Feb 22, 2018


In order to prevent the accidental deletion of discussion session posts, problems with posting, and posts without names, I have created accounts on the class server for each of you. You should now use these accounts instead of the generic account I gave you info on at the beginning of class.

Username : your Unity ID (the part in front of your NCSU email before the @)
Password : the PIN you gave me for posting grades

If your computer automatically logs you into the old account, CLICK ON THE PADLOCK ICON at the top right of the window. This will allow you to log out, and then you can log in with the new info.

Feb 18, 2018


Discussion session grading.

As I mentioned in last weeks Discussion session, now that the first midterm exam is in the past, the expectations for the Discussion sessions has been increased. Previously, these were basically "check-offs", where you got full credit for almost any primary and secondary posts. This is no longer the case, and so I thought I'd share with you the grading criteria for these Discussion sessions:

Primary comments are worth 6 points, and are graded on the following subjective scale, based on how clearly the prompt question was answered:

  • A answer = 6 points
  • B answer = 5 points
  • C answer = 4 points
  • D answer = 3 points
  • F answer = 2 points
  • no comment = 0 points

Secondary comments are worth 2 points each, for a maximum possible of 4 points:

  • A/B comment = 2 points (in other words, you added something to the discussion)
  • C/D comment = 1 point (in other words, your comment didn't add to the Discussion)
  • No comment = 0 points

On secondary comments, you get credit for asking new questions, answering others questions, or improving your own original post. BEWARE just saying you like another students post for this reason or that - unless you add something new to the conversation, or explain WHY this persons comments are particularly helpful. Again, you need to add something useful to the discussion when you post comments.

If you have question about your Discussion session scores, please just ask.

Feb 18, 2018


I've had a couple of students mention "disappearing comments" on the Discussion session pages. If you enter a comment, click the check-mark icon or POST button, and your post doesn't appear, or disappears later, please let me know by email, and include this info:

  • What kind of machine you're on: PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, &c
  • What OS you're using - at least what kind, and the version if it's not up-to-date
  • What web browser you're using, and what version if it's not up-to-date

I have the server set to notify me by email every time a post is made, so I have a record of every comment thatt is successfully made - it's my impression that posts are NOT being deleted, but are somehow not making it to the server at all.If there is an incompatibiloty, I think we can sort it out.

Feb 17, 2018


I've finished grading the midterm exams, and have posted scores on the Grades page. The average was 81.4 (this is subject to slight change, I have a couple of exams from remote students still making their way here). Scores ranged from 99 to 55. I'll have these exams in class next week, and also in lab (MB 452) to pick up. If you are an online student and not in the lab, arrange a time to pick up your exam. If you are a remote student, I'll scan and email your graded exam soon.

I urge you to review your graded exams and check my math. If you disgree with my math, please see me right away so that we can get this resolved. If you disagree with the way an answer was graded, please review your notes, the textbook, and your answer as actually written (I can only grade what you write, not what you mean), then come and see me if you still disagree so that you can make your case that your answer deserves a different score.

If you're concerned about your grade, please come and see me for help. But also bear in mind the following things:

  • historically, the first midterm exam has somewhat lower scores than either the second midterm or the final exam.
  • the Discussion session scores are likely to be better than your exam scores, and so will probably raise your final score
  • each of the three exams cover very difference material - the first is mostly problem-solving, the second is lots of information, and the third is about papers and analysis. It is common for students to perform very differently on each of these exams. The standard deviation between the firt and second midterm is a full 10 points - in other words, students are different between these exams by a full letter grade on average! (This should also serve as a warning for those who did well on this first midterm not to become complacent.)
  • there is a lot we can do to improve your study skills and comprehension if you're having trouble with the exams - all you have to do is ask for a meeting (face-to-face or via phone/Skype/Facetime/WhatsApp)

Feb 07, 2018


For your info:

Hello All,

Please remind students to check WaitTime when planning their visit to the testing centers.  We are extremely busy this week and students arriving after 3:00 pm are experiencing a 30 - 40 minute wait. 

Have a great day!

Sharon Broere
Sr. Associate Director
Online and Distance Education Administrative Services
NC State University


Feb 03, 2018


Several of you have asked about how to turn in the take-home portion of the exam. The answer depends on how you're taking the in-class or proctored part of the exam:

  • If you're taking the exam in class, bring the completed take-home portion of the exam with you and turn it both parts of the exam in together.
  • If you're taking the exam at one of the DE testing centers, a remote proctor, or a DSO testing room, also bring your completed take-home exam with you and turn it in to them - both parts of the exam will be returned to me for grading.

Jan 30, 2018


This is a reminder that the first midterm exam is next week.

The take-home portion of the exam is 60 of the total 100 points on the exam, and is posted here:

You are free to use any notes, books, or online material while taking this take-home exam. You are also free to use a calculator and ruler or other drawing material. You are NOT allowed to get (or give) help of any kind from (or to) anybody. If you have questions about the exam, send an email to Dr. Brown at You MUST turn this completed take-home portion of the exam in no later than when the start of the rest of the exam.

How you take the 40 point (out of 100 total) in-class portion of the exam depends on what class section you're in, and if you have DSO accommodations.

  • If you are in the traditional section (section 001), you will take the exam in the usual class period on Wednesday (Feb 6th), unless...
  • you are in the tradtional section (section 001) and have been granted DSO accommodations for test-taking in this class. In this case, you need to arrange to take the "in-class"portion of the exam through the DSO.
  • You are in the online section (601), in which case you will take the exam at a DELTA testing center between Wednesday Feb 7th and Friday Feb 9th. Contact the DELTA center for instructions for how to take the exam - you may need to make an appointment. If you are an on-campus student, or live near Raleigh, you will take the exam at one of the NCSU DELTA testing centers. If you are a remote student, you will need to arrange with DELTA for remote proctoring.

Jan 20, 2018


Because we missed lecture last Wednesday due to the weather, I've altered the lecture shedule a bit, but nevertheless you will be expected to cover the relevant lecture material from the online resources and textbook. The bulk of this material is the section on molecular clocks and why ssu-rRNA is the single best sequence used to perform phylogenetic analysis. The schedule may require firther adjustment as we approach the midterm exam, as we see how quickly or slowely we move through the material in the face-to-face section of the class, but the midterm will remain as scheduled.

Jan 18, 2018


Many of you are approaching graduation with a Microbiology major, you might be interested in hearing from one of our prior graduate, Andrew Capps, who will talk with folks at Thursdays Micro Club meeting:

Jan 16, 2018


I've just graded the first Discussion session. You should check your scores RIGHT NOW on the course web site "Grades" page to make sure all is good.

Start by checking your PIN - if you don't see it, or haven't given one to me, get a PIN to me right away so you know where your scores are.

If you have a "10" for your score, then all is good, no worries.

If you DON'T have a score of 10, that means some of your work isn't there, or I can't find it. You should have turned in a primary comment (an idea for an experiment) and two secondary comments (additions to your own work or feedback to others). If you did these and don't have a score of 10, it probably means you didn't put your name on it, and so I don't know who to assign the points to. If this is the case, send me an email with the text of your primary and 2 secondary comments so I know who they belong to.

If you don't have a score at all, this means you didn't post anything at all. If this is the case, please let me know what's going on.

Please check this now - I have several posts without names and so whoever they belong to aren't getting the credit they deserve.

Jan 06, 2018


Welcome to MB 451 Microbial Diversity!