Career readiness is always on the minds of students and teachers, both at the high school and university levels. As students think about future career tracks in biochemistry, specific skills are needed to build up their readiness. They can begin thinking about them in the classroom.
We’ve identified five essential lab skills based on biochemistry resume listings on the job platform, Zippia. Each lab skill is for biology career building, and we’ve included accompanying virtual labs to help instructors teach them.
1. Cell Culture
There are approximately 37 trillion cells in your body, and there are specific ways to handle these and other mammal cells. Cell cultures are essential because scientists may use them to diagnose infections, test new drugs, and research (1).
Labster has many cell simulations, and one of them is Cell Culture Basics: Plate, split, and freeze human cells, where students will learn how to culture cells in a controlled environment. They’ll perform the different steps to keep cells healthy by using a standard cell culture protocol for eukaryotic cells. Students will also learn the aseptic technique. These experiments could take hours, but in virtual labs, they take seconds.
SDS PAGE, or Sodium Dodecyl Sulphate-Polyacrylamide Gel Electrophoresis, is a technique used to separate proteins based on their molecular weight, detect specific proteins, and identify strain species (5).
The SDS-PAGE simulation creates conditions for separating proteins by an identifying characteristic, molecular weight. In this simulation, students will learn how SDS, the acrylamide gel, buffer solutions, and the electric current work together to separate proteins.
Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) is a biochemical assay that uses antibodies and enzyme-mediated color changes to detect the presence of either antigens (proteins, peptides, hormones) or antibodies in a given sample.
In Labster’s ELISA virtual lab, students will join scientists using a groundbreaking technique for detecting and quantifying substances, such as proteins. The method is called Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). They’ll help a doctor quantify Factor IX protein, which is used for hemophilia drugs.
4. Protein synthesis
Protein synthesis happens due to collaboration between tRNA, mRNA, and the ribosome. It’s the process by which the cell builds proteins.
In the Protein Synthesis virtual lab, you will learn about the difference between protein synthesis in prokaryotes (using E. coli) and eukaryotes (using CHO cells).
5. Data Analysis
If students want to get into a field like clinical research, they’ll need to know how to analyze data. Data analysis is looking at qualitative and quantitative data to condense, recap, and evaluate it. This may mean displaying the data in a graph, table, or hypothesis (2).
In Labster’s simulation, RNA Extraction: Sample and purify mRNA from pigs, students will learn how to lyse cells, extract RNA using a chloroform solution and purify mRNA with magnetic beads. Then they’re immediately provided with qualitative data (spectrophotometer, electrophoresis) to check the quality of their samples.
Questions for consideration:
What are some other ways your biochemistry students learn career readiness skills?
What are other biochemistry skills students will need to know? Try a search of Labster’s catalog to discover virtual labs that match each skill.