demonstrate proficiency in the fundamentals of biological science by effectively communicating and participating in the design, implementation, and presentation of scientific studies
apply the scientific method to make observations and weigh evidence about the strengths and limitations of empirical findings in the biological sciences
apply ethical practices and knowledge of safety and health policies and regulations to make informed decisions about research use and applications

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The final assessment for this course will be a substantial final project.  To successfully complete this assignment, you will need to integrate concepts and skills learned throughout the course, apply them to a real-world situation, and develop and write a project report according the criteria and details provided in the Project Descriptions area.

As you read the case study, analyze functioning of the company in terms of scientific rigor, ethical considerations, safety concerns, and health policies.  Identify any problems or inconsistencies in the company that have led to current operating conditions and the public perception of the company. In your written analysis provide a review of each divisions of the company and their responsibilities. Suggest actions to improve operating conditions and public perception of the company.

*Lay-out of the Final Paper

Brief introduction to lab safety, ethics, and best lab practices. Identify with a purpose statement they key points of your assessment of the Case Study.
Scientific Assessment: Identify problems or inconsistencies in the company. What tests or regulations should be discussed at Best Pet Test in order to ensure compliance?
Summary and Conclusion: A comprehensive review of the evidence you presented with final recommendations for the company.

*The Applied Final Project contributes to 20% of the course grade.

*Important Dates: Week 5-Provide a list of problems or inconsistencies you will discuss in your project. Week 8-Completed Final Project Due to Assignment Folder in the LEO classroom.

Final Applied Project Case Study

Renee is the lab safety manager for a small (<50 employees) blood and urine sample analysis company, Best Pet Test, Inc. The company receives samples from veterinarian offices and animal shelters in the tri-state area. Renee began working with Best Pet Test six months earlier. Her predecessor, Harold, held the position for 15 years and did not keep accurate records. Renee has been looking through old files and contacting clients, suppliers, and contractors to better grasp the current status of workflow at Best Pet Test, Inc.

In the sample analysis lab, ten employees and one supervisor are responsible for receiving, cataloging, and testing samples. When samples arrive, they are given a bar-coded decal in order to track them through the process. For the last year, however, the two of the three hand-held bar-code readers have not been working and staff compensate by adding a hand written label to the samples. Recently, the lab staff has begun to notice inconsistencies in the performance or results of sample testing. Below is a graph of a recent real-time or quantitative PCR of canine blood samples for the presence of a bacterial pathogen. The solid line on the graph represents the negative control sample, which contained water plus reagents. The dotted lines represent the test samples. Upon seeing the results, the lab supervisor, Beth, is not pleased with her employees’ lab techniques.

Figure 1. Real-time PCR test for the presence of bacterial pathogen among dogs.

Beth has asked Renee to visit the testing lab and identify behaviors or methods that may not be within safety and health regulations for work with blood-bourne pathogens. Beth explains to Renee that Harold would provide a training seminar on lab safety to personnel once every two years. Since Harold was known for taking shortcuts, Beth was concerned that he had not presented the most recent safety guidelines available or emphasized the enforceable accepted standards. Lab staff members are often seen in the lunch area or mail room wearing their lab coats. Once in the lab, Renee notices an overfilled Sharps container and unlabeled bottles of chemicals cluttering the fume hoods. All staff members testing blood samples were wearing gloves and eye protection, but two individuals had their morning coffee sitting next to a centrifuge. Renee prepares a short presentation of proper lab safety to provide to the lab staff and includes personal protective equipment, waste disposal and emergency protocols.

Renee’s week has gone from bad to worse. A local newspaper has published a story that laboratory waste with labels from Best Pet Test, Inc. was found at an abandoned quarry nearby. Since the story was published that morning, your company has received numerous phone calls from concerned citizens. The company owner has requested Renee investigate where there was a failure in the removal and incineration of the laboratory waste. Renee knows from invoices that a waste incineration company (Medi-Waste) has been paid in the past to pick up weekly from the loading doc. Renee travels to the quarry and collects several samples of discarded polycarbonate test tubes, and two bags of lab wastes with used agarose gels, nitrocellulose membranes from Southern Blots, and disposable pipettes. Renee does not contact the county health department at that time; she decides to wait until she examines the collected wastes at the company. Furthermore, she is unsure if there is ethidium bromide or radioactive material contaminating the gels and membranes. The company owner has stressed to Renee to provide a clean and efficient analysis of the situation in order to avoid poor public relations. The owner does not want to lose customers or receive additional bad publicity. Renee designs a short experiment to track which wastes may be contaminated with hazardous materials. She also begins surveying the habits of the lab members and the janitorial staff.

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