Courses

All undergraduate and graduate course offerings are listed below.

Updated February 26th, 2021.

Undergraduate Courses, Fall 2021

AEC 295 Global Change Ecology

MW 1:30-2:45pm
Skylar Hopkins

This course will help undergraduate students develop the tools to integrate interdisciplinary information, solve problems, and think critically about topics related to global change. By the end of the course, students will be able to compare and contrast the major drivers of historical, present, and future global change; explain how global change affects individuals, species, populations, communities, and ecosystems across space and time; communicate to a general audience how global ecological change affects human well-being; and apply their knowledge to critically evaluate management practices and policies for preventing and mitigating global ecological change. Throughout this course, students will also advance their abilities to find and evaluate scientific evidence, interpret figures, analyze models and data, collaborate with peers, and communicate ideas and scientific results. This course uses a “flipped classroom” approach, where students use self-directed, multi-media learning to prepare for problem solving activities in class. 

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 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 495/592 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 495/592 Fish and Wildlife Data Analysis: Introduction to R

Distance Education
Joseph Hightower

The purpose of this course is to provide a hands-on introduction into the use of R for analysis of fish and wildlife data. Topics will include data input/output; using vectors, matrices, and data frames; functions; packages; graphics; and basic summary statistics. No prior programming experience is assumed. This is an online course to be completed at your own pace, with quizzes to help you gauge your progress. The course is intended to be for advanced undergraduates and new graduate students. It should provide a basic foundation for future classes that use R, and can serve as a starting point for using R as a fish or wildlife professional.

Graduate Courses, Fall 2021

AEC 502 Introduction to Biological Research 

R 8:30-10:20am
Instructor TBD

The course provides a philosophical background for the field of ecology, then transitions to practical aspects of the field including a focus on grant proposal development, how to read and review papers and grant proposals, and how to give a presentation at a scientific meeting. A series of outside speakers will provide a broad perspective on the resources and opportunities available for graduate students at North Carolina State University. An emphasis will be placed on peer collaboration and feedback, developing professional relationships that will be important throughout the graduate tenor of this cohort of 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 495/592 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 495/592 Fish and Wildlife Data Analysis: Introduction to R

Distance Education
Joseph Hightower

The purpose of this course is to provide a hands-on introduction into the use of R for analysis of fish and wildlife data. Topics will include data input/output; using vectors, matrices, and data frames; functions; packages; graphics; and basic summary statistics. No prior programming experience is assumed. This is an online course to be completed at your own pace, with quizzes to help you gauge your progress. The course is intended to be for advanced undergraduates and new graduate students. It should provide a basic foundation for future classes that use R, and can serve as a starting point for using R as a fish or wildlife professional.

AEC 592 Fish Population Dynamics

TR 10:30-11:45am
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 Advanced Biology of Fishes 

TR 3:00-4:15pm
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 11:45AM-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.