Intensives descriptions

 

Fall 2019

BIOL 303 Intensive: Senior Research (1 unit, graded). Critical analysis, usually through observation or experimentation, of a specific research problem in biology. A student electing this course must first gain, by submission of a written research proposal, the support of a member of the biology faculty with whom to work out details of a research protocol. The formal research proposal, a final paper, and presentation of results are required parts of the course. A second faculty member participates both in the planning of the research and in final evaluation.The department. See individual faculty information for descriptions of their research programs.

BIOL 395 Faculty Mentored Research (0.5 or 1 unit, graded or ungraded). Faculty Mentored Research experiences enable a small group of students to work with faculty on research projects. Students may be engaged in individual research projects or work in teams under the guidance and direction of the faculty member. These may involve fieldwork, lab work, literature reviews, data collection, data analysis, research design, etc. and will vary depending on the discipline and area of research. The department. See individual faculty information for descriptions of their research programs.

BIOL/STS 393 Special Topics: Biology in the Community: Public Health ( 1 unit, ungraded). Students partner with staff at the Dutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Health (or another local public health organization) to identify a current public health issue, design and execute an intervention, and assess its effectiveness. Supplemental readings are required in order to provide a framework to successfully engage with the community and complete the work. In addition, weekly group meetings encourage students to formulate and refine goals and to actively monitor the proposed initiative to help the Department or organization realize its vision. Leroy Cooper.

BIOL/NEUR 393 Special Topics: Biology in Board Games (1 unit, ungraded). Board games are growing in popularity and there are a number that feature biological themes from disease spread, to cell biology, to evolution. Biology is complicated: so can you make a game that is both fun to play and accurately represents biological processes? In this intensive we interrogate the representation and simulation of biological processes in board games by reading primary literature, discussing scientific concepts, and playing games. Following gameplay we evaluate the ways in which the scientific concepts are or are not accurately represented by the mechanics, art and overall presentation of the game. For the final project, students work in teams to design a board game that represents a biological process of their choosing, with a rulebook that includes an analysis of the biology and the design choices that were used to represent the process. Megan Gall.

BIOL 393 Special Topics: Getting the Word Out (1 unit, ungraded). This intensive focuses on communicating about biology research and concepts for different non-science audiences using blogs, podcasts and other current media. We work as a media team developing a series of articles relevant to human impacts, including climate change, on biological organisms and systems. We visit a large media organization and conduct video interviews as well as more traditional literature-based research. Kate Susman.

BIOL 393 Special Topics: Plant Biodiversity – Floras and Herbaria (1 or 0.5 units, graded or ungraded). Participants in this intensive work on two projects: documentation of the plant biodiversity of the Vassar College Ecological Preserve, and curation of the Vassar College Herbarium.  You learn how to apply the international rules for assuring that each plant species has only one accepted scientific name; the science behind plant classification, and why the correct name and classification for a species can change; how to properly identify, collect, and prepare herbarium specimens; how to make digital images of herbarium specimens and digitize specimen metadata.  If you elect a full unit, you conduct a personal mini-project involving either curation of a specific portion of the herbarium, or answering a research question using the herbarium.  Satisfactory completion of this intensive prepares you for an internship or an entry level position at an herbarium. Relevant prior course work, e.g. BIOL 208, 241, ENST 124 is desirable but not required. Mark Schlessman.

BIOL 393 Special Topics: Restoration and management on the VFEP. (1 or 0.5 units) Working in collaboration with Keri Van Camp, Field Station and Ecological Preserve Manager, we work as a team to implement one or more of the projects outlined in the Conservation Action Plan for the Vassar Ecological Preserve.  Possible projects include management of invasive species to protect vulnerable areas, developing outreach materials on restoration and management opportunities for local landowners, working with Grounds to develop new practices to further support conservation efforts on campus, working to support pollinator networks in the Hudson Valley, and planting native species for restoration and to improve visitor experience, among others.  The specific project(s) is chosen by the participants in the Intensive. Relevant prior coursework (e.g., BIOL 241, 208, ENST 124) is desirable but not required. Margaret Ronsheim.

