GEOL 101: Dinosaurs From the titanic titanosaurs to the speedy survivors at your backyard birdfeeder, this course focuses on DINOSAURS in all their glory. Our journey through the semester will include an investigation of the fossil record and the rocks that preserve it, an analysis of evolutionary developmental biology and it’s role in studying dinosaurs, and an examination of why and how we know what we do about dinosaurs (and the vast array of information left to discover).
BIOL 194: Human Functional Anatomy We explore the anatomical structures and functions of the human body and consider these essentials through the unique lens of our own, amazing (and sometimes inefficient) evolutionary story. Along they way, we discover the ways in which embryology influences adult form and function, and use examples of what can go wrong in clinical contexts to crystallize our understanding of ‘textbook’ human anatomy. A weekly yoga practice including breathing practices (pranayama) and postures (asanas) serve as tools to cultivate a direct knowledge of our own bodies. Through this unification of science and experience, we’ll develop strength, flexibility and coordination, of both body and mind.
GEOL 194: Flying Dinosaurs and Walking Whales We’ll spend the semester journeying back in time, delving into the fossil record of vertebrates, the backboned animals. Living vertebrates range from humans to hagfish, from aardvarks to alligators, and all points in between. We’ll explore the awesome, 500-million year evolutionary history of vertebrates, and use that framework to investigate the factors that shaped them. We’ll touch on originations and extinctions, the innovation of new body plans, and the functional changes associated with invasion of new habitats. From mouths to jaws, jaws to ears, arms to wings, and fins to legs (and back again), we’ll integrate discoveries in paleontology, geology, and molecular and developmental biology. We’ll discover the little mementos that evolution has left behind in our own human bodies that highlights our ancient fishy origins. The class will include periodic field trips to the Science Museum of Minnesota’s Paleontology Collection. Three hours of lecture each week.
BIOL 270: Biodiversity & Evolution An introduction to the diversity and history of life. This course surveys the major groups of organisms (their morphology, physiology, reproductive cycles) and their evolutionary origins and relationships. Using recent findings from such diverse fields as molecular phylogenetics, developmental biology, and paleontology, this course introduces students to the major branches on the tree of life. Labs include hands-on experiences engaging with the world we inhabit (and the world that inhabits us!), dissections, explorations of the fossil record, and field trips to the Science Museum of Minnesota and Como Zoo & Conservatory.
BIOL 365: Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy Vertebrates are among the first animals that come to mind when we consider the diversity of life on Earth. These backboned organism include more than 50.000 living species that range in size from a fish weighing less than an aspirin to a whale that is the largest animal ever to evolve. Vertebrates live in virtually every habitat on Earth and fly higher, swim deeper, and move faster than any other group of organisms. In this course, we will investigate the variety of vertebrate form and function through the lens of evolutionary history and dissection of representative vertebrates. Emphasis is placed on the origin and diversification of the basic vertebrate body plan and the morphological, functional, and evolutionary patterns that result.
BIOL 477: Research in Paleobiology This course offers an opportunity to conduct collaborative research with a faculty member on topics in paleobiology. Students will actively engage with the primary literature and will design and pursue an investigation independently. The lecture component of the course will center on discussions of literature related to projects, as well as peer-evaluation of oral and written work. The laboratory component focuses on lab research and data analysis.
GEOL 201: Geological Excursions. This course focuses on the geology of a country or a region of the U.S. It also includes a study of the geography and culture of the region. It is designed as a January course. Participants meet prior to departure in order to learn necessary background information. The field excursion generally spans two to three weeks. The region to be studied will be different each year and a student may take the course more than once for credit. Offered occasionally. Check out these photosfrom a recent course taught at the Gerace Research Station on San Salvador Island, Bahamas.