SPRING 2020 CORE-UA 303 001, Life Science: Human Genetics
We are currently witnessing a revolution in human genetics, where the ability to scrutinize and manipulate DNA has allowed scientists to gain unprecedented insights into the role of heredity. Beginning with an overview of the principles of inheritance such as cell division and Mendelian genetics, we explore the foundations and frontiers of modern human genetics, with an emphasis on understanding and evaluating new discoveries. Descending to the molecular level, we investigate how genetic information is encoded in DNA and how mutations affect gene function. These molecular foundations are used to explore the science and social impact of genetic technology, including topics such as genetic testing, genetically modified foods, DNA fingerprinting, and the Human Genome Project. Laboratory projects emphasize the diverse methods that scientists employ to study heredity.
SPRING 2020 CORE-UA 305 001, Life Science: Human Origins
Prof. Higham [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.
SPRING 2020 CORE-UA 306, Life Science: Brain and Behavior
Prof. Schneider [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.
SPRING 2020 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 2018.
SPRING 2020 CORE-UA 311, Life Science: Lessons from the Biosphere
Prof. Volk [Syllabus]
Provides a foundation of knowledge about how Earth's biosphere works. This includes the biggest ideas and findings about biology on the global scale-the scale in which we live. Such knowledge is especially crucial today because we humans are perturbing so many systems within the biosphere. We explore four main topics: (1) Evolution of Life: How did life come to be what it is today? (2) Life's Diversity: What is life today on the global scale? (3) Cycles of Matter: How do life and the non-living environment interact? (4) The Human Guild: How are humans changing the biosphere and how might we consider our future within the biosphere? Laboratory experiments are complemented by an exploration at the American Museum of Natural History.
SPRING 2020 CORE-UA 313, Life Science: The Brain: A User's Guide
Prof. Azmitia [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. 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.