CBIOL 1101: Biology 1 with Lab, Fall 2016

4 Credits, University Hall 2-142, TuTh 1:15P – 3:45P

Instructor: Albert Liau, 617-528-9552, University Hall 2-124, office hours Tuesdays 4P & by appointment

Course Blog:

Course Prerequisites: None 

PDF Version of the Syllabus.

Course Description

This course will immerse you in Biology, the prevalent, crucial language of life so when you encounter it, you can get a sense of what’s going on and even join the conversation.

We will start by getting acquainted with the nature of scientific inquiry and the properties of life, and then examine a range of fundamental topics including ecology, cellular structure and function, genetics and evolution. Throughout the semester, laboratory activities, class discussions, videos and projects will give you ample opportunities to use the language you will be learning. While it takes years to gain fluency in biology, this class provides you with the chance to get talking.

Required Text

Raven, P. H., et al. (2011). Biology. New York, NY, USA: McGraw-Hill, 9th edition.

This book is also available as an electronic textbook from If you plan to continue the study of Biology beyond this course, you should consider purchasing the 10th edition, which is the most current version.


E.O. Wilson’s Life on Earth (iBooks electronic textbook) 


Biology by OpenStax

Recommended Texts

Goodsell, D. S. (2009). The Machinery of Life. New York, NY, USA: Copernicus Books.

Additional Materials

Assorted news stories, journal articles, documentaries and TED talks to be provided via the course blog: 

Instructor’s slides, available on


Through this course, students will gain familiarity with fundamental concepts in biology that will enable them to understand and further explore a variety of biological phenomena. By the end of the course, diligent students should be (1) familiar with the mechanics of the scientific process, (2) able to explain a range of phenomena in terms of basic Biology concepts, and (3) comfortable pursuing the further Biology-related studies, should they choose to do so.

Flipped Classroom Approach

Class time will be spent largely working in a flipped-classroom format, meaning students will be expected to come to class having done the reading and any homework assigned as preparation for class discussions and activities; accordingly, a large portion of the final grade will be based on participation and professionalism (see below).

Textbook Readings

Reading assignments are critical to understanding the course material and to performing well. As mentioned above, you are expected to come to class having done the assigned reading. The class discussions will clarify or expand upon the readings and will therefore assume familiarity with the readings. Material from the readings may appear on midterm/final exams even if not explicitly covered in lecture.


Students are expected to attend all classes. Missing a class without a legitimate reason (e.g. illness, personal emergency, commuting difficulties such as impacts of inclement weather, field trip for another class, etc.) will result in a decrease in the Professionalism portion of the grade with three unexcused absences resulting in a full letter grade reduction of the student’s final grade for the semester. Students are allowed 2 unexcused absences before the final grade is impacted.

Students arriving 30 minutes past the start of class time will be counted as absent.

Students with legitimate reasons for missing class should contact the instructor ASAP and be prepared to show the proper documentation, such as a doctor’s note or letter from an academic advisor. 

For missed classes, students should make arrangements to access materials used in class (such as videos) and perform any activities (such as looking at samples with microscopes) to ensure they are fully prepared for exams.

Professionalism (and Participation)

Students will very likely be in professional situations throughout their careers and the ability to act accordingly in such situations is important. We will take the time we spend together in this course as an opportunity to exercise our ability to act professionally. Participation can be thought of what (or how much) a student contributes to the class. Professionalism is how a student contributes to the class. Please be thoughtful of both.

Students should exercise professionalism by showing consideration for everyone in the classroom by engaging the material and not being distracted, or worse, disruptive during class. In efforts to encourage engagement and maintain a professional environment, computer and cell phone use is not permitted during class time unless class activities or important circumstances require their use (details below).

Students who do not conduct themselves professionally will have their grades immediately and severely impacted.

Conduct positively influencing a student’s professionalism portion of the participation grade include respectful treatment of peers (e.g. giving them the attention and courtesy they deserve), approaching presentations and projects with due seriousness (e.g. being prepared, communicating conscientiously with peers and the instructor when needed, contributing fairly to group efforts, etc.) and general efforts to be responsible and accountable. At the end of the semester, each student’s professionalism portion of the grade will be determined on the basis of peer feedback and instructor observation of a student’s conduct during class time and group work.

