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Fall 2020 Class Schedule


 First Year Seminars 

Table of First Year Seminar Courses
Course Title Instructor Day/Time
BIOL_SCI 101-6-01  First Year Seminar - Promises & Perils: The Social Reality of Biology Marcelo Vinces

Online - synchronous 

MWF 9:10-10am

BIOL_SCI 101-6-02 First Year Seminar - Pollination Ecology: From Conservation to Extinction Paul CaraDonna

Online - synchronous 

MWF 9:40-10:30am

BIOL_SCI 101-6-03 First Year Seminar - Values of Biodiversity Joseph Walsh

Online - synchronous 

MW 4:20-5:40

BIOL_SCI 115-6-01 First Year Seminar - Biological Thought and Action Michele McDonough & William Leonard

Online - synchronous 

TTH 4:20-5:40


distribution courses

Table of Distribution Courses
Course Title Instructor Day/Time
BIOL_SCI 103-0 Diversity of Life Gary Galbreath

Online - synchronous 

T 2:40-4pm


isp courses

Table of IPS Courses
Course Title Instructor Day/Time
BIOL_SCI 240-0-0 Biochemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology - 1 for ISP Vinzenz Unger


Lec: MWF 11:30am-12:20pm

Dis: TTH 11:20am-12:40pm


core courses

Table of Core Courses
Course Title Instructor Day/Time
BIOL_SCI 217-0-0 Physiology Christine McCary

Online - synchronous 

Lec (20): MWF 11:30am- 12:20pm   OR

Lec (21): MWF 10:20-11:10am   AND

Dis (60): W 7-8:50pm

BIOL_SCI 220-0-0 Genetics and Molecular Processes Laboratory John Mordacq and Jenni Brace Option for In-person or Online, synchronous. Please see details below. 


300 level courses

Table of 300 Level Courses
Course Title Instructor Day/Time
BIOL_SCI 302-0-0 Fundamentals of Neurobiology Tracy Hodgson

Online - synchronous

MWF 1:50-2:40pm

BIOL_SCI 325-0-0 Animal Physiology Tracy Hodgson

Online - synchronous

MWF 10:20- 11:10am

BIOL_SCI 339-0-0 Critical Topics in Ecology and Conservation Krissa Skogen

Online - synchronous

MW 2:30- 4:20pm

BIOL_SCI 342-0-0 Evolutionary Processes Joseph Walsh

Online - synchronous

TTH 2:40- 4pm

BIOL_SCI 345-0-0 Topics in Biology: Forerunners of Mammals Laura Panko

Online - blended

MW - 4:10-5pm synchronous meetings 

F - asynchronous meeting (no time)

BIOL_SCI 355-0-0 Immunobiology  Hilary Truchan

Online - synchronous

MWF 12:40- 1:30pm

BIOL_SCI 361-0-0 Protein Structure and Function Amy Rosenzweig

Online - synchronous

MWF 11:30am- 12:20pm

BIOL_SCI 380-0-0 Biology of Cancer Xiaomin Bao

Online - synchronous

TTH 11:20am- 12:40pm

BIOL_SCI 390-0-0 Advanced Molecular Biology Xiaozhong Wang

Hybrid (In-person lecture, online discussions)

Lec: MWF 1:50-2:40pm

Dis: T 5:20-6:10pm



fall 2021 course descriptions

First Year Seminars & 100 level courses

BIOL_SCI - 101.06.01

First Year Seminar - Biology and Society

The word biology describes both the characteristics and processes of life and living organism, as well as the discipline that studies these. Like all the natural sciences, the study of biology is a data-driven endeavor, concerned with describing, predicting and understanding natural phenomena based on evidence from observation and experimentation. But like all human activities, it does not exist in objective isolation, but rather within a societal context. And biological phenomena, such as infection and disease, interact with non-biological elements of human society. This course aims to contextualize the study of biology towards a better understanding of how social and cultural histories and dynamics have had a profound effect on both biological research as well as biological phenomena, and how social, political and economic parameters influence the impact of scientific breakthroughs and the outcomes of biological events such as epidemics.  

