Graduate Courses

Science Communication (BIOSC 2055, 2056, 2057)

These three half-semester 1-credit courses are offered on a rotating bases that cover all aspects of communication: (a) grant proposals, (b) manuscript preparation for journal articles and book chapters, and (c) posters, seminars and outreach lectures. These workshop-style courses will reinforce critical thinking and increase writing skills necessary for publication and other modes of scientific communication through faculty and peer critique of students’ written pieces or oral presentations. Each course will run for one-half of a semester. Students are required to take each of the three courses, preferably during their first two years. Students should be encouraged to re-enroll in these courses throughout their graduate career to increase their productivity (publications & grants) and build skills needed for a successful career in science.

Graduate Seminar Course (BIOSC 2450)

This course is taken by all students for two semesters (two credits each semester) during the first two years. Students read and present current research articles guided by two faculty members. The goal is to teach the student critically to evaluate the research of other scientists and to communicate both the research and this evaluation in an oral presentation.

Graduate Research Seminar (BIOSC 2050)

In this course, students present their research (proposed projects, recent data, and experimental problems) to faculty, students and postdocs. Presentations of about 35 minutes are presented by each student once a year. Questions, comments, criticisms and suggestions from the audience are encouraged. A list of speakers is circulated in advance.

Graduate Courses

The Department offers a number of 2-credit graduate-level courses; students are required to take 4 courses (8 credits) during their first two years.  Currently the courses offered are:

Nucleic Acids

This course focuses on the molecular biology of DNA. Topics to be discussed include: DNA Replication; DNA Segregation; Homologous, Illigitimate and site-specific Recombination; DNA Repair; Genesis and processing of structural RNAs.

Gene Expression

This course examines the regulation of gene expression from a variety of standpoints. Topics to be discussed include: Transcriptional mechanisms and regulation in prokaryotes and eukaryotes; mRNA splicing; RNA processing; RNAi; chromatin

Protein Life History

The course focuses on the fate of proteins within cells. Topics include: Protein synthesis; Building blocks of protein structure; Domains and protein folding; Mechanisms of protein sorting; Protein trafficking; Directional transport and secretion; Exo- and endocytosis; Autophagy; ER targeting

Protein Structure and Function

This course focuses on the biophysical and biochemical characterization of proteins. Topics include: Methods for determining protein structure; Protein folding; Molecular dynamics and modeling protein movement; Linking structure and function; Protein-DNA Interactions

Genetics of Model Organisms

This course will compare genetic approaches in a variety of model systems. Topics include: Genetics screens and selections; Linkage mapping; Genetic manipulation in  haploid and diploid model systems; Epigenetics

Evolutionary Genetics

This course will consider genetic processes in population and evolutionary context. Topics include: Epigenetics; Maternal effects; Epistasis and pleitropy; GxE interactions and the physiological basis of phenotype; Responses to selection; Hybrid incompatibility

Cell Signaling

This course examines the pathways used to transmit information within and between cells. Topics include: Receptors with enzymatic activity; RTK and MAP kinase; Protein scaffolds; BMP-, Wnt- and SHH-pathways; G-prptein coupled receptors; Calcium and cAMP-dependent signaling; Excitation and ion channels; Mechanisms of cell death

Cellular Structure and Morphology

This course explores biological processes within eukaryotic cells. Topics include: Mechanotransduction/biomechanics; Cellular interactions; Polarity; Cytoskeletal dynamics.  Cell-matrix interactions

Advanced Developmental Biology

This course examines genetic, biochemical and cell biological aspects of multicellular development in eukaryotes. Topics include: Molecular, genetic, and cellular mechanisms of vertebrate and invertebrate development; Morphogenesis, differentiation, and patterning; Stems cells, development and human diseases; Tissue regeneration

Microbial Diversity

This course will survey important genetic, genomic, physiological, cell biological and developmental processes that distinguish viral,  prokaryotic and unicellular eukaryotic organisms. Topics include: Bacteriophages, plants and animal viruses; Bacterial intracellular pathogens, parasites and symbionts of plants and animals; Eukaryotic pathogens


This course will highlight approaches to problems that utilize the examination of genomic data sets. Topics include: Phylogenetics; Transcriptomics and metabolomics; Detecting selective sweeps; Gene origination; Linkage disequilibrium; Genome-wide Association Mapping; QTL, and eQTL analysis

Advanced Evolution

This course explores factors that influence inheritance. Topics include: Gene-by-Environment Interactions; Polymorphism and Polyphenism; Sexual Dimorphism; Causes and Consequences of Individual Variation; Extended Phenotypes; Nutrition and the Phenotype; Fitness Landscapes; Mutation and novelty; Trait mapping onto phylogenies

Species Interactions

This course examines the interactions between species in a variety of contexts. Topics include: Coevolution, Mutualism & Parasitism; Plant-Herbivore Co-Evolution; Cospeciation; Hybridization and Signaling of Species Identity; Predation, Predator-Avoidance and Aposematism; Predator-prey interactions; Foraging Ecology; Competition; Tri-trophic level Interactions; Herbivory; Context-, condition- and trait-dependent Species Interactions

Advanced Ecology

This course examines the relationship between organisms and their environment. Topics include: Colonization strategies; Succession; Biogeography; Climate change; Trait-mediated assemblages; Spatial models; Trophic cascades

Model Organisms in Context

This course takes a broad view of model organisms, placing their biological properties within ecological and evolutionary context. Topics include: Gene vs. Species phylogenies, predator/prey interaction, mating systems, life histories, population growth