Courses

Updated March 3, 2022.

Undergraduate Courses, Fall 2022

Learn more about the teaching faculty here.

AEC 203 – An Introduction to the Honey Bee and Beekeeping

TR 11:45am-1:00pm
David Tarpy

A GER course targeted towards non-science majors to provide an exploration into biology and science using honey bees as a charismatic vehicle. Provides an introduction to honey bee biology and management, as well as an examination of the relationships between honey bees and humans from prehistoric through modern times.

AEC 295 – Predicting the Future of Life

T 1:30-2:45pm
Rob Dunn

To a great extent scientists have focused their prediction on the near future. Many models of climate, the future of species and the future of cities, for example, consider what might happen in the years 2030 or 2050. Yet, much of the infrastructure we are building now, whether it is roads, policy infrastructure or social and cultural infrastructure, will last far longer. Some of our constructions may well last tens of thousands of years. We are building some of the distant future even as we focus mostly on conversations about the here and now. Fortunately, we already know quite a bit about some inescapable biological realities of the future as a consequence of the general rules of life. Through lectures, guest panels (of economists and, separately, science fiction writers), and discussions, this class considers what we can predict about the more distant future, be it 2050, 2500 or 25000. It concludes by considering the evolution of species after the extinction of humans and then, finally, at the very end, the end of the universe. This class has real world applications for thinking about how to design cities, how to imagine the future of agriculture and even the ways in which we might reimagine hospitals and homes.

AEC 295 – Interplay of Religion and the Microbiome

W 10:15-11:30am
Aminah Al-Attas Bradford and Rob Dunn

Microbiome science is new, but the impact of microbes on the history of Christian thought and practice is as old as the religion itself. Using Christianity as a case study, this course explores the impact of microbiome science on how religions think about disease, decay, race, the environment and the meaning of being human. It asks questions like, “How does microbiome science complicate classic Christian beliefs about evil, salvation and the person of Jesus and his microbes? How does microbiome science open possibilities for ecological empathy and anti-racist reform within Christianity? What is at stake as the lines between being human and being microbial fade away? And how are probiotic and antibacterial attitudes shaped by religious belief?” Students need no previous experience with a religious tradition to participate.

AEC 400 – Applied Ecology 

TR 1:30-2:45pm
Erin McKenney

Global climate change, over-harvesting, habitat loss, altered nutrient cycles, and the spread of invasive species are among the world’s pressing global environmental issues. Solutions to these problems are complex, but firmly rooted in the fundamental tenets of ecological theory. The field of applied ecology is premised on using these fundamental ecological principles to help solve the environmental challenges we face. This course will provide an overview of the field of applied ecology, based on a series of case studies. Working from the individual to global level, the course will provide a broad perspective on the field of applied ecology.

AEC 441/442 – Biology of Fishes 

TR 3:00-4:15pm / F 12:50-3:35pm
Ben Reading

Fishes are the largest and most diverse assemblage of vertebrates on the earth with nearly 30,000 described species. This undergraduate level course provides an overview of ichthyology including evolution, classification, and identification of fishes and a comparative examination of divergent fish behavior, physiology, and ecology. The content of the course will emphasize evolutionary relationships between fish groups and their adaptations for life in streams, lakes, and oceans. The course will be organized into three major segments: 1) taxonomy and systematics of fishes, 2) physiology and biology of fishes, and 3) ecology of fishes.

AEC 460 – Field Ecology 

T 8:30-9:45am R 8:30am-1:00pm
Erin McKenney

Field Ecology and Methods will expose senior students with interests in Ecology and Evolution to the diverse field approaches used to address ecological questions. The course considers and implements a variety of field approaches ranging from microcosm experiments to global studies of patterns and diversity. Course is restricted to seniors.

AEC 470 – Urban Ecology 

MW 11:45am-1:00pm
Elsa Youngsteadt

Developing design, conservation, and management strategies to serve humans and biodiversity in urban areas is an ongoing challenge. This course examines cities as unique physical environments and as social-ecological systems: How urban factors drive abundance and distribution of plants and animals, with consequences for biodiversity, ecosystem function, and human well-being. We will address the role of ecology in urban design and management, and emphasize the question of whether urban systems, and the role of humans therein, are adequately described by existing ecological theory.  

