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Biology- LB145

Overview of Biology II


The second semester of Biology is a 5-credit course (LB145) that consists of two connected classes (lecture 3 credits, laboratory 2 credits). For any university-level course, for each credit, you are expected to spend 2-3 hours/week outside of class studying and working on homework assignments. Hence this course is more challenging than Biology I and requires more hours of effort and expects you to bring all the knowledge and skills gained in Biology I to hit the ground running when you start Biology II.

The Biology II course (lecture and lab combined) is a continuation of the exploration of life at all levels. During the semester you will study the building blocks of cells, the gross anatomy of the cell, and the structures and organelles that perform the work necessary for cell function. You will also examine several cellular processes at the molecular level, including the central dogma of molecular biology: RNA transcription and protein translation. Mastery of these topics will provide you with an understanding of modern molecular and cellular biology. Some faculty will focus on the small elements inside the cells, others will also bring in context to connect this to larger organisms, ecology, evolution etc.

This course's lecture meets twice a week as two 80-minute class meetings and the laboratory meets twice a week for 2-hours each time (total 4hrs/week).


The "skills" learning goals for Biology II are the same as those for Biology I. It takes years for scientists to master these practices so you will also be provided with more time you to practice and excel in these scientific practices, both in the lecture and lab rooms:

  1. Communicate: Conversation aimed at a variety of audiences important for scientists: (Ben says: "Their data predicts squirrels will hit light speed!" Jen responds: "But they have zero data at that part of the graph.")
    • Speaking: practice speaking and listening to others in large & small groups.
    • Reading: practice careful and critical reading of text, identification of important points & ideas, as well as slow deliberate reading and interpretation of figures and graphs.
    • Writing: practice composition of text, writing manuscripts, building figures and graphs.
    • Thinking: practice identifying data and evaluating author’s evidence-based arguments.
  2. Collaborate: Confidently cooperate in teamwork, and practice team building, team communication and leadership. (e.g. use techniques like "that's a good idea, OK, how can we improve it even more?" "Jon, you haven't spoken much, what do you think?")
  3. Analyze: Interpret evidence collected during experiments, looking for patterns and different ways to represent data, and using logical and/or quantitative reasoning to defend or reject hypotheses (claims).
  4. Design: Apply science process skills, such as: developing hypotheses, making predictions, and designing experiments to test them (e.g. design an experiment to determine whether it's change in temperature or sunlight that causes leaves to turn red in Fall).
  5. Reflect: Develop personal learning goals and reflect on your progress throughout the semester. (e.g. regularly consider "OK, what I am supposed to be learning here? Have I mastered that topic? What next?")

Our "content" learning goals are for you to understand, describe, and provide examples of how: (Topics categorized as Cell and Molecular Biology)

  1. Information in DNA -> becomes (transcribed) information as RNA -> becomes (translated) information in the proteins that determine structure. (e.g. How does a cell make insulin? Transcription make mRNA?)
  2. The 3D structure of a molecule determines its function (and influence its evolution). (e.g. the CFTR protein looks like a roll of toilet paper in the cell membrane, turns out it’s an ion channel)
  3. Changes in DNA (mutations that lead to new alleles) result in changed RNA that may lead to changed protein (structure) that lead to changed function. (e.g. What DNA change leads to sickle cell anemia? or How does a three base deletion result in the disease cystic fibrosis?)
  4. Some cells can capture CO2 and transform photonic* energy into chemical energy (e.g. ATP) to drive cellular processes and build cellular polymers. (e.g. How does photosynthesis work? How does a chlorophyll pigment molecule capture light energy?)
  5. Small organic molecules (nucleotides, amino acids, lipids, carbohydrates) when built into polymers can associate to create large cellular surfaces and compartments with which to perform biochemical processes (called life). (e.g. What is a lipid and how is it used to create a cell membrane? When proteins join a membrane that makes intelligence!)
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