Biology Department

Early Advising: Those students considering a concentration in biology should consult a departmental adviser early in their freshman year to discuss appropriate course sequences. After declaration of the major, no NRO work is permissible in the major.

Postgraduate Work: Students considering graduate school or other professional schools should be aware that such schools usually require courses beyond the minimum biology major requirements. In general, students should have at least a full year of organic chemistry, a year of physics, computer science, statistics and calculus. Students are urged to begin their chemistry and other correlated sciences coursework as soon as possible, since this will assist them in successful completion of the biology major. Students should consult with the chair of biology or the pre-medical adviser at their earliest opportunity.

Further Information: For additional information on research opportunities, honors requirements, etc., please see the biology department.

Advisers: Any of the faculty members of the Biology Department can serve as Major Advisors. Students who have a preference for a particular faculty adviser may ask that individual whether s/he would be willing to serve as adviser. Students who have no preference should make an appointment to see the Chair of the Department to be assigned an adviser.



Correlate Sequence in Biology


Biology: I. Introductory

105a and b. Introduction to Biological Processes (1)

Development of critical thought, communication skills, and understanding of central concepts in biology, through exploration of a timely topic. The content of each section varies. The department.

See Freshman handbook for section descriptions.

106a and b. Introduction to Biological Investigation (1)

Investigation of biological questions via extended laboratory or field projects. Emphasis is placed on observation skills, development and testing of hypotheses, experimental design, data collection, statistical analysis, and scientific writing and presentation. The department.

For freshmen wanting to take Biology 106, a 4 or 5 in AP biology, or a 5 or 6 or 7 in IB Biology, or BIOL 105 is required. Upper class students may take BIOL 105 and 106 in any order, but upper class students who have not taken two years of high school biology are urged to start with BIOL 105.

One 75-minute period; one 4-hour laboratory.

141a and b. Introduction to Statistics (1)

(Same as MATH 141) The purpose of this course is to develop an appreciation and understanding of the exploration and interpretation of data. Topics include display and summary of data, introductory probability, fundamental issues of study design, and inferential methods including confidence interval estimation and hypothesis testing. Applications and examples are drawn from a wide variety of disciplines. When cross-listed with biology, examples will be drawn primarily from biology.

Prerequisite: three years of high school mathematics.

Not open to students with AP credit in statistics or students who have completed ECON 209 or PSYC 200.

172a and b. Microbial Wars (1)

(Same as STS 172) This course explores our relationship with microbes that cause disease. Topics including bioterrorism, vaccinology, smallpox eradication, influenza pandemics, antibiotic resistance, and emerging diseases are discussed to investigate how human populations are affected by disease, how and why we alter microorganisms intentionally or unintentionally, and how we study disease causing microbes of the past and present. The use of new technologies in microbiology that allow us to turn harmful pathogens into helpful medical or industrial tools are also discussed. Mr. Esteban.

Not offered in 2015/16.

178a or b. Special Projects in Biology (0.5)

Execution and analysis of a laboratory or field study. Project to be arranged with individual instructor. The department.

Open to freshmen and sophomores only.

Biology: II. Intermediate

Prerequisites for 200-level courses are BIOL 106 and either BIOL 105, AP Biology with a 4 or 5 AP score, or IB higher level 5, 6 or 7 test score, unless otherwise noted.

202a. Plant Physiology and Development (1)

An examination of the cellular and physiological bases of plant maintenance, growth, development, and reproduction; with emphasis on the values of different plants as experimental systems. To get a complete introduction to the biology of plants, you should also take BIOL 208. Mr. Pregnall.

Three 50-minute periods; one 4-hour laboratory.

205a. Introduction to Microbiology (1)

An introduction to the world of microbes, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses. The study of bacteria is stressed. Studies of the morphology, physiology, and genetics of bacteria are followed by their consideration in ecology, industry, and medicine. Mr. Esteban.

Two 75-minute periods; two 2-hour laboratories.

