Reflections: Weeks 0 and 1

Greetings, and welcome to my weekly BI311 blog summaries for students! I will be posting these on Friday afternoons for the rest of the term. These summaries will provide some basic reflections on the material covered over the previous week, as well as a sneak peek at information that will be presented the following week. I encourage everyone to take the few minutes to read through these blog posts to help learn and understand material presented in lecture. There will NEVER be material found only in the blog that will appear on the midterms and final. Rather, the blog summaries serve to supplement and provide a different ‘voice’ for the material covered during lectures, recitations, and in the homework. Enjoy!

Week 0 and 1 Reflections: In the first few lectures we reviewed DNA basics, with special emphasis on its features that make it an effective molecule for heredity (replication) and coding biological functions (transcription and translation, for example). There was also a strong emphasis on some of the basic laboratory techniques (restriction analysis, agarose gels, PCR, terminator-based DNA sequencing) used by scientists to study genetic processes – it will be important to have a strong understanding of these methods: what each one achieves, and how each one works. These methods will repeatedly come up throughout the course as we discuss more and more about genetic processes. We also started down the path of understanding the logic of genetic analysis in understanding biochemical pathways, including complementation testing. This sort of analysis underpins many genetic studies and the conceptual logic is very important to understand. In recitation, you got to know Sulochana and brushed up on some important concepts and terminology. These early lectures were meant to mostly be review – covering key concepts and topics that I will presume students know and understand as we move forward in the class.

Week 2 Sneak Peek: We will quickly review material from Chapter 1.3 on Monday, and then switch focus to the fundamental processes of transmission genetics that were revealed by Gregor Mendel’s famous pea plant experiments. Chapter 2 is very foundational – important to make sure you understand the concepts presented here to succeed in this class.

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