OEB Courses

OEB COURSES

Graduate Courses

OEB 300: Museum Collections Management and Curation

Instructor: James Hanken
Meeting Times: Monday / 3:00pm - 4:29pm
Description: Practical training in and understanding of contemporary curatorial practices and procedures for zoological collections management.  Students will attend a weekly seminar, complete two 6-week rotations (@ 10 hr/wk) in two different specimen collections in the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, and participate in a 2-day field trip to the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.
Course Notes: Interested students must seek instructor consent prior to enrolling in the course. Course enrollment will be limited.

OEB 303: Theoretical Population Genetics

 

Instructor: John Wakeley
Term: Offered Fall and Spring Terms
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

 

OEB 304: Mycology

Instructor: Donald Pfister
Term: Offered Fall and Spring Terms
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

OEB 305: The Fundamental Interconnectedness of All Things

Instructor: David Haig
Term: Offered Fall and Spring Terms
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

OEB 307: Biomechanics, Physiology and Musculoskeletal Biology

Instructor: Andrew Biewener
Term: Offered Fall and Spring Terms
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

OEB 308: Evolution of Floral Developmental Mechanisms

Instructor: Elena Kramer
Term: Offered Fall and Spring Terms
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

OEB 309: Evolution, Genomics, and Speciation

Instructor: Jim Mallet
Term: Offered Fall and Spring Terms
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

OEB 310: Metazoan Systematics

Instructor: Gonzalo Giribet
Term: Offered Fall and Spring Terms
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

OEB 311: Ecosystem Ecology

Instructor: Paul Moorcroft
Term: Offered Fall and Spring Terms
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

OEB 320: Biomechanics and Evolution of Vertebrates

Instructor: George Lauder
Term: Offered Fall and Spring Terms
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

OEB 321: Evolution of Regeneration and Development

Instructor: Mansi Srivastava
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

OEB 322: Temporal Community Ecology

Instructor: Elizabeth Wolkovich
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

OEB 323: Advanced Vertebrate Anatomy

Instructor: Stephanie Pierce
Term: Offered Fall and Spring Terms
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

OEB 324: Molecular Evolution

Instructor: Daniel Hartl
Meeting Times: TBA
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

OEB 325: Marine Biology

Instructor: Robert M. Woollacott
Term: Offered Fall and Spring Terms
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

OEB 334: Behavioral Ecology

Instructor: Naomi Pierce
Term: Offered Fall and Spring Terms
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

OEB 339: Whole-Plant Physiology

Instructor: Noel Holbrook
Term: Offered Fall and Spring Terms
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

OEB 341: Coevolution

Instructor: Brian Farrell
Term: Offered Fall and Spring Terms
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

OEB 343: Microbial Ecology and Symbiosis

Instructor: Colleen Cavanaugh
Term: Offered Fall and Spring Terms
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

OEB 345: Biological Oceanography

Instructor: James McCarthy
Term: Offered Fall and Spring Terms
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

OEB 355: Evolutionary Developmental Biology

Instructor: James Hanken
Term: Offered Fall and Spring Terms
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

OEB 359: Paleobotany

Instructor: Andrew Knoll
Term: Offered Fall and Spring Terms
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

OEB 361: Somatic Evolution of Cancer

Instructor: Martin Nowak
Term: Offered Fall and Spring Terms
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

OEB 362: Research in Molecular Evolution

Instructor: Scott Edwards
Term: Offered Fall and Spring Terms
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

OEB 363: Plant Diversity and Evolution

Instructor: Charles Davis
Term: Offered Fall and Spring Terms
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

OEB 364: Ecological Physiology of Microbes

Instructor: Peter Girguis
Term: Offered Fall and Spring Terms
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

OEB 367: Evolutionary and Ecological Diversity

Instructor: Jonathan Losos
Term: Offered Fall and Spring Terms
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

OEB 369: Molecular Genetics of Neuroscience

Instructor: Yun Zhang
Term: Offered Fall and Spring Terms
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

OEB 370: Mammalian Evolutionary Genetics

Instructor: Hopi Hoekstra
Term: Offered Fall and Spring Terms
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

OEB 371: Comparative & Evolutionary Invertebrate Developmental Biology

Instructor: Cassandra Extavour
Term: Offered Fall and Spring Terms
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

OEB 372: Neural Basis of Learned Motor Behaviors

Instructor: Bence Ölveczky
Term: Offered Fall and Spring Terms
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

OEB 375: Evolutionary Dynamics and Population Genetics

 

Instructor: MIchael Desai
Term: Offered Fall and Spring Terms
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

 

OEB 378: Terrestrial Ecology

Instructor: Andrew Richardson
Term: Offered Fall and Spring Terms
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

OEB 380: Neurobiological Basis of Behavior

Instructor: Benjamin de Bivort
Term: Offered Fall and Spring Terms
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

OEB 385: Natural Selection in Humans and Pathogens

Instructor: Pardis Sabeti
Term: Offered Fall and Spring Terms
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

OEB 386: Organismic and Evolutionary Plant Biology

Instructor: William Friedman
Term: Offered Fall and Spring Terms
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

OEB 387: Plant Evolution and Speciation

Instructor: Robin Hopkins
Term: Offered Fall and Spring Terms
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

OEB 390R: Writing Fellowship & Grant Proposals for the Biol Sci

Instructor: David Haig, Yun Zhang
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration

OEB 399: Topics in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology

Instructor: David Haig, Yun Zhang
Description: Presents the research interests and experiences of scientists in organismic and evolutionary biology. Specific topics treated vary from year to year.
Course Notes:  Required of all first-year graduate students in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology.
Cross Reg: Available for Harvard Cross Registration
Term: Offered Fall and Spring Terms

Primarily Graduate Courses

OEB 200: The Evolution of Stem Cells and Regeneration

Instructor(s): Mansi Srivastava
Description: Among the many unique challenges that multicellular organisms face relative to unicellular ones is how they deal with the death (or loss) of a part of the organism. Should the organism heal and continue life without the missing part, or should it regrow that part? The vast majority of animal (and plant) lineages have species that will replace the missing portion, i.e., they are capable of regeneration. Despite the phylogenetically widespread nature of regeneration, very little is known about any universal cellular, molecular and genetic principles, if any, that control this process. In pursuit of these principles, the course will delve into the literature from a diverse range of species. We will focus on stem cells, which enable the production of new cells that reconstitute the missing tissues. First, we will address what it means to be a stem cell. We will explore how molecular studies of adult stem cells in species ranging from jellyfish to humans are revealing essential and highly evolutionarily conserved molecular mechanisms for stem cells. Second, we will compare the features of adult stem cells to those of other multipotent cells, such as early embryonic cells. Third, we will consider how different species maintain pluripotent stem cells versus those with restricted potential, i.e., lineage-restricted stem cells. We will explore these ideas through the critical reading of the primary literature, including both classical and very recent papers in stem cell biology. Students will obtain a deep understanding of the main concepts and methods concerning the study of stem cells and will become familiar with comparative approaches as applied to stem cell biology and regeneration.
Course Notes: Course is open both to graduate students and to undergraduates who have taken LS1a and LS1b, LS50, or SCRB10, or by permission from the instructor.

OEB 201: Introduction to Experimental Design & Model Building for Ecologists & Evolutionary Biologists

Instructor(s): Elizabeth Wolkovich
Description: This class will cover the fundamentals of model building with a focus on regression, for data gathered from experiments as well as other approaches. The course will move briskly through basic statistics (averages, standard errors) and linear regression then focus on experimental design, model building and causal inference, covering sample size decisions, missing data, model verification and validation, and randomized experiments. Inference will be Bayesian-focused.
Course Notes: Course is open to graduate students who have taken OEB 153 or equivalent or by permission of the instructor. Students must be comfortable with R. Python or equivalent, or planning to learn either language quickly on their own during the course.