208b. Plant Diversity and Evolution (1)

Plants are critically important for our continued existence on Earth. We are totally dependent on plants for the oxygen we breathe and the food that we eat. We rely heavily on plants for clothing, shelter, and many other essentials. Plants provide us with medicines, poisons, and mind-altering drugs. Plants inspire art, and many plants have become powerful cultural symbols. Thus, biologists, ecologists, environmentalists, anthropologists, and many others want to understand plants. In this course we will examine major events in the evolution of plants and other photosynthetic organisms, including photosynthetic bacteria, and algae. We will focus on their distinctive biological features, their environmental significance, and their value as model organisms for research. Laboratories include observations, experiments, and field trips. This course is appropriate for students majoring in biological sciences or environmental studies, and for those interested in ethnobotany. To get a complete introduction to the biology of plants, you should also take BIOL 202. Mr. Schlessman.

Prerequisites: BIOL 106, or ENST 124, or permission of the instructor prior to registration.

Two 75-minute periods; one 4-hour laboratory.

218b. Cellular Structure and Function (1)

An introduction to cell biology, with a focus on subcellular organization in eukaryotes. The regulation and coordination of cellular events, and the specializations associated with a variety of cell types are considered. Topics include organelle function, the cytoskeleton, and mechanisms of cell division. Laboratory work centers on investigations of cell function with an emphasis on biological imaging. Ms. Pokrywka.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Two 75-minute periods; one 4-hour laboratory.

226b. Animal Structure and Diversity (1)

The members of the animal kingdom are compared and analyzed in a phylogenetic context. Emphasis is placed on the unique innovations and common solutions evolved by different taxonomic groups to solve problems related to feeding, mobility, respiration, and reproduction. Laboratory work centers on the comparative study of the anatomy of species representative of the major animal phyla. The department.

Two 75-minute periods; one 4-hour laboratory.

228a. Animal Physiology (1)

A comparative examination of the mechanisms that animals use to move, respire, eat, reproduce, sense, and regulate their internal environments. The physiological principles governing these processes, and their ecological and evolutionary consequences, are developed in lecture and applied in the laboratory. Ms. Duncan, Ms. Gall.

Recommended: PSYC 200 or MATH 141; CHEM 108, CHEM 109, and PHYS 113.

Two 75-minute periods; one 4-hour laboratory.

232a. Developmental Biology (1)

The study of embryonic development including gametogenesis, fertilization, growth, and differentiation. Molecular concepts of gene regulation and cell interactions are emphasized. The laboratory emphasizes classical embryology and modern experimental techniques. Mr. Straus.

Two 75-minute periods; one 4-hour laboratory.

238a and b. Molecular Genetics (1)

Principles of genetics and methods of genetic analysis at the molecular, cellular, and organismal levels. Emphasis is placed on classical genetic experiments, as well as modern investigative techniques such as recombinant DNA technology, gene therapy, genetic testing, and the use of transgenic plants and animals. Ms. Pokrywka, Ms. Kennell.

Three 50-minute periods; one 4-hour laboratory.

241a and b. Ecology (1)

Population growth, species interaction, and community patterns and processes of species or groups of species are discussed. The course emphasizes these interactions within the framework of evolutionary theory. Local habitats and organisms are used as examples of how organisms are distributed in space, how populations grow, why species are adapted to their habitats, how species interact, and how communities change. Field laboratories at Vassar Farm and other localities emphasize the formulation of answerable questions and methods to test hypotheses. Ms. Christenson, Ms. Gall, Ms. Ronsheim.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Three 50-minute periods; one 4-hour field laboratory.

244b. Genetics and Genomics (1)

From understanding the role of a single gene in a single organism to understanding how species evolve, the field of genomics provides a lens for studying biology at all scales. In this course we develop a foundational understanding of genetics concepts and processes, and then deploy this foundation to probe some of the hottest questions in genomics. How do genomes evolve? What makes us human? How can we combat emerging diseases? In the lab component, students learn molecular biology and bioinformatics techniques, design and engineer a synthetic bio-machine from standard genomic parts, and use genomic approaches to understand how organisms interact with the environment. Ms. Schwarz.

Three 50-minute periods; one 4-hour laboratory.

