Spring Term 2013 Courses
Life is full of hidden beauty. From the basic structures of biological compounds, to the movement of compounds within a cell, to the combined activities of tissues that contribute to the function of an organ, to the structures of complete organisms, the phenomena of life are both intellectually and aesthetically stimulating. This course will explore the complexities of life and use them as inspiration for creating art. We will learn the science in the classroom and laboratory and then move to the studio where students will utilize their comprehension of biological phenomena to create design and art projects. The characteristics of design that are apparent when observing biological forms (such as bundling, branching, repetition, variation, etc.) will be used as a starting vocabulary to develop works of art. Our goal is to use the relationship between art and science to foster a greater sensitivity to the aesthetics of natural forms, and to leave the classroom looking at our integrated and fragile relationship to the natural environment with new eyes. The course will culminate in an exhibition at the end of the semester.
This course focuses on the science of human genetic and biological variation. How does variation come about in evolution? Which variations have adaptive and functional significance and which are "just differences"? What is the evolutionary explanation, distribution, and significance of human variation in, for example, sickle cell anemia, skin color and sports performance? How are individuals grouped, how are differences studied, and to what purpose? How did the idea of "natural" races arise, and how and why, despite key scientific flaws, does it persist? This semester we will focus on the idea of race as a genetic construct versus lived, social reality and in particular, how race is used in biomedical research. Finally, we will examine health inequalities by race and the potential mechanisms by which racism may lead to poor health.
Humans are recent tenants on an ancient Earth. Understanding Earth's remarkable history is enlightening yet humbling. Earth's history provides a critical lens for evaluating modern environmental science issues of our modern world. In this course, we will travel through time to study the evolution of Earth from its fiery beginning over 4.5 billion years ago to the present day. We will explore the physical and biological evolution of Earth and gain an appreciation for Earth as a series of complex systems that interact dynamically and holistically. We will also learn how geologists reconstruct Earth history and as well as predict the future. This course will be valuable for anyone who is curious about the past and/or concerned about the future of Earth and its tenants. This course satisfies Division I “Physical and Biological Sciences” distribution requirements.
All life requires water to survive. Where do we get our water? Where does it go? Will there always be enough? How can we manage our water resources to ensure there is enough? What policies affect these decisions? This course explores these topics using a systems approach to gain an understanding of how our water resources are intimately tied with the surrounding ecosystem. Topics include the water cycle, hydrologic budgets, urban stormwater management and low impact development. Students will read and discuss primary literature, delineate watershed boundaries, compute water budgets (at the watershed level and for their own water use), and complete a group design project. Each group will develop a design for a stormwater best management practice to be located somewhere on the Hampshire campus. Designs will include: assessment of need for improved stormwater management, building layout/plan, and stormwater calculations. Groups will be required to present their final designs to the class.
This Spring 2013 course emphasizes individual projects and class discussion. The course will explore the ecology of the Pacific Northwest region, cover underlying scientific principles, and ask these questions: How has human history, including the dispossession of Native Americans, influenced land use and ecological and agricultural changes in the northwest? How did the river and mountain geography of the Columbia Basin influence the development of pre-1800 indigenous civilization? What are the chief ecological issues, past and present, in this region? What was the immediate and long-term Native American response to the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804-06 and its aftermath? How have power dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers affected salmon populations and regulations perpetuating Indian fishing rights? What cultural and political developments led to the Nez Perce trek of 1877? How have Indian reservations and land use patterns changed through the 20th century? What do we know about invasive species, rare and endangered populations, and the effects of climate change in the northwest? How has federal land and Indian policy in the northwest evolved? The course will make use of readings in northwest ecology and Native American history and will include seminar-type discussions that focus on individual projects and presentations.
This course will provide an introduction to the processing and preservation of foods. Basic scientific principles will be discussed alongside historical developments in food processing. Principles will be illustrated by exposure to both home as well as industrial processing techniques.
