Think Like a Scientist: Genetics and the Scientific Method

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  • Session A: July 10 - July 22, 2017
  • Session B: July 24 - August 5, 2017


  • 1:30 p.m. - 4 p.m.


  • Sciences


  • Kaitlin Laws

How does genetic information result in physical traits, and how are those traits inherited? How do scientists use genetics to understand biological processes? How is scientific knowledge shared within and outside of the scientific community? In this course, we will study the principles of genetics, discussing both the molecular regulation of gene expression and classical Mendelian transmission genetics; further, we will explore how scientists use genetics to contribute to our understanding of other areas of biology, including neuroscience. Focusing on the use of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, as a genetic model organism, we will discuss how scientists draw conclusions from their data and report their results to their communities. Finally, we will ask how to critically evaluate genetics research presented in both scientific journal articles and as pieces in mainstream publications.

The course is a mixture of lectures, discussion, and activities (both lab and non-lab) complemented by nightly reading assignments. Students can expect to learn the fundamentals of molecular genetics (gene structure, the flow of genetic information, and the regulation of gene expression) and Mendelian inheritance (how genes are transmitted) and understand how experimentalists exploit these principles to learn more about biology as a whole. They will explore how to design and perform experiments based on testable hypotheses and to collect and analyze data. Students can also expect to learn to reflect critically on primary and secondary scientific literature, making this an appropriate course for future science majors and those who are simply curious about biology.

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