248a. Evolutionary Genetics (1)

This course focuses on the genetic bases of evolutionary processes and the applications of genetics in evolutionary studies.  Topics include reviews of transmission (Mendelian) genetics, DNA replication, transcription, and translation; the origin of meiosis and sexual reproduction; the microevolutionary processes of mutation, selection, genetic drift, and gene flow; the genetics of speciation; the origins of new genes; gene regulation and macroevolution; epigenetics and evolution; evolutionary genomics; and applications of evolutionary genetics to pressing societal concerns such as antibiotic, herbicide, and pesticide resistance; conservation biology; GMOs; and climate change.  Laboratories include computer simulations and bench work utilizing a variety of currently employed genetic techniques.  This course is especially appropriate for Biology majors focusing on ecology and evolution, Environmental Studies majors doing biology concentrations, and Neuroscience majors focusing on behavioral ecology and evolution. It provides good background for these advanced Biology courses:  352, Conservation Biology; 353, Bioinformatics; 355, Ecology & Evolution of Sexual Reproduction; 383, Hormones & Behavior; 384, Ecology of Evolution; and 387 Symbiotic Interactions.  Ms. Ronsheim, Mr. Schlessman.

Prerequisite: BIOL 106 or ENST 124, or permission of the instructor prior to registration.

Two 75-minute periods; one 4-hour laboratory.

272b. Biochemistry (0or1)

(Same as CHEM 272) Basic course covering protein structure and synthesis, enzyme action, bio-energetic principles, electron transport and oxidative phosphorylation, selected metabolic pathways in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. Mr. Eberhardt, Ms. Garrett, Mr. Jemiolo, Mr. Straus.

Prerequisites: CHEM 244 

Three 50-minute periods; one 4-hour laboratory.

275b. Paleontology and the Fossil Record (1)

(Same as ESCI 275) Paleontology isn't just a "dead science"- by studying processes that have occurred in the past, we can deepen our understanding of the current biota inhabiting the Earth. Conversely, by studying the modern distribution of organisms and the environmental, taphonomic, and ecological processes that impact their distribution and preservation, we can enhance our understanding of the processes that have controlled the formation and distribution of fossils through time. In this course, we explore the methodology used to interpret the fossil record, including preservational biases and how we account for them when studying fossil taxa. We also explore large-scale ecological changes and evolutionary processes and discuss how they manifest across geologic time, and how these relate to Earth's changing fauna. We additionally learn about how paleontology has developed as a field in the context of different historical and social perspectives. Lab exercises focus on applying paleontological methods to a variety of different fossil and recent samples.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Two 75-minute periods and one 4-hour laboratory period.

276b. Plants and Plant Communities of the Hudson Valley (0.5)

(Same as ENST 276) Plants are the most conspicuous components of terrestrial ecosystems. In this course, you learn how to observe and describe variation in plant form so you can recognize locally common plant species and determine their scientific names. You also learn to recognize the characteristic plant communities of the Hudson Valley. This course is structured around weekly field trips to local natural areas. Locations are chosen to illustrate the typical plant species and communities of the region, the ecosystem services provided by plants, environmental concerns, and conservation efforts. This course is appropriate for students interested in biology, environmental science, and environmental studies, and anyone wishing to learn more about our natural environment. Mr. Schlessman.

Environmental Studies majors may take this course instead of ENST 291.

Not offered in 2015/16.

First 6-week course. Two 75-minute periods; one 4-hour laboratory.

282b. Restoration Ecology (1)

Restoration Ecology utilizes our ecological understanding of population, community and ecosystem dynamics to reverse environmental damage caused by centuries of unsustainable human activities.  Core ecological concepts will be covered and the consequences of human impacts on local ecosystems will be discussed.  Case studies will be used to explore how ecological principles are incorporated into restoration projects, as well as to question the often controversial goals of such projects.  Labs will include a module on the ecological and agricultural roles of native pollinators and their restoration, and we will develop a restoration plan for the former Greenway site on the Vassar Ecological Preserve.  Ms. Ronsheim.