Spring 2020

BIOL 303 Intensive: Senior Research (1 unit, graded). Critical analysis, usually through observation or experimentation, of a specific research problem in biology. A student electing this course must first gain, by submission of a written research proposal, the support of a member of the biology faculty with whom to work out details of a research protocol. The formal research proposal, a final paper, and presentation of results are required parts of the course. A second faculty member participates both in the planning of the research and in final evaluation.The department. See individual faculty information for descriptions of their research programs.

*NOTE: Many spots for BIOL 303 or 395 in the fall will be filled by students continuing from the fall. Expect fewer new openings for these intensives in the spring.

BIOL 395 Faculty Mentored Research (0.5 or 1 unit, graded or ungraded). Faculty Mentored Research experiences enable a small group of students to work with faculty on research projects. Students may be engaged in individual research projects or work in teams under the guidance and direction of the faculty member. These may involve fieldwork, lab work, literature reviews, data collection, data analysis, research design, etc. and will vary depending on the discipline and area of research. The department. See individual faculty information for descriptions of their research programs.

*NOTE: Many spots for BIOL 303 or 395 in the fall will be filled by students continuing from the fall. Expect fewer new openings for these intensives in the spring.

BIOL/STS 393 Special Topics: Investigating chronic disease (0.5 units, ungraded). An examination of ME/CFS, a chronic disease with an unknown cause, no known biomarkers, and no specific treatments. We explore recent research to identify the underlying basis of the disease and explore the historical and social factors that underlie the stigmatization and insufficient understanding of the disease. Students will help plan and organize a documentary film screening and panel discussion for local healthcare providers. David Esteban.

BIOL 393 Special Topics: Advanced Biostatistics. The goal of this course is to teach students how to analyze common types of data collected in the life sciences. Students learn the statistical programming language R and gain skills in 1) basic coding, 2) understanding various data structures, 3) data manipulation and 4) plotting data. Students learn specific statistical techniques including linear models (ANOVA, regression, etc.), generalized linear models, and mixed-effects models. Justin Touchon.

BIOL 393 Special Topics: Plant Biodiversity – Floras and Herbaria (1 or 0.5 units, graded or ungraded). Participants in this intensive work on two projects: documentation of the plant biodiversity of the Vassar College Ecological Preserve, and curation of the Vassar College Herbarium.  You learn how to apply the international rules for assuring that each plant species has only one accepted scientific name; the science behind plant classification, and why the correct name and classification for a species can change; how to properly identify, collect, and prepare herbarium specimens; how to make digital images of herbarium specimens and digitize specimen metadata.  If you elect a full unit, you conduct a personal mini-project involving either curation of a specific portion of the herbarium, or answering a research question using the herbarium.  Satisfactory completion of this intensive prepares you for an internship or an entry level position at an herbarium. Relevant prior course work, e.g. BIOL 208, 241, ENST 124 is desirable but not required. Mark Schlessman.

BIOL/FFS 294b: Le labo: The Culture and Language of the French and Francophone Labs
 
This half-unit intensive will meet several times over the course of the semester to prepare students wishing to enroll in a course in the sciences while on a Francophone program abroad.  Students will learn to navigate Francophone laboratory setting and cultures while reading scientific articles in the French language and work on building technical vocabulary in a field of their choice.  Texts studied will depend on student interest, but may include readings from any of the disciplines in the natural sciences and mathematics.  Students will also learn to write scientific material in the target language.  Independent work between course meetings will be emphasized. Offered in conjunction with the department of Biology.  Tom Parker (FFS) Colin Echeverría Aiken (Biology).
 
Prerequisite: French 210 or equivalent recommended; can be taken simultaneously with 210.