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Courses

Biology

A Neurobiological Almanac of Animal Vision

Around 550 million years ago, there was a dramatic proliferation of animal body plans on Earth. This event, known as the Cambrian Explosion, also marked the appearance of animal vision. Some have even suggested that the advent and elaboration of the eye actually drove the Cambrian Explosion. Among our senses, vision seems to predominate, both in terms of its role in our navigation of the environment and in the degree of its representation in the human brain (roughly half of the human cerebral cortex is dedicated to processing what we see). In this course, we will review the evolution and neurobiology of vision, explore the relationship between visual perception and memory-in particular, the ways in which this relationship informs our conscious experience-and finally touch on the subjective quality of visual perception and its role in shaping human culture and artistic expression. Prerequisites: None.

  • David Edelman | FA2012 | MTh, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | BIO2150.01

Advanced Topics in Cell Biology

The Life and Death of Proteins The viability of a cell, and therefore an organism, depends upon the proper synthesis, and ultimately the destruction, of the proteins therein. This course will focus on understanding how proteins are made and degraded in the cell, and will emphasize what happens in-between -- how proteins fold, function, and localize to their proper cellular compartment(s). We will delve into the fundamental primary papers that mark early as well as recent progress in these areas, focusing on critical reading and analysis of the experimental design and conclusions; students will produce written paper critiques, present papers, and lead paper discussions. The role that molecular chaperones, the guardians of the cell, play in each important phase of the life of a protein will feature prominently in this course. Sample topics to be explored include: How do proteins fold? How do chaperones contribute to protein folding? How do proteins get to the proper cellular location? How are proteins degraded? We will also discuss the relevance of these topics to human diseases linked to protein misfolding, mislocalization, and/or aggregation including cystic fibrosis and Huntington's disease. Prerequisites: Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology or Biochemistry.

  • Amie McClellan | FA2014 | T, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | BIO4311.01
  • Amie McClellan | SP2011 | W, 10:10AM-12:00PM | BIO4311.01

Agroecology

This is an advanced course for students interested in the ecology of agricultural systems. Students will gain an in-depth understanding of inputs and outputs in agricultural systems and their relation to primary productivity, nutrient cycling, soil formation, pest control and biodiversity on farm. We will address questions like, how can animals contribute to soil fertility on farm? Can temporal and spatial crop diversity be used to manage pest and disease populations? How does tillage affect water uptake by crops? During the lab portion of the course students will undertake a self designed research project. Prerequisites: Ecology or related biology course. Corequisites: Students must also register for the lab, BIO4101L.01.

  • Valerie Imbruce | FA2013 | MTh, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | BIO4101.01
  • Valerie Imbruce | SP2011 | MTh, 10:10AM-12:00PM | BIO4101.01

Agroecology Lab

Labs will encompass field and lab work, including the potential to work on the student farm. Prerequisites: Ecology, agronomy, or related course. Corequisites: Agroecology

  • Valerie Imbruce | FA2013 | W, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | BIO4101L.01
  • Valerie Imbruce | SP2011 | W, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | BIO4101L.01

An Environmental History of Food and Farming

Humans came up with agricultural technology active ecosystem management for food production over 10,000 years ago, and began changing the world irreversibly. The long-term feedbacks between food production, human population dynamics, and local and global ecosystem properties are so potent that they must be addressed in any consideration of the human condition and what we mean by 'natural states'. A deep historical perspective and the context from ecological science are essential for thoughtful address of modern debates about climate change, food, population, and nearly all 'environmental' issues, and may call for reassessment of basic assumptions about what constitutes sustainable behavior. There will be extensive reading from both primary and synthetic works by scientists and historians. Students will write several essays over the course of the term. Prerequisites: None, but students without previous work in the natural or social sciences may be required to undertake some background preparation.

  • Kerry Woods | SP2013 | MTh, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | BIO2204.01
  • Kerry Woods | SP2011 | MTh, 8:00AM-10:00AM | BIO2204.01

Animal Social Behavior

E. O. Wilson has said that "the organism is simply DNA's way of making more DNA". Are the elaborate, bizarre, (at times flamboyant), energy requiring social systems of animals simply adaptations which permit those animals to reproduce? Why is there so much diversity among animal social systems? Why are most mammals polygynous and most birds monogamous? Can we make predictions about successful social strategies and test them in the field? Can we gain insight into human evolution by studying the social systems of non-human primates? In this course we will consider the evolution and adaptedness of different social systems with particular attention to current models of the evolution of altruistic behavior. We will read and discuss current research from a variety of journals (topics include: cooperative breeding, parent-offspring conflict, siblicide, mate choice and sexual selection, sex ratios, hymenoptera social organization, evolution of primate mating systems, the significance of infanticide and maternal rank). Students will undertake their own research projects. Prerequisites: Prior college biology class.

