Fall 2007/Spring 2008 Course Catalog
03. The Chemical Basis of Human Physiology. (Also Chemistry 03.) How does the human body work, and what are the physical laws that describe and explain body functions? We will study circulation, respiration, digestion, acid/base regulation, excretion, and reproduction, while exploring chemical concepts such as molecular structure and phase behavior that make these phenomena possible. We'll ask how these functions are regulated by the nervous system and by hormones, and we'll explore electrical and chemical communication pathways at a fundamental level. Emphasis is on using mathematics and physical sciences to understand physiological functions. Three classroom hours and three hours of laboratory per week.
Enrollment is limited to first-year students who are interested in science or premedical study, who are recommended to begin with either Mathematics 5 or the intensive section of Mathematics 11, and who are enrolled in a Mathematics course but not in Chemistry 11. Permission from the instructor required. First semester. Professors S. George and O'Hara.
06. Why Sex? Perhaps no subject in biology is as troublesome (or as fraught with contradictions) as sex. Why should organisms devote so much of their time and energy to attracting mates, when they can reproduce much more efficiently by cloning themselves? Similarly, why not pass on all your genes, rather than just half? Darwin was among the first to realize that competition for mates is sometimes as important as competition for survival. Sex is an exceedingly powerful ecological and evolutionary force, responsible for generating a tremendous diversity of morphologies and behaviors. In this course, we will draw upon examples from microbes to mosses to mammals in order to address these most basic biological questions: Why did sex evolve and what are its consequences? Three hours of lecture and one hour of discussion.
This course is for non-majors and will not count toward the Biology major. Second semester. Professors Clotfelter and Miller.
08. The Biology of Catastrophe: Cancer and AIDS. AIDS, the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, is caused by HIV infection and is the result of a failure of the immune system. Cancer is the persistent, uncontrolled and invasive growth of cells. A study of the biology of these diseases provides an opportunity to contrast the normal operation of the immune system and the orderly regulation of cell growth with their potentially catastrophic derangement in cancer and AIDS. A program of lectures and readings will provide an opportunity to examine the way in which the powerful technologies and insights of molecular and cell biology have contributed to a growing understanding of cancer and AIDS. Factual accounts and imaginative portraits will be drawn from the literature of illness to illuminate, dramatize and provide an empathetic appreciation of those who struggle with disease. Finally, in addition to scientific concepts and technological considerations, society's efforts to answer the challenges posed by cancer and AIDS invite the exploration of many important social and ethical issues. Three classroom hours per week.
Limited to 50 students. This course is for non-majors. Students majoring in Biology, Chemistry, or Psychology will be admitted only with permission from the instructor. First semester. Professor Goldsby.
14. The Evolution of Human Nature. Recent extensions of the theory of natural selection provide a unified explanatory framework for understanding the evolution of human social behavior and culture. After consideration of the relevant principles of genetics, population biology, developmental biology and animal behavior, the social evolution of animals--especially that of our nearest relatives, the apes--will be discussed and illustrated. With this background, many aspects of human social, psychological and cultural evolution will be considered: the instinct to create and acquire language; aggression and cooperation within and between the sexes; the human mating system; the origin of patriarchy; systems of kinship and inheritance; incest avoidance; rape; reciprocity and exchange; conflict between parents and offspring; homicide; warfare; moral emotions; deceit and self deception; the evolution of laws and justice; and the production and appreciation of art and literature. Three hours of lecture and films per week, and several guest speakers.
This is the last time this course will be offered. Second semester. Professor Zimmerman.
18. Adaptation and the Organism. An introduction to evolutionary theory, and how evolutionary theory can be used to study the diversity of life. Following an exploration of the core components of evolutionary theory (such as natural selection, sexual selection, and kin selection), we'll examine how evolutionary processes have shaped morphological, anatomical, physiological, and behavioral adaptations in organisms to solve many of life's problems, ranging from how to maintain salt and water balance to how to attract and locate mates to how to schedule reproduction throughout a lifetime. We'll start with a familiar organism--ourselves--and then relate and compare adaptations of humans to those of their nearest (vertebrate) and not‑so‑nearest (bacteria and plants) relatives, examining how and why these organisms have arrived at similar or different solutions to life's problems. Laboratories will complement lectures and will involve field experiments on natural selection and laboratory studies of vertebrates, invertebrates, bacteria, and plants. Four classroom hours and three laboratory hours per week.