OEB 212R: Advanced Topics in Plant Physiology

Instructor(s):  Noel Holbrook
Description:  A critical discussion of current research in plant physiology including measurement techniques, modeling, and experimental approaches. In 2016, the focus will be on stomata -- structure, function, biomechanics, signal transduction and environmental responses. We will consider stomata in bryophytes through angiosperms, and also look at models of stomatal regulation of transpiration and CO2 uptake.
Enrollment:  No Limit
Recommended Prep: OEB 52, OEB 120, or permission of instructor.

OEB 217R: What Makes a Rodent?

Instructor(s): Stephanie Pierce
Description: A student directed course that explores the origin and evolution of rodents through a mixture of literature discussions, cadaveric dissection and fossil observation. Discussion topics will be broad and far reaching, including such things as: evolutionary dynamics, ecomorphology, and feeding and locomotor performance. Alongside in class discussions, students will participate in dissecting cadaveric felid material with the aim to build hands-on musculoskeletal knowledge.
Course Notes: Prerequisite: with permission of instructor. Seminar for graduate students with an enrollment of six students maximum.
Related Sections:  Laboratory TBA

OEB 223: Topics in Neurogenetics

Instructor(s): Yun Zhang
Description: We will discuss current literatures related to genetic effects on neural functions, including: (1) mental illness; (2) neurodegenerative diseases; (3) various behaviors; (4) learning and memory.
Course Notes:  The course is primarily planned for new graduate students, but it is also open to interested senior undergraduates who have taken OEB 57 (formerly BS 57) or MCB 80 and obtained permission from the instructor.

OEB 230: Comparative Genomics

Instructor(s): Jim Mallet
Description: This discussion-based course will survey modern ideas about evolution and speciation, and how they have changed as a result of genomic approaches. As well as readings and discussions in class, the course will utilize some live online video sessions with major players in the field of evolutionary and comparative genomics
Recommended Prep: Permission of instructor. Instructor's permission. It is recommended that a basic evolution or population genetics course will have been taken (e.g. OEB 53 or OEB 242).

OEB 242: Population Genetics

Instructor(s): Daniel Hartl, Michael Desai
Description: Mathematical theory, experimental data, and history of ideas in the field, including analytical methods to study genetic variation with applications to evolution, demographic history, agriculture, health and disease. Includes lectures, problem sets, and student presentations.
Recommended Prep:  LS1b or permission of the instructor.

OEB 252: Coalescent Theory

Instructor: John Wakeley
Description: The mathematics and computation of ancestral inference in population genetics. Theory relates observable genetic data to factors of evolution such as mutation, genetic drift, migration, natural selection, and population structure.
Recommended Prep: OEB 242 or permission of instructor: calculus and statistics or probability.

OEB 253R: Evolutionary Genetics Seminar

Instructor(s): John Wakeley
Description:  Readings and discussion of primary literature in population and evolutionary genetics.
Recommended Prep:   OEB 152 or permission of instructor.

OEB 258: Contingency Versus Determinism: Is Evolution Predictable

Instructor(s):  Jonathan Losos
Description:  In his 1989 Pulitzer-Prize winning book Wonderful Life, Stephen Jay Gould asked what would happen if we could replay the tape of life. That is, if somehow we could go back in time and re-start evolution from a previous point, would the evolutionary outcome be the same? Or would events—minor or major—perturb the evolutionary trajectory such that the world today would be a very different place? Presented as a thought experiment, Gould’s metaphor has attracted widespread attention; twenty-five years on, approaches as disparate as molecular phylogenetics and experimental field studies of evolution have provided a wealth of data on the relative importance of contingency and determinism in evolutionary diversification. In this seminar class, we will discuss Gould’s ideas, how they have been developed and transformed over the last quarter century, and what the data say.
Enrollment:  No Limit

OEB 275R: Phylogenetics and Phylogeography in the Era of Genomic

Instructor(s): Scott Edwards
Description: The course will review the recent literature on methods of analysis in phylogenomics and phylogeography, with particular attention to analysis of large-scale data sets; accommodating gene tree heterogeneity; adequacy of models at the level of DNA sequence evolution and demographic history; and estimation of critical parameters of population history, such as phylogenetic relationships, reticulate evolutionary histories, rates of gene flow and species boundaries.  Weekly sessions will consist of presentations and discussions led by students and by international experts, including hands-on sessions working with state-of-the-art software.
Course Notes: Participants should have an account on the FAS Research Computing Odyssey cluster prior to course beginning.
Recommended Prep: OEB 53, OEB 181, OEB 125 or equivalent, or permission of the instructor.

OEB 277: In Sickness and in Health: Topics in Symbiosis

Instructor(s): Colleen Cavanaugh
Description: Critical review and discussion of current issues in symbiosis. Emphasis is on microbe-eukaryote symbioses ranging from mutualistic to pathogenic associations. In 2018 the course will focus on the human microbiome and topics selected by faculty and students.
Course Notes: The first meeting will occur the first Tuesday of classes, 2:00-5:00. Subsequent class meeting pattern will be set by the students' schedules.
Recommended Prep: Life Sciences 1a, 1b or equivalent, microbial science, or permission of instructor

OEB 278: Adaptation

Instructor(s): Robin Hopkins, Jim Mallet
Description: This course will cover broad topics in adaptation including the causes and consequences of local adaptation, plasticity, genotype by environment interactions, genomics/genetics of adaptation, and adaptive radiations. This will be a discussion-based course focused on primary scientific literature.
Course Notes: Prerequisites: Recommended OEB 52 or permission of instructor.

OEB 290: Microbial Sciences: Chemistry, Ecology and Evolution

Instructor(s): Michael Gilmore
Description: This is an interdisciplinary graduate-level and advanced undergraduate-level course in which students explore topics in molecular microbiology, microbial diversity, and microbially-mediated geochemistry in depth. This course will be taught by faculty from the Microbial Sciences Initiative. Topics include the origins of life, biogeochemical cycles, microbial diversity, and ecology.  Course will limit enrollment to 20 students.
Course Notes: Also offered as Microbiology 210
Recommended Prep: For advanced undergraduates, Life Sciences 1a and 1b are required, or permission of instructor. MCB 52 is recommended.

OEB 299R: Forest Practice and Research

Instructor(s): David Foster
Meeting Times: TBA
Description: Field and laboratory research into the history, biology, ecology, culture, and economic problems of local, regional, and world forests. Individual research projects.
Course Notes:  Seminars, conferences, field, and laboratory work at the Harvard Forest, Petersham, Massachusetts.