  • Elizabeth Sherman | SP2011 | TF, 8:10AM-10:00AM | BIO4307.01
  • Elizabeth Sherman | SP2013 | TF, 8:10AM-10:00AM | BIO4307.01

Animal Social Behavior Lab

Students will undertake their own research projects. Prerequisites: Prior work in Biology. Corequisites: Animal Social Behavior

  • Elizabeth Sherman | SP2013 | , - | BIO4307L.01

Bacteria, Disease, and Immunity

This entry-level course will introduce students to pathogenic bacteria, their role in human diseases, and the immune response they elicit when they invade human tissue. Various mechanisms of infection will be discussed. Additionally, specific emphasis is placed on bacterial structure, how bacterial cells are different from human cells, and how this allows us to selectively target bacteria with therapeutics, namely antibiotics. Because the human immune system is engaged immediately upon internalization of a microbe, the immune response is also discussed. Upon conclusion of the course, students should have a solid understanding of the dynamic interplay between the bacterial cells causing an infection, the resulting immune response in the human body, and the effects of antibiotics on both bacterial and human cells. Prerequisites: None.

  • Michael Shea | FA2012 | TF, 10:10AM-12:00PM | BIO2125.01

Bennington Biodiversity Project

The notion of an "all-taxon biological inventory" -- a complete list of species of all groups occurring in a particular area -- is comparatively recent but compelling. The value of such inventories is recognized widely, and many have been initiated, but none has ever approached completion. Ours will be no exception; it is a permanently on-going project. Each offering of this advanced class will focus on a selected taxonomic or ecological group (moths, mosses, millipedes, mites, microplankton....) for intensive study. The objective is documentation (quantitative, qualitative, photographic, etc.) of selected groups on campus (and immediate environs), with results compiled towards an ongoing, cumulative "Bennington Biota" website and wiki. The experience of becoming intimately familiar with a particular group of organisms, and the approaches and tools for study and identification are generally readily transferable to other groups. Candidate groups for fall 2011 include fungi, lichens, and selected plant families. Students may take the class for credit more than once. Prerequisites: Open to students with appropriate background in biology (college-level course work) and the permission of the instructor. Students must be willing and able to work independently.

  • Kerry Woods | SP2011 | , - | BIO4214.01
  • Kerry Woods | SP2013 | T, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | BIO4303.01
  • Kerry Woods | FA2011 | , - | ENV4214.01

Biogeography, Paleoecology, and Human Origins

An exploration of ecological and evolutionary patterns in broad spatial and temporal perspective -- 'big picture' biology. Our questions are: What shapes patterns in biodiversity and in the ranges and distributions of organisms? How do ecological systems respond to long-term and large-scale changes in environment (glaciation, global climate change, plate tectonics, meteorite impacts and other global catastrophes...)? What are the mechanisms and patterns of macroevolution (speciation, adaptive radiation)? How do we study and understand the great trends and patterns of evolutionary history (origin(s?) of life, mass extinction...) and the particular macroevolutionary history of our own lineage? These are arenas where standard experimental approaches have limited applicability; generation and testing of hypotheses calls for particular creativity. We will act as both theorists and explorers, assessing the tools for rigorous study of these questions, while becoming acquainted with the grand history and vast richness of the biological world. Students will work extensively with the primary literature. Appropriate for intermediate and advanced students in biology and earth science. Prerequisites: Previous work in college-level biology and/or earth science, or permission of instructor; some background in basic evolutionary biology desirable.

  • Kerry Woods | SP2013 | MTh, 10:10AM-12:00PM | BIO4317.01

Comparative Animal Physiology

Physiological processes of vertebrates and invertebrates are studied at the cellular, organ, organ system, and whole animal levels of organization. The unifying themes of the course are the phenomenon of homeostasis (whereby an animal maintains its organization in the face of environmental perturbations) and the relationship between structure and function. The student will examine these phenomena in the laboratory by dissection and physiological experimentation. Topics include digestion and nutrition, metabolism, gas exchange, circulation, excretion, neurophysiology. Prerequisites: BIO2111 Introduction to Cell Biology. Corequisites: Students must also register for the lab, BIO4201L.

