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Course Descriptions

CLFS608: Seminar in Current Topics in Chemical and Life Science: Scholarly Paper (1-3 credits). Individual Instruction course: contact department or instructor to obtain section number. Contact Dr. Brett Kent ( to establish a mentor; then contact the Office of Extended Studies ( to register. [Scholarly Paper]

CLFS608A: Seminar in Current Topics in Chemical and Life Science: Independent Research; (1-3 credits). Individual Instruction course. Contact instructor to obtain section number; then contact the Office of Extended Studies ( to register.

CLFS609A: Food Safety and Genetically Modified Foods (3 credits). This course includes all aspects of food safety and its regulation, with special emphasis on genetically modified foods. Relevant case studies will be discussed. The first half of the course concentrates on the traditional concerns of food safety and the response of our food regulation laws, with minor references to genetically modified organisms. The second part of the course deals with the impact of biotechnology on our food supply. Discussed in this segment are the real and perceived risks of these foods, the application of food regulation laws to the ever-increasing number of genetically modified and designer foods in the market place, and scenarios for the impact of these foods on the third world and the environment. [General Course]

CLFS609B: The Biology of Reproduction (3 credits). All living organisms are capable of reproducing. This course will take a comprehensive look at this interesting and relevant process by examining the role of hormones, developmental and genetic sex, the process of puberty, and the production of offspring. While a variety of species will be used to help you understand the reproductive process, this course will concentrate on sexual reproduction by emphasizing mammalian, especially human, reproduction. While there are no specific prerequisites to take this course, reproduction either directly or indirectly involves all systems and functions of the body and therefore you should have a basic knowledge of biology. [General Course]

CLFS609C: Emerging Infectious Diseases (3 credits). Emerging infectious diseases can arise when changes in human behavior open new routes of disease transmission, or when microbes that are adapted for other hosts or environments acquire an ability to infect humans. The ecology of Earth has been dramatically impacted by the intense economic and social activities of a burgeoning human population. This course will survey a wide range of human pathogens and relate their emergence to environmental, human, and microbiological factors. Specific organisms will be studied in depth to illustrate microbial threats as well as epidemiological investigations, pathogenicity research, vaccine development, and other strategies deployed to control disease emergence and spread. Finally, the principles covered in the class will be applied to a discussion of socioeconomic vulnerabilities to several infectious agents that may emerge, including in the bio-warfare scenario. [General Course]

CLFS609D: Microbiology (3 credits). Although the biomass of microbes dwarfs that of plants and animals, it was only recently that science became aware of the two microscopic biological domains. But from the moment the first optical instruments revealed the curious and numerous forms taken by microbes, a new discipline was born dedicated to the study of life beyond the naked eye. The early microscopists were struck by the extraordinary range of organisms in a sample as prosaic as a drop of pond water, but deep diversity remains the predominant feature of the microbial world. In March 2004, more than 300 years after the first observations of bacterial communities, Dr. Craig Venter, pioneer of the human genome project, found over 1,800 new species and 1.2 million genes during a sequence-based inventory of microbes in a sea water filtrate. Other than in the pathogenesis of infectious disease, there are few circumstances where pure cultures occur in nature. The definition of the modern biosphere itself reflects the astounding ability of microbes to thrive under extreme physic-chemical conditions. And beyond merely surviving, microbial metabolism wrought from a cooling volcanic wasteland an environment from which blossomed the beauty and diversity of modern life on Earth. We will review the history of microbiology then survey the structures, energetics, biochemistry, and genetics that lie at the mechanistic heart of microbial diversity, adaptability and ecology. Stable microbiological relations with other species will be investigated and the interactions that microbes have with humans will be explored through their roles in pollution, disease, agriculture and biotechnology: from the Alpine Iceman’s hip flask to modern expression technology. The class will conclude with a study of life under the extreme conditions to be found on Earth, followed by a discussion of the potential for life on other planets, and the approaches being taken to find it. [General Course]

CLFS609E: Immunology (1-3 credits). Human Immunology will address how your body fights infection and keeps you healthy. We will examine ways that the immune system uses to distinguish between self and foreign substances and organisms. The innate immune system that is always active but not specific is contrasted with adaptive immunity, a potent response that must be generated and targeted to the foreign invader. Further the two main branches of the adaptive immune system, antibodies and cells, will be discussed. Finally, we will cover abnormal immune responses and how they lead to illness. [General Course]