Graduate and Undergraduate Courses

OEB 101: Biology of Mammals

Instructor(s): Jonathan Losos
Description: An introduction to the biology of mammals. Lectures and laboratories examine the morphology, systematics, natural history, behavior, ecology, evolutionary relationships, and biogeography of all major taxa.
Course Notes: Freshman only admitted under exceptional circumstances. Lab meetings: Tuesdays, 3:00-6:00, or Wednesdays, 2:30-5:30.
Recommended Prep: LS 1b or OEB 10 recommended; students who haven't taken either course may require additional study on topics with which they are unfamiliar. OEB 101 will also include weekend field trips for whale watching and to the zoo
Related Sections:  Laboratory TBA

OEB 103: Systematics and Evolution

Instructor(s): Charles Davis
Description: An introduction to the diversity and evolution of vascular plants. The course focuses mainly on flowering plants because of their dominant role on the earth, but lycophytes, ferns, and gymnosperms are studied as well. A phylogeny of vascular plants provides the framework for their evolution and diversification. Related subjects, including plant habitats, biogeography, phylogenetics, herbaria, nomenclature, and pollination biology are also presented in lecture and laboratory.
Course Notes: There will be a weekly 3-4 hour lab on Thursday afternoon. There are two midterms, a final, and frequent lab quizzes.
Recommended Prep: OEB 10 or permission of instructor

OEB 104: The Mouse in Science and Society

Instructor(s): Steven Niemi
Description: Mice remain the most popular vertebrates used in biomedical R&D today, with tens of millions of lab mice produced annually in the United States alone. At the same time, mice are commonly studied for their own characteristics that continue to enhance our knowledge about innate mammalian behavior, predator‐prey dynamics in changing ecosystems, and reservoir hosts for emerging diseases, to name a few.  This course intends to provide a strong foundation in mouse biology, both basic and applied, as well as exposure to cultural and political aspects of the current impact of mice (real or fictitious) on contemporary societal values.  Instructors:  Steven M. Niemi and Kathleen Pritchett-Corning.
Cross Reg: Available for Cross Registration

OEB 114: Vertebrate Viviparity

Instructor(s): David Haig
Description: Viviparity has evolved many times in vertebrate phylogeny. The course reviews the diversity of parental care in vertebrates and explores the selective forces that have favored the evolution of live-bearing. The evidence for intergenerational conflicts is considered.
Recommended Prep: Life Sciences 1b or permission of instructor
Cross Reg: Available for Cross Registration

OEB 115: The Developmental Basis for Evolutionary Change

Instructor(s): Mansi Srivastava, Matthew Harris, Clifford Tabin
Description:  A lecture course in evolutionary developmental biology. This course will focus on the molecular and cellular bases of how embryos generate adult body plans in order to understand how form, physiology, and life history strategies are modulated over the course of evolution. We will discuss insights from both invertebrate and vertebrate animal model systems as well as plants. We will investigate the forces driving change at both micro- and macro-evolutionary time scales. Particular emphasis will be placed on how changes in development underlie major evolutionary transitions and the origin of innovation in organismal
evolution. The course will also emphasize learning of experimental design, molecular tools, and phylogenetic methods currently used by researchers in the field of evolutionary developmental biology.
Enrollment:  No Limit
Recommended Prep: Life Sciences 1a (or LPS A) and 1b, or permission of instructor. OEB 10, MCB 52, and MCB 54 are recommended but not required. Open to students from any concentration.

OEB 119: Deep Sea Biology

Instructor(s): Peter Girguis
Description: The oceans contain 97% of Earth's water, and host the most disparate ecosystems on the planet. This course provides an introduction to deep ocean habitats, macrofauna and microorganisms. Emphasis is placed on the physiological adaptations of organisms to their environment, as well the role of microbes in mediating oceanic biogeochemical cycles.
Course Notes: Lab component

OEB 120: Plants and Climate

Instructor(s): Noel Holbrook
Description: How plants are affected by climate - both spatially across the globe and as climate changes over time - is relevant to understanding patterns of plant evolution, ecosystem structure, and the impact of humans on our planet. This course examines how variation in rainfall, temperature, atmospheric humidity and CO2 affects the growth and productivity of plants. Topics include photosynthesis, respiration, transpiration, and vascular transport; experimental approaches and measurement techniques will also be covered.
Recommended Prep: OEB 52, 55 or OEB 10 (or permission of the instructor). Expected to be offered Fall 2016.

OEB 125: Molecular Ecology and Evolution

Instructor(s): Scott Edwards
Description:  A survey of theory and applications of DNA technologies to the study of evolutionary, ecological and behavioral processes in natural populations. Topics to be covered will span a variety of hierarchical levels, timescales, and taxonomic groups, and will include the evolution of genes, genomes and proteins; the neutral theory of molecular evolution and molecular clocks; population genomics and phylogenetic principles of speciation and phylogeography; metagenomics of microbial communities; relatedness and behavioral ecology; molecular ecology of infectious disease; and conservation genetics.
Enrollment:  No Limit
Course Notes:   Weekly computer laboratories will introduce the use of the internet and computational software in DNA sequence alignment and phylogenetic and population genetic analysis.
Recommended Prep: Life Sciences 1b, OEB 10, OEB 53 or MCB 52.

OEB 126: Vertebrate Evolution

Instructor(s): Stephanie Pierce
Description: This course provides a comprehensive survey of the origin and evolution of vertebrates through an examination of the fossil record. A primary focus will be on major events in Earth's evolutionary history, with an emphasis on anatomical and physiological transformations in fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. To compliment in-class lectures, students will be given hands-on experience identifying fossil material. As an added bonus, the course offers a spring recess fossil dig to the Triassic beds of Arizona.
Recommended Prep: Life Sciences 2 and/or another whole animal biology course (e.g. OEB 51, OEB 101, OEB 167).
Course Requirements: Prerequisite: Must take OEB 53
Cross Reg: Available for Cross Registration

OEB 130: Biology of Fishes

Instructor(s): George Lauder
Description: Fishes inhabit diverse aquatic environments including deep seas, intertidal zones, coral reefs, polar waters, the vast Amazonian basin, and great East African lakes. A single fish species may occupy diverse environments through extraordinary long distance horizontal and vertical migrations. To explore this unparalleled diversity, the course emphasizes bridging traditional academic boundaries with integrative analyses of the biology underlying rapid evolutionary radiations and stasis.
Related Sections: Laboratory TBA.
 

OEB 141: Biogeography

Instructor(s): Gonzalo Giribet
Description:  Biogeography aims to explain distributions of organisms through historical and ecological factors. This course will focus on the history of biogeographic research, developments in the area of historical biogeography, and on ecological processes that affect distributions of whole clades. Topics include plate tectonics and earth history, vicariance and dispersal, areas of endemism, phylogenetic niche conservatism, latitudinal gradients in species richness, and the theory of island biogeography. Software for biogeographical analysis will be discussed and evaluated.
Enrollment:  No Limit
Recommended Prep: Two following courses: Life Sciences 1b, OEB 10, OEB 51, OEB 52, OEB 53, OEB 54, OEB 55, OEB 181, or permission of the instructor. There will also be a lab component in addition to the lecture component of the course.

OEB 145: Genes and Behavior

Instructor(s): Yun Zhang
Description:  Behavior is inheritable and regulated by genes. This lecture course explores the causal links between the genes encoded in the genome and various behaviors, aiming to provide mechanistic understandings on how gene products control and influence behavioral outputs. The topics of the lectures cover both important findings as well as major research approaches in the field. The behavioral traits in discussion include olfaction, mechanosensation, foraging, circadian rhythm, aggression, courtship, sleep, social recognition, learning and memory, etc. The organisms that we will discuss include invertebrates, vertebrates and humans. Life Science 1a.
Enrollment:  15
Course Notes:   The class will include a new 4-week lab component for research experience on genetic basis of behavior in Fall 2016.

OEB 155R: Biology of Insects

Instructor(s): Naomi Pierce, Michael Canfield
Description:  An introduction to the major groups of insects. The life history, morphology, physiology, and ecology of the main taxa are examined through a combination of lecture, lab, and field exercises. Topics include the phylogeny of terrestrial arthropods with a review of the extant orders, an analysis of abiotic and biotic factors regulating populations, including water balance, temperature, migration, parasitism, mutualism, sociality, insect/plant interactions, medical entomology, and the use of insects in biological control.
Enrollment:  No Limit
Course Notes:   Permission of instructor.

