Courses

Updated October 7, 2022.

Undergraduate Courses, Spring 2023

Learn more about the teaching faculty here.

AEC 245: Global Conservation Ecology

TR 1:30–2:45PM
Erin McKenney

This course provides an introduction to the scientific principles and concepts that are the foundation of conservation science, with a particular focus on the ways in which justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion shape human relationships with nature. A diversity of topics will be covered, including 1) environmental and anthropomorphic pressures that threaten populations and ecosystems, 2) the importance of biotic and abiotic interactions for stability and resilience, 3) combining ecological theory with empirical data and community engagement to protect, preserve, and restore endangered species and ecosystems.  Students will build on their conceptual, analytical, and communication skills and practice real-world decision making through collaborative research projects, in which they will gather data and apply their findings to develop measurable conservation outcomes. This course satisfies Interdisciplinary Perspectives and Global Knowledge requirements for General Education.

AEC 360: Ecology

MWF 9:35–10:25AM
Alonso Ramírez

Ecology elucidates both the relationships between organisms and their environment, and the relationships among organisms. An understanding of ecology enables us to better understand how living organisms function and evolve within the context of the natural world. In this course, ecology is presented as a coherent scientific discipline; emphasis is on ecology as distinct from environmental science.

AEC 384: Tropical Ecology in a Changing World

TR 10:15–11:30AM
Alonso Ramírez

The tropics have attracted the attention of scientists for a long time and tropical studies have helped advance our understanding of ecology and ecological theories.  This course will focus on understanding tropical ecosystems, their biodiversity, and complexity.  Students will learn about major ecosystem types and their characteristics.  We will discuss major tropical contributions to ecology and ecological theories.  In addition, we will study how global change is affecting the tropics and the potential consequences. Students will gain a general understanding of tropical ecology in a changing world.

AEC 409/509: Ecology and Conservation of Freshwater Invertebrates

M 10:40-12:30, W 12:50– 3:35
Brad Taylor

This course will introduce students to the taxonomic identification and ecology of freshwater invertebrates, with an emphasis on their life histories and adaptation to diverse freshwater habitats, significance to higher trophic levels, such as fish, ecosystem functioning, as a major source of freshwater animal diversity, conservation of threatened species, and application to bioassessment of water quality.  

AEC 420: Introduction to Fisheries Science 

MW 1:30–2:45PM
Jessica Baumann

This course will introduce students to the fundamental principles of fisheries science.  Class material will focus on the role of fish in aquatic ecosystems and will cover concepts including life history, fish-habitat relationships, fisheries management, and conservation. Emphasis will be on freshwater ecosystems, however by the end of the semester students will have a better understanding of all these concepts across various systems and geographical regions.

AEC 424: Marine Fisheries Ecology 

TR 10:15–11:30AM
Jeff Buckel

This course is part of the semester at CMAST program and requires students to be on site in Morehead City, NC. The course covers the life history, stock concept, fishing gears, stock assessment approaches, fish-habitat relationship, socio-economics, and management of marine fishes. Several field trips to state and federal agency laboratories and fish houses/docks are used to emphasize fish sampling, biological sample processing, and gear design.

AEC 495: Parasite & Disease Ecology  – Lecture

TTh 3:00–4:15PM
Skylar Hopkins

This course is designed to help upper level undergraduate students develop the tools to solve problems and think critically about topics related to parasites and infectious diseases. Students will compare taxonomic groups of parasitic animals, plants, fungi, and viruses; summarize how abiotic and biotic factors influence host–parasite interactions; predict how parasites will spread through host populations; explain how parasites are connected within broader ecological communities and ecosystems; and apply their knowledge of disease ecology theory to case studies to recommend effective conservation and human health solutions. Throughout this course, students will also advance their abilities to find and evaluate scientific evidence, interpret figures, analyze data, simulate dynamic ecological systems, collaborate with peers, and communicate ideas and scientific results. This course uses a “flipped classroom” approach, where students use self-directed, multi-media learning outside of class to prepare for skill- and competency-building activities in class.

AEC 495: Parasite & Disease Ecology – Laboratory (optional)

W 3:00–5:45PM
Skylar Hopkins

This is an optional 1-credit laboratory that complements the Parasite & Disease Ecology lecture. This lab is run as a Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experience, where students work together on a research project that will contribute to a future scientific publication. Students will formulate a question, design a project, collect and analyze data, and design materials for communicating their results. The project will be “computer-based”, such as a systematic literature review or analysis of citizen science data.

AEC 495: Seminar on Translating Science

T 10:40-11:30AM
Michelle Jewell & Catherine LePrevost

A critical human dimension to all sciences is effective communication.  Students can expect to learn best practices and practical communication tools through studying examples of applied science communication.

AEC 495: Gut Microbial Ecology

M 10:15am-12:05pm, W 10:15am-1:00pm
Erin McKenney

Gut microbiome research has expanded exponentially in recent years, with rapidly accumulating implications for understanding host-microbial relationships and what constitutes health and disease. As such, the field is highly relevant to both basic science and medical careers. However, the interdisciplinary nature of the microbiome—as well as advances in sequencing technology and analytical methods—requires that scientists achieve a firm grasp of methodological principles, analyze large data sets, and evaluate the results judiciously.  In this course we will analyze and compare data from human, clinical, and comparative/wildlife studies to synthesize a holistic understanding of the relationship between mammals and their gut microbes and identify lifestyle practices to leverage the gut microbiome for optimal health.

Graduate Courses, Spring 2023

AEC 409/509: Ecology and Conservation of Freshwater Invertebrates

M 10:40-12:30, W 12:50– 3:35
Brad Taylor

This course will introduce students to the taxonomic identification and ecology of freshwater invertebrates, with an emphasis on their life histories and adaptation to diverse freshwater habitats, significance to higher trophic levels, such as fish, ecosystem functioning, as a major source of freshwater animal diversity, conservation of threatened species, and application to bioassessment of water quality.  

AEC 503:  Foundations of Ecology

TR 12:00-12:50PM; ONLINE
Rebecca Irwin

This course will introduce graduate students to the major concepts and theories in ecology.  We will cover population, community, ecosystem, and evolutionary ecology.  Students will critically evaluate classic and contemporary papers.  This class will also help students prepare for their written and oral preliminary exams. This class is offered as online synchronous.  

AEC 630:  Learning to Teach Effectively

Date and time TBD; ONLINE
Erin McKenney

Teaching is an inherent and invaluable aspect of the academy, yet pedagogy is not a standard part of graduate training. In this course, we will read and discuss seminal articles about effective course design and delivery. Students will apply those concepts through critical review of course syllabi, sharing personal teaching experiences, and by designing original teaching modules aligned to a specific course and/or learning objectives. The course will culminate with students drafting and peer-reviewing teaching and diversity statements to reflect their personal goals and professional ambitions. Students can sign up for 1-3 credits, at the instructor’s discretion, depending on prior TA experience in developing teaching modules.