Intensives descriptions

Fall 2022 
Course-based intensives (BIOL 393)

Biol 393.01 – Biology in Board Games. (Same as Neur393) (ungraded, 1 unit). 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 393.02 –  Investigating Nutritional Supplements & Alternative Medicines. (0.5 unit, ungraded) “Natural”; supplements are part of a multi-billion dollar alternative health industry with little in the way of government regulation or consumer protections. We examine relationships between the health claims used to market supplements with the underlying scientific research. Students develop assessments on the depth and quality of scientific evidence, who performed and funded the research, and the extent to which the scientific evidence supports the manufacturer’s claims.  We also explore potential harmful effects, historical uses of these materials, who profits from their sale, and any public record of legal or ethical concerns on the part of the manufacturers. In addition to their research, students participate in a biweekly discussion and develop oral/mixed media presentations their findings. Bill Straus.

Biol 393.03 – Introduction to animal and dairy science. (1 unit, ungraded) The introduction to animal and dairy science intensive is designed to introduce students to the biological, physical, technical and economical aspects of beef, horse, sheep, goat and swine production. The intensive examines basic principles of selection, breeding, nutrition, reproduction, feeding and management of livestock for the production of meat, milk and wool. This intensive would be ideal for students who desire a career in science related fields or who wish to pursue graduate or professional degrees. “Hands on” experience with some of the above species will be conducted via local tours and workshops. Field Trips on Fridays with a corresponding class meeting during the week. Kelli Duncan.

BIOL 393.04 Ecophysiology of native and invasive species (0.5 unit, ungraded) Students will examine the physiology of woody vines present on the Ecological Preserve, specifically examining the differences between native and invasive species to better understand how they are competing for resources and informing plans for control of invasives. Projects may include studying photosynthetic capacity, light capture strategies, water relations, and water-use efficiency of the different species, among others. Students may study plants on a controlled field site on the preserve, or plants that are growing wild on the preserve. The specific project(s) is chosen by the participants in the Intensive. Relevant prior coursework, e.g., BIOL 202, BIOL 208, ENST 124, is desirable but not required. Dianne Pater

Independent Research Based Intensives

Students interested in starting to work with faculty on research projects do so through BIOL 298 or 399 or BIOC 377 or 399. Below is a list of faculty research interests and whether they are accepting new students for Fall 2022.

Aitken (Continuing students only) My lab is focused on understanding the molecular mechanics of translation initiation, the process of assembling the ribosome on a messenger RNA molecule coding for a protein needed by the cell. Depending on their specific project, students learn and employ molecular cloning approaches, in vitro biochemical techniques, next-generation sequencing workflows, and bioinformatic tools.

Czesak (Accepting new and continuing students) Laboratory research projects study the influence of microbiota presence or absence on locomotory and mating behaviors in a beetle species. Research is co-mentored by Dr. David Esteban.

Diaz (Accepting new and continuing students) My research focuses on the glues produced and placed in the webs of spiders. Specifically, my work looks at characterizing the material properties of moth-specialist species native to Japan. These organisms have a unique bioadhesive which has evolved to take advantage of the generally impenetrable scales of moths. By comparing the adhesive strength and spreading ability of glues we are able to draw conclusions on the evolution of this novel adhesive. This glue interacts with the topology of the scales to create dynamic and rapid spreading, with applications to man made synthetic adhesives.

Duncan (Continuing students only) Research will focus on the underlying mechanisms regulating steroid induced neuroprotection following TBI in an avian model. All research students will be required to undergo animal use training.

Esteban (Accepting new and continuing students) Laboratory and bioinformatics projects on the structure and function of the gut microbiome in a chronic disease, ME/CFS. Additional student projects on the effects of the gut microbiome on host behavior are available in collaboration with Dr. Czeask.

Gall (Continuing students only) There will be opportunities to work on a field-based project investigating the effect of anthropogenic disturbance on communication and anti-predator behavior in black-capped chickadees. Students with an interest in neuroscience, animal behavior, or sensory ecology may be particularly interested in this research project.

Hughey (Accepting new and continuing students) The overarching goal of research in my lab is to expand our understanding of the factors and processes that influence the formation of the microbiome of vertebrate animals. We investigate microbiome assembly as a basic process and are also interested in how this process can be perturbed by environmental challenges such as pathogens and stressful abiotic conditions. This work is highly integrative, drawing upon the fields of microbiology, molecular biology, community ecology, disease ecology, and bioinformatics.

Kennell (Accepting new and continuing students)  Research will focus on characterizing the role of a family of HAD-domain containing phosphatases in regulating Drosophila melanogaster development and metabolism.  Wet lab and computational projects are available depending on the student’s interests.  Projects related to studying yeasts used in beer fermentation may also be available.

Long (Accepting new and continuing students).  Experimental, biorobotic, and computational projects on the behavior, development, and evolution of animals. Also can take on COGS 399 students

Pater (Accepting new students) Research in my lab focuses on photosynthesis, including natural variations within species and stress responses. Current projects in my lab are investigating the ecophysiology of native and invasive woody vine species.

Pokrywka (Accepting new and continuing students). My research investigates factors involved in cell organization, using Drosophila oogenesis as a model system. Ongoing work is focused on the dynamics of microtubule organization, using fluorescent and confocal microscopy.

Ronsheim (Accepting new students) My research focuses on restoration ecology and management of invasive vines on the Ecological Preserve.

Straus (Accepting new students) Laboratory research projects include visualization of early phagocytosis and proteolysis by fluorescence and confocal microscopy, proteomics and bioinformatic analysis of proteolytic enzymes.  Literature based research project on “alternative” medications (up to 5 students).

Schwarz (On leave; not accepting students) Research will focus on cellular and genomic level impacts of environmental change in key species that serve as the foundation for marine ecosystems. Students may elect to focus on questions related to the underlying physiology and cell biology of coral symbiosis, reproductive biology of cnidarians, or physiological responses of diatoms to environmental change.

Touchon (Accepting new and continuing students) Research in my lab generally focuses on the development of amphibian eggs and larvae when under the threat of predators or pathogens. In 2020-2021 I will be consider students to conduct research 1) with my lab colony of tropical treefrogs and their tadpoles and 2) on the VFEP examining an aquatic pathogen that infects the eggs of wood frogs during the spring.

 Student Initiated Intensive Proposal

A group of students can propose an intensive or an individual student can propose to have a CEL (community engaged learning) opportunity count towards their BIOL major. Your proposal must be approved and adopted by a faculty sponsor. If this is something you are interested in, the form has space where you can briefly describe your proposal and include the names of all students in your group (if relevant) and a list of suggested faculty sponsors.