Biology 111
Molecules, Genes, and Cells

Fall 2017, Davidson College
MWF 9:30-10:20 in Wall 106
Lab Mon 1:30 PM or Tues 8:15 AM in Wall 104
Dr. Karen Hales
Wall 321, x2324

class schedule
Jump to Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec

Science news web sites:
Science Daily
Scientific American
New Scientist
New York Times Science Times

lab schedule

Learning outcomes: Cellular and molecular biology is a vast discipline that encompasses a number of sub-fields, each of which is growing extremely rapidly. Instead of aiming to learn every detail, you will, by the end of this course, be able to do the following:

Textbooks and other resources:
Life: the Science of Biology, 11th edition, by Sadava, Heller, Orians, Purves, and Hillis
Study Guide and Lab Manual by Campbell, Lom, Hales, Bernd, Sarafova, and Wessner, Fall 2017 version
A Short Guide to Writing About Biology, 8th edition, by Jan Pechenik.
Additional handouts and web reading to be announced.

Office hours
Any mutually agreeable time by appointment. For Wednesdays 10:30-11:45 AM and other rotating times (eg some Common Hours when I don't have other meetings) there will be quick signups at the Slotted site. If those times don't fit your schedule, email me for other appointments (list three possible dates/times in your email and I'll get back to you). Or, stop by any time my door is open.

You are responsible for all information I send by email, so check your messages each day.

Your final grade for the course will be calculated as follows:

Three reviews
Daily preparation and miscellaneous assignments
Lab reports, both written and oral (details)
Final exam
General participation, both lecture and lab
36% (12% each)

Final grade

Attendance and participation

In class I do not record attendance. However, if you are not there, both your daily preparation and your participation grades are affected. Laboratory sessions are mandatory. An unexcused absence from lab will result in a full letter grade deduction from your course grade.

Honor Code
You are to affirm your respect for and compliance with the Davidson Honor Code on every assignment. The full Honor Pledge reads as follows: "On my honor I have neither given nor received unauthorized information regarding this work, I have followed and will continue to observe all regulations regarding it, and I am unaware of any violation of the Honor Code by others." Plagiarism is an Honor Code violation and is defined as representing another person's words and ideas as one's own. Please carefully read the Davidson Department of Biology statement on plagiarism for comprehensive information on what constitutes plagiarism and how to avoid it.

Classroom etiquette and use of electronic devices
Do not leave the classroom in the middle of class unless it is a true emergency. (In lab it's fine to step out briefly at appropriate stopping points.) Set cell phones to silent/no vibration so that they do not disturb or distract you and others. Take handwritten notes unless you have received my permission to use a laptop or tablet. Laptops, tablets, and cell phones must be closed or face down on your desk unless I have assigned you to investigate something on the internet during class.

Policy on recording of class
Davidson College policy prohibits audio and video recording of classes by students without permission of the instructor. I will consider permission requests on a case-by-case basis. For students with a disability, permission will always be granted when the accommodations authorized by the Dean of Students Office include recording. Authorized recordings are for the sole use of the individual student and may not be reproduced, sold, posted online, or otherwise distributed.

Disability resources
Davidson values multidimensional diversity including with regard to disability. We do our best to provide reasonable accommodations related to disability; to discuss such a request, please contact Beth Bleil, Director of Academic Access and Disability Resources, in the Center for Teaching and Learning at, 704-894-2129, or in person in her office in the E.H. Little Library. It is best to submit accommodation requests early, but requests can be made at any time (accommodations are not retroactive, however).

Class materials
PowerPoint files used in class will be posted online by the previous evening. I use PowerPoint only to provide illustrations and outline topics; viewing a PowerPoint file does **not** substitute for attending class. Click the link from the schedule below to download; log in with email credentials. To print, please first set options to include multiple slides per page.

Assignments on the syllabus relate to the topic of that day. Before class I expect you to gain a general familiarity with that day's topics. By the next class you should master what we focused on the day before. Be ready to recap topics and answer questions!!

There will be three reviews (tests) during the semester. The first is in class, with a take-home portion. The second is entirely take-home. The third is entirely in class, but with a take-home extra credit. The final exam will be administered through the self-scheduled exam system.

