Fall 2021

Biology 095
Human Evolution: Past Present Future
Dr. Kristin Bishop-von Wettberg
3 credits

How do human beings fit into the natural world? Are we fundamentally different from other animals, or do we just have a specialized skill set? Who are our closest relatives among non-vertebrates? Among the vertebrates? How did our evolutionary history lead our species to occupy such a key ecological role that the very future of the global ecosystem depends on the choices we make? Through readings, videos, exploratory writing, and discussion we will critically examine our place in the natural world and how we came to occupy it. We will begin the semester learning about the history of evolutionary thought leading up to Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection and studying the mechanism of natural selection. We will then follow the evolutionary history of humans, from the earliest vertebrates in the Cambrian seas, to the colonization of land in the Devonian, to the radiation of mammals after the extinction of the dinosaurs, to the evolution of humans over the last five million years. We will finish the semester by considering the Anthropocene, the period in history during which ecosystems have been primarily affected by human activities – how we got to where we are now, and where we can go from here.

Spring 2022

Biology 096
Professor Laura May-Collado
1 credit

How does modern science evolve? How do researchers build upon each other’s contributions? This Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) provides early opportunities to Life Science Scholars to participate in scientific research. In this course we will focus on the first steps of scientific research: reading, analyzing, and synthesizing scientific literature. Students will discuss how science works and how it is communicated to the scientific community and the public. Specifically, we will discuss how scientific papers are structured and reviewed by peers before publication. Students will read the most recent scientific literature to develop a research question on their field of interest and write a research proposal. This course helps students to get involved early on in scientific inquiry, develop innovative ideas and realistic expectations about science, and gain confidence and competency in developing hypothesis and scientific writing - all key skills that jump-start a research career at UVM.