  • Elizabeth Sherman | FA2011 | TF, 8:10AM-10:00AM | BIO4201.01
  • Elizabeth Sherman | FA2012 | TF, 8:10AM-10:00AM | BIO4201.01
  • Elizabeth Sherman | FA2013 | TF, 8:10AM-10:00AM | BIO4201.01
  • Elizabeth Sherman | FA2014 | TF, 8:10AM-10:00AM | BIO4201.01

Comparative Animal Physiology Lab

Lab Section.

  • Elizabeth Sherman | FA2011 | W, 8:20AM-12:00PM | BIO4201L.01
  • Elizabeth Sherman | FA2012 | W, 8:20AM-12:00PM | BIO4201L.01
  • Elizabeth Sherman | FA2013 | W, 8:20AM-12:00PM | BIO4201L.01
  • Elizabeth Sherman | FA2014 | W, 8:20AM-12:00PM | BIO4201L.01

Diversity of Coral Reef Animals

Coral reefs are among the most diverse, unique and beautiful of ecosystems on the planet. Alas, they are also quite vulnerable to various environmental assaults and most of the reefs on earth are in real jeopardy. Students will learn the taxonomy, identification and characteristics of the animals that live in coral reefs. We will discuss the major biological innovations that have permitted the evolution of these extraordinary ecosystems and why they are threatened now. This course can serve as a prerequisite for the one-week Field Course in Coral Reef Biology in Grand Cayman. Prerequisites: None.

  • Elizabeth Sherman | FA2013 | TF, 10:10AM-12:00PM | BIO2339.01
  • Elizabeth Sherman | FA2011 | TF, 10:10AM-12:00PM | ENV2339.01

Ecological Theory and Research

An advanced, research-oriented exploration in ecological science. The class will combine reading and discussion of the primary research literature and development and execution of original research projects. We will decide whether class members will undertake individual research projects or work together on a synthetic project. Potential topics include the full range of ecological questions, concerning the distribution and abundance of organisms, patterns and regulation of diversity, and the function of ecosystems. A wide range of research tools and approaches may be adopted in projects, and discussion will focus on the specific challenges of field ecological research and data representation and analysis. The course will require extensive independent work. Prerequistes: Prior college-level work in ecology or related fields or permission of the instructor.

  • Kerry Woods | SP2012 | T, 8:20AM-12:00PM | BIO4309.01

Evolution

Evolutionary theory provides conceptual unity for biology; Darwin's concept and its derivatives inform every area of life science, from paleontology to molecular biology to physiology to plant and animal behavior to human nature. This course will establish deep grounding in basic selective theory (including some exploration of population genetics) and explore selected current questions through readings in the primary literature. Particular topics may 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) origin and loss of sex. There will be extensive reading in primary literature as well as both critical and synthetic writing. Prerequisites: Prior college-level work in biology or permission of instructor; basic familiarity with essential concepts of genetics, cell function, physiology will be assumed. Solid quantitative skills important.

  • Kerry Woods | SP2011 | MTh, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | BIO4104.01
  • Kerry Woods | FA2012 | MTh, 8:10AM-10:00AM | BIO4104.01
  • Kerry Woods | SP2014 | MTh, 8:10AM-10:00AM | BIO4104.01

Field Course in Coral Reef Biology

This course will take place on the island of Grand Cayman, British West Indies (Latitude 19 23' N, Longitude 81 24'W) for one week in January 2012. Students will have an opportunity to become certified scuba divers and gain first hand experience with the taxonomy, identification and characteristics of the animals which live in coral reefs as they dive and snorkel in the extraordinary fringing reefs of Grand Cayman. Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor. Preference will be given to students who have some familiarity with biodiversity (e.g. How Animals Work; Diversity of Coral Reef Animals; Comparative Animal Physiology, or other biology classes). Due to the additional expenses of off-campus study, students will be required to pay an additional fee for diving, room, board, and tuition; a sufficient number of students must enroll in order for this course to be offered.

