Course: MOL348
Instructor: Dr. Burdine & Dr. Patterson
S 2019

Description of Course Goals and Curriculum

This class aims to provide a more thorough understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying the development of multicellular organisms. We discuss various facets, like cell-cell communication, intracellular trafficking, and gene regulation, that play a role in the specialization of tissues. Through lectures, precepts, and textbook readings, we were challenged to think like scientists about the processes that give rise to development.

Learning From Classroom Instruction

The lectures were split between Professor Burdine and Professor Patterson as we approached both the cellular and developmental components of this class. Instruction was conducted largely through lecture slides, interspersed with collaborative in-class activities and clicker questions. The actual information in the lectures tended to be very fast-paced so don’t be discouraged if you aren’t able to understand everything being thrown at you. It was helpful to read the textbook (especially for the cellular part of the class) to further solidify the concepts. Additionally, make sure to go through all of the in-class questions afterwards and ensure that you are able to answer all of them. This class also had a precept, which was also unique in its collaborative problem-solving approach to class. Be prepared to discuss with your group and work together to answer the questions/activities posed by the preceptor.

Learning For and From Assignments

This class really emphasizes the importance of applying the information you learn in class to critically think about real-world experimental applications. The weekly problem sets, while challenging and time- consuming, prepare you well for the exam. They help train you to think like a scientist—coming up with a research question, brainstorming experimental techniques, analyzing results, interpretation of data, and using all of this to propose a likely model. This definitely takes some practice, so don’t be discouraged if the problem sets seem difficult in the beginning. There is certainly a lot of information covered in this class. Try not to be bogged down by all of the details when studying for the exam. The exams build up on the critical-thinking skills developed through the PSETS so if you have been putting in the time + effort for those, you should be well prepared! However, I would allocate a significant amount of studying to these tests as there is still a lot of information that is covered.

External Resources

It really helps to work in a group while doing the problem sets. There is a lot of nuances in the problem that may be difficult to catch on your own. Furthermore, by talking through the concepts and debating alternative approaches, you can solidify your understanding of the material and further think like a scientist. Additionally, don’t be afraid to reach out to preceptors about your answers to the problem set questions. They can help guide you and redirect you if your proposed model is not what they are looking for.

What Students Should Know About This Course For Purposes Of Course Selection

People taking this course are likely doing so to fulfill the MOL requirement. I took it my sophomore spring and it was helpful to have this course before taking Core Lab (MOL 350) in junior fall. Some students tend to take Genetics sophomore spring instead and take MOL 348 junior spring. That works too, but some of the MOL 348 material (especially regarding intracellular transport and cytoskeleton components) may be repetitive after having taken MOL 350.
Cell and Developmental Biology

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