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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Veronica Sandra Distilio
BIOL 590
Seattle Campus

Seminar in Organismal Biology

Weekly discussions of past and current scientific literature in organismal biology, reviews of the state of the field, and presentation of research results. Discussions may cover the full breadth of the discipline or focus on selected topics. Prerequisite: graduate standing, or permission of instructor for undergraduates.

Class description

This seminar, intended for advanced undergraduates and graduate students, explores plant developmental biology within an evolutionary framework, from the organism to the molecular levels of organization, with examples from a variety of plants. Topics discussed include the role of polyploidy in plant evolution, the evolution of traits under domestication, evolution of sex determination mechanisms, the genetic basis of angiosperm flower diversification, evolution of leaf shape, plant-pollinator co-evolution, and pollen-ovule signaling. This seminar aims to instill an appreciation of the genetic underpinnings of plant diversity, while providing exposure to current topics in plant evo-devo, at all levels of organization.

Student learning goals

Gain an appreciation of the evolution-of-development approach in biological research and, more specifically, of topics at the forefront of plant evo-devo research.

Read the primary literature critically and effectively: distill main ideas, interpret figures and draw conclusions from data.

Effectively present findings from the literature to a friendly audience.

General method of instruction

The instructor introduces the weekly topics and places them in broad context. Students present a review and a research article, followed by a question-and answer period. Group discussion is guided by a questionnaire, due at the end of class.

Recommended preparation

Intro Bio series needed for general background on genetics and evolution, molecular and cellular aspects, and some knowledge of plants desirable. A 300-level course in molecular and cellular biology or evolution recommended (Biol 355 or 354)

Class assignments and grading

Grading is based on participation in discussion, weekly questionnaires, and one oral presentation.

50% student presentations 20% participation in class discussion 20% written discussion questionnaires 10% weekly WebQ


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 Veronica Sandra Distilio
Date: 03/07/2012