The labs for M465 are designed to familiarize students with how research in environmental microbiology is designed, performed, analyzed, and communicated. Over the course of the semester, students explore the diversity and function of environmental microbes and form hypotheses as to their impact in their community. Their job is to think like microbiologists when designing and executing experiments to identify and characterize microbes from distinct environments. The instructors – indeed no one – knows ahead of time what students will find in the samples they collect; therefore, the successful outcome of the project is in the hands of the students. Students learn to work as scientists, to perform the experiments properly, keep good records of their results, and to articulate the findings and conclusions from their work, both orally and in written reports.