No-Device Policy

During class time, we will follow a strict no-device policy. To minimize distraction and encourage engagement, computers, tablets and cell phones may not be used during class time except for urgent circumstances or specific class activities (during which the instructor or TA will make it clear that the use of devices is permitted). The use of any of these devices during class time will immediately result in a full letter grade reduction in the final grade for the semester.

If you need to take a call or respond to an important message, please step out of the classroom for privacy and to be considerate of your peers. If you have made accommodations to use technology in the classroom (e.g. for note taking), please let the instructor or TA know ASAP.

Late Work Policy

Assignments, lab write-ups and projects will not be accepted after their due dates, unless there is a legitimate reason (e.g. illness, personal emergency) for late submission. Students should let the instructor or TA know ASAP if an assignment needs to be submitted late.

Communications Guidelines

Many of the homework assignments during the semester can be turned in electronically if you do not wish to print them out. The email address for submitting homework assignments electronically is

The most effective way to communicate with the instructor and course assistant is in person after class, during the break, during office hours or by appointment. 


Final grades are based on all work done during the semester with the following weightings:

Exams 30%

Professionalism 20%

Projects 25%

Assignments 15%

Lab Activities 10%

Grading Scale (from the CLAS catalog)

A: 93–100 | A-: 90–92 | B+: 87-89 | B: 83-86 | B-: 80-82 | C+: 77-79 | C: 73-76 | C-: 70-72 | D+: 67–69 | D: 63–66 | D-: 60–62 | F: 0–59

Exams, 30% of the final grade

The format/specific topics covered by the midterm and final exams will be discussed in class as the date of the exam nears. Exams will be mainly or exclusively comprised of multiple-choice and short-answer questions to be answered during class time. If scores are low are either exam, the instructor may choose to curve the exams or offer students other options to make up points

Tentative: Scientist Project, 10% of the final grade

You will choose one scientist currently conducting biological research (a list of suggestions will be given, but you are free to choose anyone in the field of biology) and look at their work with at least three sources of information. Your sources may be books, TED talks, news stories, websites, etc., but one source must be an abstract from a scientific publication by your scientist. Details will be given during the semester regarding the final products for the project but below were two options from previous semesters as described by the teaching assistant.

1. Book jacket cover. Create a fake book about your scientist and design the front and back of what the book would look like in your eyes. You will be graded on the images used and then the blurb about your scientist and his/her work. There need to be citations either directly on the “back” of the book or somewhere in your presentation of your book. Remember, you will need to do a 3-5 minute presentation on your scientist and present this book jacket to the class.

2. Flyers on your scientist. You need to make 2 flyers on your scientist letting the community know that he/she will be speaking at an upcoming event. So obviously you will need an image, or more, on your flyer as well who the scientist is and what they will be speaking on. Citations are expected on the flyer itself or somewhere in your presentation.

Tentative: Final Project, 15% of the final grade

You will choose a field within Biology to delve into, such as immunology, genetic engineering or cancer biology. Try to be as specific as you can to make the project more focused; for example, within cancer biology, you might look into just immunotherapy. The project will consist of the following:

5 Sources: use 5 sources of information to gather facts, concepts, etc. about the field you’ve chosen. You must include 1 book and 1 scientific abstract (you may use 2 of the sources from your Scientist Project if you’d like)

4 Slides: your final presentation will consist of four slides that have no text aside from their titles; these slides should give us a brief “tour” of the field of Biology you’ve chosen.

3 Big Ideas: tell us what you think are the 3 most important ideas in this field. These could be key concepts, major breakthroughs, significant experiments, etc.

2 Leaders: highlight two people in this field (one of them could be the scientist you focused on)

1 Museum Exhibition or Lesson Plan: you will turn in design for a museum exhibit or lesson plan (you decide the grade level); more description of this during class discussion.

Your 4-slide presentation and exhibition or lesson plan will be graded on the following criteria:

Clarity: how clear and well articulated your explanations are; your descriptions in the presentation and exhibit or lesson plan should make good sense to the audience.

Accuracy: the information you present should be free of errors and misinterpretations, making only claims that are supported by materials you have gathered.

Relevance: how much does the information you present relate to the field of biology you are focusing on—if you spend too much time discussing background or digressing into stories about scientists’ personal lives, your relevance score will be negatively impacted.

Depth: how substantially you discuss your topics; while you do not have time to talk or write at length about the field you’ve chosen, your final project should not gloss over important points. Your explanations, though concise, should reveal the key details and your understanding of them.

