, undergraduate laboratory course and lab modeled after the Woods Hole course and the American Society of Microbiology recommendations. This course includes direct experience with molecular phylogenetic analysis, in combination with complementary traditional analyses of microbial diversity, as the focus of the course. The format for the lab (Mb 452) is "project oriented"; instead of a series of discrete laboratory exercises, the students carry a series of experiments in parallel throughout the semester. The students perform a series of classical enrichments and isolations (starting from environmental samples collected by the students), carrying them from week to week as the semester progresses. One of these isolations is quickly completed, and serves as the starting material for a series of modern molecular biology experiments, in which the student purify DNA, amplify the ribosomal DNA by PCR, and have a portion of this gene sequenced. This sequence information is the starting point for a computationally intensive term project in which they perform a detailed molecular phylogenetic analysis of the organism they isolated. MB 451 (lecture) meets 3 times each week: twice for 50 minute lectures (also available on-line), once for a 50 minute free-ranging discussion session. MB 452 (lab) meets once weekly for a 3 hour lab (there are 3 lab sections of up to 24 students each).

Just for fun, here are the best and worst student comments I've ever had for this course.

Want to know more? Go to the MB 451 Microbial Diversity lecture web site, or the MB 452 Microbial Diversity Laboratory web site.

MB 610/810
Microbiology Journal Club

EpulosMicrobiology journal club meets on alternating Mondays at 9:10am in the Microbiology conference room. Although anyone can participate, graduate students can get 1 graduate credit for participating by registering for MB 810R. The student assigned for each journal club date chooses the paper for discussion, and is the primary leader of the days discussion. This person can, if they wish, identify some aspect of the paper with which they are not particularly well-versed (a method, analysis, historical context, potential use, whatever), and recruit another person to explain or lead the discussion on this particular subtopic. The MJC ended in 2010.

Want to know more? Go to the Microbiology Journal Club web site

BCH 751
Biological Macromolecules

BCH 768 Nucleic Acids: Structure & Function

nullThis course was taught in Spring semester of 2002 and 2005 as "The RNA World", and more recently every other year (odd years) as Nucleic Acids: Structure and Function. The course is organized by Paul Agris or Stu Maxwell and Cindy Hemenway, and team-taught by members and associate members of the Biochemistry department. My contribution is a section on the comparative analysis of RNA structure.

Want to know more? Go to the BCH 768 web site for Dr. Brown's section.

ST 810 Bioinformatics Consulting

The Bioinformatics graduate program requires all of it's graduate students to do a project in which they solve a bioinformatics problem for a "client". I have served as the host client for these students on occasion.

Semester Student Project
Fall 2009/Spring 2010 Jing Li (informally) The RNase P mySQL database
Spring 2010 May Orazem Alignment parsing & error checking script

BCH 810R
RNA Biology Journal Club

The NCSU RNA Biology Group traditionally has a journal club that alternates with Microbiology Journal Club (every other week). I was the organizer of this journal club. This has been replaced by monthly CBI/RNA Biology Group Research Meetings, now defunct.

Undergraduate Research

Students in undergraduate research in my lab spend 1 or 2 (or more) semesters learning experimental molecular biology and performing experiments and analyses. The students are under the instruction of a graduate student, an experienced undergraduate student, or the PI, but generally work on their own research project. Students present their work in lab meetings, and prepare a brief written research summary. This experience is indispensable for students that will seek employment in laboratory science and for those that will seek admission to a graduate program. Students get credit under a variety of course designations, or work in the lab on a volunteer basis. This lists also includes a few students who did traditional independent studies with me.

