Graduate Courses

In consultation with their thesis supervisory committees, Biology graduate students develop their own individualized curricula. Listed below are most of the graduate courses currently available. Not all are offered every year.

Courses offered in the Department of Biology

5011 Mathematical Biology I (3 credits) Mathematical modeling in the biological and medical sciences. Topics will include continuous and discrete dynamical systems describing interacting and structured populations, resource management, biological control, reaction kinetics, biological oscillators and switches, and the dynamics of infectious diseases.

5012 Mathematical Biology II (3 credits) Mathematical models of spatial processes in biology including pattern formation in the embryo and during tissue differentiation, applications of traveling waves to population dynamics, epidemiology, and chemical reactions, and models for neural patterns.

5110 Molecular Biology and Genetic Engineering (3 credits) Recombinant-DNA principles and techniques; background biology. Basic enzymology of DNA (restriction and modification, sealing, reverse transcription, nick translation, end labeling, etc.), cloning plasmids and their replication, bacteriophage, and basic methodologies.

5130 Plant Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (3 credits) Molecular biology, biochemistry, and metabolism with emphasis on features specifically characteristic of plants.

5210 Cell Structure and Function (3 credits) Relations between structure and function in animal cells. Membranes and permeability, structural componentsand motility, cell division, and hormone receptors and functions.Reading from current research literature.

5215 Cell Biology Advanced Projects Laboratory (2 credits) Fulfills Upper Division Communication/Writing. Learning tools of cell biology to study malignant transformation in culture, cell culture, organelles, chromosomes, genes, and gene expression.

5220 Molecular Neuroscience (3 credits) Analysis of mechanisms that generate and propagatenerve impulses (basic electrophysiology).Experimental foundations of present concepts. Historical development of ideas and original research literature.

5221 Human Evolutionary Genetics (3 credits) An introduction to population genetics with applications to human genetic data.

5230 Mechanisms of Development (3 credits) Cellular, molecular, and genetic approaches to the analysis of development in complex eukaryotes. Important experimental systems and representative problems at the forefront of current research are explored in depth.

5240 Plant Developmental Biology (3 credits) Cellular and molecular bases of plant development.

5255 Prokaryotic Genetics (2 credits) Project-oriented lecture/laboratory on use of experimental and analytical tools of modern genetics using bacteria and their viruses. Students work in small groups on independent projects and spend an average of five hours weekly in laboratory.

5265 Eukaryotic Genetics (2 credits) Advanced course on specialized topics. One lecture and an open laboratory weekly (using Drosophila or C. elegans as laboratory organisms). Cis-acting regulatory elements governing gene expression, mutations affecting early development, and clonal inheritance of gene expression states. Hands-on exercises in genetic fundamentals. Each student carries out an extensive genetic experiment.

5280 Biological Microscopy (2 credits) Practical aspects of microscopy as applied to research problems in biology.

5285 Biological Microscopy Laboratory (1 to 3 credits) Individual student project that applies microscopy techniques covered in BIOL 5280 to a problem in biology.

5290 Fundamentals of Biological Microscopy (1 credit) Lecture course providing a foundation in the essentials of microscopy and imaging, including digital imaging, for advanced undergraduates and graduate students. Meets 2 hrs. per week for one half-semester.

5330 Neural Mechanisms of Behavior (3 credits) In this course we will explore the ways in which the brain controls natural behavior. We will study subjects such as how bats and owls are able to hunt at night, the unusual sensory abilities of electric fishes, learning and memory, and how we recognize different faces.

5340 Analysis of Vertebrate Structure and Function (3 credits) Structure, function and evolution of vertebrates, with emphasis on locomotor systems. Experimental and theoretical approaches to current questions.

5350 Ecological Physiology (3 credits) Analysis of physiological diversity. Adaptation, plasticity, systems integration, behavioral compromise, phylogenetic influences, relationship of physiological attributes to fitness. Consequences of physiological diversity of ecology and evolution.

5365 Form, Function, and Adaptation of Plants (4 credits) This lecture and lab course explores the form and function of plants in relation to their environment. We cover the anatomy and development of plants in the context of photosynthetic physiology, mechanical support, and resource uptake and transport mechanisms. Adaptations to environmental conditions including drought, light, salinity, temperature, and flooded soils are emphasized.

5370 Mammalogy (3 credits) Biology of wild mammals with emphasis on local species.

5375 Mammalogy Lab (1 credit) Laboratory exercises in Mammalogy.

5385 Ornithology (4 credits) Birds (Aves) constitute the best known class of organisms on earth. This course presents an overview of the enormous body of information on birds, including topics such as the evolutionary origin and early radiation of birds, molecular systematics, form and function, reproduction and development, population and community ecology, behavior and communication and conservation biology.

5395 Advanced Field Ornithology (2 credits) Ten day intensive field course during spring break. Students will study morphological, physiological, ecological and behavioral diversity and adaptations of birds across a variety of habitats in the Western U.S. Individual reports due at end of spring semester.

