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BIO 290


Selected topics in Biology. May or may not include a laboratory, depending on the subject. Prerequisite: one year of biology or permission of instructor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
One year of biology or permission of instructor 1/2-1 course

Fall Semester information

Lynn Bedard

290A: Tps:Epigenetics

This course will introduce the fascinating sub discipline of Epigenetics as it relates to how organisms develop over the course of their lives. We will explore some of the research theories surrounding how environment can influence phenotypic expression, such as whether an organism's sex is male or female. The mechanisms by which such environmental agents operate are only beginning to be understood. Importantly, environment does not necessarily refer to nature or ecology; rather, it can speak to levels of hormones, or the physical surrounding of a cell or tissue. You will learn relevant concepts in molecular biology and genetics. These areas of Biology will serve as a foundation for our readings of both primary literature and popular science. In many cases, fascinating case studies in the realm of epigenetics will be the stimulus for excellent conversation. Students will read sources in primary scientific literature as well as the popular press to compare and contrast how scientific information is transmitted to the general public. Students will be able to explain the phenomenon as well as the molecular mechanisms of how gene expression impacts phenotypic variation in individuals as well as populations. The primary goal of this class is to provide you with a strong foundation in understanding epigenetics, and for you to develop a robust understanding of one of the fundamental processes of development. Your responsibility is to be engaged in focused and critical readings of the material, to come to class prepared, and to intently participate in discussions with the instructor and your classmates. A variety of writing styles will be explored along the way to help students develop the key skills to complete the W competency.

Janet Vaglia

290B: Tps:The Survival Paradox: Organism Development in a Changing Environment

Biology is in the midst of a huge technology revolution, especially in the arenas of Molecular and Cell Biology. These leaps in technology are allowing us to uncover new layers of complexities in the genes, and in how those genes are inherited and expressed. It also has us questioning the validity of what we think we know...when there is so much left to understand. In this course, we will seek to develop a greater understanding of how the environment interacts with developing organisms. It is especially interesting and timely to consider how the environment influences disease states, mutations and evolution. We will explore what is known about how well organisms can adapt to a changing environment. Some of the literature we examine will consider cases such as temperature change, ocean acidification, disruption in symbiotic relations amongst organisms, and the increasing prevalence of abnormalities caused by interactions between the environment and genes.

Spring Semester information

Janet Vaglia

290A: Tps:Evolutionary Developmental Biology