Course Descriptions


This is a challenging course with considerable theoretical content. The course may be used to fulfill the elective requirements of the Genetics major and Biological Sciences major.

The course has also been taken by many graduate students in the past.






Genetics 01:447:380 or Genetic Analysis I 01:447:384 and General Biology Lab 01:119:117 or 01:119:102

Course Description

The course will begin by focusing on the origins of genes, and the origins of life, and on how evolutionary processes may have begun on earth. As the course develops, it will include a theoretical component, in which the action of different evolutionary mechanisms, like natural selection, genetic drift, and speciation, can be modeled for genes. Later in the semester we will cover other topics in molecular evolution and molecular phylogenetics. The course will also thoroughly cover practical methods for the evolutionary analysis of DNA sequences.

Course satisfies Learning Goals

Students will learn about evolution from the perspective of genetics, including mathematical theory of how genes evolves. Students will apply the ideas and methods they have learned to analyze a data set drawn from published research, and write a paper on the results of their analysis.

Exams, Assignments, and Grading Policy

Tentative exam and grading policy.

There will be three quizzes (all announced well ahead of time) during the semester. The lowest of the three quiz grades will be dropped.

The overall quiz grade will be 30% of the final grade.

There will be a project that will involve the use of computer programs for the evolutionary analysis of a data set of DNA sequences. A significant part of the course will be devoted to learning how to use web-based computer programs for evolutionary analyses.

The project grade will be 30% of the final grade.

There will be a final exam that will make up 40% of the final grade.

Course Materials

Tentative Text Selections for Fall 2010

The Origins of Life: From the Birth of Life to the Origin of Language (Paperback)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 019286209X

The Selfish Gene (Paperback)
Publisher: Oxford University Press; 30th Anniversary edition
ISBN: 0199291152

Fundamentals of Molecular Evolution (Paperback)
Publisher: Sinauer Associates; 2nd edition (January 15, 2000)
ISBN: 0878932666

Course Closed?

No special permission numbers will be administered for this course. If the course is closed you should continue to check WebReg to see if a spot opens.



Dr. Andrew Kern

** All information is subject to change at the discretion of the course coordinator.