Evolution: Making Sense Of Aging, Sex, Sociality, Families, and Disease (BIO4318.02)

Kerry Woods

Evolution provides conceptual unity for biology. Darwin’s basic concept, supplemented by 150 years of refinement and additional understanding, informs every area of life science, often in ways that are surprisingly different from the popular understanding (or misunderstanding) of evolutionary theory. This course will establish deep grounding in basic evolutionary theory with particular focus on selective processes and life-history theory. Particular topics are likely to include: evolution of reproductive systems and behaviors, evolutionarily stable strategies and game theory; competing models of sexual selection; inclusive fitness and the evolution of sociality and altruistic behavior; coevolution in mutualistic and predator-prey (parasite-host) systems; evolution of disease and evolutionary medicine; and the (multiple) origins and losses of sex. There will be reading from the primary research literature as well as both critical and synthetic writing, and students will be expected to work with quantitative models and approaches to basic population genetics and fitness calculation. Students should have basic familiarity with genetics and the cell cycle; it’s impossible to grapple with modern evolutionary thought without this.

Prerequisites: Prior work in college-level biology, familiarity with basic Mendelian and molecular genetics (consistent with high-school AP Bio or similar), or permission of instructor.
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 4
M/Th 1:40PM-5:20PM (2nd seven weeks)
Maximum Enrollment: 18
Course Frequency: Once a year

Categories: All courses , Environment , Biology