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Lalitha S. Jayant
Associate Professor
Science Department
Borough of Manhattan Community College / City University of New York
Fat Facts: Comparing the Structure and Function of Lipids

It's Mother's Day and Dolly, a high school senior, is making a Mediterranean salad for her mom, who is a college chemistry major and who likes to take every opportunity to teach Dolly what she has learned in school. Today is no exception, as she guides Dolly through a chemistry lesson in the kitchen. The case compares and contrasts the structures of various fatty acids, saturated with unsaturated, monounsaturated with polyunsaturated, and cis-conformation with trans-conformation. The melting point differences of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fatty acids also are explained as are the structures and functions of triacylglycerol, phospholipid, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and omega-3 fatty acids. The case could be used in courses in general chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, nutrition, biology, and food science.

The Fun in Fermentation 

When covering the process of cellular respiration, advanced high school and undergraduate biology classes present fermentation as a means of anaerobic energy production in certain organisms and in muscle metabolism. Although most biology textbooks cover aerobic and anaerobic processes in detail, this laboratory-based case study is designed to highlight the practical applications of fermentation. The beginning of the case study involves a story that students read and discuss in small groups in order to learn about the process of fermentation. The students then design a controlled experiment to test various juices for fermentation to predict which ones are preferred by yeast. Finally, they carry out a prepared protocol, then collect and analyze their data. This case study is suitable for advanced placement high school biology and college-level introductory general biology classes for majors or non-majors.