Bard College Catalogue 2012-13
Michael Tibbetts (director), John B. Ferguson, Philip Johns, Brooke Jude, Felicia Keesing, Bruce Robertson, William T. Maple
In order to meet the needs and interests of students within this diverse field, the biology curriculum at Bard is designed to be flexible. Students are encouraged to consult with their advisers to design a personal curriculum that covers requirements for advanced study and satisfies varied interests (biochemical, molecular, ecological) and approaches (laboratory-based, field-based, computational). Students are also encouraged to explore, in depth, another scientific discipline. Gaining additional expertise in chemistry, physics, mathematics, or computer science is essential to the interdisciplinary nature of modern biological research. Bard’s laboratory facilities, field station, and relationship with The Rockefeller University allow students to undertake sophisticated Senior Projects in a wide variety of areas. Funds for summer research are available on a competitive basis.
In addition to the collegewide distribution and First-Year Seminar requirements, biology majors must complete a Senior Project of original scientific research; two semesters of 100-level courses (from among Biology 141, 142, 146, 151, and 152); Biology 144, Biostatistics; Biology 201, Eukaryotic Genetics, or Biology 202, Ecology and Evolution; Chemistry 141-142, Basic Principles of Chemistry; and a minimum of three additional elective courses in biology, two of which must be laboratory courses.
Recent Senior Projects in Biology
- “Inhibiting the glutamate receptor AMPA during hair-cell development in Danio rerio”
- “Learning precise timing in neural networks by stochastic perturbation of conductances”
- “Reconstructing the paleoenvironment of the Bonneville Lake cycle in the Bonneville Basin, Utah, ~35,000–11,000 years ago”
- “The presence of relapsing fever group Borrelia in Dutchess County, New York”
FacilitiesIn addition to the laboratories and “smart” classrooms in The Gabrielle H. Reem and Herbert J. Kayden Center for Science and Computation, biology equipment includes DNA and protein electrophoresis instruments, a digital gel imaging system, an array of standard PCR machines, a Real-Time PCR machine, two fluorescence microscopes, and a wide array of ecology field equipment. Biology students may also use the facilities of the Bard College Field Station, which is located on the Hudson River and affords access to freshwater tidal marshes, swamps, and shallows; perennial and intermittent streams; and young and old deciduous and coniferous forests, among other habitats. It also houses a library, herbarium, and laboratories.
CoursesElective courses in biology cover a variety of topics, including ecology, human physiology, botany, microbiology, cell biology, aquatic ecology, and cancer biology, among others. Upper College courses emphasize exposure to experimental techniques, examination of the primary literature, and written and oral presentation of scientific material.
Introductory Biology: Multicellular Life
This course begins with an introduction to ecology, from global processes to local populations in the vicinity of campus. Students then examine the diversity and phylogeny of life, emphasizing major evolutionary transitions and changes in body plans, as well as the interplay between population genetics and the expression of traits. Laboratory work follows up on topics discussed in class. Prerequisite: eligibility for Q courses.
Intended for students who are interested in pursuing biology as a major but who feel their high school experience did not adequately prepare them. The course is composed of two parallel strands. The first strand consists of laboratory experiences that expose students to a variety of ways that modern biologists ask questions. The lecture strand consists of readings and discussions from John Moore’s classic text, Science as a Way of Knowing.
Biology of Infectious Disease
While morbidity and mortality due to infectious disease declined steadily during the 20th century in developed nations, they remain high in poorer nations. Students examine the reasons for this disparity as they study agents of bacterial, viral, protozoan, and metazoan disease. Diseases covered include anthrax, typhoid fever, cholera, botulism, tetanus, bubonic plague, Lyme disease, leprosy, tuberculosis, influenza, smallpox, rabies, yellow fever, polio, AIDS, malaria, and schistosomiasis. Prerequisites: high school biology and chemistry; Biology 141 or the equivalent is recommended.
