Scott C Merrill
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Quantitative Thinking in the Life Sciences
Fall 2012-2016: PSS 381

Course description:

The goal of this course is to build a quantitative foundation and develop tools to help you think about and analyze your specific project in the life sciences. We will focus on learning fundamental principles to assure a solid background that will help in sampling design and analysis, as well as provide the building blocks for further quantitative study. This course will concentrate on thinking about your project, the questions driving your system, and the data that will be needed to answer your scientific questions. Additionally, you will build a foundation for working with R, which is widely considered the gold standard in the life sciences for statistical analysis and modeling.

2014 Syllabus

Course Schedule (pending)

N.T. Hobbs (2012)  An Ecological Modeler's Primer on R

Link to previous courses:

Fall 2012 Quantitative thinking in the life sciences course material

Ecological Gaming
Fall 2013, Spring 2013 & 2014 : HCOL 185, HCOL 186

Course description:

Ecological gaming will examine ecology through the lens of a computer simulation games and challenges. The overarching goal of this course is to instill a foundation of ecological concepts by breaking down ecological complexity into simple, digestible pieces. As a class, we will examine spatially-explicit environments which will allow a discussion of some of the essential building blocks of life and life strategies including examine single population dynamics (resource needs, fecundity strategies, growth rates, lifespan, phenology, reproduction type, dispersal, movement and behavior, within-species competition and density-dependence). The course will continue by looking at species interactions (e.g., competition, mutualism, predation, trophic levels, trophic cascades, food webs). Finally, ecosystem level biocomplexity will be examined by looking at how ecosystem components could influence evolution, ecosystem stability and chaos.

A simulation challenge might include manipulating predator attributes in an ecosystem e.g.,:

A simulation of interactions between a plant species (trophic level 1), an herbivore (trophic level 1), and a predator species (trophic level 1).


Course Schedule (Pending)