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Fall 2021 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


9 - 9:50am

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


12:30 - 1:50pm

BIOL_SCI 101-6-03 First Year Seminar - The Immortal Cell Jennifer Brace


2 - 3:20pm

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


4:20 - 5:40pm


distribution courses

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


3 - 3:50pm 


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


11 - 11:50am

Dis: TTh

11 - 11:50am


core courses

Table of Core Courses
Course Title Instructor Day/Time
BIOL_SCI 202-0-0 Cell Biology Sadie Wignall & Laura Lackner


10 - 10:50am 


11 - 11:50am

Dis: W 

7 - 8:50pm

BIOL_SCI 232-0-0 Molecular and Cellular Processes Laboratory John Mordacq & Hilary Truchan  


300 level courses

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


2 - 2:50pm

BIOL_SCI 325-0-0 Animal Physiology Tracy Hodgson


10 - 10:50am 

BIOL_SCI 327-0-0 Biology of Aging Jennifer Brace


11 - 12:20pm

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


2:30 - 4:20pm

BIOL_SCI 342-0-0 Evolutionary Processes Joseph Walsh


2 - 3:20pm 

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


3:30 - 4:50pm

BIOL_SCI 346-0-0 Field Ecology Joseph Walsh


12:30 - 4:50pm

BIOL_SCI 355-0-0 Immunobiology  Hilary Truchan


10 - 10:50am

BIOL_SCI 360-0-0 Principles of Cell Signaling  Reza Vafabakhsh


9 - 9:50am 

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


11 - 11:50am 

BIOL_SCI 380-0-0 Biology of Cancer Xiaomin Bao


2 - 3:20pm

BIOL_SCI 390-0-0 Advanced Molecular Biology Xiaozhong Wang


1 - 1:50pm



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

 Science is a process by which people make sense of the world. Scientists examine evidence from the past, work to understand the present, and make predictions about the future. Integral to this process are the methods they use to collect and analyze data, as well as the ways in which scientists work together as a community to interpret evidence and draw conclusions. In this class, we will take a multidisciplinary approach to examining biological thought and action and their social ramifications. We will seek to understand science as a social pursuit: the work of human beings with individual, disciplinary, and cultural differences, and requiring tremendous investments in training and equipment. Does it matter that participation in science is more accessible to some than to others? How do biases, assumptions, uncertainty, and error manifest in scientific work? What is the history of scientific values such as objectivity and reproducibility? The course will conclude by investigating current topics of public debate.

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. Prerequisite: Students must be enrolled in the Integrated Science Program to register for this course.

Biological sciences 200 core courses


Cell Biology 

This course is part of the four-course introductory biology sequence. The cell biology course covers mechanisms the cell uses to compartmentalize and transport proteins, to move, to regulate growth and death, and to communicate with their environments. Prerequisite: Students must have completed, with a C- or better, BIOL_SCI 201-0 or 215-0 to register for this course. Must be taken concurrently with BIOL_SCI 232-0. Credit not allowed for both BIOL_SCI 219-0 and BIOL_SCI 202-0.


Molecular and Cellular Processes Laboratory

 This is the first course in a three-quarter sequence of introductory biology laboratory, which meets once a week for four hours and includes an online lecture component. The course is designed to provide students with an authentic laboratory experience that investigates relevant scientific research and teaches scientific inquiry skills such as experimental design, writing research proposals, data collection, data analysis/interpretation, and the presentation of results. The experimental model revolves around atherosclerosis and macrophage phagocytosis of apoptotic cells. Students will learn and become proficient at various cell and molecular biology techniques. Must be taken concurrently with BIOL_SCI 202-0. Credit not allowed for both BIOL_SCI 221-0 and BIOL_SCI 232-0.

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. Prerequisite: Students must have completed BIOL_SCI 201-0 or BIOL_SCI 215-0 and BIOL_SCI 202-0 or BIOL_SCI 219-0, and BIOL_SCI 217-0 or BIOL_SCI 310-0, and BIOL_SCI 301-0 to register for this course. May not receive credit for both BIOL_SCI 302-0 and NEUROSCI 202-0.