Second semester. Professors Hood and Temeles.
19. Molecules, Genes and Cells. An introduction to the molecular and cellular processes common to life. A central theme is the genetic basis of cellular function. Four classroom hours and three laboratory hours per week.
Requisite: Prior completion of, or concurrent registration in, Chemistry 12 or permission from the instructor. First semester. Professors Ratner and Williamson.
22. Developmental Biology. A study of the development of animals, leading to the formulation of the principles of development, and including an introduction to experimental embryology and developmental physiology, anatomy, and genetics. Four classroom hours and four hours of laboratory per week.
Requisite: Biology 19. First semester. Professor Poccia.
23. Ecology. A study of the relationships of plants and animals (including humans) to each other and to their environment. We'll start by considering the decisions an individual makes in its daily life concerning its use of resources, such as what to eat and where to live, and whether to defend such resources. We'll then move on to populations of individuals, and investigate species population growth, limits to population growth, and why some species are so successful as to become pests whereas others are on the road to extinction. The next level will address communities and how interactions among populations, such as competition, predation, parasitism, and mutualism, affect the organization and diversity of species within communities. The final stage of the course will focus on ecosystems, and the effects of humans and other organisms on population, community, and global stability. Three hours of lecture per week.
Requisite: Biology 18 or permission from the instructor. Not open to first-year students. First semester. Professor Temeles.
24. Genetic Analysis of Biological Processes. This course will explore the application of genetic analysis towards understanding complex biological systems. Scientists often turn to the study of genes and mutations when trying to decipher the mechanisms underlying such diverse processes as the making of an embryo, the response of cells to their environment, or the defect in a heritable disease. By reading papers from the research literature, we will study in detail some of the genetic approaches that have been taken to analyze certain molecular systems. We will learn from these examples how to use genetic analysis to formulate models that explain the molecular function of a gene product. The laboratory portion of this course will include discussions of the experimental approaches presented in the literature. Students will apply these approaches to their own laboratory projects. Three hours of lecture and three hours of laboratory per week; the laboratory projects will require additional time outside of class hours.
Requisite: Biology 19. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 30 students. Second semester. Professor Goutte.
25. Molecular Genetics. A study of the molecular mechanisms underlying the transmission and expression of genes. DNA replication and recombination, RNA synthesis and processing, and protein synthesis and modification will be examined. Both prokaryotic and eukaryotic systems will be analyzed, with an emphasis upon the regulation of gene expression. Application of modern molecular methods to biomedical and agricultural problems will also be considered. The laboratory component will focus upon recombinant DNA methodology. Four classroom hours and four hours of laboratory per week; some laboratory exercises may require irregular hours.
Requisite: Biology 19. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2007-08. Professor Ratner.
27. Genome Biology. A study of the architecture and interactions of genetic systems. Advances in genomics are resulting in new approaches to a variety of important issues, from conservation biology to disease prevention and treatment. We will address how heritable information is organized in diverse types of organisms and the consequences for shaping species traits and long-term evolutionary potential. We will cover the major challenges of this emerging research field, including techniques for dealing with vast amounts of DNA sequence data. We will also critically review the concept of the genome as a “cooperative assemblage of genetic elements.” Three hours of lecture and three hours of laboratory per week.
Requisites: Biology 18 and 19. Limited to 30 students. First semester. Professor Hood.
29. Cell Structure and Function. An analysis of the structure and function of cells in plants, animals, and bacteria. Topics to be discussed include the cell surface and membranes, cytoskeletal elements and motility, cytoplasmic organelles and bioenergetics, the interphase nucleus and chromosomes, mitosis, meiosis, and cell cycle regulation. Four classroom hours and three hours of laboratory per week.
Requisites: Biology 19 and completion of, or concurrent registration in, Chemistry 12. Omitted 2007-08. Professor Poccia.
30. Biochemistry. (Also Chemistry 30.) Structure and function of biologically important molecules and their role(s) in life processes. Protein conformation, enzymatic mechanisms and selected metabolic pathways will be analyzed. Additional topics may include: nucleic acid conformation, DNA/protein interactions, signal transduction and transport phenomena. Four classroom hours and four hours of laboratory work per week. Offered jointly by the Departments of Biology and Chemistry.
Requisites: Chemistry 21 and Biology 19; Chemistry 22 is a co-requisite. Anyone wishing to take the course who does not satisfy these criteria should obtain permission from the instructor. Second semester. Professors Williamson and Bishop.
32. Evolutionary Biology. An introduction to the field of evolutionary biology. Lectures concern the evidence for evolution and the development of evolutionary theory. Emphasis is placed on microevolutionary mechanisms of change, large-scale macroevolutionary patterns, and major innovations in the history of life. Readings from the primary literature focus on experimental studies of evolution and will be followed by student presentations and discussion. Laboratories offer hands-on experience with evolutionary processes including characterization of genetic structure in natural populations, artificial selection, reproductive isolating mechanisms, and the evolution of resistance. Four hours of lecture per week and three hours laboratory work per week.
Requisites: Biology 18 and 19. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 24 students. First semester. Professor Miller.
33. Immunology. The immune response is a consequence of the developmentally programmed or antigen-triggered interaction of a complex network of interacting cell types. These interactions are controlled by regulatory molecules and often result in the production of highly specific cellular or molecular effectors. This course will present the principles underlying the immune response and describe the methods employed in immunology research. In addition to lectures, a program of seminars will provide an introduction to the research literature of immunology. Three classroom hours per week.
Requisites: Biology 19 and Biology 25 or 29 or 30 or permission from the instructor. Limited to 30 students. Second semester. Professor Goldsby.
35. Neurobiology. Nervous system function at the cellular and subcellular level. Ionic mechanisms underlying electrical activity in nerve cells; the physiology of synapses; transduction and integration of sensory information; the analysis of nerve circuits; the specification of neuronal connections; trophic and plastic properties of nerve cells; and the relation of neuronal activity to behavior. Three classroom hours and four hours of laboratory work per week.
Requisites: Biology 18 or 19 and Chemistry 11; Physics 17 or 24 is recommended. Limited to 24 students. First semester. Professor George.
37. Structural Biology. This course will concentrate on the structure of proteins at the atomic level. It will include an introduction to methods of structure determination, to databases of structural information, and to publicly available visualization software. These tools will be used to study some class of specific structures, (such as membrane, nucleic acid binding, regulatory, structural, or metabolic proteins). These proteins will provide the framework for discussion of such concepts as domains, motifs, molecular motion, structural homology, etc., as well as addressing how specific biological problems are solved at the atomic level. Four classroom hours per week.
Requisites: Biology 19 and Chemistry 12; Chemistry 21 would be helpful but is not required. Limited to 20 students. First semester. Professor Williamson.
39. Animal Behavior. Shaped by millions of years of natural and sexual selection, animals have evolved myriad abilities to respond to their biotic and abiotic environment. This course examines animal behavior from both a mechanistic and a functional perspective. Drawing upon examples from a diverse range of taxa, we will discuss topics such as sensory ecology, behavioral genetics, behavioral endocrinology, behavioral ecology and sociobiology. Three classroom hours and four laboratory hours per week.
Requisite: Biology 18 or permission from the instructor. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 30 students. First semester. Professor Clotfelter.
42. Seminar in Evolution: Plant Sexual Diversity. The diversity of reproductive strategies and sexual systems among angiosperm species is extraordinary and perhaps unmatched by any other group of organisms. This course will provide a comprehensive introduction to plant sexual diversity through lectures and discussion of the primary literature. Topics will include the evolution and maintenance of sexual polymorphisms, temporal and spatial segregation of gender function in hermaphrodites, self-incompatibility systems, plant-pollinator coevolution, pollinator-mediated selection, hybridization, tradeoffs with asexual modes of reproduction, and the evolution and functional significance of sexual dimorphism. Readings will emphasize integrative studies that use developmental, ecological, population genetic, and phylogenetic approaches to uncover the mechanisms underlying this rich morphological and functional diversity. Three classroom hours per week.
Requisite: Biology 23 or 32 or permission from the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Second semester. Professor Miller.
44. Seminar in Disease Biology. The majority of organisms on earth cause disease or are parasitic, and it could be said that a thorough understanding of biology should necessarily involve the study of infectious disease. Yet only within the past two decades has there been a realization that diseases may regulate populations, stabilize ecosystems, and be responsible for major biological features such as reproductive systems or genomic structures. Disease is of course responsible for large amounts of human misery and death, and it is all the more remarkable that our understanding of disease as an ecological and evolutionary force is in its infancy. In this course we will discuss our historical and current understandings of infectious disease biology. We will include studies of human, animal, and plant diseases, as well as their impacts on wild and domestic populations. Three classroom hours per week.
45. Seminar in Behavioral Ecology. This course explores the relationship between an animal's behavior and its social and ecological context. The topic for 2005 was the evolution of sexual dimorphism in animals. Sexual dimorphism is widespread in animals, yet its causes remain controversial and have generated much debate. In this seminar we examine a variety of sexual dimorphisms in different groups of animals and consider hypotheses for how these sexual dimorphisms may have evolved. We then consider how such hypotheses are tested in an attempt to identify the best approaches to studying the evolution of sexual dimorphisms. Then we look at evidence that either supports or refutes various hypothesized mechanisms for the evolution of sexual dimorphisms in different animal groups. Finally, we consider whether some mechanisms for the evolution of sexual dimorphism are more common among certain kinds of organisms (predators) than others (herbivores). Three hours per week.
Requisite: Biology 23 or 32 or 39 or permission from the instructor. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2007-08. Professor Temeles.
47. Seminar in Ecology. The topic is the ecology and evolution of plant-animal interactions. Most animals on Earth obtain their energy from green plants, and thus it is not surprising that interactions between plants and animals have played a prominent role in our current understanding of how ecological processes such as predation, parasitism, and mutualism shape evolutionary patterns in plants and animals. In this course we will start our analysis with a consideration of how plant-animal relationships evolve by studying examples from both extant systems and the fossil record. Next we will examine the different kinds of plant-animal interactions (pollination, seed dispersal, seed predation, and herbivory, to mention a few) that have evolved on our planet, and the ecological processes promoting reciprocal evolution of defenses and counter-defenses, attraction, and deceit. Finally, we will turn our attention to global change and the implications of human alteration of the environment for the future of plant-animal relationships, such as pollination, which are of vital importance to life on Earth. Three classroom hours per week.
Requisite: Biology 23 or 32 or permission from the instructor. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 14 students. First semester. Professor Temeles.
48. Seminar in Conservation Biology. Conservation biology is the scientific study of the Earth's biodiversity, the natural processes through which it evolved and is maintained, and the stresses imposed upon it by human activities. Conservation biology is highly interdisciplinary and thus requires careful consideration of both biological and sociological issues. Utilizing articles from the primary literature, this course will focus on topics such as the causes of extinctions, the design and management of protected areas, the successes and failures of ex situ conservation efforts, and the importance of sustainable development. Three classroom hours per week.
Requisites: Biology 23 or 32 or permission from the instructor. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 14 students. Omitted 2007-08. Professor Clotfelter.
57. Seminar in Developmental Genetics. Cloning and assisted reproduction. Considerable popular interest in cloning of mammalian embryos and in various forms of assisted reproduction has developed recently, in particular from press releases or political pronouncements, often accompanied by much misunderstanding and sensationalism. We will examine several topics such as stem cell research, therapeutic and reproductive cloning, nuclear reprogramming, successes and failures of current technology, ethical issues, and techniques to increase human fertility such as in vitro fertilization and hormonal therapy. Emphasis is on readings from current literature and student presentations. Three classroom hours per week.
Requisite: Biology 22 or 24 or 25 or 29. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2007-08. Professor Poccia.
77, 78D. Senior Departmental Honors. Honors students take three courses of thesis research, usually, but not always, with the double course load in the spring. The work consists of seminar programs, individual research projects, and preparation of a thesis on the research project.
Open to Seniors. First and second semesters. The Department.
97, 97H, 98, 98H. Special Topics. Independent reading or research courses. Half or full course as arranged. Does not normally count toward the major.
First and second semesters.
Introduction to Neuroscience. See Neuroscience 26.
Second semester. Professors George and Turgeon.
The Resilient (?) Earth: An Interdisciplinary Reflection on Contemporary Environmental Issues. See Pick Colloquium 22.
Second semester. Professors Clotfelter and Dizard.