CLFS609F: Principles of Paleobiology (3 credits). The organisms currently living on the Earth represent the tiniest fraction of those that have existed. Reconstructing the life styles of these extinct organisms requires a suite of sophisticated techniques that are conceptually more akin to forensics, than to those typically used in studying living organisms. This course (1) surveys the methodologies used by paleobiologists to investigate the biology of extinct animals and (2) uses these techniques to assess the plausibility of a number of current, and in many cases, highly controversial reconstructions for diverse range of animals. [General Course]

CLFS609G: Biology of Cancer (3 credits). Biology of Cancer is designed to provide knowledge of common genetic causes of cancer and how they relate to current treatments. The course will discuss heritable gene predisposition, somatic mutational causes and how the environment contributes to the disease. Students will learn about common genes and pathways associated with cancers and how current treatments target and utilize the commonalities of cancers. [General Course]

CLFS609J: Evolutionary Biology (3 credits). The goal of this course is to provide a basic understanding of the concepts and effects of evolution, the unifying theme of biology. Following completion of the course you should be able to effectively discuss the scientific foundations of evolution within a secondary classroom environment or an introductory science course at the college level. Basic ideas to be addressed include understanding what a scientific theory is, and how this applies to evolution, genetics, and mutations. Mechanisms of evolution that will be discussed include natural selection, individual and group selection, sexual selection, the role of non-genomic influences in gene expression, and speciation. While the concepts of evolution are straightforward and logical, evolution can be a controversial topic within society and secondary education programs. Therefore, whenever possible, misrepresentation of evolutionary concepts will be presented and discussed to better enable you to address these issues as a teacher. [General Course]

CLFS610: Natural Products Chemistry (3 credits). Natural products are relatively small molecules, produced mainly by plants and microorganisms that have a long history of uses (and misuses) by people, e. g. poisons, antibiotics, perfumes, malodor ants, cosmetics, dietary supplements, etc. This course will focus on the medical and nutritional applications of natural products and be organized on the basis of the biosynthetic pathways that lead to these natural organic compounds. The course is meant to complement other courses in the curriculum, principally Chemical Ecology and Pharmaceutical Chemistry. [General Course]

CLFS619A: Molecular Spectroscopy (3 credits). In general, graduate courses in spectroscopy teach graduate students how to utilize spectroscopic techniques to determine molecular structures so that they can proceed with their graduate research. To a lesser extent these courses generally deal with practical applications and chemical dynamics. That orientation is quite appropriate for students in a research oriented curriculum and I have taught such a course many times during my academic career. However the MCLFS audience is quite different and you, as students, are not likely to be involved in any significant way in determining the structures of unknown compounds. Accordingly this course will not focus on how to determine structures but on how structures are determined. You will learn the theory behind a variety of spectroscopic techniques, the principles of utilizing those techniques and the strategies that chemists use to combine data from different sources to come to a valid conclusion. The course will also cover the utilization of these techniques and their derivatives (CAT, GC-MS, MRI, etc.), in fields such as medicine, law enforcement, defense, environmental science, etc. [General Course]

CLFS619B: Environmental Chemistry (3 credits). This course will deepen your understanding of the chemistry of our environment. You will apply fundamental chemistry principles to environmental topics like greenhouse gases, acid rain and recycling. The course is structured such that your independent research and discussions with classmates will help build your understanding of environmental chemistry and make you a more aware consumer and citizen. [General Course]

CLFS619D: Forensic Chemistry (3 credits). Have you ever watched "CSI" and thought, "Wow, how do they figure this stuff out?" Or wondered why all of the work is done in a dark lab? If you've ever been intrigued by forensic science, then this is the course for you! This course will focus on both the legal and scientific aspects of modern forensic chemistry. We will learn about the most common forms of trace analysis (drug, combustion, arson, inks, pigments, polymers, fibers) including the types of methods used (atomic spectroscopy, chromatography, micro spectrophotometry, electrophoresis, immunoassays) to analyze samples and the limitations, accuracy, and reproducibility of each technique. Class discussions will focus on the differences between the law and science, the effect of pop culture and shows like CSI on the judicial process, how scientific testimony can help and hurt a defendant’s chance of acquittal, and the use of the scientific method in forensic laboratories. The final class project will allow you to use what you’ve learned to critique the portrayal of forensic chemistry in popular culture. I can't guarantee that we'll catch the bad guy in the end, but at least you'll have the tools to discover who's been stealing socks from the dryer! [General Course]

