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Welcome to the U. of I Institute for Genomic Biology’s first virtual chat! This chat (https://uofi.app.box.com/s/zuoamhyywz7ql2h59wnia7h80fq901e0) is comprised of four short talks. The structure of the chat is outlined in the first six minutes. After that, Dr. Collin Kieffer (6:00) talks about the virus itself, Dr. Chris Brooke (18:14) talks about testing and vaccines, Dr. Jessica Brinkworth (34:41) talks about clinical manifestations and disease outcomes, and Dr. Becky Smith (55:17) talks about modeling. This is certainly the best overall discussion of COVID-19 biology, impacts, spread, and our ability to model future impacts that I’ve encountered so far.

Select three of the four talks. For each of your three selected talks, in a single paragraph, summarize 1) the points you found most interesting from that talk AND 2) summarize what you learned/your response to that particular talk.

Assignment 8: Enter this assignment at the top of your Google Doc. Begin with an appropriate title, introduce the chat in your first paragraph. Your final three paragraphs (one per selected talk) should address both of the aspects outlined in the paragraph above. This assignment is due at 5 PM, Wednesday, April 22. I hope you find the chat as fascinating as I did!

 

 

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Red maple leaf bud and developing seeds (helicopters!) developing from flowers. Image captured by D. Stone, April 10, 2020, Urbana, IL.

Monday/Tuesday, April 13/14, 2020

Watch Episode 3: The Private Life of Plants – Flowering (https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=vimeo+private+life+of+plants&docid=607998507812192359&mid=18201DD7F1788A602BAA18201DD7F1788A602BAA&view=detail&FORM=VIRE). Next, read pages 668-673 of your text. Finally, go outside, look for buds on various bushes and trees in your yard or near your home. Select two different species. Photograph each bud three times this week, taking each photograph one to two days apart. Even better, if your selected buds (which will be either a leaf or flower bud) is in very close proximity to a bud of the other type, try to get both in focus in your set of images.

Assignment 6, Part 1: Post both video and reading notes at the top of your Google Doc. Below those notes, add the three images of each bud. Below the image sets, in one to two paragraphs summarize the changes you observed in each bud. Due at 5 PM, Friday, April 17.

Assignment 6, Part 2: Watch Episode 2 of Ken Burns’ “The Gene: An Intimate History.” It will be broadcast on PBS/WILL from 7-9 PM on Tuesday, April 14 and 3-5 PM Thursday, April 16. No notes are necessary.

Wednesday/Thursday, April 15/16, 2020

Watch the first selection from “The Botany of Desire” (https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=the+botany+of+desire&docid=607997090469121533&mid=B2C49A65090166A1402CB2C49A65090166A1402C&view=detail&FORM=VIRE), which focuses on the economics of plant breeding, next week’s focus.

Assignment 7: Post notes from this video at the top of your Google Doc.  Due at 5 PM, Friday, April 17.

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Monday/Tuesday, April 13/14

Our focus this week is genomics. Read pages 430-440 from your text. It deals with history of the HGP, Nancy Wexler’s work, methodology in determining genomes, comparative genomics, and factors to consider in determining whether you should have your genome sequenced.

Assignment 6, Part 1: Post reading notes at the top of your Google Doc. Due at 5 PM Tuesday, April 14.

Assignment 6, Part 2: Watch Episode 2 of Ken Burns’ “The Gene: An Intimate History.” It will be broadcast on PBS/WILL from 7-9 PM on Tuesday, April 14 and 3-5 PM Thursday, April 16. No notes necessary.

Wednesday/Thursday, April 15/16

Select a Genome Project dealing with a non-human species that you find interesting. You may want to use page 438 of your text as a starting point or use a different species genome project.

Assignment 7: In a single page, begin with an appropriate title, list 1) Species Sequenced, 2) Current Status of Project (currently underway or completed), 3) Findings, 4) Potential Applications of Information From This Project, 5) URL of Main Page Dealing With This Project, and 6) Noteworthy Miscellany You Encountered While Researching This Genome Project. Limit yourself to a single page. Post this assignment at the top of Google Doc. Due at 5 PM, Friday, April 17. Have fun with this!

 

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Dr Hamilton Smith won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1978. He has something in common with all of you. What could it be?

Watch the Discovery Channel’s “100 Greatest Discoveries: Genetics” (https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=best+genetics+movie&docid=608012891669006396&mid=CC4E1D55FEDA9CCFEC26CC4E1D55FEDA9CCFEC26&view=detail&FORM=VIRE). It’s a really well done history of genetics from the time of Mendel to the Human Genome Project. One of the really nice things about this series is that the discoveries are typically explained by the scientists, many Nobel laureates, who made each discovery.