Biology of Noninfectious Disease
Conditions studied include inherited diseases such as sickle-cell anemia and cystic fibrosis; endocrine disorders; therapeutic drug addiction and toxicities; allergies; and neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s; among others. Laboratory work introduces students to human physiology as it relates to disease. Prerequisites: high school biology and chemistry; Biology 141 and 142 are strongly recommended.
Sex and Gender
Why are there two sexes? Why do women get depressed more often than men but commit suicide less often? Why are women, on average, shorter than men? Students in this course, which is intended for nonscientists, examine the biological bases of sex and gender. They consider hypotheses that attempt to explain differences in behavior between males and females; the genetic and hormonal determinants of sex and gender; and the arguments for how and why sex evolved in the first place.
A look at how populations of plants, animals, and fungi function and interact with nearby natural areas, human environments, attempts at controlling natural populations, and the introduction of exotic species. In the lab, students study a seminatural local habitat, measure biodiversity, and make recommendations for ways to manage the habitat to better support local populations and meet diverse human needs.
Introduction to Insects
In this course, students use insects and other arthropods to explore biological topics such as how bugs are put together, how they reproduce and grow, and how they interact with their environment to find food, catch prey, avoid predators, and compete for mates. Also discussed is how the study of insects contributes to our understanding of genetics, evolution, and disease. Prerequisites: eligibility for Q courses; high school biology and chemistry.
Field Study in Natural History
Designed to acquaint the interested nonscience student with the plants and animals that make the Bard campus their home, including trees and shrubs in their winter condition and wildflowers in the spring. Animal tracks and bird migrations also are objects of study. Although the course includes some lab work on preserved specimens, especially during severe weather, most class meetings are field trips. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.
Beginning with the evolution and complexity of life, including prokaryotes and viruses, the course examines the commonality of life at both the biochemical and cellular levels. One primary focus is energy transfer in living systems (fermentation, respiration, and photosynthesis), followed by attention to information transfer (genetics, nucleic acid replication, transcription, and translation). The course ends with discussions of more complex topics (genetic engineering, human genetics, and immunology). Prerequisites: eligibility for Q courses; high school biology and chemistry.
An introduction to organismal biology and ecology, primarily for those who intend to continue in biology; also open to interested students not majoring in science. Topics include population genetics, evolution, vertebrate embryology and anatomy, and animal phylogeny, taxonomy, and ecology. Biology 142 may be taken before Biology 141, if necessary. Students majoring in biology are strongly encouraged to enroll concurrently in Chemistry 142. Prerequisite: eligibility for Q courses.
This course provides a general idea of the statistical methods commonly used in biology, the methods appropriate for various types of data, and an in-depth examination of how the methods work. Topics covered include elementary probability and statistics, hypothesis testing, characteristics of frequency distributions, regression analysis, and some multivariate-based methods. Prerequisite: eligibility for Q courses.
Earth and Life through Time
Students examine physical processes operating on the Earth as well as ways the planet has changed since its formation. This includes longer time-scale processes like climate change and glaciation and the impacts of hazards such as volcanoes, earthquakes, and meteorites. Labs involve field trips to local sites of geologic interest. Prerequisite: eligibility for Q courses.
cross-listed: eus, gis
This course investigates ways in which fundamental principles of ecology, evolution, and genetics can be applied to conserving biodiversity. Issues covered include global patterns of biodiversity, with a focus on current threats and the consequences of species extinctions; the importance of maintaining genetic diversity; and population dynamics. Labs provide opportunities to use tools and research approaches employed by ecologists, evolutionary biologists, and systematists to solve practical problems in conservation biology.
Symbiosis: From Cells to Communities
Symbiosis describes a close physical association between two different species, often benefiting one or both members of the relationship. Students explore topics in introductory biology, focusing on how different types of symbiotic relationships—parasitism, mutualism, and commensalism—have factored in the evolution, ecology, and biodiversity of life on earth. The class studies symbiotic relationships at several different scales of biological organization: cells, individuals, populations, and ecological communities. This course is intended for students with a strong high school biology background.
From Genes to Traits
An introduction to the relationships between genetics, environment, and biochemistry. The laboratory portion of this course acquaints students with some of the methodologies and instrumentation found in a modern biology lab. Prerequisites: eligibility for Q courses; high school biology and chemistry.
