BIO 111 - Molecules, Genes, and Cells
Dr. Haynes - Spring 2008

Assignment Help Guide

How to Prepare for Lecture & Lab | Reading Assignments | Exams (Reviews)

Lab Presentations | Lab Written Reports | References and Citations

Useful Web Pages



"Argh, there's so much material! How do I keep up?"

Jane Doe always comes to lecture prepared. She's confident, relaxed, and always seems to know what's going on. Jane Doe did not go to an elite prep school, does not have an unusually light class load, and does not take performance enhancing drugs. How does she do it? On a typical day after Bio 111 lecture, Jane Doe does the following, and so can you!

  1. Looks at the Lecture Schedule to find the reading assignment for the next day's class.
  2. Marks the pages in her Study Guide and gets a general idea of the work load.
  3. Schedules a block/ blocks of time to complete the reading, web browsing, and study questions.
  4. Completes her Study Guide reading and study questions with her Text Book at hand and with a computer nearby so she can visit web links.

John Doe always comes to lab prepared. While you frantically flip through pages to try to figure out what you're supposed to do today, John Doe dives right into his lab work as if he's continuing something he started in advance. He and his lab partners always finish lab 30 minutes before you do. John Doe and his lab partners do not rush, have no prior lab experience, and are not superhuman cyborgs created just to make you feel bad. How do they do it? On a typical day before Bio 111 lab, John Doe does the following, and so can you!

  1. Looks at the Lab Schedule to find the pre-lab reading assignment for the upcoming lab.
  2. Marks the pages in his Study Guide Lab Manual.
  3. Reads the text and and uses his computer to browse the recommended web links to get a good idea of the tasks he needs to complete in lab.
  4. Answers the study questions after he has completed the lab the next day.


If you've ever been subjected to the torture of memorizing out-of-context factoids crammed into a huge textbook with teeny tiny print, you're in for treat.

Davidson College's Bio 111 is a challenging and rewarding course that uses an enjoyable unique approach to learning modern Biology. We will learn information in the context of interesting questions and on a “need-to-know” basis. We will use "Life: The Science of Biology, 8th edition" as we might use an encyclopedia. The Study Guide will cover key information and point out relevant sections of "Life" to read.

There are four types of reading assignments within the Study Guide:

  1. Overview Readings are for you to skim very quickly and view the context of the section.
  2. Focused Readings are very specific assignments from the text book for you to read carefully and learn the material presented.
  3. Web Readings are to be read/ viewed carefully; these are links to pages on the world wide web.
  4. News Items are tidbits from recent publications that demonstrate the relevance of what we study.

There are also Study Questions that you should answer in writing. I will not collect or grade your answers. The exams will be drawn from the Study Questions so it is wise to answer the study questions (in writing) before the exams. Study questions are also very useful for office hour discussions.

Finally, I do not know everything. If you think I have said something that is incorrect, please point this out. The Study Guide is a “work in progress” so please draw my attention to typos and incorrect statements. If you ask me a question that I cannot answer, I will research it and get back to you. If you have tried to understand the material but just can’t get it, then come talk to me either during my office hours or make an appointment. I am happy to work with you as much as is necessary.


The exams will be part take home closed book, and part in-class closed book. The answers to the take home questions are to be typed, and are due at times shown in the Lecture Schedule. The exams will be distributed in class, NOT outside of class. If you do not show up to class, you will not receive the exam (unless a special arrangement is made with me). Sometimes we will have time for a review session which is optional. You can leave and begin taking the take home portion whenever you are ready.

Once you open the take-home exam, you cannot use your book, notes, or any source other than your personal memory. The take home portion will require more thinking and writing, and you MUST type these answers. You will take the in-class portion after you turn in your exam answers at the beginning of the class period (unless otherwise instructed). The in-class questions will be short definitions and similarly short responses. These and other instructions will be outlined on the cover page of your exam.