5401 Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution (3 credits) Survey of the diversity of fossil vertebrates, with emphasis on skeletal morphology and systematics. Additional topics include taphonomy, functional morphology, origins of major groups (clades), tempo and mode of evolutionary change, and mass extinctions, as well as stratigraphic and biogeographic distributions viewed in the context of plate tectonics. One field trip.

5410 Molecular Evolution and Population Genetics (3 credits) The genetics of populations from an evolutionary perspective; processes that govern DNA sequence evolution; mutation; recombination drift and selection; genetic diversity in natural populations; genetic mechanisms of quantitative variation; techniques for estimating relatedness within and between populations and for reconstructing phylogenies.

5420 Advanced Ecology (3 credits) Advanced treatment in central topics in modern ecology; population growth and regulation, competition, predation, herbivory, mutualisms, stability, and diversity of communities.

5425 Advanced Ecology Lab (2 credits) Field and classroom laboratory demonstrating ecological principles such as populations growth and regulation, competition, predation, herbivory, mutualisms, stability, and diversity of communities.

5435 Plant Systematics (4 credits) Overiew of evolution and diversity of vascular plants, with emphasis on identification, phylogeny, and contemporary approaches to problems in classification.

5445 General Entomology (4 credits) A course on the general biology of insects, including evolution, phylogenetic relationships of major groups (orders), evolution and physiology of flight, accoustical and chemical communication, mating systems, ecology of parasitoids, evolution of social insects.

5450 Abundance and Distribution of Organisms (1 credit) Determinants of distribution and abundance of animals and plants, island biogeography, diversity, long-term evolutionary trends.

5455 Desert Ecology Field Course (5 credits) A project-oriented field class in the southwestern U.S. deserts. Frequent written and oral reports, and independent projects. Covers hypothesis-testing, experimental design and statistics. Three weeks intensive field class.

5460 Plant Ecology (3 credits) Adaptive physiology and structure/function relationships between plants and their environments. Microclimate, energy balance, life-history, competition, and carbon, water, and nutrient relations of plants in different ecosystems. Focus also on the diversity of global plant communities.

5465 Plant Ecology Laboratory (2 credits) A laboratory course with an emphasis on methodologies involved in plant ecology, including vegetation cover, micro-climate, photosynthesis, water relations, and stable isotopes. Course involves individual and group laboratory and computer projects each week. Course includes weekend field trips (desert and forest ecosystems).

5470 Stable Isotope Ecology (3 credits) A lecture course describing the principles of stable isotope chemistry as applied to biological environments and of the contributions of stable isotope approaches to addressing ecological phenomena from cellular through global levels. Credit only. Offered each summer. Limited to 18 students. Two weeks intensive.

5471 Fundamental Methods of Evolutionary Ecology (3 credits) ANTHR 5471. Prerequisite: Graduate standing required; Both BIOL 3410 or equivalent, and MATH 1050 or equivalent. Fulfills Quantitative Intensive BS. Meets with ANTHR 4471; additional work required of graduate students. See ANTHR 4471 for course description.

5480 Plant-Animal Interactions (2 credits) The ecology and evolution of the interactions between plants and animals (i.e., herbivory, pollination dispersal, mutualisms).

5910 Mathematical Models in Biology (2 credits) Various techniques of mathematical modelling of a range of biological systems, including ecology, physiology, cell biology, and genetics.

5955 Scientific Immersion (3 credits) The goal of this course is to provide research experience to undergraduates through hypothesis formulation, collecting and analyzing data in both the field and laboratory, preparing results for publication, presenting data to the scientific community, and applying for research funding.

6020 Introduction to Computing Facilities (2 credits) Required course for entering biology graduate students; others invited, space permitting. Offered CR/NC only. Lectures and laboratory assignments familiarize students with University computing resources, particularly the Biology Department's Macintosh laboratory and network VAX computers.

6040 Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience (4 credits) The bulk of this course will focus on the cellular mechanisms of signaling. The topics to be covered include basic neuronal/glial morphology and cell biology; neurostructural mapping and identification; basic neural development; cytoskeleton-structure and biochemistry; basic membrane biophysics; cable properties; ion channel biophysics and molecular biology; synaptic transmission; neurotransmitter gated ionotropic systems; and neurotransmitter gated metabotropic systems.

6245 Cellular and Molecular Neurophysiology Laboratory (2 credits) Electrophysiology and video microscopy study of nerve, muscle, and synapse.

6290 Fundamentals of Biological Microscopy (1 credit) Lecture course providing a foundation in the essentials of microscopy and imaging, including digital imaging, for advanced undergraduates and graduate students. Meets 2 hrs. per week for one half-semester.

6921 Isotopics (2 credits) Readings and discussions of advanced topics in environmental physiology, physiological ecology, and ecosystem processes, with some emphasis on stable isotope methods.

6950 Independent Study (1 to 12 credits) Independent study on topics chosen by student by arrangement with individual faculty.

6961 Special Topics in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (1 to 5 credits) Topics of special interest taught when justified by student and faculty interest. Content varies from year to year.

6962 Special Topics in Cell and Developmental Biology (1 to 5 credits) Topics of special interest taught when justified by student and faculty interest. Content varies from year to year.

