Functional Ecology of Plants

This course is designed for graduate and undergraduate students with interest in plant functional ecology. We explore how (woody) plants function and respond to changing climate. We focus on plant functional traits (e.g., leaf properties, wood density, maximum height) and the main tradeoffs controlling plant form and function in various environments. Instructor: Palmroth, Domec

Genetics of Human Variation

Research over the last 50 years has demonstrated that the human species is characterized by low genetic diversity and extensive recombination. Yet, social constructions of 'race' based on phenotypic differences are ingrained in our understanding of how humans vary. This course will uncover how the human species varies at the genetic and genomic levels, in the context of other primate species. Given this background, we will discuss the social construction of 'race' and the intersection of macroevolution, genetics, and phenotype.

Oceans and Health

Students will gain a grounding in marine sciences which will help them to evaluate impacts of anthropogenic activities on both marine ecosystems and the humans that rely on them. After developing an understanding of the issues facing environmental and human health and well-being in marine systems, students will travel to Duke Kunshan University in China, to better understand environmental challenges facing a rapidly developing economy.

Neurodegenrative Disease Lab

This course will bring students into a basic research setting to directly contribute to our understanding of the molecular and cellular underpinnings of neurodegenerative disease. Classic experimental approaches in the lab (fruit fly genetics, molecular techniques, dissection, immunocytochemistry, microscopy) will be paired with short lectures, literature-based discussions, and data presentations.

Origins of Cellular Life

This course discusses the origins of cellular life on Earth and beyond. We will ask: How did life originate? What are the limits of conditions that sustain life? Is there life elsewhere in the universe? How would we know life if we found it elsewhere (i.e. how is life defined)? This discussion-based course will delve into the literature reporting the biological and astrobiological research community’s response to life’s “big questions”. Recommended prereqs: Biology 201L or 203L, Chem 201DL, and Biology 212L.

Mechanisms of Animal Behavior

Survey of causal factors underlying the expression of animal behavior, organized around common problems organisms need to solve, such as finding food, avoiding predation, determining when and with whom to reproduce, communicating with other organisms, and extracting information from the environment. These factors are examined from an integrative perspective that includes neurobiology, endocrinology, sensory physiology, genetics, developmental biology, and functional morphology. Prerequisite: Bio 202L or Bio 203L or equivalent. Instructor: Nowicki. One course.

Evolutionary Developmental Biology: Evolving Forms, Patterns, & Processes

How did the whale get its blowhole? How did the cactus get its spines? The emerging science of evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo) seeks to answer questions about how evolutionary changes to development shape bizarre body plans, unique life cycles, elegant color patterns, and more. This course will explore the evolution of novel structures, patterns, and processes as well as the genetics underlying them across plants and animals. Students will read and discuss selected book chapters and primary literature.

Advanced Experimental Physics

One of several undergraduate courses on experimental physics techniques suitable for physics and biophysics majors. Identical in content and method to Physics 364L except it requires two half semester advanced laboratory projects for one full semester credit. Biophysics-related laboratory projects are available. Includes written and oral presentation of results. Prerequisite: Physics 264L. Instructor: Bomze, staff

Ecology of Human Health

Humans are the dominant species on Earth and ecology is key to understanding the multiple feedbacks through which their activities affect human health. Fundamental principles of ecology, from population to ecosystem levels, will be examined through the lens of human health. Topics include human population growth and carrying capacity, why we age, infectious disease dynamics, the microbiome and human health, sustainable agriculture and food security, sustainable harvest of wild foods, dynamics of pollutants in food webs, ecosystem services to humans, and human impacts of climate change.

Gateway to Biology: Molecular Biology, Genetics & Evolution

Major concepts in modern biology through the lens of molecular biology, genetics and evolution. The structure and function of genes at the molecular, organismal, and population level. Molecular mechanisms including replication, transcription, translation, and DNA mutation and repair. Mendelian and non-Mendelian inheritance, genetic mapping, evidence for evolution, natural selection, genetic drift, speciation, molecular evolution, phylogenetic analysis. Relevance to human diseases, social implications of genetics and biotechnology.