Late Submission Policy:
Exams are not to be turned in late unless you have made prior arrangements with me. Acceptable reasons for delay include: death in the family, personal illness requiring physician’s care, etc. Unacceptable reasons include: intramurals, Homecoming, Patterson Court functions, other tests or exams, etc. Late submissions will be docked one letter grade (3 points will be subtracted from the final percentage) for each 24 hour period they are late. If you arrive to class late when your take-home exam is due, it will be considered one day late.

Brain Dumping Policy:
Be Thorough, Yet Concise
- Brain dumping is the practice of unloading every bit of superficially associated bit of information you can think of onto paper. Competitive brain dumping is inflating the length of your answer to make it more impressive looking/ sounding than your classmates' answers. In your lab reports, brain dumping will receive a polite warning (i.e. "What you have up to this point is sufficient") but in your exams, brain dumping will be penalized (negative points). If you need tips on being thorough, yet concise, ask me for help.


Your oral presentations should be divided into four sections: 1. Introduction, 2. Materials & Methods, 3. Results, 4. Conclusions & Discussion. Each person will present one section and the assignments will change for each report so that everyone presents three different sections. The oral presentation must be pledged to indicate each member participated substantially.

Important Instructions:

  1. Format: Microsoft Power Point. Include a title slide with a title, the name of each member of your lab group, and your affiliation ("Department of Biology, Davidson College, Davidson, NC 28036"). An "acknowledgements" slide is not required.
  2. Content: Introduction, Materials & Methods, Results, Conclusions & Discussion.
  3. Time limit: 15 minutes, 5 minutes for questions (20 min. total). Be mindful of the time limit when creating slides (1 minute per slide is typical).
  4. Be mindful of the audience: Good slides have more visual than textual information. Text should be large enough to see from across the room. Choose colors wisely (yellow text/ lines on a white background is not good) and be considerate of colorblind viewers (see this article).

Grading Rubric for Presentations:

AREA EXCELLENT (5 pts. each) ACCEPTABLE (4 pts. each) WEAK (3 pts. each)
(15 points)
  • Prior knowledge is relevant & specifc to problem
  • Problem is insightful & significant
  • Overall research angle is logical & creative
  • Prior knowledge is relevant but lacks focus
  • Problem is somewhat trivial
  • Overall research angle is logical but uncreative
  • Prior knowledge not well connected to problem
  • Problem is unclear
  • No angle (just follows manual)
Materials & Methods
(15 points)
  • Steps are logical, not historical
  • Variables (non-standard) are presented in group's own words
  • Rationale is appropriate & covers important considerations
  • Steps just recap. lab procedure
  • Variables just copied from manual
  • Rationale is appropriate but has too many trivial considerations
  • Steps not described clearly
  • Variables are unclear/ illogical
  • Rationale is unclear
(15 points)
  • Data interpretation is clear
  • Interpretation is accurate
  • Statistics where appropriate
  • Interpretation is ambiguous
  • Some inaccuracies
  • Statistics presented improperly
  • Interpretation is lacking
  • Lacks understanding of data
  • Lacks stats. where needed
Figures & Tables
(15 points)
  • Very readable, clear labels
  • Organization fits rationale
  • Key results marked & explained
  • Some parts hard to read
  • Organization fits history
  • Key results lack marks or expln.
  • Have errors, lack labels
  • Very disorganized
  • Key results are ignored
Conclusions & Discussion
(15 points)
  • Insightful
  • Consistent with results
  • Next research steps are logical
  • Some insightful, some trivial
  • Lack some consistency
  • Next steps are not well-connected
  • Mostly trivial recap. of data
  • Not consistent w/ research
  • No next steps suggested
Overall Clarity
(15 points)
  • Flow is logical, easy to follow
  • Clean and visually appealing
  • Talk is engaging
  • Flow is good, but has bumps
  • Tidy, but too much text
  • Falls short of full potential to be appealing
  • Flow is staggered
  • Crowded, eye-candy, bad colors
  • Completely technical, non-engaging
Fielding Questions
(10 points)
  • Exhibits sound knowledge
  • Group fields questions as a team
  • Exhibits familiarity
  • Group relies mostly on one member to respond
  • Lacks insight
  • Group always relies on one member to respond

FYI: The Speaking Center at Davidson College offers the services of trained student tutors to support speaking across the curriculum.
Location: Chambers B39 in the north basement.
Hours: The Speaking Center will be open Sunday through Thursday from 9-11 pm starting Sunday, January 27th.