OEB 167: Herpetology

Instructor(s): Jonathan Losos, James Hanken
Description: An introduction to the biology of amphibians and reptiles. Lectures and laboratories examine the morphology, systematics, natural history, behavior, ecology, evolutionary relationships, and biogeography of all major taxa.
Course Notes: LS 1b or OEB 10 recommended; students who haven’t taken either course may require additional study on topics with which they are unfamiliar. Freshman only admitted under exceptional circumstances. The course also has a mandatory lab component in addition to the lecture times. This lab section will be scheduled for Wednesdays, 2:30-5:30 PM. A second weekly lab session may be added if warranted by a large enrollment. In addition, the course is planning an optional week-long field trip during Spring Break..
Related Sections: Laboratory TBA

OEB 173: Comparative Biomechanics

Instructor(s): Andrew Biewener
Description: An exploration of how animals and plants contend with their physical environment, considering their biomaterial properties, structural form, and mechanical interaction with the environment. Through lectures, seminar discussions, and student presentations based on readings, students are introduced to topics related to biomechanical performance.
Course Notes: One 1.5-hour lab/primary literature discussion per week with hours to be arranged.
 

OEB 181: Systematics

Instructor(s): Gonzalo Giribet
Description: Theory and practice of systematics, emphasizing issues associated with homology statements and alignments, methods of tree reconstruction, and hypothesis evaluation. The course combines theoretical considerations, paying special attention to algorithmic aspects of phylogenetics, with the use of different computer programs for conducting evolutionary and phylogenetic analyses.
Recommended Prep: OEB 53, LS1b or permission of instructor required. Familiarity with computers, especially PC platforms.
Related Sections:  Discussion TBA

OEB 190: Biology and Diversity of Birds

Instructor(s): 
Description: An introduction to the biology of birds. Covers the fossil record and theories for avian origins, physiology and anatomy, higher-level systematics and field characters of the ~27 orders, speciation processes, nesting and courtship behavior, vocalizations, mating systems and sexual selection, cooperative breeding, demography and conservation. Optional field trip during spring break. Laboratories will consist of gross anatomy, bird watching excursions in the Cambridge area, field techniques and specimen preparation, and systematic study of avian groups using the collections of the Museum of Comparative Zoology.
Course Notes: OEB 10 or OEB 53 or permission of the instructor. Students in their third and fourth years are encouraged to enroll in the course.
Related Sections: Laboratory TTH 11:30am-12:59pm

Undergraduate Courses

LIFESCI 2: Evolutionary Human Physiology and Anatomy

Instructor(s): Andrew Biewener, Daniel Lieberman, George Lauder, Kate Carter
Description:  Why is the human body the way that it is? This course explores human anatomy and physiology from an integrated framework, combining functional, comparative, and evolutionary perspectives on how organisms work. Major topics, which follow a life-course framework, include embryogenesis, metabolism and energetics, growth and development, movement and locomotion, food and digestion, stress and disease, and reproduction. Also considered is the relevance of human biology to contemporary issues in human health and biology.
Enrollment:  No Limit
Course Notes:  This course replaces OEB 102. This course, when taken for a letter grade, meets the General Education requirement in Science of Living Systems. This course may not be taken Pass/Fail.
Class Notes:   M., W., F., at 1, and three hours of laboratory/discussion weekly.

 

OEB 10: Foundations of Biological Diversity

Instructor(s): Brian Farrell, Andrew Richardson, Elena Kramer
Description:  An integrated approach to the diversity of life, emphasizing how chemical, physical, genetic, ecological and geologic processes contribute to the origin and maintenance of biological diversity. Topics to be covered include the evolution of metabolic pathways, multicellularity and structural complexity; causes and consequences of differences in diversity over space and time; the role of species interactions (including symbioses) as an evolutionary force; and the evolution of humans and their impact on the environment.
Enrollment:  No Limit
Course Notes:   Knowledge of introductory molecular, cellular biology, and genetics is recommended. This course, when taken for a letter grade, meets the General Education requirement for Science of Living Systems. 2.5 hour mandatory sections and field trips.

OEB 50: Genetics and Genomics

Instructor(s): Daniel Hartl, Robin Hopkins
Description:  Fundamental concepts in genetics and genomics forming a critical foundation for biology approached from two perspectives: (1) as a body of knowledge pertaining to genetic transmission, function, mutation, and evolution in eukaryotes and prokaryotes; and (2) as an experimental approach providing a toolkit for the study of biological processes such as development and behavior. Topics include structure, function, transmission, linkage, mutation, and manipulation of genes; genetic approaches in experimental studies of biological processes; and analysis of genomes in individuals and populations. Related ethical issues also discussed include genetically modified organisms, gene therapy, genetic testing, personalized medicine, and genetic privacy.
Enrollment:  No Limit

OEB 51: Biology and Evolution of Invertebrate Animals

Instructor(s): Cassandra Extavour, Gonzalo Giribet
Description: Introduction to invertebrate diversity, will cover the development, adult anatomy, biology and evolutionary relationships of the main animal phyla including sponges, mollusks, annelids and arthropods among others. Special emphasis is placed on understanding the broad diversity of animal forms and their adaptations to different ecosystems and how these phenomena shape animal evolution. Lectures will be complemented with a mandatory weekly lab and a field trip to different areas of outstanding marine diversity in the Caribbean.
Enrollment: 14
Notes: Field trip to the Caribbean for research during spring break

OEB 52: Biology of Plants

Instructor(s): Elena Kramer, Noel Holbrook
Description:  Introduction to the structure, diversity, and physiology of plants with an emphasis on evolutionary relationships and adaptations to life on land. Topics include growth, resource acquisition, interactions with other organisms (i.e., fungi, bacteria, insects), reproduction, and survival in extreme environments. Laboratory sessions provide an overview of plant and diversity and an introduction to basic physiological processes.
Course Notes:  This course, when taken for a letter grade, meets the General Education requirement for Science of Living Systems.
Class Notes:  Tu., Th., 10-11:30, one afternoon laboratory per week, plus occasional field trips

OEB 53: Evolutionary Biology

Instructor(s): Andrew Berry
Description: The course covers micro- and macro-evolution, ranging in its focus from population genetics through molecular evolution to the grand patterns of the fossil record. Topics emphasized include both natural and sexual selection, the ecological context of adaptation, genomic and developmental mechanisms of evolutionary innovation, speciation, phylogenetics, and evolutionary approaches to human problems.
Recommended Prep: Life Sciences IB or permission of instructor

OEB 54: Biology of the Fungi

Instructor(s): Donald Pfister
Description:  This course explores the fascinating diversity of the kingdom fungi, including evolution, ecology and morphology. All of the major groups of fungi, from smuts to molds, will be included. Students use a variety of techniques to learn about these organisms and their activities.
Enrollment:  No Limit
Course Notes:   There is a weekly laboratory, and several afternoon field trips are required (dates to be announced).
Class Notes:   Life Sciences 1a and 1b or permission of instructor. Lab section will be held on Tuesdays from 2:30pm-4:00pm during Fall 2016.

OEB 55: Ecology: Populations, Communities, and Ecosystems

Instructor(s): Collin Johnson
Description: This course examines the relationships of organisms to their environment at the individual, population, and community level. The course covers topics in both pure and applied ecology including: adaptations to the physical environment, population dynamics, competition, predator-prey interactions, community ecology, ecosystem structure, stability, and function, the ecology of infectious diseases, and natural resource management.
Recommended Prep: Mathematics 1a or 1b

OEB 56: Geobiology and the History of Life

Instructor(s): David Johnston, Andrew Knoll
Description: Within our solar system, Earth is distinguished as the planet with life. Life was born of planetary processes, has been sustained for some four billion years by planetary processes, and through time has emerged as a set of planetary processes that is important in its own right. In this course we will investigate the ways that Earth and life interact, focusing in particular on the biogeochemical cycles of major elements. This will provide a framework for interpreting the history of life reconstructed from fossils and phylogeny.
Course Notes: OEB 56 is also offered as EPS 56. Students may not take both OEB 56 and EPS 56 for credit.
Class Notes: M., W., F., at 10, and a weekly three-hour lab to be arranged, and one field trip.
Recommended Prep: EPS 21, 22, or Life Sciences 1b; or permission of instructor.