Rough Outline by Topic

Scientific Inquiry and Life

Biology chapter 1

Life of Earth chapter 1

Basic Chemistry: Atoms, Molecules and Water

Biology chapter 2

Life on Earth sections 2.1, 2.2

Biological Macromolecules

Biology chapter 3

Life on Earth sections 2.3, 2.4

Machinery of Life chapter 2


Biology chapters 4 and 5

Life on Earth chapter 5, sections 6.1, 6.2, movies 6.1, 6.2, 6.4

Machinery of Life chapter 5

Heredity & Genetics

Biology chapter 12

Life on Earth, chapter 11

The Cartoon Guide to Genetics


Life on Earth chapter 9, movie 9.5

The Central Dogma

Biology sections 14.1-4 and 15.1-3, 15.6-8

Life on Earth chapter 10, sections 1-4

Machinery of Life chapter 3


Biology chapter 17

Life on Earth chapter 13


Biology sections 21.1-5, 22.4-5

Life on Earth chapters 3 and 4

Group Selection

The Social Conquest of Earth, chapter 6


“Life’s beauty: the kindest act towards you in your life may come from an outsider not interested in reciprocation.”—Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Biology sections 55.1-6, 55.8-12

Life on Earth chapter 38


Biology chapter 56

Life on Earth chapter 37


Biology chapter 27

Life on Earth sections 26.1-5,

Academic Responsibility

Unless prior approval is granted by the instructor, all work submitted for this course is to be the student’s (or students’ in the case of projects done in groups) own original work completed specifically for this course and not previously or concurrently submitted to any other instructor. All infractions of this policy will be taken seriously and pursued accordingly. Please refer to the Student Handbook for more specific policy guidelines.

Disability Services for Students

Lesley University is committed to ensuring that all qualified students with disabilities are afforded an equal opportunity to participate in and to benefit from its programs and services. To receive accommodations, a student must have a documented disability as defined by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), or the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA), and must provide documentation of the disability. Eligibility for reasonable accommodations will be based on the documentation provided.

This syllabus and other course materials are available in alternate format upon request.

If you are a student with a documented disability, or feel that you may have a disability, and you wish to discuss possible accommodations, please find contact information below.

Learning Disabilities and Attention Disorders for On-Campus Students

Maureen K. Riley, Director of Academic Support Services for Students with LD/ADD Services

Doble Hall, 2nd Floor

Phone: 617.349.8464 • Fax: 617.349.8324

Physical, Sensory, and Psychiatric Disorders

Ruth Bork, Director of Access Services

11 Mellen, 1st Floor

Phone: 617.349.8194 • Fax: 617.349.8558 • TTY: 617.349.8544

Learning Disabilities and Attention Disorders for Off-Campus Students

Dan Newman, Lesley University ADA/504 Coordinator

Doble Hall, 2nd Floor

Phone: 617.349.8572 • Fax: 617.349.8324

For students and faculty with general questions about Disability Services, please contact Dan Newman.

Computer Support Services

University Technology – UT; Online Help Center at

University Technology assists Lesley students, faculty and staff with technology-related questions. More information about UT’s mission and list of computer classes can be found at the UT webpage The UT phone number is 617-349-8770. MyLesley technical support at 1-888-myLesley.

Lesley University Library Services & Resources: Students are encouraged to use the Lesley University Library for high-quality academic information for their assignments.  The myLibrary tab on myLesley ( offers access to services and resources for academic research, including:

FLO library catalog ( for information about books, tests, videos, media equipment, and teaching resources

Library Databases ( for access to online journal articles and e-books (myLesley login required)

Media Resources ( such as online and local videos, DVDs, and production aids

Searchpath library tutorial ( to learn about academic library research

Research Guides ( by subject area

Ask-A-Librarian ( for personalized research help by email, IM or phone

APA Citation Format ( MLA Citation Format (

Interlibrary Loan ( for requesting materials not found at Lesley

Services to off-campus and online students (

Students are encouraged to visit the three library facilities for hands-on resources, computers, study space, and expert help from library staff – Sherrill Library on the Brattle Campus (the main university library), Art Institute of Boston Library in Kenmore Square (for specialized art resources), and the Kresge Media Center at University Hall (for media production and equipment)–hours ( map


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