Penalty for late assignments
Ten percent per day or part thereof. The full ten percent penalty applies starting at the beginning of each day that the assignment is late; for example, an assignment that is one hour late will have a ten percent penalty applied.

Math and Science Center
The Math & Science Center (MSC) offers free assistance to students in all areas of math and science, with a focus on the introductory courses. Trained and highly qualified peers hold one-on-one and small-group tutoring sessions on a drop-in basis or by appointment, as well as timely recap sessions ahead of scheduled reviews. Emphasis is placed on thinking critically, understanding concepts, making connections, and communicating effectively, not just getting correct answers. In addition, students can start or join a study group and use the MSC as a group or individual study space. The MSC is located in the Center for Teaching and Learning on the first floor of the college library. Drop-in hours are Sunday through Thursday, 8-11 PM, and Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday, 4-6 PM, beginning Sunday August 27. Appointments are available at other times. For more information, visit the website or contact Dr. Mark Barsoum (mabarsoum or ext. 2796).

return to top

Class schedule


Links will become active by the evening before each class.

Click lecture title to download powerpoint file for printing. Use email credentials to log in. You may need to type davidson\username. Please conserve paper by printing double sided, with multiple slides per page.

Page numbers refer to the Study Guide (SG) unless otherwise noted. SG assignments normally end with the study questions on the appropriate page.  Assignments accompany the indicated day's lecture. Additional reading TBA.
Web links in Study Guide reading
Web links embedded in the SG reading will also be listed here for convenience
M 8/21

Intro to the course; cells; thinking like a biologist

Read the whole syllabus. You are responsible for knowing all the information/requirements detailed therein.

Special assignment that must be fulfilled by Wednesday August 30th Thursday August 31st at 4 PM: Come see me in my office for a few minutes! You may come by in pairs if you prefer. It's best to make an appointment ahead of time, but you may drop by any time I am in. This visit must take place by the deadline for me to record your grade on the first review.
W 8/23 Beginning of Unit 1: Cellular communication
Unit 1 introduction: Your body's cellular and molecular response to fear. What role does the liver play?
Note that all Study Guide readings will refer you to more extensive readings in the textbook as well as web reading!
Animation 3.1: Proteins, Carbohydrates, and Lipids
Cancer quest (includes carbohydrate and protein sections)
F 8/25 How does your liver "know" when you're scared?
Lipids section of CancerQuest    
Crystal model of a lipid bilayer

Fluid mosaic model
Combinations… section of CancerQuest    
M 8/28 Connecting epinephrine to glucose release in the liver: enzyme cascades and second messengers  7-12 Animation 7.1: Signal Transduction
Activity 7.2 Cell Signaling and Amplification Simulation
Action of Epinephrine
W 8/30
return to top
Why does your heart pound harder when you're scared?
Activity 6.4: Membrane transport simulation
Potassium channel selectivity
How the Calcium Pump Fills the SER
Calcio ATPase (in Portuguese but imagese are universal)
Activity 5.1 The Scale of Life
Activity 5.3 Eukaryotic Cell Tour
Cell Structure section of CancerQuest    
Immunofluorescence Labeling of ER
Virtual Cell
F 9/1

How does your heart muscle contract?

Also study this infographic
Animation 47.1: Molecular Mechanisms of Muscle Contraction
M 9/4 How does your brain tell your legs to run away? 20-29
Also read this article about animals resistant to snake venom
Animation 6.2: Active Transport
Animation 44.1: Resting Membrane Potential
Animation 44.2: The Action Potential 
Movie of Calcium Influx into a Neuron 
Animation 44.3 Synaptic Transmission
Life of a Transport Vesicle--the vesicle dance
W 9/6 Another example of cellular communication-- how does an egg know when it's been fertilized?
IP3 and Egg activation
Sea urchin sperm competing to fertilize
Mechanism for IP3 production and Ca2+ ion wave   
Movie of Calcium During Fertilization  
    ([Ca++] indicated by white in right panel)

Movie of Sea Urchin Fertilization
Movie of IP3 injection
Animation 42.1: Fertilization in the Sea Urchin
F 9/8
Cellular communication in bacteria
(End of Unit 1)
Watch the first ~18 minutes of Part 1 of this lecture by Bonnie Bassler and write a paragraph summarizing what you learned. Don't worry if you don't understand all the terminology--just do your best. Note that you can also get this video free through iTunes.