OEB 57: Animal Behavior

Instructor(s): Bence Ölveczky, Naomi Pierce
Description: A review of the behavior of animals under natural conditions, with emphasis on both mechanistic and evolutionary approaches. Topics include classical ethology; behavioral endocrinology; behavioral genetics; learning and memory; communication; orientation, migration and biological rhythms; optimal foraging; evolutionary stable strategies; sexual selection; parental investment and mating systems; selfishness, altruism, and reciprocity; and sociality in vertebrates and invertebrates.

OEB 58: How to Build an Animal

Instructor(s): Mansi Srivastava, Stephanie Pierce
Description: Ever wonder why you and other animals have eyes? What about teeth or even skin? "How to Build an Animal" answers your questions by exploring the wonders of animal biology. Each week, we consider a prominent feature of animal anatomy; study its variation in form and function; and how it's made during embryonic development. To facilitate student learning, each topic is accompanied by a 'hands-on' activity that illustrates the concepts discussed in the lecture. Further, the course introduces a number of scientific areas, including comparative anatomy, functional morphology, phylogenetics, genomics, and experimental embryology. The overall goal is to provide a basic understanding of animal evolution and development and how these processes combine to shape the diversity of life on Earth.
Related Sections: Discussion -  F 10:00am - 10:59am  Museum of Comp Zool 100 (FAS)
Laboratory - Th 10:00am-11:29am Northwest Bldg B137 (SEAS)

OEB 59: Plants and Human Affairs

Instructor(s): Charles Davis
Description:  An introduction to the uses of plants by humans. Topics include the form, structure and genetics of plants related to their use as sources of food, shelter, fiber, flavors, beverages, drugs, and medicines. Plant structure and reproduction are studied in lecture and laboratory with a particular focus on relationships between the plant's structural, chemical, or physiological attributes and the utility plant.
Enrollment:  No Limit
Recommended Prep:   OEB 10 or permission of the instructor.

OEB 91R: Supervised Reading

 

Instructor: Gonzalo Giribet
Description: Supervised reading on topics not covered by regular courses. For OEB concentrators, work may be supervised by faculty in other departments, provided it is co-sponsored by an OEB faculty member. For non-concentrators, work must be directed by an OEB faculty member. Students must submit a registration request to the OEB Undergraduate Office before enrollment. Students cannot take OEB 91r and 99r simultaneously with the same director.

Offered Fall and Spring Terms

 

OEB 99R: Supervised Research

 

Instructor: Gonzalo Giribet
Description: Course taken in one or more semesters to obtain credit for independent research, including research toward a senior thesis. Work should be directed by an OEB faculty member or have an OEB faculty sponsor. All students must submit registration materials for OEB 99r at the time of enrollment.
Course Notes: Laboratory safety session required

Offered Fall and Spring Terms

 

OEB Courses by Term and Day

Term

 

Course #

Course Name

Instructor(s)

Meeting Times

Fall and Spring 

 

OEB 91R Supervised Reading Gonzalo Giribet Arrange with Instructor
OEB 99R Supervised Research Gonzalo Giribet Arrange with Instructor
OEB 300s All 300 Level Courses   Arrange with Instructor

Fall
2017

LIFESCI 2 Evolutionary Human Physiology and Anatomy

Andrew Biewener,
Daniel Lieberman, George Lauder,
Katherine Zink

M, W, F
12:00pm - 1:15pm
OEB 10 Foundations of Biological Diversity

Elena Kramer, Peter Girguis

M, W, F
10:30am - 11:45pm
OEB 53 Evolutionary Biology Andrew Berry

M, W
1:00pm - 2:29pm

OEB 54 Biology of the Fungi Donald Pfister

Tu, Th
1:30pm - 2:45pm

OEB 58 How to Build an Animal Mansi Srivastava, Stephanie Pierce Tu, Th
10:30am - 11:45am
OEB 101 Biology of Mammals Jonathan Losos Tu, Th
1:00pm - 2:29pm
OEB 104 The Mouse in Science and Society Steven Niemi Tu, Th
12:00pm - 1:15pm
OEB 145 Genes and Behavior Yun Zhang M, W
3:00pm - 4:15pm
OEB 181 Systematics Gonzalo Giribet M, W, F
9:00am - 9:59am
OEB 201 Introduction to Experimental Design and Model Building for Ecologists and Evolutionary Biologists Elizabeth Wolkovich W
10:30am - 12:29pm
OEB 275R Phylogenetics and Phylogeography in the Era of Genomics Scott Edwards

W
2:00pm - 4:59pm

Spring 2018

 

OEB 50 Genetics and Genomics Robin Hopkins, Daniel Hartl Tu, Th
11:30am - 12:59pm
OEB 51 Biology and Evolution of Invertebrate Animals Gonzalo Giribet Tu, Th
10:00am - 11:29am
OEB 52 Biology of Plants Elena Kramer, Noel Holbrook Tu, Th
10:00am - 11:29am
OEB 55 Ecology: Populations, Communities, and Ecosystems Collin Johnson M, W, F
10:00am - 10:59am
OEB 56 Geobiology and the History of Life Andrew Knoll M, W, F
10:00am - 10:59am
OEB 57 Animal Behavior

Bence Ölveczky, Naomi Pierce

Tu, Th
10:00am - 10:59am
OEB 103 Plant Systematics and Evolution Charles Davis Tu, Th
10:00am - 11:29am
OEB 130 Biology of Fishes George Lauder M, W
11:00am - 12:29pm
OEB 157 Global Change Biology Paul Moorcroft, James McCarthy Tu, Th
10:00am - 11:29am
OEB 167 Herpetology James Hanken Tu, Th
1:00pm - 2:29pm
OEB 173 Comparative Biomechanics Andrew Biewener Tu, Th
1:00pm - 2:29pm
OEB 190 Biology and Diversity of Birds Scott Edwards M, W
11:30am - 12:59pm
OEB 200 The Evolution of Stem Cells and Regeneration Mansi Srivastava W
1:00pm - 2:59pm
OEB 217R What Makes a Rodent? Stephanie Pierce M
3:00pm - 4:59pm
OEB 223 Topics in Neurogenetics Yun Zhang W
2:00pm - 3:29pm
OEB 230 Comparative Genomics Jim Mallet Th
1:30pm - 3:29pm
OEB 253R Evolutionary Genetics Seminar John Wakeley M
3:00pm - 4:14pm
OEB 277 In Sickness and in Health: Topics in Symbiosis Colleen Cavanaugh T
2:00pm - 4:59pm
OEB 290 Microbial Sciences: Chemistry, Ecology and Evolution Michael Gilmore F
8:30am - 11:59am
OEB 299R Forest Practice and Research David Foster TBD

 

Other Courses Taught by OEB Faculty

APMTH 115: Mathematical Modeling

Instructor(s): Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan
Description: Abstracting the essential components and mechanisms from a natural system to produce a mathematical model, which can be analyzed with a variety of formal mathematical methods, is perhaps the most important, but least understood, task in applied mathematics. This course approaches a number of problems without the prejudice of trying to apply a particular method of solution. Topics drawn from biology, economics, engineering, physical and social sciences.
Course Notes: Applied Mathematics 115 is also offered as Engineering Sciences 115. Students may not take both for credit. Undergraduate Engineering Students should enroll in Engineering Sciences 115.
Recommended Prep: Applied Mathematics 105. Additional skills in analysis, algebra, probability, statistics and computer programming will increase the value of the course to students.