Assignment 4,  Part 1: As some of us move into our fourth week of sheltering at home, how are you doing, both physically and mentally? What’s going well? What challenges are your experiencing? I’m concerned about you. I’d appreciate a paragraph or two update from you.

Assignment 4,  Part 2: Watch the video, record notes regarding each discovery, typed notes are fine. Post those notes at the top of your Google Doc.

This assignment is due at 5 PM Tuesday, April 7.

Assignment 5: Nobel laureate Hamilton Smith worked extensively with restriction enzymes. In two to three paragraphs, discuss Smith’s background, discoveries, and applications of his research. Limit yourself to two paragraphs and three web resources. For each web resource, list only the title and URL. This assignment, due at 5 PM, Friday, April 10, should be posted at the top of your Google Doc.

 

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Moss showing both sporophyte and gametophyte stages. Image captured by D. Stone, 4/3/2020.

Monday/Tuesday, April 6/7 – Today’s focus is mosses, fairly simple nonvascular plants (i.e. they lack conductive tissue called xylem and phloem). Read pages 610-611 from your text. For a quick overview of moss reproduction, watch Moss Reproduction (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcWYAnmm-QE). Follow that with the Moss Life Cycle (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kY7uzeYWFc).

Assignment 4, Part 1: As some of us move into our fourth week of sheltering at home, how are you doing, both physically and mentally? What’s going well? What challenges are your experiencing? I’m concerned about you. I’d appreciate a paragraph or two update from you.

Assignment 4, Part 2: Go outside, stay within your yard, and find and photograph a moss. You’ll likely be able to find one. The north side of trees is often a great place to find them. Please don’t confuse mosses, which should be a distinct dark green, with lichens which we discussed earlier and you’ve already seen in class. Post a “selfie” in your Google Doc with the moss you find, using either you, your hand, or your finger for size perspective. In a single paragraph present an overview of moss reproductions. Follow this with a second paragraph, discussing what is happening specifically reproductively within your photographed moss at this point in time based in the information provided in the videos.

Your update, picture, and the two paragraphs should be added to the top of your Google Doc by 5 PM Tuesday, April 7.

Wednesday/Thursday, April 8/9 – Vascular plants have tubes called xylem and phloem. Xylem  allows for directional movement of water and minerals up the plant from the roots, while phloem carry sugars from the photosynthetic leaves and stems downward to the rest of the plant. There are a few exceptions to this, but let’s not deal with those right now. Read pages 637-638 of your text for an introduction to these two types of vascular tissue.

Next watch Plant Transport Xylem and Phloem, Transpiration [3D Animation] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmBDVIUB19g). The size of nonvascular plants, such as mosses, are limited by the mixing of substances moving in opposite directions. The presence of vascular tissue in plants allows for unobstructed unidirectional movement. The increased efficiency in transport allows for the significant size increase you see in vascular plants ranging from dandelions to sequoias.

There are four different types of tissue found in vascular plants – meristematic, apical, intercalary, and lateral. Read about those on pages 633-637.

Assignment 5: Asexual propagation is human-mediated encouragement of vegetative growth from existing plant tissue. New growth occurs from the meristems. I’d like you to dabble with this by growing plants from vegetables that you likely already have at home. As your family uses fruit and vegetables in meal preparation, select a part that is typically discarded to grow your own plant. Watch the following videos regarding asexual propagation of carrots (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSqYvJQBwr0) and celery (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-CfJVidG7o)).Those are pretty detailed.  Now watch “How to Grow Everything” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jze8utzpLhg). That was fun, wasn’t it? Your task is to determine which type of plant you would like to grow, determine what you need to do using video provided, and photograph your asexual plant propagation set-up with your finger in the picture for size perspective. I look forward to seeing how your selected plant develops!

Your picture(s) and a single paragraph description of how you’ve begun propagation of your plant should be added to the top of your Google Doc by 5 PM Friday. April 10.

 

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Our focus during the fourth quarter is molecular genetics. We’ll begin this week by reviewing DNA structure, transcription, and translation.

Monday-Tuesday, March 30-31 – DNA Structure and Replication

Begin by reading pages 167-176 of Human Genetics: Concepts and Applications. Don’t take page 176 for granted. Next, watch “DNA Structure and Replication: Crash Course Biology #10” (https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=best+DNA+structure+videos&view=detail&mid=3F641FE890BBD0B597F13F641FE890BBD0B597F1&FORM=VIRE).

 The presenter is both excellent and annoying, clearly a winning combination! In the equivalent of a single page or less, summarize the basics of DNA structure and replication, including enzyme functions. Add this to your Google Doc.

This assignment is due at 9 PM on Tuesday, March 31.

Wednesday-Thursday, April 1-2 – Transcription and Translation

Watch “DNA, Hot Pockets, & The Longest Word Ever: Crash Course Biology #11” (https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=DNA%2c+Hot+Pockets%2c+&view=detail&mid=9C372DE2FDB9CFEB6B439C372DE2FDB9CFEB6B43&FORM=VIRE).