  • Elizabeth Sherman | FA2013 | , - | BIO4239.01
  • Elizabeth Sherman | SP2013 | , - | BIO4239.01
  • Elizabeth Sherman | SP2014 | , - | BIO4239.01
  • Janet Foley | SP2014 | , - | BIO4239.01

Forests Lab

Lab for BIO2109

  • Kerry Woods | FA2013 | Th, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | BIO2109L.01
  • Kerry Woods | FA2011 | Th, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | ENV2109L.01
  • Kerry Woods | FA2012 | Th, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | ENV2109L.01

Forests: An Introduction to Ecology and Evolution

New England is one of the most heavily forested regions in the United States. 14,000 years ago it was covered by ice. When humans arrived about 11,000 years ago, they found forests already established -- and began reshaping the landscape through hunting and fire and, beginning about 2000 years ago, farming. European colonists caused further ecological change by expanding agriculture and bringing livestock, and by 1850 most of the region was cleared for agriculture. Most of that farmland has now become forested again. How do we understand and predict the workings of such a dynamic landscape? This course in ecology and evolution addresses adaptations of organisms in habitat and the function and history of ecological systems. We will use the forest ecosystems that dominate the New England landscape to explore general concepts of ecology and evolution, and to develop research tools that will be applicable in the study of any ecosystem. This course is for anyone interested in how ecosystems work and why they are as they are; it will also prepare students for more advanced work in ecology and evolution. There will be extensive field-work in potentially unpleasant weather; there will also be quantitative analyses. There will likely be at least one weekend field-trip. Prerequisites: None, but students should be comfortable with algebra and with quantitative thinking in general. Corequisites: Students must also register for the lab, BIO2109L.

  • Kerry Woods | FA2013 | MTh, 8:10AM-10:00AM | BIO2109.01
  • Kerry Woods | FA2011 | MTh, 10:10AM-12:00PM | ENV2109.01
  • Kerry Woods | FA2012 | MTh, 10:10AM-12:00PM | ENV2109.01

Fundamentals of Genetics

All living organisms must follow a genetic plan, encoded in their DNA. We have recently made major advances in studying and manipulating genes, some with significant medical and social effects. In order to understand this growing field, a fundamental knowledge of genetics is necessary. This course will provide a general overview of genetic systems. We will explore basic molecular biology, Mendelian genetics, and genetics of disease (including cancer). With these fundamentals in hand, we will go on to explore modern genetic advances and biotechnology . Prerequisites: None.

  • Michele Gilson | SP2012 | TF, 10:10AM-12:00PM | BIO2110.01

Fundamentals of Neuroscience: A Beginner's Guide

What are the biological bases of perception, action, movement, and thought? Why and how do we remember (or forget) our everyday experiences? Why are playing the violin, performing a dance, or simply throwing a ball or frisbee so deliberative and effortful when we are first learning these skills, yet so automatic and free of thought after years of training and experience? How does the human brain--a two-and-a-half-pound mass of gelatinous tissue--give rise to creative acts of beauty, self-destructive behaviors, or simply the ritual actions of everyday life? To answer this last question, we need to confront the more fundamental problems posed by the first three questions. In this course, we will explore the multifarious roles of the nervous system, including: 1) the anatomy and physiology that underlie internal representations of the world; 2) the central organization and direction of behavior; and 3) the forge of all that is creative in human pursuits. We will approach the nervous system from both the bottom-up (i.e., neuronal function) and top-down (i.e., how a visual scene is created; neurological and psychiatric pathologies), as well as explore the manner in which brain structures are built during development and were elaborated upon over the course of evolution. Prerequisites: None.

  • David Edelman | FA2013 | MTh, 8:00AM-10:00AM | BIO2212.01
  • David Edelman | FA2014 | MTh, 8:10AM-10:00AM | BIO2212.01

Genetics - Principles and Practice

What are genes? How do they work? How are they passed on? This course will provide an introduction to modes of inheritance as well as to genes, their structure, and their regulation. Topics discussed in this class will include, but are not limited to, the molecular structure of DNA and RNA, Mendelian inheritance, molecular properties of genes, and the regulation of gene expression. The laboratory portion of this course will provide hands-on experience with genome-wide genetic screening, highlighting the increasing importance of high-throughput approaches and bioinformatics in the post-genome sequence era. Prerequisites: Introduction to molecular and cellular biology.

