Group 4 Assessment

HIV in Brooklyn: Incidence of the disease based on Ethnicity, Age and Culture

The Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is an infection that progressively affects the immunological system of individuals impacting the lymphoid and immunologic organs and leading to the acquisition of opportunistic diseases and cancer.  It is transmitted by contact of body fluids containing high levels of viral particles, such as: blood, semen, pre-ejaculatory fluids, vaginal secretions and breast milk.  During our group activity we learned that the best preventive measures rely on avoiding contact with these fluids by adopting safe practices like sex abstinence, condom use, preventing blood-contaminated contact, not nursing if sero positive, among others.  The fact is that although preventive and surveillance programs are readily available, every day more people sero convert.  For this reason, the scientific community is constantly looking for new methods to prevent HIV sero conversion and new treatments to improve the quality of life of those that acquire the virus.

A new method proposed for prevention is pre-exposure prophylaxis.   It relies on the administration of HIV treatment medication to a population that it is HIV negative, but is at a high risk of getting the virus.   A few weeks ago the 19th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections was held at Seattle, WA.  At this conference the results of several clinical trials related to HIV prevention where presented.  The links found below will take you to New York Times articles that summarize the studies and their findings.

After accessing the articles, please think about the following questions:

Would you consider the study effective for HIV prevention?

Can the drug substitute for all the other preventive measures previously promoted?

Are there any ethical issues involved in these studies?  Why one of the studies was cancelled earlier?

Group 4 Presentation Agenda

Group 4 Presentation:

HIV in Brooklyn:  Incidence of the disease based on Ethnicity, Age and Culture


9:30am – 10:00am:           Housekeeping business by Program Directors

10:00am – 12:00n:            Presentation: “HIV Prevention in Brooklyn

                                                Guest Speaker:  Christobal Jacques, LMSW

                                                                            HIV Prevention Specialist

                                                                           NYC Dept. of Health & Mental Hygiene

                                                Guest:                  Michelle Wilson, MPH

                                                                                Aids Education Center

                                                                                SUNY Downstate

 12:00n – 12:30pm:           Q & A Section

12:30pm – 1:00 pm           Lunch and discussion

1:00pm – 1:45pm:            Case Studies Discussion and Project Discussion

1:45pm – 2:00pm:            Summary and Reflection

Using Brooklyn as a Living Lab: Quantification and Identification of Bacterial Species in our Environment


Faculty Member: Marie C. Montes-Matías

Proposed course:  Microbiology Laboratory (Bio 3302L)


The proposed project intends to utilize the Brooklyn Waterfront as an experimental laboratory.  Through this project students will get a better perspective on the bacterial diversity in our environment and their abundance on our ecosystem.  The activity will be designed to supplement the current syllabus for the Microbiology Laboratory.  Experimental part will take at least two weeks.  This activity will also expose students to environmental issues and the impact that contamination has in our environment. 

Week 1:  Sample collection and serial dilutions.  Students will be subdivided into different groups.  Class will travel to the river to collect samples from different locations.  This exercise will combine math and science skills.  After sample collection, students will perform the traditional microbiology technique serial dilutions.  Different concentrations of samples will be plated in LB agar and incubated for 24-48h, which allow the approximation of number of cells in a sample.  This activity will allow students to quantify the approximate number of bacterial cells in the ecosystem.  In order to supplement this exercise, students will also utilize a Spectrophotometer as an analytical instrument to approximate the number of bacterial cells in a sample measuring turbidity. 

Week 2:  Bacterial plate count and identification testing.   Plated samples will be quantified.  After quantification, different cells will be selected for analysis under the microscope.  Bacterial Gram Stain will be performed for basic cell identification and concepts like shape and number will be addressed.  This activity will allow students to identify different bacteria in the sample and the diversity of the ecosystem. 

High Impact Practices 

Undergraduate research

Collaborative assignments and projects

GenEd competencies

Knowledge development from range of interdisciplinary perspectives:  Through experimentation of their own environment, students will be able to apply the knowledge acquired in the classroom to different areas of the real world.  They will be exposed to different disciplines, such as, Microbiology, Math, and Environmental Science.

Inquiry/ Analysis:  Students will be exposed to data collection and analysis, which will help students employ scientific reasoning skills and logical thinking. 

Community Engagement: Exposure to different environmental issues and raise awareness of the importance of environmental conservation.

Communication:  Students will have the opportunity to communicate their results through scientific writing and to orally present their results. 


Assessment for this project will involve different phases.   Prior to the experimental part, students will be asked to generate a hypothesis (their results expectations) .  After the experimental part, students will be asked to write a scientific report to communicate their findings.  In addition, students will have the opportunity to engage in oral presentations to communicate their results and provide an interpretation of their findings.

Some people “learn”, but can’t apply what they know…

It caught my attention when he, through the description of his everyday experiences said that some people “learn”, but don’t know how to apply what they know. He later makes reference to this while he describes his experience teaching in Brazil. I believe that it is a battle that educators constantly face, but not every educator address. The fact that Mr. Feynman, a great researcher and educator, recognizes this and published it in a book that later became a bestseller is a great beginning in redirecting the focus of education.

His stories kind of reminded me about myself during my College years. Right before graduation I was terrified to go out and get a job. I felt I had so much information, but I didn’t know how to use it. At that time, I decided that since I was not ready for a job, and because of the need to get a better training, I ended up applying for graduate school. When I think about my own education, very few professors had an impact in my life, and only those that had me work extra hard and think outside the box are the ones that motivated me to achieve my career goals. Today, as an educator I try to at least impact the careers of some of my students. I believe that focusing in critical thinking skills and applied knowledge is way more important than just memorizing a book chapter that probably will be forgotten the next week. Exercises that work improving writing skills, that promote critical thinking and situations where knowledge needs to be applied are way more important in the process of training good professionals. As I usually tell my students, I worked for a big Pharmaceutical Company and the least I used there in order to fulfill my duties was science. I totally agree with Mr. Feynman, and although I consider him a genius, I believe that there is so much we can do as educators to improve this and to prepare better professionals.