Begin by reading pages 180-190 of Human Genetics: Concepts and Applications. In the equivalent of a single page or less, summarize the basics of transcription and translation.

This assignment is due at 5 PM on Friday, April 3.

We’ll be going off on individual PCR-based adventures next week. I think you’ll like it. I miss you folks…

 

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Canada goose, image captured March 28, 2020, Moorman Farm Ponds, Champaign, IL.

This week I’d like you to get outside and experience local wildlife seasonality! Begin by reading the section of your text dealing with birds (pages 861-869). Next, watch The Great Migration (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhwBDjfWr_M). You may not be aware of this, but we live in the middle of one of the major US bird migratory flyways, the Mississippi flyway (https://www.ducks.org/conservation/where-ducks-unlimited-works/waterfowl-migration-flyways/du-projects-mississippi-flyway). We’ll focus on waterfowl and water-associated birds this week, which happen to be my favorite animals to photograph.

Begin by watching several minute-long clips from a Nature episode entitled, “An Original Duckumentary”.

Introduction – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vkL0vhotfA

Warm Ducks in the Cold Arctic – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0mjQtOWFSI

Fixing Your Feathers  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otpTdFAdC8A

Jumping Duckling – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3vCUyENpmM

Tiny Ducklings Leap from Tree https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Etc3xTlbygI

And then you have two options!

Option #1 – Waterfowl

Trip 1 – Moorman Pond – Just southwest of the intersection of 4th and Hazelwood in Champaign. Bring a good pair of binoculars, a notebook, and a pen. Restrict your movement to the side of the pond that parallels the road. Spend a half hour at the pond. Sit quietly. Focus on the sights and sounds. What do you see? What do you hear? Some things you’ll observe include a nesting pair of Canada geese, red-winged blackbird males juggling their territories along the water’s edge, and a variety of ducks coming and going. I took the following pictures Saturday, March 28. These may help you in your bird species identification. Photograph the setting where you make your observations. Include whatever bird life your camera’s abilities allow you to capture.

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Red-winged blackbird (male), image captured March 28, 2020, Moorman Farm Ponds, Champaign, IL.

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Wood ducks (drakes more colorful than hens), image captured March 28, 2020, Moorman Farm Ponds, Champaign, IL.

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American coot, image captured March 28, 2020, Moorman Farm Ponds, Champaign, IL.

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Ruddy duck (drake), image captured March 28, 2020, Moorman Farm Ponds, Champaign, IL.

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Buffleheads (drake front, hen behind), image captured March 28, 2020, Moorman Farm Ponds, Champaign, IL.

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Scaup (front, male), image captured March 28, 2020, Moorman Farm Ponds, Champaign, IL.

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Pied-billed grebe, image captured March 28, 2020, Moorman Farm Ponds, Champaign, IL.

Trip 2 – Second Street Drainage Basin – Corner of 2nd Street and Springfield Ave., Champaign. This is a fantastic site for observing courtship, mating,  and territoriality among mallards and Canada geese. Spend a half hour observing waterfowl from the observation deck at the basin. Photograph what you see. Bonus noncountable points if you photograph courtship (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmp8e9_Fa50 ), mating (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Crpvs3s7rug),or a bird fully upright after preening (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otpTdFAdC8A).

Your Assignments for the Week (Waterfowl Option)

  1. One to two paragraphs regarding what you observed at the Moorman Farm pond. Include photographs.
  2. One to two paragraphs regarding what you observed at the Second Street Drainage Basin. Include photographs.
  3. The BBC published an article regarding pangolins carrying a virus similar to the COVID-19 virus (https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-52048195). Please read the article and then watch the full episode of Nature: The Most Wanted Animal (https://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/worlds-wanted-animal-full-episode/16258/). In two to three paragraphs, discuss pangolin biology, conservation concerns, and what you think needs to be done to ensure their survival.

Option #2 – Surveying the Avian Life Around Your Home

Please select three half hour periods (one during the morning hours, one around noon, and one in the late afternoon hours) this week. Set up a chair in the shade next to your house, bring a good pair of binoculars if you have them, a notebook, and a pen. Spend a half hour observing the bird life around your home. Sit quietly. Focus on the sights and sounds. What do you see? What do you hear?

Record physical and behavioral descriptions of the various birds you see. What are they doing? What are the interactions you observe within and between species? Photograph what you see. After each half hour of observation, identify the species as best you can using the whatbird.com website. To narrow your identifications from the start, go to the Illinois page (https://www.whatbird.com/birdexpert/StateColorSize/2/6430/birdexpert.aspx). Song bird identification can be challenging. Do the best you can using that resource. I look forward to hearing about what you observe!

