Natural Science II | 2012-2013The prerequisite for all Natural Science II courses is completion of or exemption from Quantitative Reasoning, or completion of an approved substitute course. The completion of Natural Science I is recommended prior to taking Natural Science II.
Note: ** indicates an example syllabus
* indicates a preliminary syllabus
Spring 2013 schedule remains tentative.
FALL 2012 MAP-UA 303 Natural Science II: Human Genetics
Prof. Rockman (Biology) syllabus
We are currently witnessing a revolution in human genetics, where the ability to scrutinize and manipulate DNA has allowed scientists to gain unprecedented insights into the role of heredity. Beginning with an overview of the principles of inheritance such as cell division and Mendelian genetics, we explore the foundations and frontiers of modern human genetics, with an emphasis on understanding and evaluating new discoveries. Descending to the molecular level, we investigate how genetic information is encoded in DNA and how mutations affect gene function. These molecular foundations are used to explore the science and social impact of genetic technology, including topics such as genetic testing, genetically modified foods, DNA fingerprinting, and the Human Genome Project. Laboratory projects emphasize the diverse methods that scientists employ to study heredity.
FALL 2012 MAP-UA 306 Natural Science II: Brain and Behavior
Prof. Hawken (Neural Science) syllabus**
The relationship of the brain to behavior, beginning with the basic elements that make up the nervous system and how electrical and chemical signals in the brain work to effect behavior. Using this foundation, we examine how the brain learns and how it creates new behaviors, together with the brain mechanisms that are involved in sensory experience, movement, hunger and thirst, sexual behaviors, the experience of emotions, perception and cognition, memory and the brain's plasticity. Other key topics include whether certain behavioral disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder can be accounted for by changes in the function of the brain, and how drugs can alter behavior and brain function.
Note: Handling of animals and animal brain tissue is required in some labs.
FALL 2012 MAP-UA 309 Natural Science II: The Body - How It Works
Prof. Petersen (Chemistry) syllabus
The human body is a complex system of mutually interdependent molecules, cells, tissues, organs and organ systems. We examine the human body with the goal of understanding how physiological systems operate at these varying levels. Examples include the circulation of blood, the function of our muscles, the utilization of oxygen in respiration, and how our immune system detects and fights foreign invaders. Disturbing the delicate balance of these systems can produce various human diseases, which will also be examined throughout the course. Laboratory work provides firsthand experience with studying molecular processes, cell structures, and physiological systems.
FALL 2012 MAP-UA 313 Natural Science II: The Brain: A User's Guide
Prof. Azmitia (Biology) syllabus**
The Human Brain is the most complex organ. Despite the central position it has in nearly every aspect of our daily lives, it remains to many a mystery. How does it work? How can we care for it? How long will it function? This MAP course is designed to provide answers to these questions, and many more at an academic level accessible to the non-scientist student, and of interest to the scientist with little exposure to neuroscience. The aims of the course are to provide the student with a firm foundation in what the brain looks like and what each of the parts do. To accomplish this, we will learn about the functions of the cortex in higher learning and memory, as well as discuss the basic work of the brainstem in regulating the internal environment of the body. The importance of nutrition on neurotransmitter synthesis, the function of sleep on memory and why we need so much of it, and the effects of alcohol and drugs on brain harmony and the meaning of addiction will be some of the points covered in this course. We will look at brain development and the special needs of children, as well as brain aging and illness and the difficulty of helping. The laboratories are designed to provide hands-on experience in exploring the structure of the brain as well as learning how to measure brain functioning. We will provide specially prepared slides so the student can recognize a neuron and differentiate a dendrite from an axon. The molecular shape of neurotransmitter will be covered, as well as learning how to measure alcohol and determining its levels in your body. It is expected that by the end of the course, the student will be familiar with the biological basis of brain structure and function, and not only be able to detect how a normal brain works, but also how to help keep it healthy.
