Montana State University
College of Letters & Science > Department of Cell Biology & Neuroscience > Courses > BIOB 140R: Honors Molecular Biology and Gene Regulation

Department of Cell Biology & Neuroscience

Montana State University
P.O. Box 173148
Bozeman, MT 59717-3148

Tel: (406) 994-5120
Fax: (406) 994-7077
Location: 510 Leon Johnson Hall

Department Chair

Frances Lefcort, Ph.D.



BIOB 140R:

Honors Molecular Biology and Gene Regulation

Spring 2012 Syllabus

Instructor: Dr. Christa Merzdorf

Office: LJH 529
Phone: 994-5645

Course time: Wed 2-5 pm; Fri 2-5 pm

Grading:        18% Exam #1 (100 pts)
                        18% Quizzes (100 pts)
                        18% Final Exam (100 pts)
                        14% Student presentation
                        14% Participation in lab exercises and active participation in class
                        18% Debate (background paper, interviews, debate contributions and participation in debate)

Quizzes:  There are 6 quizzes.  Each quiz has 10 points, composed of a 5 point individual component, followed by a 5 point group component.  There will be no makeup quizzes.  The top 5 quizzes will be counted.  The score from the top 5 quizzes will be doubled to arrive at a total of 100 possible points.  These quizzes will be in class.

Student presentations:

  1. These presentations are 5-10 min long (please do not exceed 10 min – aim for 5-8 min).  Please run through your presentation out loud to ensure that you can fit all your main points into 8 min or less.  (See at bottom for online option.)
  2. Pairs of students will present each week.
  4. Please select a concept from the material since the last student presentation (see syllabus for broad topic guidelines).  I encourage you to include items in your presentation that weren’t clear to you (you might even point these out), since chances are that others were confused as well.  In order to receive an A on your presentation, you must present an aspect pertaining to your topic, which was not covered in class.  This can be a medically relevant aspect of your topic, but it does not have to be.
  5. Let your imagination roam.  You can create and bring any kinds of visual aids.  You can act, make models (which I highly encourage), use the board or transparencies.  You can combine various presentation techniques and you might think of something else yet.  Please don’t use pre-made images, but create your own.
  6. Submit 2 thoughtful potential exam questions to me at the time of your presentation.  These questions should not ask about a very specific detail from your talk, but should ask about a concept or about a relatively general idea that you are covering in your talk.  These questions should be designed so that they can be answered in one sentence (please do not submit questions that can be answered in one or two words).  Please submit draft answers along with your questions (these draft answers can be longer than one sentence, but please underline what you consider the key information).  I won’t be able to use every question on exams that is submitted.  I will have to make choices, but the more well-designed your question, the more likely I will be to include it on an exam or quiz.  (I need to reserve the right to not use even excellent questions, depending on what I need to cover on quizzes and exams.  I would also like to reserve the right to change questions if needed.)

For grading, key points are: (also see grading sheet/rubric at end of syllabus)

  1. Create any models, slides, animations, videos yourself and do not use prefab stuff off the web.  You can use similar images as what you find in the book or on the web, but you have to draw them on the board or recreate them yourself in some other way. The point is to really learn your topic and only when you make a model, a drawing, an animation, etc yourself do you really understand.  If you would like to use something pre-made, please check with me during the class before your presentation for approval.
  2. Present focused background information from the lecture/book (particularly something that may not have been clear from my lecture - hopefully your audience will gain understanding of concepts that may have remained obscure from my lecture).
  3. Present information on your topic that goes beyond the material covered in class (e.g. you are highly encouraged to talk about connection to a disease or other medical relevance, although this does not work for every topic).
  4. Make sure that your presentation focuses on a concept with enough detail to really understand, i.e. capture the content of your subject and convey it clearly and convincingly.
  5. Be sure to remain focused so that you do not exceed 10 min.
  6. Quality of the 2 potential exam questions and quality of the draft answers.

Have some fun with this assignment!  Be creative!  But don’t feel like you have to spend incredible amounts of time (or money) on creativity.  Content matters.  But keep in mind that a picture, a visual aid, or a homemade model/animation can be worth a 1000 words.  Thus, DO NOT use slides with text on them other than a heading (and the slides have to be drawn by you).

Audience: Please be on time for these presentations.  It is extremely disruptive for those who are speaking when people trickle in.
The content of the presentations is part of the course material.  I will use the questions submitted by presenters on quizzes and exams.
Presenters: please make sure you are ready to go right at the beginning of class.

Stem cell debate:
            Separate handout.

Lecture notes, handouts, quizzes, exams etc will be posted on D2L.  Please check D2L often for messages regarding the course, content, etc.

Grading will be as follows:
91.6-100% = A; 90-91.5% = A-  (MSU grade submission web site doesn’t allow A+)
88.5-89.9% = B+; 81.6-88.4% = B; 80-81.5% = B-
78.5-79.9% = C+; 71.6-78.4% = C; 70-71.5% = C-
68.5-69.9% = D+; 61.6-68.4% = D; 60-61.5% = D-
0-59.9% = F
Lecture exams will focus on the material presented since the last exam, but they will presume knowledge gained earlier in the course.  Active participation during lectures and during all other parts of the course is highly desired and will be considered very favorably during the assignment of final grades.
Make-up exams will only be given in unusual circumstances, confirmed by written documentation regarding health issues or issues dealt with by the office of the Dean of Students.  Unless the circumstances make it impossible, advanced permission must be obtained before a make-up exam will be allowed.  Make-up exams are historically more difficult than the original exam.
As defined in the MSU student Academic and Conduct Guidelines and Grievance Procedures (available on the MSU web site), there are specific procedures to be followed in case of suspected cheating, plagiarism, or academic misconduct.  Any cheating on any exam or assignment will lead to a grade of zero for that examination or assignments and consideration of a grade of F for the course.

ADA compliance: Reasonable accommodations will be provided for all persons with disabilities to ensure equal participation in the course.  Please contact the instructor if you require assistance.

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