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BIOL 420 Course Descriptions

BIOL 420: Programming in R (3 credits) with Dr. Jamie Walters: This course aims to provide foundational skills in computational data analysis using the statistical and graphical scripting language "R".  This course assumes no prior experience with computer coding or scripting and only a very modest mastery of statistics.  The course is co-taught with a graduate-level listing and is appropriate for junior/senior students who are actively involved in independent research and are likely to be pursuing graduate education. No specific prerequisites needed. Permission is required and students should contact Dr. Walters for permission. 

BIOL 420 Behavioral Genetics (3 credits) with Dr. Jennifer Gleason: A survey of behavioral genetics in animals and humans. Emphasis is on how the methods and theories of quantitative, population and molecular genetics can be applied to individual and group differences in animals. Behaviors covered may include circadian rhythms, foraging, courtship, learning and memory, anxiety, social structures and human behaviors. (Same as BIOL 655). 

BIOL 420 Indigenous Natural Resource Management (3 credits) with Dr. Ray Pierotti: The purpose of this course is to provide students with a solid understanding of how crucial the management of natural resources is to indigenous communities. In addition, it will allow students to focus on case studies and philosophical principles that compare management techniques derived from European based science with those derived from the cultural traditions and beliefs of indigenous peoples and communities. This should help students develop a knowledge base that will assist them in future work with Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities and cultural practices, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and improving the relations among various groups and institutions.   

Natural resource management has traditionally been considered as an applied aspect of the western scientific tradition. Many reserves, reservations, or homelands are located in areas rich in natural resources, which could provide a culturally appropriate basis for developing tribal economies in the modern world, however, in most cases resource managers on indigenous homelands are non-indigenous and have little or no appreciation of indigenous perspectives and attitudes to how resources, especially living resources such as forests, lakes, streams, and grasslands should be treated from an indigenous point of view. This course will emphasize how indigenous knowledge and attitudes could influence resource management. We will deal with five categories case studies detailing how resources are managed in various indigenous communities. These will include 1) Fishing Rights and Issues, including Anishinaabe fishing rights in the northern US, and Practices of salmon use and management by Indigenous peoples of Northwestern North America, 2) Traditional knowledge based forestry and grazing management practices, 3) Water rights with specific reference and the Shoshone and Arapaho peoples on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, 4) Co-management and Wildlife with particular emphasis on the Kluane First Nation of the Yukon and the Aboriginal peoples of Australia, and 5) Aboriginal Whaling with emphasis on the Makah People of Washington State and the Inuit/Inupiat and Bowhead whales.  

Emphasis on these cases serves two primary functions: 1) Allowing students to understand how Indigenous Knowledge is a powerful and productive way of understanding the world, 2) Empowering indigenous students to stand up for themselves and their traditions both in their own research and in the academic environment. 

BIOL 420 Evolution and Conservation of Marine Mammals (3 credits) with Dr. Ray Pierotti: This course deals with the evolutionary history of marine mammals, and the conservation issues that have arisen round this group.   Marine mammals are unique as terrestrial organisms that have adapted an aquatic way of life, which has put unique evolutionary pressures on cetaceans, pinniped, and sirenians, which have impacted every aspect of their behavior, ecology, physiology and anatomy. 

Marine mammals occupy a unique position in Conservation biology, because the realm that why inhabit is not clearly under the jurisdiction of any nation.  This has required solutions such as the Marine Mammal Protection Act in the US, and the International Whaling Commission.  Cetaceans in particular are the subject of considerable public concern over their perceived complex mental states and unique behaviors.  Pinnipeds have also been the focus of Campaigns by Green Peace.   

The course structure alternates dealing with these different ways of thinking and understanding the unique evolutionary and ecological status of these important fauna. 

BIOL 420 Colloquium Biomedical Research (3 credits) with Dr. Kathy Denning: Reserved for students in programs in the Office for Science and Diversity. Not open to students outside of those programs, and Kathy Denning will contact and work with students to enroll.


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