Vernal pools have served as model systems throughout much of biology, with their inhabitants yielding insights into the evolution of sex, metapopulation theory, endosymbiosis, endangered species conservation and more. In this course we explore ecology, evolution, and conservation through the lens of the ephemeral wetland microcosm. Each week we will examine case studies from the scientific literature, exploring the system from many different angles. A primary focus of the course will be on developing and defending scientific study designs. For their final project, students will complete an independent experimental study. During lab periods, we will pay weekly visits to ponds on campus. Prerequisite: a course in evolution, ecology, or statistics.
Although many students are interested in studying issues related to sustainability - and may wish to pursue careers in this area - it is difficult for them to define what "sustainability" is and go about developing their own academic program. What skills, content areas, and experiences are important? How do students gain depth in a particular area? This course is designed to introduce students to people, some Hampshire alums, working towards a sustainable future in different ways and who can provide guidance and examples. Sustainable food production will be one focus of the course. Through readings, discussions, and field trips students will see what, for example, an alum who is internationally known for sustainable fish production actually does - and his journey to his present position. Energy-efficient home and building design will likely be another focus of the course, given sufficient student interest. The class will also help students work towards the Five College Sustainability certificate program as they design a course of studies in Division II and III. The course will culminate in a final written project such as a Division III proposal for students completing Division II.
This introductory course will explore the process of doing scientific research in a molecular biology lab. Students will learn numerous techniques in the lab, including DNA isolation, PCR, gel electrophoresis, restriction enzyme mapping, cloning, and basic microscopy. Additionally, we will investigate the historical and conceptual aspects of these approaches. Students will engage in semester-long research projects where they design and carryout experiments, collect and analyze data, and report their conclusions in written and oral formats. This course is intended for students with little or no experience in a molecular biology lab, and it will prepare students for more advanced molecular lab courses and training. Instructor permission required.
Grace's office hours are on Wednesdays from 4-5pm in the Cole Lizard Lounge (3rd floor). Please email her ahead of time if you plan to go.
This course will explore the history of cell biology and the experiments that taught us what we know today. We will read primary literarure about most organelles to study their structure and function, and students will choose one function of the cell to write a mini-review about. We will also spend some time working hands-on with cells and microscopy data, although this is not a lab course.
NS 248 is an introduction to the principles and practice of epidemiology and the use of data in program planning and policy development. The course covers the major concepts usually found in a graduate-level introductory course in epidemiology: outbreak investigations, study design, measures of effect, internal and external validity, reliability, and causal inference. Assigned readings are drawn from a standard textbook and the primary literature. In addition, students read case studies and work step-by-step through major epidemiologic investigations of the past century; they also form small groups to design and conduct a small epidemiologic study on campus. The major assignments are four case studies, regular response papers/worksheets on the readings, a critique of a primary paper, a poster presentation of the on-campus study, and a proposal for an epidemiologic study of their own design.
Disease has influenced our civilization, and our civilization has influenced disease. How have the food industry, the media, politics, and technology affected our health? How have different races, genders, sexual orientations, and geographic locations been affected by modern disease? In this course, we will examine the relationship between disease and culture and how life as we know it has been affected. Students will read case studies and have debates about selected topics, and are invited to bring in news articles and primary literature to discuss. Students will choose a topic of interest to research throughout the semester and present to the class in the final week.
This course extends the concepts, techniques and applications of an introductory calculus course. We'll detect periodicity in noisy data, and study functions of several variables, integration, differential equations, and the approximation of functions by polynomials. We'll continue the analysis of dynamical systems taking models from student selected primary literature on ecology, economics, epidemiology, and physics. We will finish with an introduction to the theory and applications of Fourier series and harmonic analysis. Computers and numerical methods will be used throughout. In addition to regular substantial problem sets, each student will apply the concepts to recently published models of their choosing. Pre-requisite: Calculus in Context (NS 260) or another Calc I course.
To understand who we are and our place in the biosphere, we need to know from where we came and how we got here. Despite concerted focus, however, there still is uncertainty about our biological origins, our evolution, and our future. This course will serve as a scientific overview of human speciation and evolution. Topics of discussion will include: early evolution of the genus Homo and primates in general, hypotheses for human adaptations and historical movements, molecular vs. anthropological explanations for our evolution, genetic variation within/among current human populations, cultural evolution, and evolutionary explanations for human behavior. We will use both applied and primary scientific research literature to explore topics in these areas. Students will research specific aspects or questions and present their findings in written and oral format.
