Graduate Special Topics Fall 2017

data & analysis in natural sciences

ZOO6927 section 1F62

Instructor: Dr. Michal Kowalewski

Credits: 03
Class meetings:   Monday and Wednesday, period 3;  371 Dickinson Hall
Text Recommended: Readings: will assigned and provided in class

Brief Description:
This course will combine lectures and hands-on lab activities with focus on practical applications of classic statistical methods in natural sciences. Examples will primarily derive from ecology, paleobiology, and geological sciences. Lab sessions will provide practical training in using R for data processing and analyses. The course will consist of self-contained modules built around empirical examples. Although some of the topics are inherently biological, many aspects of the course should be transferable to other disciplines of natural sciences. This course will provide intuitive (rather than mathematical) introduction to common methods used in natural sciences to analyze empirical and experimental data. The course will NOT cover phylogenetic methods.- Syllabus

biology of snakes

ZOO6927 section 11H0

Instructor: Dr. Harvey Lillywhite

Credits: 02
Class meetings:   Wednesday, periods 6-7;  TBA
Textbook: H.B. Lillywhite, How Snakes Work: Structure, Function and Behavior of the World’s Snakes, Oxford University Press, 2014 (available at university book stores).

Brief Description:
This course will feature lectures and discussions related to fundamental aspects of the biology of snakes. Topics will include evolutionary history, systematics, diversity, structure, function, and behavior, including treatment of field and laboratory techniques in research, and consideration of the health, welfare, and conservation of snake biota. Discussion will cover the processes and mechanisms of maintenance, activity, and integration in contexts of behavior, ecology, and evolutionary history. The course will feature attributes of snakes, but is also comparative in the sense that comparisons with other vertebrates will be important for certain topics of discussion.- Syllabus

Statistical Principles for the Biological Sciences

ZOO6927 section 2E16

Instructor: Dr. José Miguel Ponciano

Credits: 03
Class meetings:   Monday and Wednesday, periods 8-9;  TBA
Textbooks or Other Readings (not required) Rice 1995. Mathematical Statistics. Pielou, E.C. 1969. An introduction to mathematical ecology
Software (Required)
R, freely distributed at

Brief Description:
The aim of the course is to acquaint senior undergraduates and graduate students in the natural sciences with fundamental principles of statistical inference, and provide the foundation for statistical learning in life sciences graduate school. I will share my vision of statistics and stochastic
processes as a great language to translate fundamental questions in biology into testable hypotheses and models that can be confronted with data. I will present basic probability distributions as stochastic models of ecological and genetic processes and fundamental concepts of maximum likelihood inference, Bayesian statistics and computer intensive techniques. The class will be taught using regular lectures on M & W, periods 8 & 9 and on Fridays, I will have my schedule open for office hours, all day except from 10:30AM to 1:30PM. The course will begin with a short review of basic probability concepts and an introduction to R. A note on software: The course DOES NOT focus on learning R, but rather, on providing the statistical foundation to students needing to program statistical solutions for their own biological questions. In that sense, R learning in this course does not come by repeating instructions but rather, by doing.  See attached syllabus

Introduction to collections & research in natural history

ZOO6927 section 125D

Instructor:Dr. David C. Blackburn, Dr. Kitty F. Emery, & Dr. Akito Kawahara

Credits: 01
Class meetings:   Thursday, period 7;  TBA
Textbook: No textbook required.

Brief Description:
This course will introduce graduate students to research and collections in natural history museums, with a focus on the Florida Museum of Natural History. Each week we will either discuss important topics in the operations and management of scientific collections or we will tour different collections in the Florida Museum of Natural History.- See attached syllabus.

Creative scientific communication

BOT6935 & ZOO6927 sections 2F40 & 2F36

Instructors: Chris A. Johns and Dylan Klempner

Credits: 02
Class meetings:   Wednesday, periods 7-8;  Carr 521 (Carr Hall)
Text Required: Olson, R. (2015). Houston, We have a Narrative. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Brief Description:
In CREATIVE SCIENTIFIC COMMUNICATION, you will attend small-group workshops led by professional writers, artists, and designers. You will tap your creative potential while building a strong foundation in media technology that illuminates scientific concepts. The course meets once per week and is generally divided into two modules: Workshops and Media Labs. In the Workshops, professional communicators share advice for creating informative and engaging scientific content. Faculty and visiting lecturers explain the principles of effective storytelling, visual composition, and design fundamentals. During in-class activities, you will begin generating material suitable for papers, posters, and presentations based on your own research projects. In the Media Lab, you will develop science-specific media technology skills that directly complement concepts from the Workshop. See attached syllabus.

Practical pedagogy for biology

ZOO6927, Section: DEPTX

Instructors: Dr. Christine Davis

Credits: 01
Class meetings:   Wednesday, periods E1-E2;  Room Location: TBA
Text Required: There is no text for this course.

Brief Description:
This course is designed to prepare you for your work as a teaching assistant, and will help build a foundation for teaching throughout your career. Through discussions, workshops, personal reflection, and peer and faculty feedback, you will:
1) Develop practical teaching skills;
2) Learn how to organize yourself and teach to reach specific learning
3) Learn how to evaluate students fairly and accurately;
4) Receive teaching mentorship;
5) Become familiar with fundamental modern pedagogical techniques
supported by research.
  See attached syllabus.