The Written Report is your chance to demonstrate individual work.

Each person must write his or her own report, though you may confer with group members about the content. Reports must be turned in immediately after your oral presentations. If you discover a serious error during your oral report, you may request a 48 hour extension for your written report. This extension is not intended to be for minor typos, grammatical fixes, etc. The extension is intended to help you fix a major problem that became clear to you during your oral presentation.

Important Instructions:

  1. Format: TYPED, 5 pages maximum (excluding title page), Times 12 point font (Times 10 point font for figure legends), 1 inch margins, single spaced.
  2. Title page: Title of your project (can be different from presentation), your name (in bold), your lab partners names, and your affiliation ("Department of Biology, Davidson College, Davidson, NC 28036"). Include the following pledge at the bottom of the title page:
    "I, the author, wrote the entire work presented in this lab report. I have completed this assignment following the mandates set forth by the Davidson College Honor Code.
    Pledged: ______________________________"
    and sign your name on the line.
  3. Sections: In addition to the Title Page, all written reports must include an Abstract (350 words maximum), Results, Conclusions, Materials and Methods, and References. Abstract, Results, Conclusions, Materials and Methods and References sections should begin with a header in bold (i.e., RESULTS). Optional sub-headers may also be used (i.e., pH Impacts Glycogen Synthase Activity)
  4. Figures: Figures (diagrams, graphs, tables, etc.) should occupy no more than 1/2 of a page. If you include them within the body of the text, put them in the Results section. Alternatively, you may place all of your figures at the end (after References). In either case, include a figure legend underneath or next to each figure. The figure legend must include a conclusive short title in bold (i.e., Figure 1. Glycogen synthase activity decreases with increasing pH. or Table 1. Amino acids in the glycogen synthase active site.) followed by a clear explanation of all the non-obvious parts of your figure, graph, table, etc. Rule of thumb: include enough info. to enable someone else to explain your figure for you.
  5. For more details see Study Guide pages LM50 - LM55.

Grading Rubric for Written Reports (updated 2/26/08):

AREA EXCELLENT (5 pts. each) ACCEPTABLE (4 pts. each) WEAK (3 pts. each)
Title Page
(5 points)
  • Title is concise and informative; page has all required parts
  • Title has grammatical errors, is too wordy, or vague; page has all required parts
  • Title page is missing or has missing parts
350 words max.
(10 points)
  • Has background, problem, rationale, procedure, results, & conclusions
  • Problem is insightful & significant
  • Missing one or two parts
  • Problem is somewhat trivial
  • Missing three or more parts
  • Problem is completely unclear
(15 points)
  • Data interpretation has clarity, depth and relevance
  • Data interpretation is accurate
  • Statistics where appropriate
  • Data interpretation has clarity but lacks depth
  • Data interpretation has minor inaccuracies
  • Statistics have some mistakes
  • Data presented with no interpretation
  • Dtata interpretation has critical flaws
  • Lacks stats. where needed
Figures & Tables
(15 points)
  • Neat and visually appealing
  • Figure legends have title and text, are concise, explain all unlabeled parts of the figure, & are positioned properly
  • Very readable, clear labels
  • Somewhat busy or unclear
  • Figure legends too short, too wordy, or improperly placed; incorrect formatting
  • Some labels missing, hard to read
  • Data presented inaccurately
  • One or more figure legends are missing
  • Many labels missing, have errors
(15 points)
  • Insightful
  • Consistent with results
  • Clear & thoughtful connections to lecture material
  • Some insightful, some trivial
  • Lack some consistency
  • Connections to lecture attempted, but some obvious ones overlooked
  • Mostly trivial recap. of data
  • No logical connect. to research
  • Trivial or no connections to lecture material
Materials & Methods
(15 points)
  • Steps are logical, not historical
  • Variables (non-standard) are clear
  • Rationale is appropriate; final rxn. concentrations reported
  • Steps just recap. lab procedure
  • Variables just copied from manual
  • Rationale is appropriate; reactant volumes reported
  • Steps not described clearly
  • Variables unclear/ illogical
  • Rationale is unclear
Citations & References
(10 points)
  • Proper format, all references are cited appropriately
  • Wikipedia is not listed
  • Proper format; some references are cited inappropriately
  • Wikipedia & other sources
  • Format errors; some references are not cited
  • No references or wrong format; all references from Wikipedia
Overall Clarity
(15 points)
  • Exceptionally sophisticated writing
  • Technical terms used properly; clear logic
  • Correct formatting
  • Well written; some grammar and technical errors
  • Few technical and logical errors
  • Some formatting errors
  • Major grammatical errors
  • Many critical technical and logical errors
  • Incorrect formatting