BIOL 106 and either BIOL 105, or AP Biology with 4 or 5 AP test score, or IB higher level 5, 6 or 7 test score. IB students must confirm their IB credit with the Dean of Studies office.

Three 50-minute periods; one 4-hour laboratory.

283b. Human Physiology (1)

What happens when you go on a ski trip and stay at high altitude? How do diuretics help with the regulation of blood pressure? How do we maintain our body temperature or respond to an infection? This course considers the fundamental principles of physiology using the human body as the model system. We examine genetic, cellular, organismal and evolutionary aspects of how our bodies operate to enable us to eat, sleep, move, breathe and reproduce. We will consider how our mammalian bodies tackle the problems of terrestrial life. The laboratory will include independent, experimental investigations with an emphasis on experimental design, data collection and analysis. Ms. Susman.

Prerequisites: BIOL 106 and either BIOL 105, AP Biology with a 4 or 5 AP score, or IB higher level 5, 6 or 7 test score, unless otherwise noted.

Two 75-minute periods and one 4-hour laboratory

290a or b. Field Work (0.5to1)

298a or b. Independent Work (0.5to1)

Execution and analysis of a field, laboratory, or library study. The project, arranged with an individual instructor, is expected to have a substantial paper as its final product.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

Biology: III. Advanced

Two units of 200-level biology are prerequisites for entry into 300-level courses; see each course for specific courses required or exceptions.

303a or b. Senior Research (1)

Critical analysis, usually through observation or experimentation, of a specific research problem in biology. A student electing this course must first gain, by submission of a written research proposal, the support of a member of the biology faculty with whom to work out details of a research protocol. The formal research proposal, a final paper, and presentation of results are required parts of the course. A second faculty member participates both in the planning of the research and in final evaluation.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

316a. Seminar in Neurobiology (1)

A multi-level examination of nervous systems, this course is an advanced and integrative evaluation of current topics in neurobiology. Topics vary but may include glia, evolution of nervous systems, neuroimmune interactions, mechanisms of neural communication and plasticity. Emphasis is placed on current thinking and research and course material is drawn from the recent neurobiological literature. Ms. Susman. 

Prerequisites: two units of 200-level biology or one unit of 200-level Biology and Neuroscience and Behavior 201.

Recommended: BIOL 228.

Two 75-minute periods

323a. Seminar in Cell and Molecular Biology (1)

An intensive study of selected topics at the cellular and subcellular level. Topics vary, but may include organelle structure and function, advanced genetics, and mechanisms of cellular organization. Emphasis is placed on current models, issues, and research areas, and course material is drawn largely from primary literature.

Topic for 2015/16a: Epigenetics. Most cells in our bodies contain the same set of DNA, yet there are ~200 different cell types, each with unique patterns of gene expression. How do those cells establish and maintain their identities? How do environmental factors such as temperature, nutrition and social stress exert long lasting effects on organisms and their progeny? The field of epigenetics is shedding new light on these and many other interesting questions in biology. Epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in gene expression (and hence traits) that cannot be explained by alterations in the DNA sequence. These changes instead involve chemical modifications to DNA and its associated histones. Some of these changes can be passed down through mitosis and some even through meiosis. Exploration of this topic will involve student presentations and active discussion of primary research articles and will expand upon the participants' previous coursework in genetics and chemistry. Ms. Kennell.

Prerequisite: CHEM 244 and two 200-level Biology courses including one 200-level genetics courses (BIOL 238, BIOL 244 or BIOL 248).

Two 2-hour periods.

324a. Molecular Biology (1)

(Same as CHEM 324) An examination of the macromolecular processes underlying storage, transfer, and expression of genetic information. Topics include the structure, function, and synthesis of DNA; mutation and repair; the chemistry of RNA and protein synthesis; the regulation of gene expression; cancer and oncogenes; the molecular basis of cell differentiation; and genetic engineering. Ms. Bailey.

Prerequisites: two 200-level courses including one of the following: BIOL 205, BIOL 218, BIOL 238, BIOL 244, BIOL 248, or BIOL 272.

Two 75-minute periods.

