Web site educates about bioterrorism

Jessica Dreschel

Christopher Woolverton, associate professor in biological sciences, doesn’t want you to be scared of germs. That’s why he’s spending a $700,000 grant to educate the public about microbiology.

Woolverton is talking about bioterrorist attacks. He is working to calm public fears by teaching groups how to be prepared for an attack.

His organization, the Northeast Ohio Consortium for Biopreparedness, will launch its Web site sometime this week, Woolverton said.

The NEOCB Web site will serve as a resource for educators and the public, Woolverton said. The Web site will have links to hands-on activities for teachers to use. The activities will be separated by grade level, Woolverton said.

Liz Wyglendowski of the university’s New Media Center designed the NEOCB site.

The site will eventually include a lab simulation, Wyglendowski said. Visitors to the site will click on a microbe. Then users can simulate different kinds of lab tests to determine what the microbe is, Wyglendowski said.

“We’re very excited about the simulation. It gives us a chance to use fun things like animation and sound effects,” Wyglendowski said.

The bulk of the grant money will go to creating a new lab in the basement of Cunningham Hall. The new lab will be used to train scientists in the latest way to handle infectious diseases. The lab will also be used for NEOCB-sponsored classes and lectures, Woolverton said.

“Ideally, clinical scientists from hospitals and other universities could learn and work here,” Woolverton said.

The lab is slated for completion in early fall, Woolverton said.

According to an NEOCB flyer, the NEOCB works to unite the community to “address biopreparedness and Homeland Security issues through education, research and workforce development.”

The NEOCB educates people and hopes threats of bioterrorism are never realized.

“It’s like car insurance. You buy it to be safe and hope you never have to use it,” Woolverton said.

Woolverton’s presentation is called “Germs 101.” It is an introduction to basic microbiology. The NEOCB is currently partnered with universities and organizations throughout northeastern Ohio.

Woolverton hopes to make the NEOCB a university-wide effort. He has started working with the College of Continuing Studies to get word of the new lab to graduate students.

“I would also like to partner with the Health Center to help reach and educate current students,” Woolverton said.

Contact academic technology reporter Jessica Dreschel at [email protected].