In addition to studying characteristics of the major groups of organisms on Earth, students investigate the evolutionary causes and ecological consequences of diversity. They examine patterns of biodiversity through time and develop an understanding of how the present loss of biodiversity compares in magnitude and rate to previous periods of extinction. Finally, students evaluate methods for preserving biodiversity based on principles of conservation biology. Prerequisites: eligibility for Q courses; high school biology.
Global Change Biology
This course investigates global environmental change from a biological and ecological perspective. Topics include dynamics of the carbon and nitrogen cycles, land use change and urbanization, ocean acidification and eutrophication, biodiversity, and global climate change. Lab activities focus on local environments as case studies of global ecological change and include site visits, field studies, data analysis, and modeling exercises.
The course takes a modern approach to the study of genetics in which classical ideas about genotype, phenotype, and inheritance are integrated into the modern molecular and genomic understanding of the processes involved in the generation of diversity. The laboratory consists of a semester-long project involving the genetic manipulation of a model organism’s genome to address one or more topics in the course. Prerequisite: one year of college biology.
Ecology and Evolution
In addition to studying foundational ideas in both ecology and evolution, the class explores how genetic variation among individual organisms can influence ecological interactions and how these interactions can influence fitness. Students use model building to inform a mechanistic understanding of processes. Prerequisite: successful completion of Biology 201.
Introduction to Human Physiology
This course focuses on the relationship between the physical and chemical functions of various organs and organ systems and overall homeostasis, with an emphasis on human physiology. Systems examined include the central and peripheral nervous systems, muscle, heart and blood vessels, blood, lungs, kidneys, digestive system, endocrine glands, and reproductive systems. Laboratory work provides practical experience in relevant topics of human physiology. Prerequisites: Biology 141 and 142 and Chemistry 141-142; Chemistry 201-202 is recommended concurrently.
This course consists of lectures, labs, and frequent field trips. The first part surveys the plant kingdom and focuses on anatomy, histology, and physiology, with an emphasis on form, function, and adaptation. The last third of the semester covers local flora, taxonomy, and plant ecology. Prerequisites: Biology 141 and 142 and Chemistry 141-142, or permission of the instructor.
Visiting Speakers Seminar
This one-credit course provides students with broad exposure to biology through visiting speakers. Students hear about the wide-ranging research interests of invited biologists and have opportunities to interact informally with them. The course is graded pass/fail. Recommended for sophomore and junior biology majors.
Biology of the Hudson River
Topics covered include the origin and morphology of the river channel; origins and fates of water, nutrients, and sediments in the estuary; characteristics of biological populations and the food web; major human impacts on the ecosystem; and comparisons with other aquatic ecosystems. Prerequisite: college-level biology or permission of the instructor.
An introduction to general biochemistry, including protein structure, enzyme mechanisms and kinetics, coenzymes, thermodynamics, central metabolic pathways, biological membranes, DNA structure and replication, and ribosomal translation. Emphasis is placed on integrating knowledge of fundamental organic chemistry into a biological context. Laboratory work provides practical experience in the topics covered. Prerequisites: Biology 141 and Chemistry 201-202.
Through close reading of primary and secondary literatures, students examine the molecular and biochemical mechanisms that control the dynamic cellular processes involving DNA and RNA. Of particular consideration are the regulatory mechanisms controlling such processes as DNA replication, transcription, translation, and genome structure. The laboratory consists of a semester-long project in which a cellular or developmental process is probed at the molecular level. Prerequisites: Biology 201 and 202 and Chemistry 201-202.
The first portion of the course deals with prokaryotic cell biology and growth; the second with plant viruses, viroids, bacteriophages, animal viruses, and prions; and the third with the diversity of the prokaryotes, from archaea through both pathogenic and nonpathogenic bacteria. Laboratory work provides practical experience in dealing with prokaryotes and bacteriophages. Prerequisites: Biology 141 and 142 and Chemistry 141-142; Chemistry 201-202 is recommended.