M 9/11 Review #1 (in class, with a take-home portion due Wednesday 9/13 at class time)

W 9/13 Beginning of Unit 2: Genetics
Unit 2 introduction: Three genetic disorders
Dominance and recessiveness at the molecular level
Chromosomes and genes
Cystic Fibrosis web site
Sickle Cell web site
Huntington's web site
F 9/15 DNA structure, DNA replication
42-43 Animation 13.2: DNA replication and polymerization
M 9/18 DNA packaging in chromosomes; mitosis
DNA sequencing
Cartoon of mitosis
Movie of mitosis
Animation 11.1: Mitosis
W 9/20 RNA structure
The steps of gene expression: transcription and RNA processing
Animation 14.1: Transcription  
Animation 14.3: RNA splicing
F 9/22 The steps of gene expression: translation and beyond
The genetic code; mutations and diseases

also see an extra translation animation here

Animation 14.4: Translation
M 9/25 Meiosis and inheritance; Mendel and his monohybrid crosses
Movie of Meiosis    
Side-by-Side Animations of Mitosis & Meiosis (click "launch interactive")
Animation 11.2: Meiosis
Activity 11.4: Meiosis simulation
W 9/27 Analyzing patterns of inheritance
SRY paper
F 9/29
return to top
Finding the sickle cell anemia gene, then dihybrid crosses 54-58

supplementary links:
Sickle cell anemia is on the rise worldwide
Fighting misconceptions in the ER
92 years later, a sickle cell surprise
Sickle Cell Disease
Media clip 49.1: Capillary flow
Sickle cell drug reduces death risk
M 10/2 Finding the HD gene:
Dihybrid crosses, linkage, and gene mapping
W 10/3
Recombination & mapping the HD gene via linkage to molecular markers 61-70 What is a Short Tandem Repeat Polymorphism?
Animation 15.1 Gel electrophoresis
Visualizing SNPs: Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism
F 10/5 Mapping HD via linkage, continued
61-70 again
HD online exercise: instructions and genome browser
Flies can have Huntingtons Disease (just browse)
M 10/9
W 10/11 More linkage mapping
Side topic: DNA fingerprinting

You can find the linkage exercise ppt here
  73-74 CODIS STR DNA loci
F 10/13 Finding the CF gene
Confirming you've found the right gene; analyzing the defect at the molecular level
74-80 CF online exercise
In situ methodology
Immunofluorescence methodology

Optional web listening:
My So-Called Lungs
Remembering Laura Rothenberg
Genetic Testing, Part 2: Reading Genes for Disease--One Couple's Decision Against Testing for Cystic Fibrosis
M 10/16

Finding genes associated with disease: modern methods: exome sequencing to find cystic fibrosis gene modifiers

Exome sequencing of extreme phenotypes...
(Just read the abstract)

New initiative will sequence 10,000 whole genomes….
100,000 Genomes Project leads to first rare disease diagnoses
One of a Kind (New Yorker article)
W 10/18 Catch up day
Review #2 (take home) available today, due Monday 10/23 at class time

F 10/20 No class; take home test due Monday
M 10/23

Viral genetics; HIV, influenza, AAV

Life Cycle of HIV
Animation 41.2: Humoral Immune Response
Animation 41.4: Cellular Immune Response
Cytotoxic T-cell Killing Its Target
Life Cycle of HIV - Reverse Transcriptase
Life Cycle of HIV - Viral Protease  
Treatments for HIV
W 10/25 More on HIV, influenza, AAV 138-145