The topics we will cover, among others: the cultural, political and societal barriers to reaping the benefits of biological research; the damaging legacies of racism, sexism and colonialism on the biological research enterprise; the role of communications in the field of biology; and select biological topics in evolution, genetics and disease. Students will learn from press articles, academic literature and non-fiction books (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot; Pandemic, by Sonia Shah). 


BIOL_SCI - 101.06.02

First Year Seminar - Pollination Ecology: From Conservation to Extinction

This course will focus on developing an understanding of the ecology of plants, pollinators, and their interactions. We will build on this ecological knowledge in order to think critically about the conservation challenges faced by plants and pollinators all across the globe today. Topics in this course will range from plant and pollinator life cycles, pollinator behavior, pollination ecology, pollination as an ecosystem services, and conservation. Emphasis in this course will be on the development of skills in critical reading, interpretation, discussion, and writing for the sciences.

BIOL_SCI - 101.06.03

First Year Seminar - Values of Biodiversity

One of the major challenges of our changing world is the loss of biological diversity. An overwhelming majority of people agree that we should work to save biodiversity, but their views are largely based on vague, positive feelings about nature rather than concrete justifications. This course investigates those concrete justifications. The first half of the course sketches out the argument for preserving biodiversity (i.e., "thinking globally"). The second half of the course focuses on the practice of ecological restoration in forest preserves a few miles from campus (i.e., "acting locally") not merely as a way to preserve biodiversity, but as a path to redefining a sustainable relationship between nature and culture. The readings for the course range from classics of environmental writing to recent research papers in the primary scientific literature. Biodiversity also needs to be experienced directly, so we will take a field trip to a local forest preserve where we will roll up our sleeves and help restore a native habitat and see how much biodiversity means to the people with whom we live and work.

BIOL_SCI - 115.06.01

First Year Seminar - Biological Thought and Action


Biological sciences distribution courses

BIOL_SCI - 103.0.0

Diversity of Life

This course constitutes a comparative survey of organisms, emphasizing adaptation and phylogenetic relationships. The gradual evolution of lineages of living things is treated chronologically, and the mechanism of natural selection is elucidated. The evolution of Animals is covered in special depth.

Biological sciences isp courses

BIOL_SCI 240-0-0

First of two courses that aim to provide a framework for understanding the chemistry, structure and function of life's smallest functional units known as cells. Starting from a basic description of inherent properties of biological macromolecules, the course will build a cell from the inside out by exploring questions related to information storage, replication and decoding of genetic information, regulation of gene expression, cytoskeleton and cytoskeletal dynamics, cell organelle structure and function, cell cycle, cell division, and basic principles of tissue design. Covering these topics, the course will emphasize how a limited set of governing principles shapes all of life's processes in similar ways, and how integration of different disciplines is key to understanding biology.

Biological sciences 200 core courses

BIOL_SCI 217-0-0


Human physiology. Fundamental mechanisms underlying the function of the major organ systems in humans will be covered. Emphasis will be placed on molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying physiological processes, and on the integration among the major organs systems to achieve homeostatic and sensorimotor function. Topics will include neural, autonomic/somatic motor, cardiovascular, respiratory, and renal physiology.


Genetics and Molecular Processes Laboratory

Genetic and Molecular Processes Laboratory. Students will design their own laboratory experiment using a defined model. Laboratory techniques and experiments in fundamental aspects of transmission genetics and molecular biology will be used. This course will accommodate both students who will be completely remote this quarter as well as students who want an in-person lab experience. All students should register for section 20 AND ALSO either an in-person lab (Sections 60-75), OR an on-line synchronous section (160-175).

Section breakdown available here.

Biological sciences 300 level courses


Fundamentals of Neurobiology

Fundamentals of Neurobiology will explore the structure and function of the central nervous system, from the molecular to the systems/behavioral level. This course will provide an introduction to a number of concepts in cellular and systems neurology, with an emphasis on: ion channel structure and function; the structure and function of neurons and glia; the ionic basis of the membrane potential, graded potential and action potential; synaptic physiology, neuromodulation, neuronal networks; neural plasticity, including learning and memory.


