How does a whale dive to over a mile deep for over 2 hours? How does a shrimp-like animal that is larger than a human hand camouflage itself by making its entire body see-through? The overarching theme of the topics we will cover can be described as “extreme adaptations” or “physiological extremes.” We will explore interesting and significant adaptations to the typical physiological body plans.
Biological Structure & Function
Quantitative understanding of biological systems through the application of physical principles. Course will emphasize topics that span multiple length and time scales, and different levels of biological organization. Two to four topics per semester, including possibly organismal motion from molecular processes to whole organisms, nervous systems from membrane channels to neuronal networks, noise in biology, novel biophysical technologies, etc. Prerequisite: Biology 201L, Mathematics 212 and 216 or equivalent, and calculus based introductory physics or permission of the instructors.
Gain skills necessary to conduct neuroscience research and integrate findings from multiple levels of analysis (molecular, cellular and behavioral). Team-based learning format and collaboration with neuroscience lab to generate, analyze, and communicate novel scientific findings. Experimentation will occur in a model organism and may include PCR, live cell imaging and/or behavioral conditioning experiments. Prerequisite: Neuroscience 101.
How theory and experimental techniques from physics can be used to analyze and understand biological structure and function, including chemical, mechanical, electrical, collective, and information-processing aspects. Prerequisites: Biology 201L and knowledge of statistical physics by taking either Physics 363 or Chemistry 311.
From sleep/wake cycles to flower opening to cell division and malaria infections; all organisms and cells display rhythmic behaviors. Course will focus on genetic and molecular networks that comprise clocks regulating cell division and circadian rhythms. Quantitative aspects clock networks will be examined from the perspective of data analysis and dynamical models. Class will include lectures, primary literature readings, and in-class projects. Prerequisites: Math 112L or equivalent, and Biology 20 or Biology 201L. Instructor: Haase and Harer
An exploration of how we have come to understand the relationships between genes and traits, with a focus on traits of biomedical importance. We explore how physiological systems biology can be used to understand the causal pathways by which genes affect traits. Examples will be taken largely from the biomedical literature with a focus on genetic diseases and the roles of genetic background and environment in determining how (and why) genes affect traits. Readings and class participation, short papers and oral presentations on research projects. Nijhout
Literature-based seminar covering transcriptional regulation of development. Regulatory mechanisms and genome-wide approaches will be covered. Topics: embryogenesis, stem cells, transcription factors, regulatory networks, chromatin, nuclear organization, small RNAs, imprinting and Pol II pausing. Prerequisites: Biology 201L. One course.
The development of the mammalian embryo. Emphasis on human embry- ology, the origin of major human teratologies, birth defects, ethical and social issues of reproductive biology, aspects of comparative vertebrate development. The evolution of developmental patterns, and the molecular mechanisms of development. Prerequisites: Biology 330L or 414LS or Evolutionary Anthropology 333L or equivalent. Permission of instructor required. One course.