In Plain English: Julie Noor

As Lab Coordinator for the Gateway to Genetics and Evolution course Julie Noor is responsible for designing and implementing experiments performed by hundreds of undergraduates.  It’s an excellent job for a very hands-on person. 

In the newest exercise, students learn about mating—and observation.  They read up on different methods of observing animal behavior and choose one to use.  Lab partners then get 4 tubes containing one lonely fly each: a male and female of one species and a male and female of different species.  The students bring the couples together and observe their behavior.  The matched couple usually mates right away, but not the mis-matched couple; they don’t understand each other’s signals. 

When the whole class attempts to combine their observations to produce a single report, it becomes a lesson in experimental design as well as fly biology.  Students discover that some methods produced data that was too vague, for example recording that the male fly attempted to court but not how many times.  Hindsight illuminates the best method.

 Julie likes being hands-on at home too, making elaborate Halloween costumes for her kids.  But they have to put their requests in by June 1; after the semester starts Julie doesn’t have time.