FSS > Undergraduate Division > Letters & Science > UC Berkeley

Molecular and Cell Biology 90A, Section 3
Evolution: Creatures, Not Creation (1 unit, LG)
Professor Jeremy Thorner
Friday 12:00-1:00, 174 Koshland Hall, Class number: 66879

The advent of molecular biology, recombinant DNA methodology, and the capacity to obtain and computationally analyze the complete nucleotide sequence of any genome (from a bacterium to a human) has confirmed the close relationships among all organisms at the genetic and biochemical level, and has confirmed the major tenets of the theory of evolution that were based on the fossil record and other more circumstantial and empirical evidence derived from field observations of existing populations. This course will discuss the unique physical and chemical properties of both water and carbon, and other molecules and elements on which the life forms on our planet are based; the principles of the scientific method and its application to our observations of the natural world; how the term "theory" is applied in science; and the forces that influence organismal survival, adaptation and speciation. Readings may range from Charles Darwin to Steven Jay Gould to James D. Watson. This course is designed to be taken for a letter grade. Students who elect to take this seminar should enroll under the letter grade option.

Related web site: http://bspace.berkeley.edu/

Jeremy Thorner is a Professor in the Division of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology. He has been a faculty member at UC Berkeley since July 1974. His current research addresses the mechanisms by which cells respond to and decode changes in their extracellular environment and induce the appropriate changes in metabolism, gene expression, growth, and proliferation rate, and cell shape that allow a cell to cope properly with the changed circumstances.

Faculty web site: http://mcb.berkeley.edu/index.php?option=com_mcbfaculty&name=thornerj

Quotes from students in Fall 2015 seminar:

"The discussions are thought-provoking and you discuss real-world political issues."

"Be ready for lots of in-depth intellectual discussion."

"I learned how controversial some topics are in our world today. But just because they are controversial doesn’t mean that we should not talk about them or ignore them. Talking these things aloud is part of what moves us forward."

"Professor Thorner is extremely knowledgeable and does a great job carrying the discussion and allowing people to speak up."

"It’s a great course that will give you as much as you put into it and more, as long as you’re engaged it will be thoroughly enjoyable."

"The sessions in which we discussed the public’s opinions on science and how they can affect the growth of scientific discoveries and advances were pretty important."

"If you don't understand the readings that's okay! One of the most interesting discussions for me happened when I said, "I don't get it." - student in fall 2014 seminar

"It truly opened my eyes to so many new discoveries and taught me how to love science." - student in fall 2014 seminar

Quotes from students in Fall 2013 seminar:
Professor Thorner is a wonderful teacher – very capable, engaging, and he never lets one single session pass without leaving us with something to think of and learn from. It’s a wonderful seminar.

This definitely helped me get to know more people and allowed us to freely discuss our opinions without any consequences. It was definitely a comfortable environment to be in.

"It is provocative and entertaining." - spring 2009 student

"This is an excellent seminar that wll inform them of current information and trends in the molecular and cell biology community." - spring 2009 student

"The opportunity to understand a concept or an idea with highly esteemed professors is something every student should take advantage of." - spring 2008 student

"I enjoyed it very much! It was intellectually engaging and utterly thought-provoking!" - student in Spring 2007 seminar

"The professor is very enthusiastic and made the hour an interesting discussion to participate in." - student in Spring 2006 seminar

"Let me just say that your class was the most thought provoking class I have ever taken, and I appreciated how you respected the diverse opinions of everybody in the class." - student in Spring 2006 seminar
Freshman and Sophomore Seminars are co-sponsored by the Undergraduate Division
of the College of Letters & Science and the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education.
For further information about the program,
contact Alix Schwartz (alix@berkeley.edu / 642-8378).

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