Biology Labs FAQ

All Biology laboratory classes will be online for Spring 2021.

Some upper level courses such as Genetics BIO-356, Anatomy & Physiology II BIO-302 , and Microbiology BIO-440 will offer some reduced capacity in-person lab sections which students can opt to enroll in, but this is not required. All lectures will remain online. Please reach out to the course instructor for more information if you are considering taking a face-to-face lab section for Genetics, Microbiology, or Anatomy and Physiology II in Spring 2021.

Current possibilities include Zooming in students remotely during their regularly scheduled class time so they can observe and “participate” in laboratories and assessments, or providing asynchronous or synchronous at-home laboratory activities that students can perform with limited materials (that they purchase or are mailed to them by the AU bio department). Remember that each laboratory course is different and will tackle this issue differently. Our goal is to make sure that everyone who is registered for a biology laboratory course gain experience related to scientific equipment, the scientific method, and practice using biological data to make decisions. We are committed to the idea that students who cannot physically be in laboratory must still be able to fully and thoughtfully participate in their laboratory courses.

Yes! All students will be required to provide and wear their own cloth mask while in lab. Any lab instructor will also wear a cloth mask and a transparent face shield. Goggles, lab coats and non-latex gloves will be provided but are not mandatory for participation in lab (unless required to ensure student safety associated with chemical and biological reagents in lab). We will use frequent handwashing and 75% ethanol treatment to limit fomite-based transmission.

Yes. We have supplemental laboratory instructors (SI) for Biology 110 and Biology 210. SI sessions will be conducted entirely online.

Office hours are going all online for all laboratory and lecture courses: your lecture or laboratory instructor will set up a virtual place and time for you to be able to attend office hours. If your instructor sets hours that you cannot attend, then reach out by email and ask them about an alternative time. They will be happy to accommodate your needs. Also, you can use the Blackboard collaborate tool to meet up with your instructor(s) or fellow classmates. Check out Blackboard and ask your instructor to set it up at the beginning of the semester.

We are doing our best to make these decisions quickly so that you can make decisions about the upcoming Spring semester. If you have specific questions about a class, reach out to the lecture instructor or the lab director and ask. Also be aware that a lot of these policies might change so check your email often. Once laboratory policies are finalized, they will be posted to your Blackboard course pages.

We are accommodating students who are fully remote. Please consider that you will probably need to be able to participate synchronously in laboratory at some point during the semester so register for laboratory sections that make that as easy as possible, Also, check in with your laboratory instructor in early August to see what materials and equipment you might need to procure on your own.

Absolutely—yes! Your biology laboratory instructors will make sure that any required or recommended resources are posted to your laboratory Blackboard page. Make sure that you can see both a lecture site and a laboratory site on Blackboard for each biology laboratory course you are enrolled in. All laboratory assignments will be provided digitally and collected through blackboard. If a laboratory requires you to handwrite assignments or draw, take a picture with your phone—you can copy/paste this picture into a word document or upload as a separate image into Blackboard. To prepare for the fall, make sure that you have some technology that allows you to take pictures and easily transfer them to a computer or word document. Blackboard also has an app for your phone.

Check with your lecture instructor and laboratory instructor for any required texts. Also check your course at for bookstore information.

Yes, we are still working out details about the number of students who will be outside of the DC time zone, but as we nail down details, we will accommodate time zone differences to make sure you are not taking laboratory class in the middle of the night or early in the morning. Please work with your laboratory instructor on this issue. If you are enrolled in Biology 110 or 210, you might consider purchasing your own microscope (it’s $20 at

No, lab sections dates and times will not change based on who can attend. Each biology laboratory section will have some synchronous component that will meet during its regularly scheduled laboratory day and time. You will not be required to meet with lab instructors outside of that designated time, so please make sure that you are registered for a laboratory section that you can attend, either in-person or virtually each week.

If this happens, we will provide laboratory exercises and materials that you can take home with you. Since we went home abruptly in the middle of the spring 2020 semester, we have some experience on what to do if this scenario occurs. Also—check on policies relevant to International Students & Scholars frequently.

Yes! We want you to get to know the other students in your laboratory class. If you are not on the AU campus, we will hold Zoom or Blackboard meet-ups, and you will likely participate with the students on-campus during regularly scheduled lab times. If you are on campus, then our plan is to have you do in-person labs 6 times during the semester. 

Good question—if you know that you are NOT coming to campus but registered for a laboratory course, we can provide you with a list of reagents you can obtain from the grocery or convenience store, and/or mail you materials. Important note: this will be different for different laboratories, so talk with your lecture instructor or the lab director if you know this is your plan for the fall. If you are enrolled in Biology 110 or 210, you might also consider purchasing your own microscope (it’s $20 at