This course examines the molecular and biochemical mechanisms involved in processes relating to eukaryotic cellular organization, communication, movement, reproduction, and death. These topics are considered through close reading of the primary and secondary literature. The laboratory consists of a semester-long project. Prerequisites: Biology 201 and 202 and Chemistry 201-202.
This course surveys the natural history, evolution, and ecology of the vertebrates native to the Hudson Valley region. Lab sessions are used for identification, taxonomy, and study techniques, with as much work as possible done in the field. Prerequisites: Biology 141 and 142, Upper College status, and permission of the instructor; Biology 305 is recommended.
This course takes a comparative approach to studying zoology, with a special focus on marine and aquatic invertebrates native to the Hudson Valley. Students learn how to use phylogenetic tools to study ecology, evolution, comparative morphology, biogeography, and speciation of different invertebrate groups. Laboratories include comparative anatomy of different invertebrate phyla, DNA extraction and sequencing, and working with phylogenetic analysis software. Prerequisites: Biology 201 and 202, or permission of the instructor.
Prokaryotic and Viral Genetics
This course considers biological inheritance in prokaryotes (bacteria) and their viruses (bacteriophages). Topics include mutagenesis and repair, plasmids, conjugation, transformation, intemperate and temperate phages, transduction, transposition and nonhomologous recombination, homologous recombination, and the regulation of gene expression. Offered every other spring. Prerequisites: Biology 201, Biology 303, and Chemistry 201-202.
Birds, one of the most diverse taxa of vertebrates, live on every continent, including Antarctica, and in nearly every environment, including aquatic and marine. They have enormous biological and behavioral complexity. The Hudson Valley is a major flyway for migratory birds. This course explores the birds of the region; it meets weekly for an extended laboratory period, but has no formal lecture time. Intended for biology majors who have had Biology 201 or 202, but is open to other students with the approval of the instructor.
An examination of animal behavior from a biological and evolutionary point of view. The class explores the causes and consequences of behaviors such as foraging and predation, migration, antipredator behavior, mating behavior, cooperation, and altruism. Students design and carry out their own research over the course of the semester. Prerequisites: Biology 201 and 202; Biology 144 and 315 are useful but not required.
This course examines the various forces of evolution, using population and quantitative genetics to address fundamental questions in biology. Patterns of evolution within and among populations, across species, and through time are explored. The class also looks at what evolution can reveal about other disciplines, such as medicine, and how modern genomic and bioinformatic techniques rely on evolutionary principles.
Tropical ecosystems are among the most biodiverse, most threatened, and least studied in the world. This course examines both practical and theoretical aspects that are unique to tropical ecosystems, including the role of geology, biogeochemical cycling, evolutionary processes, and species interactions. Students design, conduct, and present a field research project, to be conducted at La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica over spring break. Prerequisites: Moderation, Biology 202, and permission of the instructor.
Epidemiology: A Human Rights Perspective
Biology 337 / Human Rights 337
cross-listed: gis, gss
Epidemiologists study how diseases spread through populations. They track down the sources of outbreaks, explore trends, and try to understand the social forces that influence sexual behavior, weight gain, and other complex human phenomena. Epidemiology can also serve as a powerful forensic tool in the hands of human rights activists. Students learn how studies are designed and carried out; generate hypotheses about the underlying causes of diseases; and discover how the presentation of data and the design of studies can affect man’s understanding of the human condition.
This seminar reviews recent genetic literature as it applies to behavioral traits, emphasizing the use of genomic technology. Topics include: classic studies of behavioral genetics; gene-environment interactions; behavioral development; genetic architecture and behavior; the genetics of social behaviors including aggression, cooperation, and sexual behaviors; and genetic influences on communication and language. Students analyze genomic data sets to better understand the pertinent literature. This research seminar is intended for upper-level biology majors. Prerequisites: a 200-level genetics course or permission of the instructor.
Basic concepts are taught from a historical perspective, with special attention paid to current unanswered questions in the field and their implications. The course also looks at uses of immunology concepts from perspectives other than medical and basic research applications. Appropriate for students who have a biology background and want to gain a basic understanding of the field and its applications.
