An examination of how life evolved and how organisms interact to shape the natural world. Why did the dinosaurs disappear? What mechanisms can produce the chameleon's camouflage or the giraffe's long neck? Why do ecosystems contain a wide diversity of species when competition between them should eliminate all but a few? How will life on earth change with increasing human domination of the planet? These and other questions related to the origin and future of life, conflict and cooperation between species, and dynamics of entire ecosystems will be explored. This course is required for EEB majors and fulfills a requirement for medical school.
Life on Earth: Mechanisms of Change in Nature
Professor/InstructorJonathan M. Levine, Sarah D. Kocher
Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Biology
Important concepts and elements of molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics, and cell biology, are examined in an experimental context. This course fulfills the requirement for students majoring in the biological sciences and satisfies the biology requirement for entrance into medical school. Two 90-minute lectures, one three-hour laboratory.
Disease Ecology, Economics, and Policy
Professor/InstructorC. Jessica E. Metcalf
The dynamics of the emergence and spread of disease arise from a complex interplay among disease ecology, economics, and human behavior. Lectures will provide an introduction to complementarities between economic and epidemiological approaches to understanding the emergence, spread, and control of infectious diseases. The course will cover topics such as drug-resistance in bacterial and parasitic infections, individual incentives to vaccinate, the role of information in the transmission of infectious diseases, and the evolution of social norms in healthcare practices. One three-hour lecture, one preceptorial.
Professor/InstructorDavid S. Wilcove
Students will use ecological principles and policy analysis to examine conflicts between human activities such as farming, forestry, and infrastructure development, and the conservation of species and ecosystem services. Two lectures, one preceptorial.
All life on Earth has evolved and continues to evolve. This course will explore evolution at both the molecular and organismal level. We will examine the features that are universal to all life and that document its descent from a common ancestor that lived over 3 billion years ago. Topics include the origin of life, the evidence for natural selection, methods for reconstructing evolutionary history using DNA, population genetics, genome evolution, speciation, extinction, and human origins. This course will provide you with the basic tools to understand how evolution works and can produce the incredible diversity of life on our planet.
Professor/InstructorJames L. Gould
An examination of the mechanisms and evolution of the behavior of humans and other animals. Topics include the sensory worlds of animals, the nature of instinct, neural mechanisms of perception, comparative studies of communication, learning, cognition, mate choice, and social behavior, and the biology of human development and language acquisition. Two 90-minute lectures, one preceptorial.
The study of how animals function with emphasis on the integration of physiological processes at the cellular, organ, and whole organism levels in ecological and evolutionary contexts. Comparisons among species and higher taxa are used to illustrate general physiological principles and their evolutionary correlates. Three lectures, one three-hour laboratory. Prerequisite: 210 or 211.
Human adaptation focuses on human anatomy and behavior from an evolutionary perspective. Lectures and weekly laboratory sessions focus on the evolution of the human brain, dentition, and skeleton to provide students with a practical understanding of the anatomy and function of the human body and its evolution, as well as some of its biological limitations. No science background required. Two 90-minute lectures, one three-hour laboratory.
Ecology: Species Interactions, Biodiversity and Society
Professor/InstructorRobert Mitchell Pringle
How do wild organisms interact with each other, their physical environments, and human societies? Lectures will examine a series of fundamental topics in ecology -- herbivory, predation, competition, mutualism, species invasions, biogeographic patterns, extinction, climate change, and conservation, among others--through the lens of case studies drawn from all over the world. Readings will provide background information necessary to contextualize these case studies and clarify the linkages between them. Precepts and fieldwork will explore the process of translating observations and data into an understanding of how the natural world works.
Professor/InstructorSimon Asher Levin
Current and classical theoretical issues in ecology and evolutionary biology. Emphasis will be on theories and concepts and on mathematical approaches. Topics will include population and community ecology, epidemiology and evolutionary theory. Two lectures, one preceptorial/computer laboratory. Prerequisite: one year of calculus.
Mathematical Modeling in Biology and Medicine
Professor/InstructorCorina E. Tarnita
How can mathematical modeling help to illuminate biological processes? This course examines major topics in biology through the lens of mathematics, focusing on the role of models in scientific discovery. Students will learn how to build and analyze models using a variety of mathematical tools. Particular emphasis will be placed on evolutionary game theory. Specific topics will include: the evolution of cooperation and of social behavior from bacteria to humans; the evolution of multicellularity; the somatic evolution of cancer; virus dynamics (within host and within populations); and multispecies interactions and the evolution of mutualisms.
Immune Systems: From Molecules to Populations
Professor/InstructorAndrea Linn Graham
Why is there immunological polymorphism in animal populations? Why do immune systems work as they do? This course examines the theories of host-parasite coevolution, including optimal host resource allocation to immune defense in light of parasite counter-strategies, and assesses the empirical evidence by which these theories are tested. Students look at the evolutionary ecology of mechanisms used by immune systems to recognize and kill parasites, finding similarities across animal taxa. Finally, students will map immune mechanisms onto host phylogenies to understand the order in which different mechanisms arose over evolutionary time.
Ecology and Epidemiology of Parasites and Infectious Diseases
Professor/InstructorAndy P. Dobson
An introduction to the biology of viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, worms, arthropods, and plants that are parasitic upon other animal and plant species. The major emphasis will be on the parasites of animals and plants, with further study of the epidemiology of infectious diseases in human populations. Studies of AIDS, anthrax, and worms, and their role in human history, will be complemented by ecological and evolutionary studies of mistletoe, measles, myxomatosis, and communities of parasitic helminths. Limited to students in the Tropical Ecology Program in Panama.
