Biology Dept -- Fall 2014 -- Kenyon College

WF 2:10 - 4:00pm, Hig Aud
Nov19-Dec12: W or F

Equations for Biology
CASIO fx-280 Calculator

Biology in Science Fiction

Syllabus 2014

Bring computer. eBooks.

Dr. Joan Slonczewski
Office: Hig 302

Office Hours: 1:00-4:00 TuTh
Dr. Kathy Gillen (Nov15-Dec12)

MSSC Tutor: Sarah Frantz
In this course, we investigate biology in the context of science fiction literature. We learn to interpret data based on common patterns of biological science, including basic quantitative reasoning. We also explore the human, societal and artistic dimensions of science fiction.

Our theme this year is: Human Being--Alien Worlds. How do humans--and other life forms--evolve and adapt to a world such as
Pandora, or Arrakis--or Antarctica?
Subject - SURVEY
Readings & Work Due on
Midnight BEFORE Class
Aug 29 Star Trek: Tribbles. Triticale. Population. Logarithms. Calculator. Khan Acad. *PPT01.
Sep 03
Exponent. USA_Population.
X-Men: Mutants in fiction and in biology. OMIM. Normal.
Doubled muscle: Dogs; Cattle. CF; Marfan. *PPT02A.
Muscle Baby (1st 2 pages)

Sep 05
Inheriting Traits: MendelCat; MendelAlien
Galapagos: My Fragile World
. Islands. Raft1. Raft2.
Bible: Adam; Eve; Noah's Ark. *PPT02B.
Galapagos - Intro, Ch 1, Ch 2
Alien 1

Galapagos Visitors. Biomorphs. Rosencrantz. OMIM. Huntington's; LDL; Retinitis pigmentosa. *PPT03A.
Genetic Drift: Drift1; Drift2;
Thursday 4:15 - Amazon Lecture, HigAud - EXTRA CREDIT

Galapagos -- Complete

Sep 12
Human evolution; Chimp breakup
Evolution; Speciation.  Lemmings1Lemurs; *PPT03B. Lemmings--Disney. Lemmings. Snopes.
Alien 2
Sep 17 Dune: Sahara; Desert Rainfall; *Water Handouts.*PPT04A. Middle East; Wars; Iraq Oil; Gadgets
Sandfish1; Sandfish2; Arabic & Islamic
Lawrence of Arabia; Gertrude Bell;
Dune, Book I & 2; Appendix 1
Sep 19


Ecosystems: Dune vs. Gambier; *PPT04B.
Dune: Energy and Ecosystem. Desert life. Wind power.
Water; Desert; Mojave; Sahara; Finding Water;
Stillsuit; Humidity; Perspiration; Desert Dino; Fossil Hunter;
Solar power; Water conservation; Power consumption
Dune Book 3

Sep 24

Waking Dream. Lucy. Brain drugs; LSD cat; Army testing.
Control of Reproduction. Fossil Hunter. Ebola. EXCEL.
Review for Test 1. *PPT05A.
Thursday 4:15 - Antarctica Lecture, HigAud - REQUIRED
Test 1 Practice--Optional
Practice Key
Sep 26
Avatar  No E-devices.  

Oct 03

Discuss Avatar. Wildlife decline. *PPT06B.
Divergence and Convergence. Food web

Cooperation:Symbiosis; Cooperation; Ant Acacia
Animal & Human Behavior. Chimps
Oct 08
Oceans; Food web; Coral; Cephalopods; Video.*PPT07A.
Mangrove. How contagious is a virus?
Class done by 3:30.

Door into Ocean, Part 1 & 2

Oct 15
Guide to A Door. Ocean Deep. Octopus. *PPT08A. Green Energy.
Nonviolent Revolution
. Solidarity. Hong Kong.
Hemoglobin/CO2; Hemoglobin; CO2 buffer; Octopus.
Oct 17
Environment: Lake Erie; Polar Ice; Ocean Acid. *PPT08B.
Acid dissociation. Ocean Acidification. Sulfuric Acid.
In vitro fertilization; Nonreproductive sex in nature Genome; Molecules; Stem cellsDIY Biology
Alien 3

Oct 22

Jurassic Park. Cloning Dinosaurs. *PPT09A. Titanosaur
DNA Quiz; DNA; Costa Rica
Feather Display
; People; Dino bones
Extra Credit--Wed Oct 22, 7:30pm -- Adrianna Lopez

Oct 24

Dinos; Hot or Cold? Sex selection. PCRWeb Projects. Practice Molecular Biology. Genome; Biomolecules; Cancer; DNA Quiz; Cloning; Paternity; BLAST.
Deinocheirus. Nature report. *PPT09B.