Cholera: Pandemics, Pathology, and Molecular Mechanisms
The microbe Vibrio cholerae and the disease it causes, including seven worldwide pandemics, is studied in this upper-level seminar. The course examines the historical significance of cholera, the environmental and socioeconomic factors that influence outbreaks, and the complex molecular genetics that allow this microbe to be so effectively pathogenic. Prerequisites: Biology 201 and Chemistry 201-202; Biology 302 and 303 are helpful but not essential.
Diabetes mellitus is responsible for a large fraction of the morbidity and mortality of developed nations. This seminar examines the development of scientific understanding of diabetes. Readings range from works by Aretaeus the Cappadocian (200 c.e.) to papers describing the latest advances in the field. Prerequisites: extensive course work in molecular, cellular, and organismal biology; senior status; permission of the instructor.
Biology of Microbiomes
This seminar explores the rapidly expanding literature on “microbiomes,” the microbiological communities that live on, in, and around other organisms. Students discuss how technology has changed man’s ability to characterize these communities and how variation in the composition of the microbiome can affect an organism. Using examples from humans as well as many other species, the seminar focuses on how microbiomes affect organismal health and ecological interactions.
Advanced Seminar in Animal Behavior
An examination of the biology of animal behavior. Although the class looks at some proximate mechanisms to behavior, the main focus is the genetic and evolutionary causes and consequences of animal behavior. Prerequisites: Biology 201 and 202; Biology 144 is recommended.
Cancer is a genetic disease that cannot be inherited; a disease in which one’s own cells disrupt normal physiological functions; a disease for which some therapies result in the loss of the body’s ability to fight disease. This advanced course looks at the complex reasons for these paradoxes by examining a particular cancer from several perspectives: epidemiological, physiological, genetic, molecular, and cellular. Prerequisites: Moderation in biology and permission of the instructor.
Ecosystems Ecology / Biogeochemistry
As our planet is basically a closed system, cycles of certain elements dictate life-determining processes. The nitrogen, phosphorus, and carbon cycles are of particular interest in understanding patterns of life on earth. Geological, biological, and chemical processes play key roles in mediating the availability of these nutrients. The course examines how interactions between biological processes and geological processes influence nutrient availability and long-term climate, and how human activities affect these cycles. Prerequisites: Chemistry 142 and two biology courses, one at the 200 level.
Multicellular organisms develop through a process of progressive morphological and molecular changes, encompassing cellular growth, differentiation, movement, and communication. These are all complex tasks an embryo has to undertake in order to develop into a fully functional organism. Students examine fundamental concepts of development, such as cell fate specification, plasticity and commitment, tissue organization through the establishment of morphogen gradients, stochasticity and determination, as well as transcriptional and posttranscriptional mechanisms of control. Prerequisites: Moderation in biology and permission of the instructor.
Advanced Seminar in Ecology
This course includes a review of the conceptual bases of restoration ecology, including succession, recruitment, plant/animal interactions, and landscape-scale phenomena. It also addresses particular operational problems in restoration (genetics, hydrological regimes, physical barriers, exotic species, fire, and grazing). Students participate in a class project to design and execute a restoration plan for a location on campus.
This seminar examines sexual selection, mate competition, and mate choice, primarily in animals, using classic models as well as recent outgrowths of those models. Students also look at how recent advances in genomic studies have changed studies of sexual selection and sexually selected traits. Prerequisites: Biology 201 and 202; Biology 144 is encouraged.
Conflicts in Social Biology
The evolution of complex sociality remains one of biology’s unsolved mysteries. Theories underlying sociality are currently in flux, as some social researchers have returned focus to the ecological benefits of cooperation, while others emphasize the role of kinship.
Stem cells range from adult stem cells that can normally only repopulate a limited subset of cell types to embryonic stem cells, which give rise to all the cells of the adult organism. The class discusses the biology of the various types of stem cells, investigates their possible implications in treatment of disease, and delves into ethical concerns about their use.