Pre-Columbian Peoples of Tropical America and Their Environments
An intensive course on the pre-European history of Amerind cultures and their environments in the New World tropics. Topics include the people of tropical America; development of hunting/gathering and agricultural economies; neotropical climate and vegetation history; and the art, symbolism, and social organization of native Americans. Daily lectures, field trips, and laboratory experiences and incorporates methods and problems in field archaeology, paleoethnobotany and paleoecology, and archaeozoology. Limited to students in the Tropical Ecology Program in Panama. This course does not count as an EEB departmental. Prerequisite: EEB 321.
The Diversity of Brains
A survey of the unique behaviors of different animal species and how they are mediated by specialized brain circuits. Topics include, for example, monogamy in voles, face recognition in primates, sex- and role-change in fish, and predation by bats. The role of evolutionary and developmental constraints on neural circuit construction will be a key underlying theme. Prerequisites: 258 or 259. One three-hour seminar.
This intensive field course, at various sites in Panama, examines the origins, maintenance, and major interactions among elements of the tropical-terrestrial biota. Study topics include identification of common orders and families of neotropical organisms; tropical climate and hydrology; biotic interactions; and contemporary and historical factors in shaping tropical landscapes, with emphasis on the Isthmian Landbridge and subsequent floral and faunal interactions. Two hours of lecture/discussion, six hours of laboratory, and two hours of data analysis daily. Limited to students in the Tropical Ecology Program in Panama. Prerequisite: 321.
Biology of Coral Reefs
This intensive field course provides an in-depth introduction to the biology of tropical coral reefs, with an emphasis on reef fish ecology and behavior. Students learn to identify fishes, corals, and invertebrates, and learn a variety of field methods including underwater censusing, mapping, videotaping, and the recording of inter-individual interactions. Two hours of lecture/discussion, six hours of laboratory, and two hours of data analysis daily. Snorkeling in open ocean and walking in wild terrain is common. Limited to students in the Tropical Ecology Program in Panama. Prerequisite: 321.
Vertebrate Tropical Ecology
This intensive field course addresses the life-history characteristics of tropical vertebrates and the physiological traits that underlie them. Students will learn how tropical life histories differ from those in the temperate zone and will use eco-physiological techniques while conducting experiments and observations at a Smithsonian Institute field station. Two hours of lecture/discussion, six hours of laboratory, and two hours of data analysis daily. Limited to students in the Tropical Ecology Program in Panama. Prerequisite: 321.
Epidemiology: Unpacking Health with Classic Tools, Ecology and Evolution
Professor/InstructorC. Jessica E. Metcalf
Focuses on the distribution and determinants of disease. Diverse methodological approaches for measuring health status, disease occurrence, and the association between risk factors and health outcomes will be presented via classic and contemporary studies of chronic and infectious illness and disease outbreaks. Emphasis on: causal inference, study design and sampling, bias and confounding, the generalizability of research, health policy and research ethics. Prerequisite: an approved basic statistics course. Two 90-minute lectures, one preceptorial.
Natural History of Mammals
Students examine how mammals interact with diverse and potentially conflicting features of their environment in order to understand the concepts, methods, and material of comparative natural history. Perspectives include morphology, identification, evolution, ecology, behavior, habitat, and conservation. Original observations and experiments culminate in class, group, and individual research projects. This intensive field course entails two hours of lecture/discussion, six hours of laboratory, and two hours of data analysis daily. Limited to students in the Tropical Ecology Program in Kenya. Prerequisite: 211 and 321.
The bioinspired design course offers interdisciplinary, advanced design and critical thinking experience. Students will work in teams to integrate biological knowledge into the engineering design process. The course uses case studies to show how biological solutions can be transferred into engineering design. The case studies will include themes such as locomotion, materials, and sensing. By the end of the course, students will be able to use analogical design concepts to engineer a prototype based on biological function.
Ecosystems, Climate Change and Global Food
Professor/InstructorLars O. Hedin
An introduction to the concepts, approaches, and methods for studying complex ecological systems, from local to global scales. Students will examine nutrient cycling, energy flow, and evolutionary processes, with emphasis on experimental approaches and comparisons between terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems. Particular attention will be on effects of human activities, including climate change, biodiversity loss, eutrophication, and acid rain. Prerequisites: 210 or 211 or equivalent; CHM 301 or equivalent. Two 90-minute classes.
Ecosystems, Climate Change and Global Food
Professor/InstructorLars O. Hedin
An introduction to the concepts, approaches, and methods for studying complex ecological systems, from local to global scales. Students will examine nutrient cycling, energy flow, and evolutionary processes, with emphasis on experimental approaches and comparisons between terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems. Particular attention will be on effects of human activities, including climate change, biodiversity loss, eutrophication, and acid rain. Prerequisites: 210 or 211 or equivalent; CHM 301 or equivalent. Two 90-minute classes, one three-hour laboratory.
The study of microbial biogeochemistry and microbial ecology. Beginning with the physical/chemical characteristics and constraints of microbial metabolism, we will investigate the role of bacteria in elemental cycles, in soil, sediment, and marine and freshwater communities, in bioremediation and chemical transformations. Prerequisites: One 300-level course in chemistry or biology, or instructor's permission. Two 90-minute classes, this course is normally offered in the Spring.
Fundamental Concepts in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior I
Advanced discussions of ecology, evolution, and behavior focus on 50 fundamental papers. Ecological topics include dynamics and structure of populations, communities, ecosystems, and conservation biology. Behavioral topics include instinct and learning, social behavior, physiological ecology, and the evolution of behavior. Evolutionary topics include speciation, evolutionary and quantitative genetics, molecular evolution, evolutionary stable strategies, and evolution of development. (These are core courses)