AEC 495 – Environmental Issues in Aquatic Ecology 

TR 3:00-4:15pm
JoAnn Burkholder

This course explores the science, policy, and politics of environmental issues affecting aquatic ecosystems from freshwaters to the open ocean.  Its overall goal is improved protection of these natural resources and the health of people across the world who depend on them for potable water supplies and seafood.

Graduate Courses, Fall 2022

AEC 502 – Introduction to Biological Research 

R 8:30-10:20am
Brad Taylor

The main objectives of this course are to introduce and develop the tools and skills useful for excelling in graduate programs in Biology. Topics range from practical skills, such as selecting a committee, communication, data management, generating a thesis topic, and formulating hypotheses, to those that are more philosophical. There is a focus on scientific writing, especially grant proposals, and other professional skills, such as oral discussions of topics related to diversity and inclusivity, collaboration, publishing and reviewing, and developing professional skills and relationships that will be important throughout the graduate tenure of the students.

AEC 510 – Machine Learning 

W 9:35-11:25am
Ben Reading

A wide range of high-throughput technologies enable us to evaluate biological systems at various levels—at the genome, epigenome, transcriptome, proteome, and metabolome. These technologies are now being used to generate data to answer an ever-increasingly diverse set of questions. The next great challenge is integrating data analysis in a systems biology approach that utilizes novel supervised machine learning methods, which accommodate heterogeneity of data, are robust to biological variation, and provide mechanistic insight. The course will not focus on detailed mathematical models, but instead on how these machine learning tools may be used to analyze biological data, in particular gene and protein expression.

AEC 570 – Urban Ecology 

MW 11:45am-1:00pm
Elsa Youngsteadt

Developing design, conservation, and management strategies to serve humans and biodiversity in urban areas is an ongoing challenge. This course examines cities as unique physical environments and as social-ecological systems: How urban factors drive abundance and distribution of plants and animals, with consequences for biodiversity, ecosystem function, and human well-being. We will address the role of ecology in urban design and management, and emphasize the question of whether urban systems, and the role of humans therein, are adequately described by existing ecological theory.  

AEC 592 Fish Population Dynamics

TR 10:15-11:30am

Jie Cao

This course is designed to introduce graduate students to quantitative fish population dynamics. Students will learn how to use appropriate quantitative methods in analyzing data collected from fisheries, to estimate vital parameters for fisheries, to describe quantitatively the dynamics of fish populations, to quantitatively evaluate current status of a fishery and alternative management strategies through formal stock assessment process, and to understand and interpret uncertainties associated with the assessment in managing fisheries resources.

AEC 592 – Environmental Issues in Aquatic Ecology 

TR 3:00-4:15pm
JoAnn Burkholder

This course explores the science, policy, and politics of environmental issues affecting aquatic ecosystems from freshwaters to the open ocean.  Its overall goal is improved protection of these natural resources and the health of people across the world who depend on them for potable water supplies and seafood.

AEC 592 – Biology of Fishes 

TR 3:00-4:15pm / F 12:50-3:35pm
Ben Reading

Fishes are the largest and most diverse assemblage of vertebrates on the earth with nearly 30,000 described species. This undergraduate level course provides an overview of ichthyology including evolution, classification, and identification of fishes and a comparative examination of divergent fish behavior, physiology, and ecology. The content of the course will emphasize evolutionary relationships between fish groups and their adaptations for life in streams, lakes, and oceans. The course will be organized into three major segments: 1) taxonomy and systematics of fishes, 2) physiology and biology of fishes, and 3) ecology of fishes.

AEC 624 – Advanced Fisheries Science 

R 11:15am – 1:35pm
Jeffrey Buckel

This is a seminar style course where students and faculty discuss readings in advanced fisheries science. Students will learn both foundational and current research in fisheries science.