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Patricia A. Shields
Department of Cell Biology & Molecular Genetics
University of Maryland
ELVIS Meltdown!: Microbiology Concepts of Culture, Growth, and Metabolism

In this interrupted case study, students assume the role of a microbiologist working at a chemical company that makes polyurethane. When a collection unit designed to pick up extraterrestrial (ET) samples (nicknamed ELVIS) returns to earth, much of the polyurethane material had been degraded. Using information given to them in the case, the students' task is to analyze the samples and to “isolate and characterize” the ET microbes that may be responsible for the polyurethane degradation. The case was developed for an introductory general microbiology course for biology and non-biology majors.