Educational Services

Aerobiology Research Laboratories offers both in-house intensive training and a correspondence course in pollen and spore studies, with a focus on microscopic identification.

Intensive Training - Pollen and Spore Studies

The purpose of this course is to provide the student with a comprehensive knowledge of airborne pollen and spores, including identification and counting procedures using optical microscopy. In addition to identification and counting the course includes discussion of biological and weather factors influencing pollen production and distribution. The course also provides a general understanding of the statistical methods used to establish the relationship between weather patterns and local pollination seasons. A general overview of computer technology is also covered as it applies to simplifying counting procedures and manipulating data. The course is intensive, highly technical, and focused towards persons interested in establishing a career in aerobiology. The comprehensive section requires two to three weeks residency depending upon the preference and aptitude of the student. Prior training or experience with optical microscopy is preferred but not strictly required.

Tuition for the course is $1500.00. Additionally, the student is required to purchase their own texts and arrange their own accommodations if from outside the Ottawa area.

Course Outline

The course for aeroallergen identification is comprised of three sections. The student should expect to spend 50 to 100 hours of study time per section. At the conclusion of each section there is an oral and/or written examination. Upon successful completion of all three sections there is a comprehensive and practical examination. The pass mark for all examinations is 80%. Exams last 2 to 4 hours.

Wherever visual identifications are required, the species are limited to those included in the routine counts of our Sample Analysis (Counting) Services. Fungal spore identification would be limited in genera covered due to difficulty in identification and the significant length of time it takes to become competent in differentiation of spores.

Required Texts

All texts can be ordered from Aerobiology Research Laboratories.


A certificate of competency is issued upon successful completion of all sections. This certificate is awarded when the course is completed and 100 practice counts have been performed with acceptable accuracy. All training and instruction is to be done by qualified staff of Aerobiology Research Laboratories. This certificate indicates that a person is fully qualified for aeroallergen identification on their own. All laboratory personnel of Aerobiology Research Laboratories require this qualification.

Correspondence Course - Pollen and Spore Identification

This course is designed for long distance learning at an individual's own pace. It is ideal for those who want to learn some of the basics of aeroallergen identification.

The course will cover identification of the major pollen and fungal genera found in North American outdoor air samples. It is recommended that the student obtains reference slides for at least some of these genera, in order to gain practical experience with identification via microscopy. Exams will be provided by mail or via the internet. Exams must be received and supervised by a proctor. All exams will be sent back to the laboratory and graded. The same curriculum and pass mark will apply as per the in-house intensive courses (above). Identifications will be part of the exam, and may be done electronically or via microscopy using reference slides sent to a proctor and performed at a site with proper facilities.

A certificate will be given to the participant based on the level of training and competency, and will state what level of training the student has obtained. This certificate does not indicate that a person is fully qualified for aeroallergen identification on their own -- we require that further hands-on training must be obtained in our laboratory.

It should be noted that identification of aeroallergens is complex and takes many hours of training and learning before competency can be obtained.

Aerobiology Research Laboratories provides all of the required texts, the course materials and the exams. Books and digital reference materials will be supplied as part of tuition, and reference slides are available for sale (see info). We adapt the course and materials to each individual's needs.

Tuition for the correspondence course is $1500.00. Additional one-on-one training at Aerobiology Research Laboratories is $1500.00 per week.

Please contact us for more specific information.

Last Updated: 05 Jan 2015

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