Your Assignments for the Week (Surveying the Avian Life Around Your Home Option)

  1. One to two paragraphs regarding what you observed during each of your three half hour observation periods at your home. Include photographs.
  2. The BBC published an article regarding pangolins carrying a virus similar to the COVID-19 virus (https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-52048195). Please read the article and then watch the full episode of Nature: The Most Wanted Animal (https://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/worlds-wanted-animal-full-episode/16258/). In two to three paragraphs, discuss pangolin biology, conservation concerns, and what you think needs to be done to ensure their survival.

Your set of assignments (select either the Waterfowl Option or the Surveying the Avian Life Around Your Home Option) are due at 5 PM Friday, April 3, 2020.

Next week we’ll begin with a lichen/plant-based scavenger hunt at your home and move into some aspects of plant structure. It sure would be more fun to be doing this with you in person…

 

Because it seems EVERYONE in both sections of the Genetics and Society class is so interested in inbreeding, our first assignment will focus on genetic drift, the founder effect, and population bottlenecks. Begin by reading pages 285-289 of your text, Human Genetics: Concepts and Applications.

Follow that by reading “Go Ahead, Kiss Your Cousin”. Thanks to Adam Zilles for suggesting the article to me after encountering it in his U of I Anthropology 143 class.

Finally, follow that up by pursuing one of the three links below. Limit yourself to fifteen minutes of topic exploration.

US Laws Regarding Intermarriage

Consanguinity (Worldwide)

Inbreeding, Linebreeding, and Outcrossing in Livestock, a kind of tongue-in-cheek overview of the differences by one of the early producers of  thoroughbred horse genealogy and racing performance databases.

Homework Assignment

Within your Google Doc, begin with an appropriate title and the date, then 1) in one to two paragraphs discuss your reaction to the Discover Magazine article, and 2) in one to two paragraphs discuss what you learned/your thoughts after pursuing your selected option from the three presented above.

This assignment is due at noon, Friday, March 27, 2020. Have fun with it!

In Dr. Majerus’ e-mail welcoming you back after Spring Break, she suggested we use this challenging time we’re living through to find new ways to connect with one another and to learn more strategies for solving some of the problems that lie ahead of us.

One of our worldwide challenges is that of providing sufficient high quality protein sustainably to an ever-growing population. Entomophagy may provide that solution!

Your assignment is to watch the BBC production, “Can Eating Insects Save the World?” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Acxbx-DUkL4). It is just short of an hour in length. I’m certain you will enjoy it. If you can connect to your TV and watch it with your family, you’ll enjoy it even more!

After watching this, I’d like you to share your thoughts regarding entomophagy in your Google Doc. Please begin with an appropriate title and respond with your thoughts, limiting them to a maximum of three paragraphs. No citations needed.

Finally, I’d like you to access “Edible Insects: Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security“. We’ll be using that book for next Monday’s assignment.

This assignment is due at noon, Friday, March 27, 2020. Have a great weekend!

 

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Assignment 1, Part 1: Getting Started

We’re beginning the new quarter asynchronously. The first assignment is identical for both Organismal Biology students and Genetics students. The assignment, to be completed during your first allotted class period on March 23 or March 24, begins with responding to the the following four questions in your Google Doc, two paragraphs maximum, please.

  1. How are YOU doing at this point regarding school, and your current shelter-in-place-situation?
  2. Do you have any concerns regarding Internet connectivity at this point?
  3. What do you look forward to as Uni begins asynchronous/synchronous electronic learning and communication?
  4. What concerns do you have regarding our move to asynchronous/synchronous electronic learning and communication?

Assignment 1, Part 2: Scientific Modeling

Governor Pritzker regularly refers to his use of models in making determinations in areas ranging from traffic flow to epidemiology. Here is a fascinating set of state by state corona virus spread anticipatory models. Note that each model includes number of anticipated hospitalizations with 1) no action, 2) 3 months of social distancing, and 3) 3 months of “shelter in place”. It also includes an anticipated date range for the point of no return if no intervention takes place, which is currently the case for most states. The solid black line is the anticipated number of hospital beds anticipated to be available on each date. Compare Illinois with New York and New Jersey. It’s quite sobering.

In a single paragraph, share your thoughts about these models via your Google Doc.

  1. What is your reaction?
  2. What specifically have you and your family done to curtail spread of corona?
  3. What changes could you make to increase personal/family safety?

Optional Reading

The Tip of the Iceberg: Virologist David Ho Speaks About COVID-19

David Ho, who you may know as a prominent AIDS researcher, discusses COVID-19 virulence, similarity to classic SARS/MERS viruses, potential for seasonality, mutation, recurrence, and the future.

And that’s it! Your next assignment will be made available Tuesday evening, March 24. I look forward to hearing from each of you via your Google Doc!