340a. Experimental Animal Behavior (1)

Examination of the relationship between behavior and the individual animal's survival and reproductive success in its natural environment. Evolutionary, physiological, and developmental aspects of orientation, communication, foraging, reproductive tactics, and social behavior are considered. Methodology and experimental design are given particular emphasis, and students will complete an independent research project by the end of the semester. The department.

Prerequisites: two units of 200-level biology or one unit each of 200-level biology and psychology.

Recommended: BIOL 226, BIOL 228, BIOL 238, BIOL 244, BIOL 248, NEUR 201, or PSYC 200.

Two 2-hour periods.

352a. Conservation Biology (1)

(Same as ENST 352) Conservation Biology uses a multidisciplinary approach to study how to best maintain the earth's biodiversity and functioning ecosystems. We examine human impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem function and discuss how to develop practical approaches for mitigating those impacts. We start the semester by assessing the current human footprint on global resources, asking questions about what we are trying to preserve, why we are trying to preserve it, and how we can accomplish our goals. We critically examine the assumptions made by conservation biologists throughout, using case studies from around the world to explore a range of perspectives. Discussion topics include conservation in an agricultural context, the efficacy of marine protected areas, the impact of climate change on individual species and preserve design, restoration ecology, the consequences of small population sizes, conservation genetics, the impacts of habitat fragmentation and invasive species, and urbanecology. Ms. Ronsheim.

Recommended: BIOL 241, BIOL 208, or BIOL 226,  GEOG 260, GEOG 224, or GEOG 356; or permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2015/16.

353b. Bioinformatics (1)

(Same as CMPU 353) DNA is the blueprint of life. Although it's composed of only four nucleotide "letters" (A, C. T, G), the order and arrangement of these letters in a genome gives rise to the diversity of life on earth. Thousands of genomes have been partially sequenced, representing billions of nucleotides. How can we reach this vast expanse of sequence data to find patterns that provide answers to ecological, evolutionary, agricultural, and biomedical questions? Bioinformatics applies high-performance computing to discover patterns in large sequence datasets. In this class students from biology and computer science work together to formulate interesting biological questions and to design algorithms and computational experiments to answer them.

Prerequisites: BIOL 238, BIOL 244, or BIOL 248; CMPU 203; or permission of the instructor.

To register for this course students must satisfy either the biology or computer science prerequisites, but not both.

Two 2-hour periods.

355a. Ecology and Evolution of Sexual Reproduction (1)

Sex: "nothing in life is more important, more interesting - or troublesome." This quotation from Olivia Judson, Ph.D., (a.k.a. Dr. Tatiana) is just one recent example of the long-standing fascination that ecologists and evolutionary biologists have had with sexual reproduction. This course begins with the question: What is sex? We then examine the current status of competing hypotheses for the evolution of sex, and then turn our attention to the myriad ecological and evolutionary consequences of sexual reproduction. We consider such questions as: Why are there only two sexes? Why do males and females look and behave differently? When is it advantageous to produce more sons than daughters (or vice versa)? When is it advantageous to be a hermaphrodite or to change sex? To address such questions in a biologically rigorous way, we need to draw on a wide range of theoretical work and empirical evidence from cellular and molecular biology, genetics, developmental biology, ecology, and evolutionary biology. Mr. Schlessman.

Prerequisites: at least two 200-level biology courses, at least one of which is either BIOL 208, or BIOL 226, or BIOL 238, or BIOL 241, or BIOL 244; or permission of the instructor.

Two 2-hour periods.

356a. Aquatic Ecology (1)

A consideration of freshwater, estuarine, and marine habitats that examines material and energy fluxes through aquatic systems; physiological aspects of primary production; the biogeochemical cycling of nutrients; adaptations of organisms to physical and chemical aspects of aquatic environments; biological processes that structure selected communities; and the role of aquatic habitat in global change phenomena. Mr. Pregnall.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Three 50-minute periods; one 4-hour laboratory.