extra animations:
AZT blocks reverse transcriptase

Protease inhibitors
Transcription mediated amplification
F 10/27 Gene therapy and other treatments
81-83 Surfing and CF
M 10/30
return to top
Genetic engineering of other organisms
(End of Unit 2)
How Cloning Works
Methodology for Making Transgenic Mice
A Portable Gene Gun    
Not all GMOs are created equally
W 11/1 Beginning of Unit 3: Bioenergetics
Unit 3 intro: bioenergetics and energy conversions
Reactions of photosynthesis: why was paraquat sprayed on Mexican marijuana?
F 11/3 Energy conversions in chemical reactions; role of enzymes; more on light reactions of photosynthesis 93-94
Animation 10.2: Photophosphorylation
Animation of Photosynthesis        
Diagram of NADP+ conversion to NADPH  
M 11/6 More on light reactions of photosynthesis
no powerpoint today!
extra animation of photosynthesis light reactions  
W 11/8
Finishing photosynthesis: synthesizing food via the Calvin Benson cycle
 Animation 10.3: Tracing the pathway of CO2
F 11/10 Releasing energy from food: glycolysis, pyruvate oxidation, and the Krebs cycle; also fermentation 98-103  
M 11/13 Releasing energy from food, continued. Why is cyanide a good poison?
Animation 9.1: Electron transport and ATP synthesis
Media clip 9.1: ATP synthase in motion
W 11/15 Why update vaccinations after a flood? Anaerobic metabolism: bacteria that cause tetanus and botulism
F 11/17 Nitrogen metabolism: why is tofu a good source of protein?
(End of Unit 3)
M 11/20 Review #3 (in class, with take-home extra credit due Monday 11/27 at class time Tues 11/28 at noon by email; your last name must be at the beginning of the file title.)

W 11/22


M 11/27 Integrating signaling, genetics, and metabolism: Cancer  113-121

What is Cancer from NCI
Cancer Biology Videos
Hallmarks of Cancer (see links in left column)

W 11/29
return to top
Integrating signaling, genetics, and metabolism: Cancer 2
MAPK Signal Transduction     
Cancer Biology Videos
Hallmarks of Cancer (see links in left column)
F 12/1 Integrating signaling, genetics, and metabolism: Cancer 3
Article: Cancer Driving Mutations Common in Normal Skin Cells

Article: p53: the most frequently altered gene in human cancers
(don't try to absorb every detail--try to pull out the main points)

Article: How elephants avoid cancer

Article: Blind mole rats may hold key to cancer
(and glance at the actual research article)
M 12/4
Hints for final exam; course evaluations

W 12/6
Optional question and answer session. 

12/8-12/14 Self-scheduled final exam




return to top


Laboratory schedule

Page numbers refer to the Lab Manual unless otherwise noted. In the Lab Manual, you will also be referred to particular textbook pages.
Aug 21-22 No lab during the first week unless otherwise announced in class. If we do have lab it will just be the "Preliminaries" listed below plus the TOSLS assessment.

Aug 28-29

Preliminaries: Introduction to lab. Lab safety. How to measure very small volumes with a pipetman.

Main activity: Introduction to spectrophotometry

After experiments are done: TOSLS assessment tool
BRING A LAPTOP/TABLET if you have one.

Sep 4-5

IDH enzyme activity


Sep 11-12 Parameters that affect IDH activity: independent experiments

Also, in Pechenik, read "Introduction and General Rules"

Sep 18-19

Introduction to data presentation

For reference: sample lab report 1, sample lab report 2 (PDF files).

44-48, also Appendices B and C

Read the Pechenik chapter entitled "Preparing Oral Presentations"

Read the Pechenik chapter entitled "Writing Laboratory and other Research Reports"

Read the Biology Department statement on plagiarism

Sep 25-26 Group oral presentations on IDH lab results.
Written report on the IDH experiments due at lab time.

What is your genotype? PCR and DNA fingerprinting, part 1.
49-51 through "D1S80 factoids"
also p. 52 "How to calculate..."

Movie of PCR method
Polymerase Chain Reaction
Gel electrophoresis
Oct 2-3 PCR and DNA fingerprinting, part 2

Read the abstract and introduction of this paper (the whole first page and first bit of second page)
We will explore parts of the paper together
Oct 16-17 Using microscopes; introduction to Chlamydomonas
56-top of 62

Read the abstracts of the following two papers:
Pederson et al., 2005 (click on PDF download)
Bujakowska et al., 2015
We will explore parts of the papers together.
Oct 23-24 Chlamydomonas flagellar regeneration
Oct 30-31 Varying parameters affecting Chlamydomonas flagellar regeneration: independent experiments
Nov 6-7 A beginner's guide to statistics and graphing  


Skim the Pechenik chapter entitled "Reading and Writing about Statistical Analyses," focusing on the information related to the lab manual material.

