CORE-UA 305 001, Life Science: Human Origins
Prof. Harrison (Anthropology) [syllabus]
This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the field of biological anthropology and explores the evolutionary history of our lineage. Topics include but are not limited to human and non-human primate genetics, behavior, osteology, paleoanthropology, bioarchaeology, and forensics. Particular emphases are placed on modern human biological variation and the human fossil record. In doing so, we will reconstruct the behavior—locomotor, social, sexual, and cultural—of our ancestors and close relatives using modern analogs including modern humans, our closest living relatives the great apes, and other primates and non-primate animals. This course begins with a review of cellular and molecular biology and evolutionary theory in general, then establishes our place in nature and geological time, and ends with a detailed foray into modern human origins, including fossils, artifacts, and inferred cultural behaviors. Additionally, we will explore modern human variation, including discussions of topics such as race, genetics, and sexuality.
CORE-UA 306, Life Science: Brain and Behavior
Prof. Kiorpes (Neural Science) [syllabus]
The relationship of the brain to behavior, beginning with the basic elements that make up the nervous system and how electrical and chemical signals in the brain work to effect behavior. Using this foundation, we examine how the brain learns and how it creates new behaviors, together with the brain mechanisms that are involved in sensory experience, movement, hunger and thirst, sexual behaviors, the experience of emotions, perception and cognition, memory and the brain's plasticity. Other key topics include whether certain behavioral disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder can be accounted for by changes in the function of the brain, and how drugs can alter behavior and brain function.
Note: Handling of animals and animal brain tissue is required in some labs.
CORE-UA 310, Life Science: Molecules of Life
Prof. Jordan (College Core Curriculum) [syllabus]
Our lives are increasingly influenced by the availability of new pharmaceuticals, ranging from drugs that lower cholesterol to those that influence behavior. We examine the chemistry and biology of biomolecules that make up the molecular machinery of the cell. Critical to the function of such biomolecules is their three-dimensional structure that endows them with a specific function. This information provides the scientific basis for understanding drug action and how new drugs are designed. Beginning with the principles of chemical bonding, molecular structure, and acid-base properties that govern the structure and function of biomolecules, we apply these principles to study the varieties of protein architecture and how proteins serve as enzymes to facilitate biochemical reactions. We conclude with a study of molecular genetics and how recent information from the Human Genome Project is stimulating new approaches to diagnosing disease and designing drug treatments.
Note: This is part of a two-course sequence, and is limited to students who completed CORE-UA 210 in fall 2017.
CORE-UA 313, Life Science: The Brain — A User's Guide
Prof. Azmitia (Biology) [syllabus]
A non-textbook introductory science course aimed at non-science students interested understanding and caring for their own brains. The course provides new ideas of brain evolution, drug action and mental disorders. Core neurobiological ideas are developed into complex topics such as addiction, violence, memory, homosexuality and obesity. Each lecture provides current insights confronting students. The important subjects of drugs and alcohol introduce current mechanism of action for abuse of illegal (e.g. marijuana and ecstasy) and prescription (e.g. Xanax, Oxycodone, and Adderall) drugs. The course ends with coverage of clinical topics such as depression, suicide, anxiety, autism and ADHD. A weekly laboratory is included in this class which consist of brain dissections, microscopy, and computer assisted morphometry as well as exercises to cover topics such as alcohol measurement, calorie determination, photosynthesis and gender differences. Students are also expected to learn to use DSM-5 psychiatric handbook. The course grade is based on 5 test, a final, laboratory grade and two papers. The course is not recommended for juniors or seniors. All lectures are available as PowerPoint presentations before class and students are encouraged to use their computers or smartphones during class to facilitate discussions and questions. In summary, this class attempts to provide college students with the background to understand how the brain is structured and how it functions.
Note: Handling of animal brain tissue is required in some labs.
CORE-UA 314, Life Science: Genomes and Diversity
Prof. Siegal (Biology) [syllabus]
Millions of species of animals, plants and microbes inhabit our planet. Genomics, the study of all the genes in an organism, is providing new insights into this amazing diversity of life on Earth. We begin with the fundamentals of DNA, genes and genomes. We then explore microbial diversity, with an emphasis on how genomics can reveal many aspects of organisms, from their ancient history to their physiological and ecological habits. We follow with examinations of animal and plant diversity, focusing on domesticated species, such as dogs and tomatoes, as examples of how genomic methods can be used to identify genes that underlie new or otherwise interesting traits. Genomics has also transformed the study of human diversity and human disease. We examine the use of DNA to trace human ancestry, as well as the use of genomics as a diagnostic tool in medicine. With the powerful new technologies to study genomes has come an increased power to manipulate them. We conclude by considering the societal implications of this ability to alter the genomes of crop plants, livestock and potentially humans.