Microbiology & Genetics
As a microbiologist and geneticist, I am interested in what makes living things tick at the sub-cellular level. Every living thing is made up of cells, and what a cell can do depends on what proteins it makes--which is in turn determined by its DNA, the genetic "blueprint" for life. Geneticists seek to understand how the interplay of genes can lead to all the myriad functions of an organism. I find the study of bacteria most exciting: where all of this genetic complexity works within single-celled organisms of unmatched diversity and adaptability.
My Web site includes information on my research on protein repair in aging bacteria, as well resource material for the courses I teach. Each of my courses is described briefly below; use the links below or at left to see the Web site for each course. My door is always open, so feel free to use the contact information at left!
Bio II is one of two introductory core courses taken by all biology and biochemistry students. Dr. Johnston and I teach this course together, and it introduces key concepts of cell biology, molecular biology and genetics. We emphasize experimental design, hypothesis testing, scientific writing, interpretation and presentation of data.
Genetics is a crucial foundation course for students interested in any area of biology. This course deals with how genetic information is inherited (Mendelian genetics) and how it is used (molecular genetics). Topics include inheritance, genetic mapping, DNA structure, gene expression, genomics and recombinant DNA techniques. In lab, students complete two investigative projects: one involving Drosophila genetics and one involving DNA and molecular genetic techniques.
Microbiology focuses on bacteria and viruses. There are three major areas of focus: (1) Physiology - how microorganisms live, (2) Ecology - the key roles microorganisms play in the environment and their interrelationships, and (3) Pathogenesis - how some microorganisms produce disease. The course emphasizes current research in microbiology. Lab involves a combination of learning key microbiological techniques with investigative projects.
Virology and Immunology is an advanced course in which students apply what they've learned about cell biology, genetics and microbiology to two major biological problems. The first half of the course deals with viruses: how these non-living particles can replicate by taking over a host cell. The second half deals with the immune system, a highly complex means of responding to foreign invaders. The course emphasizes reading and understanding the scientific literature.
Bio 100 is a science course for non-majors which emphasizes how scientists look at the biological world and the important roles of biology in modern society. When I teach it, the focus is on either genetics (including human genetics and ethical implications of modern genetic techniques) or bacteria and viruses (including how they cause human disease and how disease can be prevented and treated).