Class Prep For Apr. 25: human evolution & group selection

To wrap up our look at evolution, we’re going beyond what’s in our textbooks to look at some related topics that connect with more recent developments in Biology. The TED Talk by Jonathan Haidt below should provide a nice introduction to the concept of group selection, another means by which species can change over time. The portion of the TED Radio Hour will then give you a sense of how group selection may have shaped us as a species. Also included here are excerpts from The Social Conquest of Earth, in case you’d like to get more familiarized with group selection.

Prep for Mar. 20th: big history, deep time and the origins of life

As we head into the topic of evolution, please do the following for our next class:

As usual, there may be a quiz.

If you want to get a head start on the reading for this part of the course, here it is (for Nov. 30th):

  • Biology by Raven 20.1, 20.3, 20.4 (20.2 optional) 
  • EO Wilson’s Life on Earth chapter 3
  • OpenStax Biology 18.1 and part of 18.2 (adaptive radiation).

Class Prep for Apr. 6th: the central dogma

central_dogma_gate copy
To prepare for class on Wednesday 4/6, please read one of the following

  • EO Wilson’s Life on Earth chapter 10
  • Raven’s Biology 15.1-3, 15.6-9 and
  • OpenStax Biology 14.2-4, 15.1-2, 15.5

Then look over these slides on the Central Dogma. Please note that if you are reading Biology by Raven or OpenStax you’ll need to use other sections of the textbook or additional resources (such as the slides from previous years or Wikipedia) to get familiarized with the basics of chromosomes.

Also, these animations may be helpful (there are versions of these in EO Wilson’s Life on Earth).


Class Prep for Mar. 23: get to know your microbes

Now that you’ve looked at the fundamentals of cell biology, it’s time to go beyond the textbook and consider the bacteria that live in and on us. For class on Wednesday March 23th, watch this TED talk by Rob Knight and work through the items below.

  • Jot down three specific takeaways in your notebook.
  • Consider the image of “microbes” found in the gut shown at 1:15. What kind of microscope was used to produce this image? Why does it have color?
  • How are microbes in the human microbiome identified and characterized?
  • According to Rob Knight, how many “human” cells make up a typical person’s body? How many “other” cells are there?
  • What happens to many children who are given antibiotics within 6 months of birth?
  • What connection (even if only speculative) can you draw between this talk relate to the probiotic items in the recent class discussion post?

Class Prep for Mar. 21: cell biology reading

Finish reading the cell biology chapter of the textbook you’re using for the course and bring in any questions you’d like to discuss. Try to get a good feel for the components of the endomembrane system and how they work together. Also consider how osmosis works.

As discussed today in class, we’ll have a quiz on Monday. Also, our next exam, which will focus on cell biology, is tentatively planned for Mar. 28.