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Microbiology Library Research Guide

some examples of basic lab skills development

The Short List

This list includes really basic laboratory skills. These basic skills are expected of everyone graduating with a microbiology (really any biological sciences laboratory based major) degree to the piont of, if you do not know these, you risk looking really, well, quite frankly, uneducated and unprepared. So please, if you do not know everything in this list, brush up on the topic. I have provided links to initial resources to help you get caught up to speed.


  1. How to make any solution
    1. a job candidate has to know how to make: any molarity of acidic solutions (e.g., a 0.7 M HCl solution)
      1. HCl is often purchased as a 1M solution, but usually you use it at a dilution dependent upon the application. Do you know how to make serial dilutions? i.e., do you know how to pour into a graduated cylinder, what type of H2O to dilute with, and how to store the solution once it is made? If it spills, how do you clean it up? don't know the answer? Can an SDS sheet help you find the answer? What is as SDS sheet? it is required that all laboratories have them, and you know what else? They do actually get used in the real world. 
    2. mix and pour media plates
    3. nucleotides come as a powder. to be used they have to be mixed to a specific concentration. Can you do this?
  2. Know how to find answers
    1. Do you know what a peer-reviewed article is?
    2. Do you know how to read articles and "follow citations" to arrive at an original method?
    3. Do you know how to locate laboratory protocols?
  3. Know how to use various types of pipettes. 
  4. Know how to use lab meters (pH, conductivity, etc...)
  5. Understand the value of SDS sheets, where they are usually located, why they are there, what they are for
  6. Protective gear and clothing: wear proper shoes, protective goggles, etc... acidic and radioactive solutions are no joke. Spills happen, accidents happen, they will happen to you... but if you have proper clothing, then your co-workers will be safe.
  7. Know why you write in lab notebooks
  8. Safety with hazardous chemicals
  9. Know how to use a lab hood properly

lab skills books available through Parks