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Marian Biology Students Serve as Beta Testers for French Company

May 9, 2012

FOND DU LAC, Wis. — Thanks to a fortunate meeting had by a faculty member, a Marian bacteriology class had the opportunity to test out the latest technology of CHROMagar Microbiology, a French company that produces innovative chromogenic culture media techniques.

Dr. Susan Bornstein-Forst, a professor of Biology at Marian, met a representative of CHROMagar at an American Society for Microbiology meeting. After hearing about Bornstein-Forst’s research-based bacteriology class and lab, Alberto Learner from CHROMagar offered the professor a semester’s worth of agar, an algae-based polymer that is typically very expensive.

“We look at environmental reservoirs that can harbor potential pathogens to track down sources for bacteria associated with bovine mastitis,” Bornstein-Forst says. “Using bacterial source tracking, we’re trying to determine the culprits for these diseases. He was very excited that we were doing this for our class.”

Thanks to the sample and testing opportunity, Bornstein-Forst’s students were able to develop research projects that connected to real-world skillsets using cutting-edge technology.

“The beauty of the CHROMagar product is that it’s called ‘chrome’ because the dyes in the agar will turn specific colors according to the type of bacteria,” Bornstein-Forst says. “Students loved it because it was so visual. They find it much more meaningful to know that they’re involved in learning activities that address real-world problems and, especially since our students come from agricultural backgrounds, this meant something to them.”

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