370b. Immunology (1)

An examination of the immune response at the cellular and molecular levels. Topics include innate and adaptive immunity, the role of the microbiome in immunity, and the structure, function, and synthesis of antibodies.  Mechanisms for recognition, communication, and cooperation between different classes of lymphocytes in producing immune responses are also stressed, as are the genetic basis of immunological diversity and the cellular definition of "self'' which makes each individual unique.  Immune tolerance, the immunological basis of transplantation, allergic responses, tumor immunology, and immune deficiency diseases are discussed.

Prerequisite: CHEM 244 or permission of the instructor; BIOL 218, BIOL 238, BIOL 244, BIOL 248, or BIOL 272 recommended.

Two 75-minute periods.

379b. Today's News in Biology (1)

This course explores trending topics in the media that are related to biology. We examine how the topic is portrayed by different media sources, research the scientific literature to develop an independent understanding of the topic, and discuss related social and ethical issues. Possible topics may include: emergence of antibiotic resistance; probiotics; overfishing; sports-related head injuries; genetic engineering; climate change; degradation of natural ecosystems; emerging infectious diseases; vaccines. Ms. Hughey.

Prerequisites: two units of 200-level Biology.

Two 2-hour periods.

380b. Engaging Biologists and Their Research (1)

A close examination of the active research programs of several biologists who will visit Vassar to present their research to the Biology Department. By reading and discussing the primary literature and interacting with biologists at different stages of their careers, students develop a deep understanding of several current areas of biological research, and gain a better understanding of the scientific process. Students write a substantial paper focusing on one or more of the research areas discussed in class. Ms. Schwarz.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Three 75-minute periods.

381b. Topics in Ecosystem Ecology - Ecosystem Structure and Function (1)

(Same as ENST 381) Ecosystems are complex systems, where biotic and abiotic factors interact to create the world we see around us. Understanding the nature of ecosystems is fundamental to understanding how disturbance and change in a dynamic world will influence ecosystem stability. This is especially critical as we enter the Anthropocene; a time in our planets history where one species, modern humans, dominate. Major changes brought about by increased human activity include changing climate regimes, invasive species spread and biodiversity loss. This course explores how ecosystems, both aquatic and terrestrial, are assembled (structured) and how different ecosystems process energy and matter (function). We use our understanding of structure and function to explore how different ecosystems respond to changes in the environment (including climate change, invasive species introductions, loss of biodiversity and pollution). A class project will explore an ecosystem scale problem, and students will develop a plan for effectively communicating the scientific understanding of the problem to multiple stakeholders. Ms. Christenson.

Prerequisite: BIOL 241.

382b. Advanced Research Methods (1)

Design and conduct an original research project in a small collaborative group. Develop experience with experimental techniques in biology, develop a working knowledge of relevant research literature, practice scientific writing and participate in the peer review process. Research time: 6-10 hours a week.

Prerequisites: two units of 200-level Biology and permission of the instructor.

Students enrolled in BIOL 382, Advanced Research Methods, may not also register for BIOL 303 to fulfill biology graduation requirements.

Not offered in 2015/16.

One 2-hour period.

383a. Hormones and Behavior (1)

This course is a comparative examination of hormones and behavior in animals. We take an evolutionary approach to this topic by emphasizing (1) the common selective pressures that act on all animals and the common hormonal and behavioral responses to these pressures, and (2) how extreme selective pressures drive the evolution of unique mechanisms in the field of behavioral endocrinology. Half lecture, half student led discussions from the primary literature. Ms. Duncan.

Prerequisite: two units of 200-level biology.

Two 75-minute periods.

384a. The Ecology of Evolution (1)

This course explores the causes of adaptive radiation, possibly the most common syndrome of proliferation of taxa, through evidence that has accumulated since the formulation of the theory. The course reviews the ecological theory of adaptive radiation, the progress of adaptive radiation and phenotypic evolution, the origins of ecological diversity, divergent natural selection between environments, the ecological basis of speciation, and ecological opportunity. Primary literature is used to develop a richer understanding of the theory of adaptive radiation, whose origins trace back to Darwin (1859). Mr. Proudfoot.

Prerequisite: two units of 200-level Biology courses.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Two 75-minute periods.