SPRING 2013 MAP-UA 305 Natural Science II: Human Origins
Prof. Anton (Anthropology)
An introduction to the approaches and methods scientists use to investigate the origins and evolutionary history of our own species. This interdisciplinary study synthesizes research from a number of different areas of science. Topics include reconstructing evolutionary relationships using molecular and morphological data, the mitochondrial Eve hypothesis, ancient DNA, human variation and natural selection, the use of stable isotopes to reconstruct dietary behavior in prehistoric humans, the Neandertal enigma, the importance of studies of chimpanzees for understanding human behavior, and the 6-million-year-old fossil evidence for human evolution.
SPRING 2013 MAP-UA 306 Natural Science II: Brain and Behavior
Prof. Suzuki (Neural Science)
This class will explore the relationship between brain and behavior from a neuroscience perspective which describes processes in the brain in terms of the molecules, cells, neurochemicals and network activity that underlie them. The class starts with a discussion of neurons and glia, the two basic building blocks of the brain,and how electrical and chemical signals allow these elements to communicate with each other. Using this knowledge as a foundation, we then explore the workings of the major brain systems that allow us to interact with the world around us, such as the sensory systems that allow us to see hear, feel, smell and taste. Next,we explore the brain’s motor/movement systems. The last section of the class focuses on the so-called higher cognitive functions, which include learning, memory, emotion, cognitive control and language. These latter systems are critical for our individual personalities and creativity. The goal of this course is not only to give students a factual foundation of our current understanding of the brain basis of behavior, but also toprovide students an understanding of how neuroscientists working today use a combination of scientific inquiry together with cutting edge technology to understand the inner workings of the human brain.
Note: Handling of animals and animal brain tissue is required in some labs.
SPRING 2013 MAP-UA 310 Natural Science II: Molecules of Life
Prof. Jordan (MAP) syllabus
Our lives are increasingly influenced by the availability of new pharmaceuticals, ranging from drugs that lower cholesterol to those that influence behavior. We examine the chemistry and biology of biomolecules that make up the molecular machinery of the cell. Critical to the function of such biomolecules is their three-dimensional structure that endows them with a specific function. This information provides the scientific basis for understanding drug action and how new drugs are designed. Beginning with the principles of chemical bonding, molecular structure, and acid-base properties that govern the structure and function of biomolecules, we apply these principles to study the varieties of protein architecture and how proteins serve as enzymes to facilitate biochemical reactions. We conclude with a study of molecular genetics and how recent information from the Human Genome Project is stimulating new approaches to diagnosing disease and designing drug treatments.
SPRING 2013 MAP-UA 311 Natural Science II: Lessons from the Biosphere
Prof. Volk (Biology) syllabus
Provides a foundation of knowledge about how Earth's biosphere works. This includes the biggest ideas and findings about biology on the global scale-the scale in which we live. Such knowledge is especially crucial today because we humans are perturbing so many systems within the biosphere. We explore four main topics: (1) Evolution of Life: How did life come to be what it is today? (2) Life's Diversity: What is life today on the global scale? (3) Cycles of Matter: How do life and the non-living environment interact? (4) The Human Guild: How are humans changing the biosphere and how might we consider our future within the biosphere? Laboratory experiments are complemented by an exploration at the American Museum of Natural History.
SPRING 2013 MAP-UA 314 Natural Science II: Genomes and Diversity
Prof. Siegal (Biology) syllabus
Millions of species of animals, plants and microbes inhabit our planet. Genomics, the study of all the genes in an organism, is providing new insights into this amazing diversity of life on Earth. We begin with the fundamentals of DNA, genes and genomes. We then explore microbial diversity, with an emphasis on how genomics can reveal many aspects of organisms, from their ancient history to their physiological and ecological habits. We follow with examinations of animal and plant diversity, focusing on domesticated species, such as dogs and tomatoes, as examples of how genomic methods can be used to identify genes that underlie new or otherwise interesting traits. Genomics has also transformed the study of human diversity and human disease. We examine the use of DNA to trace human ancestry, as well as the use of genomics as a diagnostic tool in medicine. With the powerful new technologies to study genomes has come an increased power to manipulate them. We conclude by considering the societal implications of this ability to alter the genomes of crop plants, livestock and potentially humans.