  • Amie McClellan | FA2013 | MTh, 10:10AM-12:00PM | BIO4207.01
  • Amie McClellan | SP2011 | MTh, 10:10AM-12:00PM | BIO4207.01

Genetics - Principles and Practices Lab

This is the laboratory that accompanies BIO4207 Genetics - Principles and Practices

  • Amie McClellan | FA2013 | W, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | BIO4207L.01
  • Amie McClellan | SP2011 | W, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | BIO4207L.01

Global Change

Every generation thinks they live in unique times, but we might have the best argument for this claim in the last few centuries. There are several reasons it's hard to predict where we're going by looking to the past. What's distinctive about our time? What are the consequences for human welfare and futures? For the natural environment? Human population has increased many-fold in the last century, and is still increasing rapidly even though rates of growth are dropping. We are already experiencing significant climate change, and our best understanding indicates that, within the next century, the world will experience climates warmer than any since the evolution of humans. These changes are substantially driven by the one-time combustion of a limited fossil fuel resource that's likely to be fully depleted over the next few decades. Humans now preempt a third or more of biological production on the planet, contributing to massively accelerated extinction (perhaps, now, a species every few minutes), wholesale rearrangement of ecosystem function, and regional collapses in productivity of agricultural systems and fisheries. Social and economic structures are embedded in and dependent on these global systems; changes in their dynamics will affect us. We will strive for understanding of the connections among global physical, biological, and cultural systems, and we will give some thought to how human society can and might respond to global changes. Prerequisites: None

  • Kerry Woods | SP2012 | MTh, 8:10AM-10:00AM | BIO2249.01

How Do Animals Learn and Remember?

For more than 60 years, modern experimental psychology has focused on characterizing the intimately linked processes of learning and memory. At the same time, neuroscientists have worked doggedlyindeed, since the birth of their fieldto unravel the neural mechanisms underlying these fundamental processes. How does an animal acquire information about its world and access and recall this information over hours, days, months, and even an entire lifetime? In particular, what anatomical and physiological changes occurring in the brain can account for the processes of learning and memory? Is animal memory a form of static information storage, akin to that of a digital computer, or something else entirely? In this course, we will survey the properties of learning and memory across a diversity of animalsfrom marine snails to insects to birds and mammalsand explore the neuroanatomical and physiological underpinnings of these processes. We will review traditional views of learning and memory, as well as evaluate the most current findings and the theories they support. Prerequisites: None.

  • David Edelman | SP2013 | MTh, 8:10AM-10:00AM | BIO2108.01
  • David Edelman | SP2014 | MTh, 8:10AM-10:00AM | BIO2108.01

How Do Animals Work Lab


  • Elizabeth Sherman | SP2011 | W, 8:20AM-12:00PM | BIO2102L.01
  • Elizabeth Sherman | SP2012 | W, 8:20AM-12:00PM | BIO2102L.01
  • Elizabeth Sherman | SP2013 | W, 8:20AM-12:00PM | BIO2102L.01

How Do Animals Work?

How do animals work? Why do different animals work in different ways? The blue whale in the Pacific, the tapeworm lodged in the gut of a fox, and the flour beetle in your cupboard all must eat and grow and reproduce yet they differ enormously in size, longevity and environment. The particular ways in which each of these animals has solved these problems are different yet there are also underlying similarities in the mechanics of their solutions. Evolutionary theory makes the diversity understandable and cell physiology reveals the unity of function. In this course, evolutionary theory and cell physiology converge as we examine whole animal form and function. We will have the happy opportunity to study the remarkable diversity of animals on this planet. We will examine the array of strategies (adaptations) which animals possess that enables them to survive and reproduce in an often unpredictable world. The central question that we will consider is how do animals maintain their organization in the face of environmental perturbations? Prerequisites: None. Corequisistes: Students must also register for the lab, BIO2102L.

  • Elizabeth Sherman | SP2011 | TF, 10:10AM-12:00PM | BIO2102.01
  • Elizabeth Sherman | SP2012 | TF, 10:10AM-12:00PM | BIO2102.01
  • Elizabeth Sherman | SP2013 | TF, 10:10AM-12:00PM | BIO2102.01

Introduction to Cell Biology

Cells are the fundamental units that organize life. In this class we will investigate cell structure and function, learn about DNA replication and transcription, find out how proteins are made and transported, and come to understand how interfering with cell biological processes can result in disease. In the lab, students will gain experience with both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells and learn methods of cell biological research. Prerequisites: None. Corequisites: Students must also register for the lab, BIO2111L.

  • