Syllabus 2010

Submitted by Amy L. Springer (inactive) on Monday, 5/10/2010, at 9:53 AM

Biology 29:  Cell structure and function                                                       Spring 2010

Prof. Amy Springer

            Office: 424 LSB                        Phone: ext. 5341               email:

            Office hours by appointment


Lect: Tu, Th 8:30-9:50 ESNH 107   Lab: Th/F 2- 5pm LSB 336    Discussion: Tu 1-1:50 Merr 401


Course description and goals:

An introduction to the organization of cells and the processes they carry out.  In particular we will examine components of the cell surface, cytoskeletal structures and organelles. We will study the transformation of energy, intracellular trafficking, transduction of cellular signals and regulation of cell division.  An emphasis will be placed on application of principles covered in class and on scientific approach.  Lecture material will be supplemented with readings in the primary literature, student projects and laboratory experiments demonstrating relevant techniques in cell biology.


Prerequisites: Bio19 (Molecules, Cells and Genes) or equiv.; Chem 11 and 12 (General Chemistry) or equiv. (co-enrollment in Chem. 12 is permitted but not recommended)  



Molecular Biology of the Cell, 5th edition, by Bruce Alberts, Alexander Johnson, Julian Lewis, Martin Raff, Keith Roberts, Peter Walter.  Garland Science, Hardcover: ISBN 978-0-8153-4105-5 


Course structure;

2 lectures a week

1 laboratory session most weeks (schedules will be provided in class; attendance at your scheduled time is absolutely mandatory).

1 discussion session periodically (schedule posted below) - These sessions will provide an opportunity to discuss material from the course or data obtained in lab.

Class project – Team-based project resulting in a group presentation.

Reading assignments, Chapter Questions, Problem Sets: in handouts and/or on the website.

Course Web Site – check for announcements, practice problems, links.


Examination and Grades:

There will be three hourly examinations, each covering about 1/3 of the lecture material.  Two of these exams will take place during lecture time, the third will be during finals period.  The third exam will include one question that is cumulative but will be taken from study questions handed out ahead of time.  All exams will be designed as 1 hour exams, but you will be given up to 2 hours if needed.  The exams dates are as follows:


Exam Date

Material Covered

Thursday, February 25

Jan. 26-Feb. 18,  lecture and lab

Thursday April 1

Feb. 23- March 25, lecture and lab

Finals period

March 30-April 22, lecture and lab


In case of scheduling conflicts, exams may be taken early, either on the day before (2-4 pm) or the same day (2-4 pm) of the exam. Failure to show up at an exam will earn a “0” for that exam, please plan appropriately.  Postponements for medical reasons require a letter from your Dean.

Grades will be determined based on exam scores (60 %), on-line quizzes (8 %), group project assignment (7 %) and laboratory assignments (25 %).    


Lecture attendance and participation:

Attendance and participation in lectures and discussions is expected (attendance in laboratories is mandatory).  In addition, please complete all assigned reading before coming to class, so that time in lecture can be spent on interpretation of the material.   Be aware that not all of the material we will discuss will be covered sufficiently in the textbook.



Attendance in all labs is required and prompt arrival is critical. Due to the preparation needed to set up laboratory experiments for each week there is no way to make up missed labs. If you know in advance that you will have to miss a particular lab, please talk to Professor Springer as soon as possible prior to the date in question in order to make arrangements to perform the experiments. Due dates for lab assignments will be strictly enforced, assignments that are up to one week late will be assessed a 10% penalty, those that are a week or more late will be assessed a 50% penalty.  Please note that completion of laboratory work is required for passing the course, regardless of points accumulated on the exams. In preparing and submitting lab assignments, be conscious that we treat cases of plagiarism or misuse of reference material very seriously and will refer such matters to the Dean’s office.


TA and writing assistanceLab TAs for this course are Alex Chang’11 (achang11@) and Morgan Toy ’11 (mtoy11@), there are also writing mentors available at the writing center who can provide assistance with scientific writing.


Amherst College Statement of Intellectual Responsibility

Every person's education is the product of his or her own intellectual effort and participation in a process of critical exchange. Amherst cannot educate those who are unwilling to submit their own work and ideas to critical assessment. Nor can it tolerate those who interfere with the participation of others in the critical process. Therefore, the College considers it a violation of the requirements of intellectual responsibility to submit work that is not one's own or otherwise to subvert the conditions under which academic work is performed by oneself or by others.

For Bio 29: Cheating on assignments or exams is taken very seriously, as is negligent or inappropriate use of sources in written assignments.  Violations will be reported to the Dean’s office.  and assessed a significant penalty, including the possibility of an “F” in the course.