APMTH 216: Inverse Problems in Science and Engineering

Instructor(s): Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan
Description: Many problems in science and engineering are inverse problems. For example, an experimental result that requires an explanation can be couched thus -  given the data, what is the theory/model that provides it - this is an inverse problem. In engineering, a given function (in a product/software …. ) requires a design - again an inverse problem. In this course, we will first spend some time on characterizing common features of inverse problems from science and engineering - from oil prospecting and seismology to cognitive science, from particle physics to engineering design, then introduce deterministic and probabilistic methods for their solution, and finally deploy them computationally on real questions drawn from the  sciences and engineering.
Recommended Prep: Linear algebra, Differential equations, Basic probability, some MATLAB experience.

APMTH 217: Instabilities and Patterns in Soft Matter and Biophys

Instructor(s): Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan
Description: The course discusses various kinds of instabilities in soft matter systems including active swarms, gels, droplets, filament assemblies, and disordered solids. After an introduction to bifurcation theory and spatio-temporal instabilities, we discuss in each lecture a new class of systems where an instability occurs, often leading to patterns, failure, or sudden shape, flow or transport changes. Each lecture consists of an introductory segment and then bridges to current research topics. We will offer mini research projects the student can complete until the end of the term.
Recommended Prep: ODE/PDE (at the level of APMTH105), Basic computational methods (APMTH111 or equivalent), some basics of hydrodynamics, statistical mechanics and nonequilibrium thermodynamics.

APMTH 299R: Special Topics in Applied Mathematics

Instructor(s): Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan
Description: Supervision of experimental or theoretical research on acceptable applied mathematics problems and supervision of reading on topics not covered by regular courses of instruction.
Course Notes: Open to graduate students and AB/SM candidates only. Students must arrange such work with a member of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. This course is graded and is ordinarily taken with the approval of the Committee on Higher Degrees. Applicants must file a project sheet before study cards are filed. Project sheets may be obtained from the Student Affairs Office, Pierce Hall 110.

APMTH 320: Topics in Macroscopic Physics and Quantitative Biolog

Instructor(s): Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan
Description: Course taught in Fall (12694) and Spring (12735).

BIOPHYS 313: Neurobiology of Vocal Learning

Instructor(s): Bence Ölveczky
Description: Course taught in Fall (13065) and Spring (13091).

BIOPHYS 326: Statistical and Continuum Mechanics of Macromolecular Assemblies

Instructor(s): Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan
Description: Course taught in Fall (13140) and Spring (13158).

BIOPHYS 339: Theoretical and Experimental Approaches to Study Genetic Variation within Populations

Instructor(s): Michael Desai
Description: Course taught in Fall (13344) and Spring (13359).

 

BIOPHYS 379: Theoretical Population Genetics

Instructor(s): John Wakeley
Description: Course taught in Fall (12488) and Spring (12497).

ENG-SCI 115: Mathematical Modeling

Instructor(s): Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan
Description: Abstracting the essential components and mechanisms from a natural system to produce a mathematical model, which can be analyzed with a variety of formal mathematical methods, is perhaps the most important, but least understood, task in applied mathematics. This course approaches a number of problems without the prejudice of trying to apply a particular method of solution. Topics drawn from biology, economics, engineering, physical and social sciences.
Course Notes: Engineering Sciences 115 is also offered as Applied Mathematics 115. Students may not take both for credit. Undergraduate Engineering Students should enroll in Engineering Sciences 115.
Recommended Prep: Applied Mathematics 105. Additional skills in analysis, algebra, probability, statistics and computer programming will increase the value of the course to students.

ENG-SCI 329: Readings in Dynamic Meteorology

INstructor: Brian Farrell

E-PSCI 56: Geobiology and the History of Life

Instructor(s): David Johnston, Andrew Knoll
Description: Within our solar system, Earth is distinguished as the planet with life. Life was born of planetary processes, has been sustained for some four billion years by planetary processes, and through time has emerged as a set of planetary processes that is important in its own right. In this course we will investigate the ways that Earth and life interact, focusing in particular on the biogeochemical cycles of major elements. This will provide a framework for interpreting the history of life reconstructed from fossils and phylogeny.
Class Notes: Course includes a weekly three-hour lab to be arranged and one field trip. EPS 56 is also offered as OEB 56. Students may not take both for credit. This course fulfills the EPS sub-discipline requirement of Earth History and Geobiology.
Recommended Prep: EPS 21, 22, or Life Sciences 1b; or permission of instructor.

E-PSCI 107: Evolution of Plant Life in Geologic Time

Instructor(s): Andrew Knoll
Description: Origin, evolution, dispersal, paleoecology, and geologic history of the major groups of the plant kingdom. Laboratory study of representative groups, living and fossil.
Course Notes: Course includes a weekly two-hour lab to be arranged. EPS 107 is also offered as OEB 107. Students may not take both for credit. This course fulfills the EPS sub-discipline requirement of Earth History and Geobiology. Given in alternate years.
Recommended Prep: OEB 10 or permission of instructor.

E-PSCI 132: Introduction to Meteorology and Climate

Instructor(s): Brian Farrell
Description: Physical concepts necessary to understand atmospheric structure and motion. Phenomena studied include the formation of clouds and precipitation, solar and terrestrial radiation, dynamical balance of the large-scale wind, and the origin of cyclones. Concepts developed for understanding today's atmosphere are applied to understanding the record of past climate change and the prospects for climate change in the future.
Course Notes: EPS 132 is also offered as ES 132. Students may not take both for credit. This course fulfills the EPS sub-discipline requirement of Oceans and Atmosphere(s).
Recommended Prep: Mathematics 21 or Applied Mathematics 21a and 21b; Physics 11 (no longer offered) or 15 or Physical Sciences 12; or permission of instructor.

E-PSCI 138: Mysteries of Climate Dynamics

Instructor(s): Brian Farrell 
Description: We will study the evidence in the climate record for dramatic changes in the climate system and delve into how these challenge our understanding of climate dynamics.  Case studies will include the dim early sun paradox, the Snowball Earth, Equable Climates, Glacial/Interglacial and Stadial/Interstadial transitions and ENSO. 
Course Notes: This course fulfills the EPS sub-discipline requirement of Atmosphere(s) and Oceans. 
Recommended Prep: Mathematics 21a or Applied Mathematics 21a; Physics 15c or Physical Sciences 12a or Applied Physics 50B; or permission of instructor.

E-PSCI 232: Dynamic Meteorology

Instructor(s): Brian Farrell
Description: The atmosphere understood as a fluid dynamical system. Observations of atmospheric motions related to weather and climate. Application of the equations of atmospheric dynamics to explaining phenomena such as jet streams, cyclones and fronts.
Recommended Prep: Applied Mathematics 105; or permission of instructor

E-PSCI 234: Topics in Generalized Stability Theory

Instructor(s): Brian Farrell
Description: An introduction to the ideas and approaches to dynamics of generalized stability theory. Topics include autonomous and non-autonomous operator stability, stochastic turbulence models and linear inverse models. Students will learn the concepts behind non-normal thinking and how to apply these ideas in geophysical fluid dynamics and climate problems.
Course Notes: Given in alternate years.
Recommended Prep: Applied Math 105

E-PSCI 235: Stochastic Methods in Climate Dynamics

Instructor(s): Brian Farrell
Description: Introduction to stochastic methods for studying climate dynamics. Topics will include the Langevin equation, stochastic turbulence modeling, linear inverse modeling, and applications of statistical state dynamics to problems in planetary scale turbulence.
Course Notes: Given in alternate years.

