Teaching

Current courses

This course investigates both evolutionary and proximate aspects of animal behavior.Using the logical framework of the “four levels of analysis”, we will cover: 1)the adaptive value of specific behaviors and the role of natural selection in maintaining behaviors; 2) how behaviors have evolved over time; 3)how behaviors develop within an individual; and 4) the neural, hormonal, and physiological mechanisms underlying behaviors. Lectures cover a variety of topics, including: natural selection and evolution; genes and the environment; animal learning and cognition; hormones and their role in mediating behavior; neural mechanisms; foraging behavior; predator-prey interactions; sexual selection; animal communication; courtship and mate choice; and social behavior. In addition to lectures, we will develop skills to understand and interpret primary literature, which will be facilitated through group-discussions of journal articles. The laboratory will focus on developing skills of hypo-deductive inquiry, and on the design, implementation, and analysis of experiments that will be carried out in the laboratory and field. As part of the laboratory, students will develop a sophisticated and in-depth review of the literature focusing on a specific topic of animal behavior, culminating in a final paper and a presentation to the class. 3 class hours and 3laboratory hours a week for one semester.

This is a field-based, inquiry-driven course that emphasizes hypothesis-testing in the natural world. In close collaboration with biology faculty in an ecological field setting, students will design and conduct field experiments on a variety of topics in ecology and evolution. The objectives of the course are for students to gain hands-on experiences with organisms in the field; develop the skills, techniques, and methods of analysis required to conduct biological field studies; communicate the results of scientific studies; and gain an appreciation for natural history. This course will enhance students' ability in critical thinking in the context of their upper division courses in ecology and evolution. Class time will be used to learn important techniques and means of analysis for field studies. Students will be required to participate in two overnight field trips and one four-day field excursion in mid- to late-March.

Built around the Biology Department's seminar series, students interact with seminar speakers visiting campus to discuss readings provided by the speaker the week before. Students will maintain a journal that briefly summarizes the readings and logs thoughts about the significance of the work, how it extends what has been learned in biology classes at Trinity, and what major questions the work raises. After the discussion, students will attend the seminar to learn about the broader context of the work. Prerequisite: Senior standing and biology major.

BIOL-1111 Introductory Biology Lab

This is an introductory course that provides an understanding of the scientific methods used to investigate biological questions and how the results of these studies are communicated. The semester is divided into investigative modules in which student groups learn a technique, conduct an experiment or study, and write their results in the form of a scientific paper.

Previously taught courses

Populations change through time, and understanding how and why they change is central to the study of biology. But, this wasn’t always the case. At the time Charles Darwin was developing the theory of evolution by natural selection, most scientists and the public alike believed that plants and animals were static, not changing since the time of creation. Thus, the writings of Darwin transformed our understanding of the dynamic natural world. His ideas have further shaped the fields of medicine, agriculture, and social policy, and motivated great works of art and literature. This course will explore the development of Darwin’s revolutionary ideas through a survey of his life, his major written works, and the influence of his writing on modern thinking. 

BIOL 1212-Methods for Biological Problem Solving

This methods course for science majors develops analytical, laboratory, and field skills through small-scale exercises and investigative experiments. Biochemistry and molecular biology, organismal physiology, and ecology will be used to address the processes of experimental design and data analysis, with emphasis on calculation skills and proper application of statistics. The use of supporting organismal and literature databases in scientific investigation will be incorporated.

BIOL 1312-Integrative Biology II

The aim of the course is to demonstrate that biology is an integrated discipline, where the connections and interrelationships between levels of biological organization (molecular, cellular, organismal, population, and ecosystem) are critical to understanding unifying principles. We teach that biology is not a collection of static facts, but rather a dynamic, process-oriented discipline focused on solving problems through observation, experimentation, and analysis. Thus, we teach in topic-based modules that are each integrated across biological levels, and we emphasize not only the knowledge base, but also the process by which scientists have built that knowledge base.