Forrest Hentz biochemistry Summer I /II 1994
Charles Howerton biology Fall 1995
Ty Harvey biochemistry Spring 1997
Erika Richard BRITE student Summer 1998
Erin Powell Honors research Fall/Spring 2000/2001
Jessica Anderson microbiology Summer/Fall 2003
Kevin Harrell biochemistry Spring 1996
Amanda Willis microbiology Summer & Fall 2000
Jennifer Lowther microbiology Fall/Spring 2002/2003
James Wilde microbiology Spring 2004
Jennifer Cockerham microbiology Spring 2004/2005
Annie Howell microbiology Summer 2005
Mary Ellen Woods biological sciences Summer 1994
Mona Adams microbiology Spring 1996
Andy Andrews microbiology Summer/Fall 1997
Alishia Lawson BRITE student Summer 1999
Angela Redding Honors research Fall/Spring 2001/2002
Carol Broadwell Campbell College Summer 1997
Suneth Weerakoon microbiology Fall 1994
Maggie Titus microbiology Fall/Spring 2003/2004
Beatrice Criveanu microbiology Summer/Fall 2004
Robert Freeeze microbiology Fall 2004
Danielle McLaurin microbiology Fall 2004/Fall 2005/Fall 2006
Jennifer Massengill animal science Spring/Summer 2006/Spring 2007
Ayeshia Beavers biochemistry Summer/Fall 2006
Chris Cardwell microbiology Summer/Fall 2006
Alina Lotstein microbiology Fall 2006/Spring 2007
Valerie Yager microbiology Spring2007 - Spring 2009
Megan Hanna Microbiology Spring 2007
Tony Szempruch Microbiology Fall 2007
Katrina Garvey Microbiology Fall 2007
Naso Nour Microbiology Spring 2008
Ashley Cole Microbiology Spring/Fall 2008
Gwyn Rowland Microbiology Fall 2008/Spring 2009
Xiao Song Biology Fall 2009/Spring 2010
Lianne Gonsalves Biology Spring 2010
Kristina Dorsett Microbiology Spring 2011

MB 670/870
Laboratory Rotations

Graduate students in their first semester generally spend 1 month each in 3 or 4 labs to 'learn the ropes' in the department, and to gain the experience needed to make an informed decision on a permanent research advisor. Rotation students in my lab are under the instruction of a graduate student or postdoc, but generally work on their own research project.

Bev Vucson 8/94   Deb Pidddington 9/94
Tara Meade 10/94 Lisa Palermo 9/94
Kirk Harris 10/95 JJ Wang 10/95
Tom Hall 9/95 Jim Pannucci 8/95
Mike Russell 10/96 Marc Mora 10/96
Danny Williams 10/97 Melissa Hastings 9/98
Andy Andrews 10/98 Deb Richards 10/98
Ginger Muse 9/98   Aimeee Currie 11/99
Farideh Shafiekermani 10/00 John Gantt 9/01
Chris Ellis 8/01 Jeff Barnes 9/02
Rebecca Weingarten 10/03 Yi-Jian Huang 12/07

MB 686/886
Teaching Experience

These students have been teaching assistants for MB 451 (Microbial Diversity) and have participated fully in developing, preparing, and teaching the lab portion of this course.

Fall 1996 Kirk Harris  
Fall 1997 Shelly Sawyer  
Spring 1999 Danny Williams  
Spring 2000 Andy Andrews Tim Dean
Spring 2001 Ginger Muse  
Spring 2002 Erica Malotky Clemente Montero
Spring 2003 John Gantt Alan House
Spring 2004 Jeff Barnes Alan House
Spring 2005 Xuelian Du Jennifer Smith
Spring 2006 Drew Devine Jennifer Smith
Spring 2007 Drew Devine Alice Lee
Spring 2008 Jae Lee Oscar Tirado-Acevedo
Spring 2009 Bryan Trowell Jason Wilson
Spring 2010 Bola Oyegunwa Karli Lytle
Spring 2011 Bola Oyegunwa Chad Cecil
Spring 2012 Justin Bradshaw  
Spring 2013 Susan Gardner Aishwarya Sivakumar

MB 695/895
Graduate Microbiology Research

These students were mentored as graduate students in my lab:

Beverly Vucson MS 8/94 - 3/97
Kirk Harris MS 11/95 - 8/97
Jim Pannucci PhD 11/05 - 11/98
Ginger Muse MS 11/99 - 8/01
Tom Hall PhD 8/97 - 8/01
Danny Williams PhD 11/97 - 8/01
Andy Andrews MS 11/98 - 8/01
John Gantt MS 11/01 - 8/03
Chris Ellis PhD 7/01 - 12/06
Jeff Barnes MS 11/02 - 12/04

MB 621/821

Instrumentation was a required course for all incoming graduate students, designed to teach the students how to safely and effectively use the facilities of the department and university. This course was team taught by many of the faculty of the department, and was organized by Prof. Paul Bishop. My contribution to this course was a lecture on sequence analysis facilities, given every year, reviewing on-line programs such as the NCBI web site, NCSU facilities such as UWGCG, and local programs including MacVector and BioEdit. The course has been defunct for several years - I participated from 1994 - 2003.

MB 801
Microbiology Seminar

The Department strongly encourages graduate students to attend the Department of Microbiology seminar series throughout their degree program. Two credits (two semesters) are required of all graduate students. In the years 1994/1995, 1999/2000 and 2003/2004, I was responsible for organizing the Microbiology seminar series, and for the graduate students taking this for course credit.

Want to know more? Go to the Microbiology Seminar web site