This course focuses on the biological and cultural components of reproduction from an evolutionary and cross-cultural perspective. Beginning with the evolution of the pelvis, this course examines the nutritional problems, growth and developmental problems, health problems, and the trauma that can affect successful childbirth. The birth process will be studied for women in the ancient world and we will examine historical trends in obstetrics, as well. Worldwide rates of maternal mortality will be used to understand the risks that some women face. Birthing customs and beliefs will be examined for indigenous women in a number of different cultures. Students will be required to present and discuss material and to work on a single large research project that relates to the course topic throughout the semester.
Even if we have answers for the basic questions raised by the problem of sustainability there are still many approaches to determining a proper course of action. The viewpoints of LCA, the "ecological footprint", and "Natural Capitalism" each provide a standard against which to measure any particular program of change or development. We are presently challenged to make policy judgments of vital importance, to develop technologies and systems that increase sustainability, and to design and present these things in ways that ensure widespread adoption. In this course we will employ several case studies to examine these difficult issues. Emphasis will be placed on understanding underlying scientific principles, evaluating evidence available from the technical and scientific literature, and developing innovative approaches and solutions.
Students in Learning Activity Projects are encouraged to collaborate with others in their courses of study, for example, by joining student-led Experimental Program in Education and Community (EPEC) courses or informal learning groups. Students compile lists of learning activities based on their independent work during the semester. Each student will write a title, description and self-evaluation for every learning activity to be officially recognized for Learning Activity Projects credit. Students must also secure a signed evaluation of the work, written by someone familiar with both the subject matter and their course of study. The subjects of the learning activities need not be restricted to a particular discipline, school of thought, or arena of creative work.
In this self-directed course, each student (or group of students) will study a mathematical model that revolutionized biology. After selecting a topic, students will read the primary literature of the chosen model focusing not only on the mathematical and biological aspects of the model, but also on the historical context and long-term impact of the work. The students will then select and read current articles that reference the original models. In some cases, the students may want to expand or modify the model and explore the implications. The students will be responsible for sharing their research with the class and preparing a final paper that compiles all of their research from the semester. Areas of mathematics that are new to the students will be discussed and short problem sets may be assigned. Potential topics include, but are not limited to, models of allometry, natural selection, CAT imaging, predator prey interactions, action potentials, phylogenetic trees, genetic coding, mutating viruses, enzyme kinetics, genetic mapping, hydrogeology, and neural networks. Due to the diversity of topics, students will be able to select models that are appropriate to their level of biological and mathematical expertise.
This course develops the basic geometric, algebraic, and computational foundations of vector spaces and matrices and applies them to a wide range of problems and models. The material will be accessible to students who have taken at least one semester of calculus and is useful to most consumers of mathematics. The course focuses on real finite dimensional vector spaces and inner product spaces, although abstract and infinite-dimensional vector spaces will be discussed towards the end of the semester. Applications will be made to computer graphics, environmental models, differential equations, Fourier series, and physics. Computers will be used throughout. Problem sets will be assigned for almost every class. Prerequisite: a year of Calculus.
The goals of this Mellon Language Learning course are twofold. The first is to introduce students to key issues in global women's health with a focus on Central America. Topics will span the lifecycle and will be drawn from the fields of infectious disease, reproductive health, nutrition, chronic disease and health policy. Most readings will come from the medical and epidemiologic literature though attention will also be given to the political, economic and social factors that weigh heavily on health. The second goal is to advance students' knowledge of Spanish by integrating Spanish materials into the syllabus. A central text will be the health care manual "Where Women Have No Doctor" which is available in both Spanish and English. The course in not intended to be a language course per se, but one that reinforces existing skills and inspires students to pursue further study and practice. Prerequisite: at least two semesters of prior Spanish instruction.