6963 Special Topics in Physiology and Organismal Biology (1 to 5 credits) Topics of special interest taught when justified by student and faculty interest. Content varies from year to year.

6964 Special Topics in Ecology and Evolution Biology (1 to 5 credits) Topics of special interest taught when justified by student and faculty interest. Content varies from year to year.

6965 Current Topics in Developmental Biology (1 credit) Discussions of current research literature in the development of plants and animals.

7106 Core Seminar: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (1 credit) Techniques of seminar presentation and data analysis, and communication of scientific information per se in area of biochemistry and molecular biology.

7206 Core Seminar: Cells, Development and Genetics (1 credit) Techniques of seminar presentation and data analysis and communication of scientific information per se in area of cellular, developmental, and genetic biology.

7306 Core Seminar: Organismal Biology and Physiology (1 credit) Techniques of seminar presentation and data analysis, and communication of scientific information per se in area of organismal and physiology biology.

7406 Core Seminar: Ecology and Evolution (1 credit) Techniques of seminar presentation and data analysis, and communication of scientific information per se in area of ecology and evolution.

7473 Stable Isotope Ecology (3 credits) A lecture course describing the principles of stable isotope chemistry as applied to biological environments and of the contributions of stable isotope approaches to addressing ecological phenomena from cellular through global levels.

7475 Stable Isotope Ecology Laboratory (3 credits) A laboratory course in stable isotope ecology involving experimental design, experimental methodologies, and instrument use. This course involves learning how to operate state-of-the-art isotope ratio mass spectrometers and associated peripherals. Course for credit only. Two weeks intensive.

7500 Faculty Research Forum (1 credit) Faculty presentations including information on research interests and/or a 'scientific autobiography' that describes the steps in their career development. Accessible to students with a basic biology background. Does not count toward graduate credit requirement for cell & molecular students in the Biology Department.

7810 Research in Progress (1 credit) Students present progress reports on their reseach and receive critical constructive feedback from two faculty members.

7950 Independent Study (1 to 12 credits) Independent study on topics chosen by student by arrangement with individual faculty.

7961 Advanced Topics in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (1 to 5 credits) Topics of special interest taught when justified by student and faculty interest. Content varies from year to year.

7962 Advanced Topics in Cell and Developmental Biology (1 to 5 credits) Topics of special interest taught when justified by student and faculty interest. Content varies from year to year.

7963 Advanced Topics in Physiology and Organismal Biology (1 to 5 credits) Topics of special interest taught when justified by student and faculty interest. Content varies from year to year.

7964 Advanced Topics in Ecology and Evolution (1 to 5 credits) Topics of special interest taught when justified by student and faculty interest. Content varies from year to year.

Biological Chemistry Program Courses

6050 Faculty Research Interest Seminars (1 credit) Seminars on research interests of faculty in the biological chemistry graduate program.

6100 Seminar in Biological Chemistry (1 credit) Journal club for first-year graduate students in biological chemistry program. Offered both first and second halves of spring semester.

6400 Genetic Engineering (2 credits) Three lectures per week for 7.5 weeks. Basic methods of DNA manipulation, library construction, cloning.

6410 Protein and Nucleic Acids Biochemistry (3 credits) Basics of nucleic acid and protein biochemistry.

6430 Structural Methods (3 credits) An integrated approach to the applications of NMR, X-ray crystallography, and mass spectrometry in structural biology.

6450 Biophysical Chemistry (2 credits) Three lectures, one discussion per week for 7.5 weeks.

6460 Protein Chemistry (2 credits) Three lectures, one discussion per week for 7.5 weeks.

6470 Nucleic Acid Chemistry (2 credits) Three lectures, one discussion per week for 7.5 weeks.

6500 Topics in Biological Chemistry (1.5 credits) Topics vary from year to year. Advanced lecture/discussion course.

6600 Topics in Biological Chemistry (1.5 credits) Lecture elective for program in biological chemistry.

7960 Research (1 to 10 credits) Laboratory rotations for students in the graduate programs in molecular biology and biological chemistry.

Molecular Biology Program Courses

6050 Faculty Research Interest Seminars (1 credits) Seminars on research interests of faculty in the molecular biology graduate program.

6100 Seminar in Molecular Biology (1 credits) Journal club for first-year graduate students in molecular biology graduate program. Offered both first and second halves of spring semester.

6420 Genetics and Genome Organization (3 credits) Eukaryotic and prokaryotic genetics: meiosis, mutation, transposition, gene mapping and recombination; genome organization; replication.

6440 Gene Expression (1.5 credits) Advanced topics in prokaryotic and eukaryotic gene expression including transcription, RNA processing and export and translation.

6480 Cell Biology (3 credits) Advanced topics in cell biology including topics in cell structure and methods, membrane, protein trafficking, cell growth and differentiation, and signal transduction.

6500 Topics in Molecular Biology (1.5 credits) Lecture elective for molecular biology program. Offerings from Human Genetics, Biology, Oncological Sciences, Biochemistry and Pathology Departments. Topics and number of sections vary each year.