Biology

Biological Oceanography -Food web dynamics in the marine world  –  Janice Pappas
The oceans are vast, majestic bodies of water that harbor a myriad of life forms. The Antarctic, Arctic, Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans cover 70% of the Earth’s surface and have 80 to 99% of all life on Earth. Only 5% of our oceans have been explored, so the majority of oceanic life has yet to be discovered. Organisms of all sizes are found throughout the oceans. We will look at examples from diatoms to viper fish to vampire squid to whales. We will examine particular kinds of organisms such as keystone species, bioluminescent animals, and organisms that are able to live in extreme environments. We will explore marine food webs as a way to understand interdependence among the oceans’ organisms. How do environmental conditions influence what happens to the organisms in the oceans? If an animal goes extinct, what will happen to other organisms in a marine food web? These are just a couple of the many questions that we might address. Our adventure will begin with a general overview of the physical, chemical and geological aspects of the oceans and sails on to details on the oceans’ biological inhabitants. We will navigate our way to understanding organism interactions through marine food webs. We will dock at an overall assessment of the oceans-where we have come from and where we are going at present. Students will conduct collaborative research and use software to create marine food webs. Results will be used to produce scientific posters and presentations for a student symposium. Exercises will include microscopy, the game of krill, and learning how to read and evaluate scientific papers. Time permitting, we will visit the University of Michigan Natural History Museum and the Marine Hydrodynamics Laboratory. Prerequisites: having had a science course is helpful, but not necessary. Just bring your interest in learning about our oceans.

Brain and Behavior  –  Jen Cummings
Ever wonder how that gelatinous blob in your head controls everything you do and think? What exactly are neurons? How do they talk to each other? And to the rest of your body? Have you ever wondered about things like: how does stress affect your body? Is exercise really that good for your brain? What happens if you miss a few nights of sleep? It makes sense that your brain affects your experiences- but can experiences actually change your brain?? We will answer these questions (and more!) in Brain and Behavior, as we explore the amazing field of behavioral neuroscience. We will begin with a section on the basic functionality of the brain and nervous system, and then will go on to investigate how the system can be affected by things like stress, learning & memory, hormones, and neuropsychiatric disorders. We will leave some time for a session on student-selected topics in behavioral neuroscience, so if there’s something else you’ve been pondering with respect to the brain, don’t worry! We’ve got you covered.

Dissecting Life: Human Anatomy and Physiology  –  Glenn Fox
Dissecting Life will lead students through the complexities and wonder of the human body. Lecture sessions will cover human anatomy and physiology in detail. Students will gain an understanding of biology, biochemistry, histology, and use these as a foundation to study human form and function. Laboratory sessions will consist of first-hand dissections of a variety of exemplar organisms: lamprey, sharks, cats, etc. Students may also tour the University of Michigan Medical School’s Plastination and Gross Anatomy Laboratories where they may observe human dissections.

Explorations of a Field Biologist  –  Sheila Schueller
There are so many different kinds of living organisms in this world, and every organism interacts with its physical environment and with other organisms. Understanding this mass of interactions and how humans are affecting them is a mind-boggling endeavor! We cannot do this unless we at times set aside our computers and beakers, and instead, get out of the lab and classroom and into the field, which is what we will do in THIS course.  Through our explorations of grasslands, forests, and wetlands of southeastern Michigan, you will learn many natural history facts (from identifying a turkey vulture to learning how mushrooms relate to tree health). You will also practice all the steps of doing science in the field, including making careful observations, testing a hypothesis, sampling and measuring, and analyzing and presenting results. We will address question such as: How do field mice decide where to eat? Are aquatic insects affected by water chemistry? Does flower shape matter to bees? How do lakes turn into forests? Learning how to observe nature with patience and an inquisitive mind, and then testing your ideas about what you observe will allow you, long after this class, to discover many more things about nature, even your own back yard. Most days will be all-day field trips, including hands-on experience in restoration ecology. Towards the end of the course you will design, carry out, and present your own research project.

Human Identification: Forensic Anthropology Methods  –  Maire Malone
Forensic anthropology methods are used to aid in human identification with skeletal remains. Applications of forensic anthropology lie in the criminal justice system and mass disaster response. In this course, we will address questions such as: What are important differences between male and female skeletons? Utilizing skeletal remains, how would you tell the difference between a 20-year old and an 80-year old? How do you distinguish between blunt force and sharp force trauma on the skull? In this hands-on, laboratory-based course, you will be become familiar with human osteology (the study of bones] and bone biology. Through our exploration of forensic and biological anthropology methods, you will learn how to develop a biological profile [estimates of age at death, sex, ancestry and stature], assess manner of death, estimate postmortem interval, investigate skeletal trauma and pathology, and provide evidence for a positive identification from skeletal remains. Additionally, we will explore various forensic recovery techniques as they apply to an outdoor complex, including various mapping techniques. Towards the end of the course, you will work in small groups in a mock recovery of human remains and analyze the case utilizing the forensic anthropological methods learned throughout the course.

Mathematical Modeling in Biology  –  Trachette Jackson and Patrick Nelson
Mathematical biology is a relatively new area of applied mathematics and is growing with phenomenal speed. For the mathematician, biology opens up new and exciting areas of study, while for the biologist, mathematical modeling offers another powerful research tool commensurate with a new instrumental laboratory technique. Mathematical biologists typically investigate problems in diverse and exciting areas such as the topology of DNA, cell physiology, the study of infectious diseases, population ecology, neuroscience, tumor growth and treatment strategies, and organ development and embryology. This course will be a venture into the field of mathematical modeling in the biomedical sciences. Interactive lectures, group projects, computer demonstrations, and laboratory visits will help introduce some of the fundamentals of mathematical modeling and its usefulness in biology, physiology and medicine. For example, the cell division cycle is a sequence of regulated events which describes the passage of a single cell from birth to division. There is an elaborate cascade of molecular interactions that function as the mitotic clock and ensures that the sequential changes that take place in a dividing cell take place on schedule. What happens when the mitotic clock speeds up or simply stops ticking? These kinds of malfunctions can lead to cancer and mathematical modeling can help predict under what conditions a small population of cells with a compromised mitotic clock can result in a fully developed tumor. This course will study many interesting problems in cell biology, physiology, and immunology.