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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Scott Rider Freeman
BIOL 325
Seattle Campus

The Tree of Life

Provides an overview of biodiversity by focusing on key characteristics of major lineage throughout the tree of life. Explores major diversification events by analyzing changes in reproduction, energetics, cell structure, sensory systems, , and adaptations to abiotic stress, and species interactions. Prerequisite: either BIOL 220, B BIO 220, or TESC 140.

Class description

Bio325 provides an overview of the diversity of life, from bacteria to animals. The course emphasizes tree thinking and encourages students to synthesize information from Biology 180, 200, and 220. Students will be expected to understand diversification in reproduction, energetics/food-getting, cell structure/body plan, sensory systems, adaptations to the abiotic environment, and species interactions. The course also emphasizes three key skills: writing, oral presentation, and reading the primary literature.

Because Bio325 is a W course, there is a 10-page paper required. The course also satisfies the diversity requirement for Biology majors.

Student learning goals

Understand key synapomorphies that identify major lineages on the tree of life.

Synthesize information from Bio180/200/220 and the primary literature to explore diversification in energetics, cell structure, reproduction, and other topics.

Understand methods to quantify and protect biodiversity.

Give a well-organized oral presentation that effectively summarizes material from the primary literature.

Write a clear, well-researched review paper that synthesizes information from the primary literature on one aspect of diversification across the tree of life.

Develop expertise in searching literature databases and finding peer-reviewed publications addressing questions about diversity and basic biology.

General method of instruction

Discussion-based; frequent use of student mini-presentations on papers from the primary literature. In addition, frequent workshop sessions on professional skills: how to read a paper, how to give a talk, and how to write a scientific paper.

Recommended preparation

Biology 220 required; previous composition course(s) highly recommended.

Class assignments and grading

Read a textbook chapter (weekly). Read a scientific paper and report its major findings to the class (weekly). Submit drafts of each section of the final paper, for comment (~biweekly). Weekly 15-point quiz (short-answer). Formal, 10-minute group presentation, with slides (once).

Weekly quizzes, quality of peer evaluation of writing assignments, and final paper.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Scott Rider Freeman
Date: 06/17/2011