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Biology Track Core Course 2016

Instructors: Harald Janovjak (coordinator), Eva Benkova, Carl-Philipp Heisenberg and Daria Siekhaus

Teaching Assistants: Daniel Capek, Alexander Leithner, Cornelia Schwayer, Krisztina Ötvös

Description

 

Guiding principles

1. Every big biological problem/question has a structural, mechanical, evolutionary, genetic and population side to it (these intrinsic aspects (not research fields) are called “angles” in this course).

2. A biological problem/question can only be understood by looking at it from several angles.

 

Teaching goal

The goal of the biology track core course is to bridge different areas in biology and to show students how fundamental biological problems and phenomena can be approached from vastly different angles.

 

Format

Each 3-week module is co-taught by 2-3 faculty from different areas in biology and focuses on a specific problem or question (called the "topic" below). Students are first introduced to the problem and given an overview of some of the different methods and approaches available to tackle this topic. The remainder of the 3-week module is spent learning about each of the different approaches and the key conceptual advances to the topic using key literature. Skills emphasized include: understanding main conceptual advances, critical reading of literature, formulating questions and hypotheses, and experimental design, as well as written and oral communication.

 

Topics for 2015/16

  • Week 1-3: Communication - How do cells and organisms respond to the environment?

  • Week 4-6: Movement - How and why do cells move?

     


 

Pre-requisites: A background in life sciences is desirable; students without a life-science background are encouraged to attend "An introduction to Molecular Biology", "Evolutionary Biology" or "Biology Refresher" in the fall semester, or to contact the course coordinator in due course.

Target audience: Students planning to affiliate in a biology research group are encouraged to choose this course as their core course.

Assignments: There is no exam in this course. Students are asked to present once (in a group of two students) and write one essay in the course (individually). These two contributions should be distributed over the two topics and will be graded by all four teachers, who will be present during the entire course. To sign-up for presentations and essays, a wiki page will be used that Harald will explain in the first lecture.

ECTS credits: 3

Start date: May 2nd, 2016

End date: June 22nd, 2016

Withdrawal deadline: May 23rd, 2016

 

Schedule

Date Time Teacher & Topic Venue
       
Topic 1: COMMUNICATION      
Monday, May 2nd 14:30-15:45 Harald - Introductory Lecture Topic 1 Big Seminar Room, Lab Building West
Wednesday, May 4th 8:45-10:00 Eva - The genetic angle Big Seminar Room, Lab Building West
Wednesday, May 4th 13:00-13:50 Recitation - Daniel & Krisztina Big Seminar Room, Lab Building West
Monday, May 9th 8:45-10:00 Student presentation Big Seminar Room, Lab Building West
Wednesday, May 11th 8:45-10:00 Harald - the synthetic angle Big Seminar Room, Lab Building West
Wednesday, May 11th 13:00-13:50 Recitation - Alex & Alvaro Big Seminar Room, Lab Building West
Monday, May 16th      
Wednesday, May 18th 8:45-10:00 Student presentation Big Seminar Room, Lab Building West
Monday, May 23rd 8:45-10:00 Harald - the structural angle Big Seminar Room, Lab Building West
Monday, May 23rd 15:30-16:20 Recitation - Alex & Alvaro Mondi 1
Wednesday, May 25th 8:45-10:00 Student presentation Big Seminar Room, Lab Building West
       
Topic 2: MOVEMENT      
Monday, May 30th 8:45-10:00 Daria - Introductory Lecture Topic 2 Big Seminar Room, Lab Building West
Wednesday, June 1st 8:45-10:00 Daria - the genetic angle Big Seminar Room, Lab Building West
Wednesday, June 1st 13:00-13:50 Recitation - Daniel Big Seminar Room, Lab Building West
Monday, June 6th 8:45-10:00 Student presentation Big Seminar Room, Lab Building West
Wednesday, June 8th 8:45-10:00 CP - the mechanical angle Big Seminar Room, Lab Building West
Wednesday, June 8th 13:00-13:50 Recitation - Cornelia Big Seminar Room, Lab Building West
Monday, June 13th 8:45-10:00 Student presentation Big Seminar Room, Lab Building West
Wednesay, June 15th 8:45-10:00 CP - the population angle Big Seminar Room, Lab Building West
Wednesday, June 15th 13:00-13:50 Recitation - Cornelia Big Seminar Room, Lab Building West
Monday, June 20th 8:45-10:00 Student presentation Big Seminar Room, Lab Building West
Wednesday, June 22nd 8:45-10:00 Grant Panel, Course Feedback and Summary Big Seminar Room, Lab Building West
       

Homework

In the first lecture, we will explain how the homework and assignments work.
 
The articles that are part of the course, along with the sign-up sheet, can be found here:
https://intranet.ist.ac.at/istwiki/index.php/Janovjak_Group
 
Students are asked to read papers ahead of the upcoming corresponding lectures with the following skills in mind:
Extracting information: Explain the background and main question.
Critical reading: Tell us what makes this paper strong / not so strong.
Formulating questions/hypothesis: What would you do next?
Experimental design: How would you approach this next goal?
 
Mini Grant Proposal (5 pages)
1) Discuss the background in the field that led to your picking this question as the key one to address (1/2 to 3/4 of a page).
2) Define the question and why it is important (at most two paragraphs).
3) Describe the set of experiments you would carry out over 3 years to address the question, including potential difficulties and alternate plans.
4) Describe the potential impact of the findings (one paragraph).
5) References (don't count towards 5 pages total).
 
Course material
Slides of 'Introductory Lecture Topic 2' (Daria)
Slides of 'The genetic angle' (Daria)