CLFS620: Modern Molecular Genetics (3 credits). Molecular genetics is now at the forefront of many aspects of everyday life from food production to understanding and treatment of human disease. This course will focus first on the basics of molecular genetics from DNA structure and function to gene regulation. Emphasis then turns to the specialized topics, Recombinant DNA technology, Genome organization, Transposable elements, Genes and Immunity, Genes and Cancer, and Application of molecular genetic knowledge in Medicine and Agriculture. Course activities include group discussions, special group projects, and detailed electronic exercises using several sequence databases available on the Internet. This course complements several courses in the program and particularly CLFS 630 - Principles of Transmission Genetics. [General Course]

CLFS630: Principles of Transmission Genetics: A Historical and Modern Perspective (3 credits). This course focuses on how organisms arrange and transmit genetic information between generations and the consequences of this transmission. Through the use of historical and modern perspectives students will study how genetics can be used to understand complex biology processes, such as metabolism, sex-determination, development, evolution, population structure, and human diseases such as cancer. [General Course]

CLFS640: Human Physiology (3 credits). Examination of the major organ systems of the human body and of the neural and hormonal mechanisms responsible for their regulation and control. [General Course]

CLFS655: The Chemistry and Application of Electrochemical Cells (3 credits). Chemistry of electrochemical cells including the thermodynamic basis for the production of electrical energy by cells, the chemical reactions utilized by the most common cells, the manufacture of cells, and the application of cells in energy production. [General Course]

CLFS660: Biodiversity and Conservation Biology (3 credits). Application of ecological and evolutionary principles to assess the impact of the human species on the environment and its inhabitants. Specific case studies are included to illustrate problems of biodiversity loss and actions required at the local, national, and international levels to reverse the trends. [General Course]

CLFS665 Ecology and Global Change (3 credits). Ecological concepts across scales ranging from the individual, to populations, communities, ecosystems, and landscapes will be presented. Global change issues will encompass alteration of atmospheric trace gases, biogeochemistry cycles, land use changes, and introduction of non-native species to new habitats. Formerly LFSC609C. [General Course]

CLFS680: Chemical Ecology (3 credits). An examination of the utilization of organic natural products by plants and animals for various life processes. Examples will include how materials are utilized for sexual selection, defense against predators, sexual attractants, natural herbicides and repellants. Key questions such as physiological adaptation to these materials and the adoption of them by humans for other purposes will be examined. Subjects will range from poison (dendrobatid) frogs to trail substances in social insects. [General Course]

CLFS690: Biochemistry (3 credits). A comprehensive introduction to the properties, synthesis, and metabolism of biologically important molecules. [General Course]

CLFS710: Experimental Biology (6 credits). Participants develop skills in four areas of biological research while investigating a variety of biological systems. Those areas include: (1) iterative scientific methods, (2) basic laboratory techniques, (3) experimental design and analysis, and (4) critical evaluation of published research. In a given summer, CLFS 710 will include a series of 2-4 different modules, each one lasting two weeks. A 2 credit module of CLFS 710 that focuses on statistics and experimental design is offered on-line as CLFS 725. [Lab Experience Course]

CLFS725: Experimental Design (2 credits). A two-credit, online graduate course that focuses on helping participants develop the skills necessary to plan, conduct and analyze original biological experiments. The course is designed for teachers developing new innovative laboratories for their students, or participating in research projects with other investigators. Unlike traditional laboratory courses which focus on the laboratory and field techniques for collecting data, this course emphasizes the development of effective experimental designs. Participants completing this course will be expected to design innovative research projects for their own students that will be presented to the other class members. All of the laboratory exercises in CLFS 725 can either be performed within the course website, or by using materials that are readily available locally. A fundamental component of the course is an experimental design package within the course website. This package consists of a hyperlinked, dichotomous 'design tool' that uses information provided by an investigator to identify appropriate experimental designs and analytical tools for a particular study. Further, the design tool is linked to conceptual overviews and customized spreadsheets of specific statistical tests and recommendations of the appropriate forms of tables and graphs to use with different experimental designs. The course is based on a cooperative learning model, with participants assigned to research groups that work together to investigate the principles of experimental design and apply these principles to research problems presented in the course. [Lab Experience Course]

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