About BIOL 255 ZRA

Physiology at the organ, systems, and organismal levels. Capstone course to consolidate biological concepts. Pre/co-requisites: BCOR 101, BCOR 102, BCOR 103.


Prereqs: BCOR 101, 102 and 103; PHYS 012 recommended; Must register for a BIOL 255 lab; CDE and Post Bac Pre Med students only even after level restrictions removed; Degree students register for BIOL 255 A; Total combined enrollment = 72

Section Description

Course Objectives: -To examine the basic principles of how organisms work, focusing on evolutionary influences on physiological function, and how physiology constrains or facilitates adaptation to the environment -To develop the skills needed to interpret and critically evaluate papers from the 
primary scientific literature -To refine data analysis and scientific writing Learning Outcomes: Upon completion of this course, you should be able to: -understand basic physiological principles -apply physiological principles to interpret scientific data -conceptualize an holistic perspective on biology that integrates across multiple fields (i.e., biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology, genetics, evolutionary biology, and ecology) Prerequisites: BCOR 101,102, & 103 Textbook and Readings: -Biochemical Adaptation: Response to Environmental Challenges from Life’s Origins to the Anthropocene by Somero, Lockwood, and Tomanek, 2017. Sinauer Associates. -Note: The textbook is available at the UVM Bookstore. In addition, there is an electronic version of the textbook available for purchase or rent at Redshelf and VitalSource. -Handbook of Biological Statistics, 3rd Edition, by John H. McDonald, 2014. Sparky House Publishing. -Note: The statistics textbook is meant to serve as a guide for your statistical analyses that you conduct in Lab. The book will be available as a PDF on Blackboard. In addition, there is an .html version of the statistics textbook online at http://www.biostathandbook.com/. -Selected articles will be assigned from the scientific literature and will be available on Blackboard.

Section Expectation

Course Assignments, Expectations and Grading: Lectures meet twice per week online via Microsoft Teams. You should have received an invitation to join the lecture. Please let me know if you did not receive it. You are expected to attend lectures, complete readings before class, and to participate in class discussions. Assigned readings are meant to supplement the lectures. Lectures will be recorded and posted on Blackboard. Exams will consist of a series of short essay questions and will be posted on Blackboard. I write the exams fresh every year based on what we cover in lectures. Previous years’ exams are available on Blackboard, but BEWARE. Previous years’ exams are meant to give you an idea of the format of the exams, they are not representative of this year’s exam content. Use previous exams as practice, but do not use them as a substitute for studying the material. Do not expect to do well on exams if you do not attend lectures. Exams will consist of material covered in lectures, and you cannot simply ask Google for the answers. My exam questions can be tricky; they require you to think! Note that the Final Exam is not cumulative. Labs meet bi-weekly for three hours. Attendance is mandatory if you are physically well and did not register for the “At Home” option. Masks are required in lab. Maintain 6 feet of distance between yourself and others at all times. If you are not physically well, and show any signs of illness, PLEASE STAY HOME AND DO NOT ATTEND LAB. If you cannot make it to lab due to illness, you will be able to complete the work remotely. In-person labs will meet during weeks 2 - 9, and weeks 10 - 12 will be devoted to remote independent research, data analysis, and writing your final paper. The focus of the labs will be to discover and manipulate physiological responses to environmental stimuli. Thus, the lab exercises will give you experience with the scientific method and a chance to witness various physiological phenomena. You will be working with live organisms; therefore, be prepared to get good at troubleshooting your experiments because sometimes the organisms and experimental techniques do not behave as planned. If you registered for the “At Home” lab option, the material covered in each laboratory will be available on Blackboard. “At Home” students are still expected to submit lab reports and complete article quizzes on time, following the due dates listed below on the course schedule. Structure of the Laboratories: You will attend laboratory sections bi-weekly. This arrangement limits the number of students in the lab at any one time, in order to follow social distancing guidelines. You will be assigned to one of two tracks (Track #1 or Track #2) in your lab section. Please attend lab on the days designated for assigned track, as indicated on the laboratory schedule below. Lab sections will start with a short introduction by the instructor followed by your active experimentation. You are expected to be self-directed during lab. The instructors will not do the experiments for you, but rather offer help along the way. Therefore, you must read the lab materials before coming to the lab section. Lab exercises will be available on Blackboard. Lab Reports: You are responsible for writing 3 lab reports during the semester, one for each lab exercise. Lab reports should be short descriptions (no more than 2 single-spaced pages) of the experiments. You will be given more detailed instructions on lab reports in your laboratory sections. But, in general, lab reports should have the following: -Abstract (Summary) -Materials and Methods -Results, including figures, tables and relevant statistics -Discussion -Conclusion -Bibliography (if you cited any previously published work in your Discussion). Beware of false lab reports and plagiarism (i.e. copying or paraphrasing the work of others or from online sources). These are serious academic offenses and may result in an “F” in the course. Assigned Scientific Articles and Quizzes: On the weeks that your track does not attend lab, you will read an assigned article from the primary scientific literature and complete a quiz on this reading on Blackboard. Quizzes will be posted at the beginning of the week, and will be available until they are due at the end of the week. The quizzes will consist of a question or two based on the reading. Quizzes count toward your course grade. The assigned articles are listed below and will be available as PDFs on Blackboard: Lockwood, B. L. and Somero, G. N. (2012). Functional determinants of temperature adaptation in enzymes of cold- versus warm-adapted mussels (Genus Mytilus). Mol. Biol. Evol. 29, 3061–3070. Grady, J. M., Maitner, B. S., Winter, A. S., Kaschner, K., Tittensor, D. P., Record, S., Smith, F. A., Wilson, A. M., Dell, A. I., Zarnetske, P. L., et al. (2019). Metabolic asymmetry and the global diversity of marine predators. Science 363, eaat4220. Koehn, R. K. and Hilbish, T. J. (1987). The Adaptive Importance of Genetic Variation. Am. Sci. 75, 134–141. Hill, V. M., O’Connor, R. M., Sissoko, G. B., Irobunda, I. S., Leong, S., Canman, J. C., Stavropoulos, N. and Shirasu-Hiza, M. (2018). A bidirectional relationship between sleep and oxidative stress in Drosophila. PLoS Biol. 16, e2005206. Independent Projects and Final Paper: You will conduct an independent research project in which you will analyze a publicly available dataset and write the results up as a formal scientific paper. This is a chance for you to take what you learn in lecture and lab and use it to pursue your own research interests. You will choose one of three datasets, which will be available on Blackboard, for your independent project. You will receive more details about the following datasets later on in the semester: -COVID-19 (worldwide data on the pandemic, including demographics, by country) -Thermal Tolerance of Globally Distributed Animal Species -Microbes, Genomes, and Thermal Performance Independent Project Final Paper: Final papers should include the following: -Abstract (Summary) -Introduction -Materials and Methods (i.e., where the dataset came from and what statistical procedures you used to analyze it) -Results, including figures, tables and relevant statistics -Discussion -Conclusion -Bibliography Beware of plagiarism (i.e. copying or paraphrasing the work of others or from online sources). These are serious academic offenses and may result in an “F” in the course.


Grades: Two Midterm Exams [30%] Three Lab Reports [30%] Four Scientific Article Quizzes [10%] Final Project Paper [15%] Final Exam [15%]

Course Dates



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