Muscle Baby (Complete)

Oct 29

Extra Credit--Tues Oct 28, 11:10 - Doctors without Borders
More DNA
OMIM. BLAST; Webcutter;
Human Genome.
Practice Test 2. Outbreak. PCR animation. *PPT10A.

Web Proposal Due

Oct 31
Nov 05

Cloning humans. Mask. Antarctica. *PPT11A.
What price immortality? Stem cells; Eye Gene Therapy
What's Lysine? Amino Acids; Ribosome
WEEBLY: Start your website

Nov 07
Volcano. *PPT11B.
Brain and sensation.
Opsins. Max LifeFantastic Voyage
Emerging diseases. AIDS Quilt; Lentivectors
Growth: S curve Slope Curves.
X-linked genes. Pedigrees Infrared: IR Photography
Political Theory: Posthumanism
Brain Plague Ch 1-12.
Ebola article
Nov 12
Dopamine; Nicotine, Cocaine; Hedweb; Mouse Party.
Art/Biology Controversy: Sensation exhibit.
*Test 3 Practice.
Brain Plague  (complete)

Alien 4 -- Wed. 11:59pm
Nov 14
Brain power: Brainwaves; Brain reading; Brain remote
Machine AI. Robots evolve; Mind Children. MIPS
Brain power;
Measure of a Man.
Class done by 3:30.

Nov 19
Antarctica: Encounters at the End of the World
Web work
Dec 05
X-files: Postmodern Prometheus
Embryos; Drosophila; Hox1; The Fly
Ligers; Chimeras; Zoo
Web work
Dec 12

Share Web projects.  Review for Test 3. 

Web Due: Dec 10
Dec 16

8:30 AM TEST 3

Test 3 -- exam week

Required texts. Must purchase eBook here:

Galapagos, by Kurt Vonnegut
Dune, by Frank Herbert
Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton
A Door into Ocean, by Joan Slonczewski
Brain Plague, by Joan Slonczewski

CASIO fx-260 Calculator required. Bring to every class. (Available at Bookstore).
On line: 
Study Guide and linked readings (right column).

Tests. The three 80-minute tests are based on the Study Guide, the books, and on the math assignments. Students need to apply principles to new examples.

WEB PROJECT. A creative web project will address a compelling question about biology. May be fictional or scientific.  Use WEEBLY.
(1) include principles of real biology learned in class
(2) include mathematical reasoning.

(3) Approximately 3,000 words plus images and references.

ATTENDANCE. 100% attendance is expected. Two absences are excused for sports or other reasons, but you are responsible for all material missed.

ANTARCTICA. From Nov 15 - Dec 18, Prof. Slonczewski investigates photosynthesis in Antarctica. Class will meet once per week, with Prof. Kathy Gillen. Slonczewski will Skype in when possible.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS. Your grade is based on the following. No pass/fail.

30% Three tests. Each test consists of science and math questions based on the books and homework.

30% Alien Assignments. Each Alien Assignment must be submitted through Moodle by 12:00 Midnight BEFORE class. Must represent solely your own work.

30% Web Project. Due December 10, midnight.

10% Attendance and Participation. Attendance must include Surveys and full class period. Oct 28 Antarctica Lecture required; others extra credit.  Participation may include a 5-minute presentation on a relevant topic, or a guest blog post.

How to do well in this class. Attend 100% of classes; complete 100% of work on time; and sleep 8 hours per night.

Women and Gender Studies.This class satisfies a requirement for the Women's and Gender Studies major and concentration. For more information contact program director Laurie Finke.

Standards for Projects and Tests. The standard College guidelines on individual authorship and plagiarism apply to all work, as stated in the Student Handbook 14-15. Web projects must cite all sources in detail comparable to that of a term paper. Copying may look easy--but you'll be expelled from class.

Disabilities. If you have a physical, psychological, medical or learning disability that may affect your ability to carry out assigned course work, please contact the Office of Disability Services at 5453. The Coordinator of Disability Services, Erin Salva, will review your concerns and determine, with you, what accommodations are appropriate. All information and documentation of disability is confidential.

Trigger warnings. The course material presents a wide range of images and beliefs. Everyone is likely to find something objectionable, somewhere in this course. If you personally need to avoid experiencing certain kinds of material, you may discuss with me privately to arrange accommodation. Examples of material presented that some may find shocking or problematic:

  • Episodes in which one life form harms another life form
  • Bodies of deceased life forms
  • Sexual contact in nonreproductive positions or between life forms of different species
  • Oppression of one life form by another life form, based on physical or cultural traits
Title IX. All professors are required to report in confidence any possible violations of interpersonal conduct disclosed by a student.