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BIOL 189T: Macroevolution
Macroevolution is a 4-unit course in which we explore major themes in evolutionary biology through the primary literature and learn how to generate phylogenetic trees from DNA sequence data. One of objectives of this course is to teach you how to read and assimilate primary literature quickly. Every week, we “jigsaw” the primary literature assignments into groups of 3-4 students, and each group will be responsible for summarizing 1-2 papers, which we then go over as a group in class and “assemble” each group’s summaries. We will discuss the papers and then my lecture will synthesize the readings into the topic of discussion. The readings and lecture portion of this course will expose you to macroevolutionary principles and theory. The laboratory portion of the course will teach you the logistics of phylogenetic reconstruction and analysis. The course is literature intensive and requires extensive reading of primary literature. Do not be frightened by this! Learning how to read scientific articles and to think scientifically is quite possibly the most important part of an undergraduate education in the sciences. Assessments include written essays of major themes and will enhance scientific writing as well as mastery of the course content. The laboratory section will complement the theory discussed in the lecture by teaching you both the basic theory behind phylogenetic reconstruction and how to use modern computer algorithms to create phylogenetic trees. The lecture will meet for two 1 hour and 15 minute sessions per week, and the lab meets for one 3 hour session per week.
BIOL 189T: Conservation Biology
The topics included in this 3-unit course revolve around the development and application of theory, principles, factual knowledge, and techniques of population ecology, genetics, evolutionary biology, community ecology, landscape ecology, biogeography, and systematics to the conservation of biodiversity. My goal is to provide students with an overview of the science of conservation biology, primarily through discussion of the classic and recent literature. Assigned papers illustrate how the theories and tools of the biological sciences and related disciplines can be applied to the solution of conservation problems. Related objectives are to develop critical thinking skills and to familiarize students with research topics and contentious issues in conservation biology. Upon completion of this course, students should understand how biodiversity is generated and maintained in nature, the proximate and ultimate threats to biodiversity, research approaches of conservation biology, and strategies for maintaining biodiversity on earth.
BIOL 281: Graduate Seminar
Graduate Seminar is a 1-unit graduate-level course reading and discussion seminar on the emerging science of macroevolution contrasted with microevolution. This course will examine the progression from Darwinian Evolution to the Modern Synthesis and the current emerging field of the Extended Synthesis. This course will expose students to historical and recent seminal papers in evolutionary biology. Students with interests in ecology, natural resource management, health sciences, and evolutionary biology should be able to understand the complexities and subtleties of evolutionary biology beyond Darwinian Evolution, particularly with the widespread use of genomics in the sciences.