E-PSCI 332: Readings in Dynamic Meteorology

Instructor(s): Brian Farrell

E-PSCI 337: Biological Oceanography

Instructor(s): James McCarthy
Description: Course taught in both Fall (12491) and Spring (12536).

E-PSCI 387: Paleobotany

Instructor(s): Andrew Knoll
Course Notes: Course taught in Fall (13060) and Spring (13085)

ESPP 90Y: World Food Systems and the Environment

Instructor(s): Noel Holbrook, Robert Paarlberg, Forest Reinhardt
Description: This seminar examines the world’s systems for the production and distribution of food as they relate to the earth’s physical, chemical, and biological systems.  Using scientific readings, papers about economics and politics, and cases about firms, we consider agriculture and food from scientific, public policy, and business strategy perspectives and in relation to environmental issues such as greenhouse gas emissions, carbon and nitrogen cycles, water and soil conservation (including erosion, pollution, and salinization), and the use of genetically modified organisms.  Geographic and topical coverage will be broad:  the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa; as well as water, seeds, fertilizers, animal protein, trade and development. We expect to have numerous guests from the scientific community, government, and business. Some background in biology, government or economics is useful, but not required.

ESPP 91R: Supervised Reading and Research

Instructor(s): Paul Moorcroft
Description: Supervised reading and research on topics not covered by regular courses of instruction. Students must complete a registration form, including permission from their faculty sponsor, with the concentration office before course enrollment. A final paper describing the research/reading completed during the term is due in duplicate to the Head Tutor on the first day of reading period.
Course Notes: Intended for junior and senior concentrators in Environmental Science and Public Policy; open to sophomore concentrators only under exceptional circumstances. Permission of the Head Tutor is required for enrollment. May be counted for concentration only with the special permission of the Head Tutor.
Class Notes: Hours to be arranged.
Course taught in both Fall (12193) and Spring (12250).

ESPP 99A: Tutorial - Senior Year

Instructor(s): Paul Moorcroft
Description: Research and writing of the senior thesis under faculty direction. Senior honors candidates must take at least one term of this course while writing a thesis. The signature of the faculty adviser is required. Students must complete both terms of this course (parts A and B) within the same academic year in order to receive credit.
Class Notes: Hours to be arranged.

ESPP 99B: Tutorial - Senior Year

Instructor(s): Paul Moorcroft
Description: Research and writing of the senior thesis under faculty direction. Senior honors candidates must take at least one term of this course while writing a thesis. The signature of the faculty adviser is required. Students must complete both terms of this course (parts A and B) within the same academic year in order to receive credit.
Class Notes: Hours to be arranged.

FRSEMR 21I: Evolution, Buddhism, and Ethics

Instructor: John Wakeley
Description: Evolutionary genetics traces back to Darwin's (1859) idea of natural selection.  Darwin provided a compelling theory about how species change due to competition in reproducing populations, yet it remains difficult to understand, particularly when applied to ourselves.  To enable critical evaluation and discussion of ethical questions and to illustrate connections between science and Buddhism, about one third of this course will cover select details of evolutionary genetics.  The focus will be on understanding human genetic variation.  Buddhism originated with Siddhartha Gautama’s enlightenment around 500 BCE, achieved after six years of intense devotion to the problem of human suffering.  He emerged as the Buddha, or the Enlightened One, making the bold statement that suffering within each person results from misunderstanding the nature of one's self and its relationship to the ever-changing world.  He outlined a program of analytical introspection and meditation, aimed at solving this problem.  As with evolutionary genetics, critical evaluation and discussion of Buddhist ideas in this course will be fostered by learning the details of what the Buddha taught.  Major points of overlap between evolutionary genetics and Buddhism emerge in the ways they undermine appearances, deconstructing phenomena which at first appear wholly unbreakable.  We will bring our knowledge of Buddhism to bear on ethical questions arising from genetic testing, the use of human embryos in research, and the prospects for human genetic engineering.
Course Requirements: Course open to Freshman Students only

FRSEMR 22T: Why We Animals Sing

Instructor(s): Brian Farrell
Description: We do not sing alone. On land, four kinds of animals produce songs or calls: birds, frogs, mammals, and insects. Some of these (and fish) also do so underwater. The principal sounds such animal species make are signaling behaviors directly related to mating success. They are of individuals, usually males, marking territories, and wooing mates. However, in any one location, species may also compete with one another for occupation of acoustic space (that is, for bandwidth) and otherwise optimize their sound signals to features of their environment. We will explore these topics and others as we listen to and read about each of the various kinds of singers on earth, the biology of their sound production and reception, and the ways they attract mates while avoiding becoming meals for eavesdropping predators. We will listen to many different kinds of acoustic signalers across a wide array of acoustic communities in tropical and temperate settings, both terrestrial and aquatic, and we will examine sound spectra on a large screen as we listen and slow down and isolate sounds to help distinguish their parts. Finally, we will consider the biology and evolution of music in humans, considering evidence from brain studies, archaeology and anthropology, and the music of indigenous peoples. We will look at music parallels in different kinds in animals of other species. There will be field trips to listen to and record assemblages of local species. The overall objective is to awaken the students’ sense, understanding, and appreciation of the acoustic environment from which we come, and the role of this environment in shaping human biology and culture. There is a fair bit of reading required in preparation for weekly discussions. Accordingly, participation will be expected for discussion of the readings and listening experiences.
Course Requirements: Course open to Freshman Students only

FRSEMR 24P: Getting to Know Charles Darwin

Instructor(s): William Friedman
Description: Do you think you know who Charles Darwin was?  The legend and sober-looking bearded scholar behind the most important paradigm shift in human history?  In this seminar, we will read a selection of Darwin's publications (including parts of Darwin's seminal work, On the Origin of Species), as well as his private correspondence, paying close attention to the man behind the science as revealed by his writings.  We will get to know Charles Darwin—the avid breeder of pigeons, lover of barnacles, devoted father and husband, gifted correspondent and tactician, and remarkable backyard scientist.  In this latter vein, we will reproduce ten of Charles Darwin's classic Down House experiments that were central to making his case for natural selection and evolution in On the Origin of Species, as well as his many other books on natural history.  Field trips to the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, the Museum of Comparative Zoology, and a local pigeon fancier will provide the setting for recreating a selection of the myriad observations of organisms and their interactions with the environment and each other that made Darwin the master of minutia and provided the foundation for his grand synthesis of evolutionary pattern and process.  Each week, we will also read, react to (through writing), and discuss Darwin’s published writings and letters.
Course Notes: Required field trips to the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, the Museum of Comparative Zoology, and a local pigeon fancier will be included. Transportation will be provided.
Course Requirements: Course open to Freshman Students only

FRSEMR 24Q: Biology of Symbiosis: Living Together Can Be Fun!

