Associate Professor of Evolutionary Biology
He did postdoctoral work at the University of Arizona and New Mexico State University. Charles studies the ecological and evolutionary genetics of hybrid zones and speciation, specifically in crickets. His research and teaching interests include all aspects of evolutionary biology, as well as population genetics, molecular ecology, entomology, and genomics. Other interests include Ultimate, backpacking, and good wine.
This course will provide an overview of the science and issues surrounding substance-related addictions and the processes and mechanisms that underlie addiction. We will address both the genetic and environmental underpinnings of addiction and introduce the epidemiology and developmental course of addiction. Students will work in teams of 4-5 to investigate an area of interest in the science of addiction. The groups will use the primary scientific and medical literature in an effort to understand the use, effectiveness and limitations of the particular treatments or approaches selected. Each team member will be responsible for some aspect of the research and will report back to the whole group. The groups will present their findings to the whole class. The students' goal is to assess the effectiveness of the various approaches by examining the available data carefully, explaining the methodologies employed to look at the treatment, and critically reading the authors' conclusions. Examples of past projects include: How do benzodiazapines affect episodic memory? How does cocaine affect the progression of HIV? Is sex addiction a real addiction? What alternatives to methadone are available in the treatment of pregnant women opioid addicts? Is caffeine an addictive drug? How effective is psilocybin for treating substance use disorder? Does alcohol affect men and women differently from a brain chemistry perspective? Each student will have the opportunity to work in three groups over the semester and to complete three projects and presentations. Students will also learn to find and read scientific research articles on topics of their choosing. They will write analytical critiques of these articles and will have numerous opportunities to revise these based on the instructors' comments. These critiques will form the basis of the final papers in which students explored a particular narrow topic on some aspect of addiction. The final compilation of the three critiques will be used in putting together their final papers. All students are also introduced to elementary aspects of data analysis and statistics. We also will have presentations by local treatment counselors as well as a video presentations from a local physician specializing in addictions treatment. A final portfolio of all work will be used to evaluate each student's progress.
The concept of biological evolution pre-dates Darwin. However, when Darwin presented a provocative mechanism by which evolution works (i.e., natural selection), he catapulted an idea to the forefront of biology that has precipitated over 150 years of research into the nature and origin of organic diversity. This course will serve as an introduction to the science of evolutionary biology. Additionally, we will take a historical look at the development of evolution as a concept and how it has led to the Modern Synthesis in biology and modern research in Evolutionary Biology. We will also investigate how Darwin's "dangerous idea" has infiltrated different areas of biology and beyond. To look forward beyond Hampshire's 50th year, we will also run an experiment to "evolve" the concept of "What is Hampshire".
Molecular ecology utilizes the spatial and temporal distribution of molecular genetic markers to ask questions about the ecology, evolution, behavior, and conservation of organisms. This science may utilize genetic variation to understand individuals, populations, and species as a whole ("How does habitat fragmentation affect connectedness among populations?" "From where do particular groups originate?"). Similarly, genetic patterns may reveal information about interactions of organisms ("How much interbreeding occurs among populations?" "How monogamous or promiscuous are individuals?"). Molecular ecologists also utilize specific genes to investigate how organisms respond and adapt to their environments ("How do genetically modified organisms escape into natural environments?"). We will read background and primary literature in this field to understand how molecular ecology can answer basic and applied questions about organisms. Students will research specific applications of this discipline and present their findings in written and oral format. Some knowledge of biology will be assumed. An additional molecular lab will be offered.
Ecological Genetics: Ecological genetics lies at the interface of ecology, evolution, and genetics. This discipline concerns the genetics of ecologically important traits (those traits that relate to fitness and adaptation) and primarily focuses on phenotypic variation and evolution. This course will provide a foundation for how and why traits such as cryptic coloration in butterflies persist and what variations in mice populations allow some individuals to survive the winter. We will read background and primary literature in this field to understand how ecological genetics is important in answering basic and applied questions about organisms. Students will research specific applications of this discipline and present their findings in written and oral format.
Natural organisms provide an unparalleled palette for almost every color and pattern imaginable. Why do organisms have stripes and spots? Why blue or red? This course will explore how and why various colors and patterns are produced in the biological world. We will investigate biochemical, genetic (and epigenetic), developmental, and environmental mechanisms as well as simple mathematical models to explain their production. Additionally, we will link patterns/colors to their functions, such as defense, warning, camouflage, communication, mate attraction, etc. 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.