Nov 13-14 Group oral presentations on Chlamydomonas lab results.
Written lab report on the Chlamydomonas experiments due at lab time.

Exploring the research literature on cancer and IDH: connections to cell signaling, genetics, and metabolism, part I
Go to this page to guide your explorations
Nov 20-21 No official lab this week, but you should informally get together with your group to continue working on the IDH/cancer project.

Go to this page to guide your explorations

Nov 27-28 Exploring the research literature on cancer and IDH: connections to cell signaling, genetics, and metabolism, part II
Go to this page to guide your explorations
Dec 4-5

IDH/cancer writing assignment due by email at the beginning of your assigned lab time**. We are not actually meeting this week.

**The file attached to your email MUST have a title that begins with your LAST name. Three point penalty for not following this instruction.

return to top

More information on laboratory write-ups and presentations

Written lab reports:
You will be writing a group report for the first lab report assignment. For that report, a different person within your lab group should be in charge of each of the major sections (introduction, materials and methods, results, discussion). Your steps are as follows:
1. Each group member completes a first draft of a particular section.
2. A different group member provides detailed editing feedback for the section. Editing involves more than fixing typos; rework the order of ideas, the language, and the logic to achieve maximal precision, completeness, and clarity.
3. Everyone in the group reads through the whole report and provides further feedback to tie the work together.
4. Everyone works together to construct the title, abstract, references, and chart indicating who who was the primary author and who was the primary editor of each section.
5. Signing the pledge on your lab report signifies (among other things) that everyone in the group has contributed his or her fair share of the work.

You will write an individual report for the second lab report assignment.

See the appropriate appendix in your Study Guide & Lab Manual, as well as the appropriate Pechenik chapter, for instructions on the organization and content of your lab reports. Pay special notice to this additional requirement regarding the reference section: you should cite the lab manual, AND you must find at least three additional relevant sources, two of which must be peer reviewed. Proper formatting of citations is described at the Biology Department statement on plagiarism. Correct spelling, grammar, and syntax are essential. It is in your best interest to focus my attention on the meat of your report instead of on messy mechanics.

Third lab writing assignment: At the end of the semester you will write an individual analysis responding to our explorations in the literature of IDH and cancer mechanisms.

Oral presentations:
Oral presentations will accompany the two lab reports. Each group will have 15 minutes for their oral presentation, with a few additional minutes for questions afterwards. You will have access to all the audiovisual equipment in the lab, including the computer and document camera. Each presentation should be divided into four sections: Introduction, Materials and Methods, Results, and Discussion. Each member of your lab group must speak, with everyone contributing roughly equally. See the appropriate appendix in your Study Guide & Lab Manual for what kinds of information to put into each section.Your classmates will critique your presentations, but their comments will not determine your grade.

Grading rubric for oral presentations:
Organization 5 pts
Clarity 5 pts
Accuracy 5 pts
Introduction 5 pts
Materials and Methods 5 pts
Results 5 pts
Discussion 5 pts
Answering questions at the end 5 pts

Grading rubric for 1st/2nd written lab reports:
Title/authors/affiliation 2/3 pts (2 pts on the first report, 3 on the second)
Abstract 4/5 pts
Introduction 7/11 pts
Methods 5/8 pts
Results 7/10pts
Discussion/conclusions/future directions 7/11 pts
References and acknowledgments 3/4 pts
Quality/organization of writing 5/8 pts

The lab grades are apportioned as follows:

IDH lab report
Chlamydomonas lab report
IDH and cancer assignment
Total lab grade
oral component
26% of course grade
written component


Davidson Biology

Dr. Hales's home page

Copyright 2015-2017 Department of Biology, Davidson College, Davidson NC 28035
last modified July 2017