Instructor: Colleen Cavanaugh
Description: This course examines the remarkable diversity of symbiotic associations on Earth, their ecology and evolution, and their roles in human health and disease, agriculture, and biotechnology. Symbioses - "living together" - with microbes are ubiquitous in nature, ranging from lichens to the human microbiome. Symbiosis drives evolution, resulting in "new organisms" and charges us to think about biodiversity on a new level. In this freshman seminar, microbial symbioses with animals (including humans), plants, fungi, protists will be discussed, complemented by microscopy and field trips to local environs including Boston Harbor Islands, the New England Aquarium, and your own microbiome
Course Requirements: Open to Freshman Students only
 

FRSEMR 50D: Where are you from? Ancestry in the age of Genomics

Instructor(s): David Haig
Description: A human interest in ancestry and kinship is found in most cultures. This interest is not a construct of the modern age, but recent advances in genetics can now provide a wealth of previously unavailable information about our genetic descent. The seminar will discuss examples of what genetics can tell us about where we are from and address the kinds of questions genetics can answer and the kinds it cannot answer. What should we conclude when cultural tradition and genetics tell different stories? Are genetic answers relevant or irrelevant to competing cultural narratives of identity? Is the question “Where are you from?” an invitation to explore our common humanity amid diversity or is it a microaggression that constructs barrriers between us?
Course Requirements: Course open to Freshman Students Only

FRSEMR 50V: Sea Monsters

Instructor(s): Peter Girguis
Description: There have always been tales of sea monsters. For as long as we humans have ventured into the ocean, our imaginations have conjured images of serpents, krakens, leviathans, and other creatures, all of whom seem bent on the destruction of those who dare set foot into the sea. Humankind’s conviction that sea monsters are real is so powerful that -even today- rumors abound of sea monsters lurking in the depths. Indeed, every major religion –eastern and western- features sea monsters. Are these declarations true? Do giants roam the deep sea? Did the explorers of centuries ago see creatures from their small wooden boats that we do not see today? During this course we will explore sea monsters through a social, spiritual, literary, and scientific “lens”. We will study the sea monsters that flourish on ancient maps to understand the minds of 16th century scholars. We will examine the bodies of real sea monsters, and consider the world in which such grotesque creatures might evolve. We will busy ourselves with tales of creatures from classic and contemporary literature. Most importantly, we will develop a better understanding of how humans perceive the world, and how our consciousness can simultaneously embrace our wildest dreams and cower from our greatest fears. Sea monsters, both real and imagined, tell us much about life in the deep sea, and even more about humankind.>
Course Notes: Required field trips related to the sea are included. There will be no cost to the student.
Course Requirements: Course open to Freshman Students Only

 

LIFESCI 1B: An integrated Introduction to the Life Sciences: Genetics, Genomics, and Evolution

Instructor(s): Hopi Hoekstra, Kevin Eggan, Pardis Sabeti
Description: How are observable characteristics of organisms influenced by genetics? How do genomes change over time to produce the differences we see among species? This course takes an integrated approach, showing how genetics and evolution are intimately related, together explaining the patterns of genetic variation we see in nature, and how genomics can be used to analyze variation. In covering Mendelian genetics, quantitative genetics, and population genetics, this course will emphasize developments involving our own species.
Course Notes: This course, in combination with Life Sciences 1a, constitutes an integrated introduction to the Life Sciences. This course, when taken for a letter grade, meets the General Education requirement in Science of Living Systems.

LIFESCI 50A and 50B: Integrated Science

Instructor(s): Andrew W. Murray, Michael Desai, Cassandra Extavour, Benjamin de Bivort, Erel Levine, Sean Eddy
Description: This is an intensive two-semester, double course that introduces the natural sciences as an integrated whole to students who have a very strong interest in science. Our goal is to teach students how to solve scientific problems by drawing methods and concepts from biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics. The course uses examples from biology as an integrating theme, principles from physics and mathematics to reduce complex problems to simpler forms, and computer simulation to allow students to develop their intuition about the behavior of the dynamical systems that control the physical and biological universe. The course includes bootcamps to introduce students to biological experiments and the computer language, Matlab. Each semester will include a project lab, in which students will work in small teams to do original research on unsolved biological problems.
Course Notes: Life Sciences 50a and 50b when taken together for a letter grade fulfill the General Education requirements of Science of Living Systems, Science of the Physical Universe, and Empirical and Mathematical Reasoning. LS 50a taken alone fulfills two of these requirements.
Class Notes: Lab is scheduled for Tuesdays OR Thursdays

Course is taught Monday through Friday. LIFESCI 50A taught Fall Term. LIFESCI 50B taught Spring Term.

 

MATH 153: Mathematical Biology-Evolutionary Dynamics

Instructor(s): Martin Nowak
Description: Introduces basic concepts of mathematical biology and evolutionary dynamics: evolution of genomes, quasi-species, finite and infinite population dynamics, chaos, game dynamics, evolution of cooperation and language, spatial models, evolutionary graph theory, infection dynamics, somatic evolution of cancer.
Recommended Prep: Mathematics 19a,b or 21a,b or 23a,b or 25a,b or 55a,b; or an equivalent background in mathematics

MATH 243: Evolutionary Dynamics

Instructor(s): Martin Nowak
Description: Advanced topics of evolutionary dynamics. Seminars and research projects.
Recommended Prep: Experience with mathematical biology at the level of Mathematics 153.

MATH 388: Topics in Mathematics and Biology

Instructor(s): Martin Nowak
Description: Course taught in Fall (12563) and Spring (12600).

MCB 292: Cellular Biology, Neurobiology and Developmental Biology

Instructor(s): Ethan Garner, Bence Ölveczky
Description: The biology of the individual cell lies at the heart of multi-cellular phenomena such as development and neural function. This course will emphasize critical evaluation of the primary literature, experimental design and scientific writing.
Course Notes:  Required for first year graduate students in the Molecules, Cells and Organisms (MCO) Program, but open to graduates of all programs.
Related Sections:  Discussion TBA

MCB 356: Practical Introduction to Robotics

Instructor: Benjamin de Bivort
Description: Automation and robotics have revolutionized molecular biology. Liquid handling robots are already facilitating the “omics” revolution in genome sequencing, proteomics and high throughput screening. Now, neuroscience and microscopy are adopting robotics for throughput and experiments requiring precision and repeatability, like targeted microelectrode placement. In this nano course, students will learn 1) basic principles of practical robotics including the interaction of software and hardware, 2) the roles of drivers, control cards, microcontrollers and sensor electronics, and 3) practical engineering skills including basic soldering, measurement of voltage, conductivity, polarity and resistance. Students will explore the challenges of translating conceptual operational algorithms into physical implementations.
Course Notes: To enroll, students must be apart of a Life Science Graduate Program, or permission of the instructor.

NEUROBIO 319L: Characterizing the Molecular...

Course Title: Characterizing the Molecular, Neural Circuit & Ecological Underpin. of Behavior'l Diver in the Fruit Fly
Instructor(s): Benjamin de Bivort

 

PHYSICS 215: Biological Dynamics

Instructor(s): Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan
Description: Develops theoretical basis for modeling and quantitative analysis of biological problems. Emphasis on contemporary research topics, including molecular, cellular and tissue dynamics; development and differentiation; signal- and mechano-transduction; individuals, populations and environments.
Course Notes: It is suggested that students may wish to take AP215 when this course is bracketed. May not be taken for credit in addition to AP215.
Recommended Prep: Knowledge of differential equations and statistical mechanics at undergraduate level.

SYSBIO 350 012: Systems Biology Research

Instructor(s): Michael Desai
Description: Upper level Systems Biology students register for this course when they permanently join a lab. Students should register under the supervising PI.
Course taught in Fall (15634) and Spring (15428).

SYSBIO 350 035: Systems Biology Research

Instructor(s): Martin Nowak
Description: Upper level Systems Biology students register for this course when they permanently join a lab. Students should register under the supervising PI.
Course taught in Fall (15657) and Spring (15451).

SYSBIO 350 042: Systems Biology Research

Instructor(s): Pardis Sabeti
Description: Upper level Systems Biology students register for this course when they permanently join a lab. Students should register under the supervising PI. Course taught in both Fall (15664) and Spring (15458).