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. Prerequisite: Students must have completed BIOL_SCI 217-0 or BIOL_SCI 310-0 to register for this course.


Biology of Aging

In this course, we will discuss the current molecular and cellular processes that contribute to organismal aging. Topics will include but are not limited to: epigenetic changes, mitochondrial dysfunction, loss of proteostasis and nutrient sensing pathways. Through critical analysis of current primary literature, students will gain an understanding of how experimental evidence informs the current biological theories of aging. Furthermore, we will explore the biological and ethical considerations of extending lifespan and current studies on the potential to reverse aging.Through a mix of lectures, discussions, and primary literature review, we will explore the molecular and cellular biology of aging. Discussions will be based on recent literature and will provide students with some of the current knowledge in this growing field of study. We will also critically analyze media portrayal of lifespan extension and its implications in human biology. Prerequisite: Students must have completed BIOL_SCI 201-0 or BIOL_SCI 215-0, and BIOL_SCI 202-0 or BIOL_SCI 219-0 to register for this course.


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. Prerequisite: Students must have completed BIOL_SCI 203-0 or BIOL_SCI 215-0 or ENVR_SCI 202-0 to register for this course.


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. Prerequisite: Students must have completed BIOL_SCI 203-0 or BIOL_SCI 215-0 and BIOL_SCI 202-0 or BIOL_SCI 219-0, and a course in statistics to register for this course.


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. Prerequisites: Students must have completed BIOL_SCI 203-0 or BIOL_SCI 215-0 , BIOL_SCI 202-0 or BIOL_SCI 219-0, and BIOL_SCI 234-0 or BIOL_SCI 222-0 to register for this course.


Field Ecology

This course is an intensive experience in ecological field research. Projects are based on analysis of data collected in the field. Topics addressed vary by year and conditions, but have included competition, parasitism, pollination, biodiversity metrics, effects of exotic species, effects of ecological restoration management, plant identification, etc. The first half of the quarter meetings are outdoors. Outdoor labs are conducted on local Forest Preserve District of Cook County properties; transportation will be provided. We depart from campus at 12:30P and return by 4:50P. These labs are for the purpose of collecting data which will be analyzed during the second half of the quarter while indoors. Indoor meetings are for data analysis, presentations, discussion of primary literature, etc. They begin at 12:30P and end when we are done, rarely going past 2:30P.  Prerequisite: Students must have completed BIOL_SCI 203-0 or BIOL_SCI 215-0 and a course in statistics to register for this course.



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. Prerequisite: Students must have completed BIOL_SCI 203-0 or BIOL_SCI 215-0 and BIOL_SCI 202-0 or BIOL_SCI 219-0, and BIOL_SCI 301-0 to register for this course.


Principles of Cell Signaling

The ability to sense external and internal signals and dynamically respond lies at the core of cellular homeostasis and is one of the most important properties of all forms of life. In this course, general molecular principles of signaling through which cells capture, process, store and send information are discussed. The emphasis of this course in on the design principles, components, and molecular mechanisms that are common to different signaling systems. Modern experimental techniques for studying cellular signaling as well as the implications of disruption of cell communication pathways in diseases will be described. Prerequisite: Students must have completed BIOL_SCI 203-0 or BIOL_SCI 215-0 and BIOL_SCI 202-0 or BIOL_SCI 219-0, to register for this course.


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. Prerequisites: Students must have completed BIOL_SCI 301-0 to register for this course.


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. Prerequisite: Students must have completed BIOL_SCI 203-0 or BIOL_SCI 215-0 and BIOL_SCI 202-0 or BIOL_SCI 219-0, and BIOL_SCI 301-0 to register for this course.


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. Prerequisite: Students must have completed BIOL_SCI 201-0 or BIOL_SCI 215-0 and BIOL_SCI 202-0 or BIOL_SCI 219-0, and BIOL_SCI 301-0 to register for this course.


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