Biology 11

For many students, BIOL 11 will be the entrance course to the major.  To help students determine if they are sufficiently prepared to enter a foundation course directly, the Biology department has established an online self-assessment exam for students.  Students who have any concerns about their preparedness should take BIOL 11 before enrolling in a foundation course.  BIOL 11 may be counted toward the biology major if it is taken either during the first year or as the as the first biology course counted toward the major. Only one offering of BIOL 11 may be taken for credit.

Should I Take Biology 11?

To help students determine if they are sufficiently prepared to enter a foundation course directly, the Biology department has established an online Biology placement/advisory exam for students (available in Canvas).  Students who have any concerns about their preparedness should take BIOL 11 before enrolling in a foundation course. 

BIOL 11.07 - 20F Timeslot E

Major Events in the History of Life and the Human Genome

Over the course of the last 4.5 billion years, life has faced a number of challenges, and in response has evolved a number of remarkable innovations.  These innovations are written in DNA, and thus molecular fossils for many of the major events in the history of life can be found within our very own genomes.  This course will survey the human nuclear and mitochondrial genomes, using a gene or region from a chromosome as a “ticket” to a particularly important event or process in the history of life including the origin of life itself (Chromosome 14), the advent of protein synthesis (Chromosome 22), the invention of DNA (Chromosome 8), the rise of atmospheric oxygen (mitochondrion), the origin of species (Chromosome 2), the origin of animals and the rise of macroecology (Chromosome 12), and the origin of humans and human language (Chromosome 7).  Peterson.

Syllabus for the Fall 2019 offering.

BIOL 11.06- 21W

Why Can't We All Just Get Along? Cooperation and Conflict in Biological Systems

Cooperation and conflict arise at all levels of biology—with molecules, cells, organisms and communities. Throughout the term, we will explore several examples of cooperation and conflict in biological systems and examine the cost and benefits of these two opposing forces. We will investigate theories about how cooperation and/or conflict have shaped how life began, the concept of “selfish” DNA, why cells have the structures they have as well as multi-protein complexes driving essential cellular processes. In addition, we will discuss the generation of multicellular organisms, cooperation of different cell types within the organism and examples of cellular competition that arise in specific diseased states such as cancer. We also will consider behavioral interactions among different types of organisms, and the organization of human societies. Ultimately, our goal is to guide students to critically evaluate the different ways that cooperation and conflict shape biological systems and to begin to understand the mechanisms underlying these two forces. R. Calsbeek.

BIOL 11.08 - 21S

Animal Minds

Darwin claimed that other species share the same “mental powers” as humans, only to different degrees. This course will examine the evidence for Darwin’s claim, focusing on the evolutionary, neural, and molecular basis of animal cognition. We will ask how and why organisms behave as they do, exploring the ways in which evolution has adapted organisms’ information gathering, perception, learning ability, memory, and decision making to both their physical and social world. Key examples will be drawn from navigation, tool-use, communication, and cultural imitation. An overarching emphasis will be placed on the active process of scientific discovery, especially how strong inference and multiple competing hypotheses enable scientists to make discoveries.  Jack and Laidre.

Syllabus for Spring 2019 offering

 

Syllabi for Recent Offerings

Biology 11 - The Science of Life Syllabi

Fall 2019:  Major Events in the History of Life and the Human Genome - Prof. Kevin Peterson

Spring 2019:  Animal Minds - Prof. Tom Jack and Prof. Mark Laidre