385b. Mad Dogs, Vampires and Zombie Ants: Behavior Mediating Infections (1)

(Same as PSYC 385) Viruses, bacteria and parasites use host organisms to complete their lifecycle. These infectious agents are masters of host manipulation, able to hijack host processes to replicate and transmit to the next host. While we tend to think of infections as just making us sick, they are also capable of changing our behavior. In fact, many infectious agents are able to mediate host behavior in ways that can enhance transmission of the disease. In this inquiry driven course we explore the process of host behavior mediation by infectious agents, combining aspects of multiple fields including infectious disease microbiology, neurobiology, epidemiology and animal behavior. Mathematical models and computer simulations are used to address questions that arise from class discussion. Mr. Esteban and Mr. Holloway.

Prerequisites: two 200-level biology courses, or Psychology Research Methods Course and either PSYC 241 or PSYC 243, or one 200-level biology course and either NEUR 201 or PSYC 241, or CMPU 250 and one of the previously listed courses.

One 3-hour period.

386b. Stem Cell Biology (1)

Stem cell biology lies at the intersection of developmental/cell biology and medicine. This fast-moving field brings together many aspects of basic and applied biology and medicine including development, regeneration/repair, and cancer. This course covers a broad range of topics relevant to stem cell biology. We also consider the potential consequences and limitations of stem cell therapy, particularly the connection between stem cells and cancer. The format gives students both a broad background and the opportunity to apply critical thinking skills to recent data in this field. Since this is an upper level course, it assumes a basic understanding of genetics, biochemistry, and molecular biology, and so concepts drawing from these fields will not be covered in depth. This means that some students may find additional background reading necessary. Class material draws from primary literature and students participate in active discussion and presentations.  Ms. Pokrywka.


Prerequisites: two 200-level courses including one of the following: BIOL 218, 238, 244, 248, or 272, and at least one semester of organic chemistry.

Two 75-minute periods.

387b. Symbiotic Interactions (1)

From the evolution of eukaryotic cells to the creation of entire ecosystems, endosymbiosis is a driving force in biology. This course provides an integrative perspective on host-symbiont interactions in diverse endosymbioses. We spend the first half of the semester examining the critical roles of symbiosis in ecology, evolution, and human systems. Then, we examine the underlying cellular and molecular processes that lead to an integrated host-symbiont partnership, for example mechanisms of host-symbiont recognition, regulation of nutrient exchange, and genomic interactions. Ms. Schwarz.

Prerequisites: two 200-level Biology courses, including one of the following: BIOL 205, BIOL 218, BIOL 238, BIOL 244, BIOL 248.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Two 2-hour periods.

388b. Virology (1)

Viruses cause significant diseases in humans, such as AIDS, influenza, and ebola. On the edge between living and non-living things, viruses invade, take over and alter cells in order to reproduce and transmit. Virus structure, replication and pathogenesis, major viral diseases, the immune response to viruses, and vaccination are major topics of discussion. Mr. Esteban.

Prerequisites: two units of 200-level biology, including one of BIOL 205, BIOL 218, BIOL 238, BIOL 244, BIOL 248, BIOL 272; or permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Two 2-hour periods.

389b. Sensory Ecology (1)

There are many behaviors that are critical to the survival and reproduction of animals including finding food, avoiding predators, attracting mates, and raising offspring. The ability to successfully engage in these behaviors is dependent on the ability of organisms to acquire and respond to information in their environment. In this course we discuss the concept of information, the types of information available in the environment, the diversity of sensory systems animals have evolved to exploit that information, and how sensory information and processing influence behavior. Sensory ecology is a highly interdisciplinary field and we make use of mathematical, physical, chemical and biological principals. The class is divided among traditional lectures, student led discussions of the primary literature, and hands-on experiences with sensory ecology data collection and analysis. Ms. Gall.

Prerequisites: two 200-level courses, with at least one of the following: BIOL 226, BIOL 228, BIOL 241 or NEUR 201.

Two 75-minute periods.

399a or b. Senior Independent Work (0.5to1)

Execution and analysis of a field, laboratory, or library study. The project, to be arranged with an individual instructor, is expected to have a substantial paper as its final product.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.