Reference formatting varies in different courses, journals, etc. For the sake of consistency, for this class use the format shown in the examples below (from the Journal of Biological Engineering []). References should be numbered and listed in alphabetical order.

Article within a journal

1. Koonin EV, Altschul SF, Bork P: BRCA1 protein products: functional motifs. Nat Genet 1996, 13:266-267.

Article within a journal supplement

2. Orengo CA, Bray JE, Hubbard T, LoConte L, Sillitoe I: Analysis and assessment of ab initio three-dimensional prediction, secondary structure, and contacts prediction. Proteins 1999, Suppl 3:149-170.
In press article 3. Kharitonov SA, Barnes PJ: Clinical aspects of exhaled nitric oxide. Eur Respir J, in press.
Published abstract 4. Zvaifler NJ, Burger JA, Marinova-Mutafchieva L, Taylor P, Maini RN: Mesenchymal cells, stromal derived factor-1 and rheumatoid arthritis [abstract]. Arthritis Rheum 1999, 42:s250.
Article within conference proceedings 5. Jones X: Zeolites and synthetic mechanisms. In Proceedings of the First National Conference on Porous Sieves: 27-30 June 1996; Baltimore. Edited by Smith Y. Stoneham: Butterworth-Heinemann; 1996:16-27.
Book chapter, or article within a book 6. Schnepf E: From prey via endosymbiont to plastids: comparative studies in dinoflagellates. In Origins of Plastids. Volume 2. 2nd edition. Edited by Lewin RA. New York: Chapman and Hall; 1993:53-76.
Whole issue of journal 7. Ponder B, Johnston S, Chodosh L (Eds): Innovative oncology. In Breast Cancer Res 1998, 10:1-72.
Whole conference proceedings 8. Smith Y (Ed): Proceedings of the First National Conference on Porous Sieves: 27-30 June 1996; Baltimore. Stoneham: Butterworth-Heinemann; 1996.
Complete book 9. Margulis L: Origin of Eukaryotic Cells. New Haven: Yale University Press; 1970.
Monograph or book in a series 10. Hunninghake GW, Gadek JE: The alveolar macrophage. In Cultured Human Cells and Tissues. Edited by Harris TJR. New York: Academic Press; 1995:54-56. [Stoner G (Series Editor): Methods and Perspectives in Cell Biology, vol 1.]
Book with institutional author 11. Advisory Committee on Genetic Modification: Annual Report. London; 1999.
PhD thesis 12. Kohavi R: Wrappers for performance enhancement and oblivious decision graphs. PhD thesis. Stanford University, Computer Science Department; 1995.
Link / URL 13. The Mouse Tumor Biology Database []

Cite references within the text by including the last name of the first author (if applicable) followed by the year of the publication in square brackets. Do not use numbers as citations! For web links, include the title of the link in square brackets. The example below demonstrates proper citation:

Previous research has demonstrated that a repetitive element called hoppel, or 1360, contributes to pericentric silencing of an adjacent reporter gene [Haynes 2006]. The current Ensembl annotation of the D. melanogaster genome includes a track for repetitive elements, which shows copies of 1360 dispersed throughout chromosome four [Flybase].