Animal Physiology

Bio 325 is a lecture/group discussion course designed to explore advanced concepts regarding the physiology of the major organ systems, with an emphasis on comparisons between vertebrate groups, and between vertebrates and invertebrates.


Critical Topics in Ecology and Conservation

This course will provide students with the conceptual and theoretical framework within the field of plant ecology (especially plant biology) and conservation. This seminar-style class is based on reading and discussion of historical and contemporary primary literature. It will provide you with the opportunity to think critically and discuss your thoughts within a structured yet informal setting and will provide them with a basic background in reading and writing scientific papers. This course is designed to help you: 1. Read and discuss primary literature critically. 2. Learn important skills for writing scientific papers. 3. Become comfortable presenting and discussing papers with your peers. 4. Become more familiar with topics in Plant Science and Conservation. 5. Write a critical review of a manuscript written by a colleague. 6. Write a review paper on the topic of your choosing.


Evolutionary Processes

Change in the genetic composition of populations over time is the basis of evolution. Evolution occurs when mutation introduces new alleles that replace existing alleles in populations via one of two mechanisms. Replacement can occur by chance (genetic drift) or by encoding a superior phenotype (natural selection). Natural selection produces one of the major features of the living world, adaptation. We will model these processes for single-locus traits, DNA sequences, and phenotypic traits. When populations are separated from one another geographically, they inevitably take different evolutionary paths; it is in this manner that most species are formed. These latter processes-change within lineages and diversification among lineages-have been iterated over staggeringly long periods of time, producing another major feature of the living world, its breathtaking biodiversity. We will familiarize ourselves with the history and diversity of life on earth by examination of the fossil record, and by inferring relationships among species using phylogenetic methods.


Forerunners of Mammals

Long before the first dinosaurs, over 300 million years ago Archaeothyris inhabited swampy land in what is now Nova Scotia, Canada. Lizard-like in general body shape, the synapsid skull morphology nevertheless gives it away as a basal member of the group that gave rise to the mammals. In this class we will explore the ancient roots of Mammalia, with a particular focus on the dazzling diversity of Permian and Triassic synapsids that followed Archaeothyris.



Immunobiology is the study of the response of higher organisms to foreign substances and pathogens, such as bacteria and viruses. This course examines the cells and organs of the vertebrate immune system and how they function to protect us during an immune response against microbial infection. We will also examine disorders of the immune system, including immune deficiency, hypersensitivity, autoimmunity, and cancer.


Protein Structure and Function

This course explores the relationship between the three-dimensional structure of proteins and their function. First, we cover the basic principles of protein architecture. Following an overview of methods for determining protein structures, we study specific classes of proteins, including antibodies, amyloids, DNA-binding proteins, enzymes, folding chaperones, membrane proteins, and nucleotide binding proteins. Along the way, students learn how to display, manipulate, and investigate three dimensional macromolecular structures on the computer. Finally, we apply the skills learned to primary literature case studies published in the last year.


Biology of Cancer

This course is focused on the molecular/cellular mechanisms underlying cancer initiation and progression. Students are expected to have a thorough understanding of molecular and cell biology before taking this class. Various mechanisms controlling cell proliferation, signal transduction, DNA damage repair, cell fate decisions and cell-cell communications will be discussed. Topics will also include nature/hallmarks of cancer and current strategies for cancer treatment. The goal of this course is to have a rich intellectual exchange of ideas while taking an in depth look at the molecular causes of cancer.


Advanced Molecular Biology

 This is a course designed for upper level undergraduate students. Basic molecular genetic mechanisms in eukaryotic organisms are the emphasis of the course. Topics include basic concepts and techniques of molecular biology, organization of genetic information, flow of genetic information, regulation of the flow of genetic information and application of molecular biology in biomedical research.




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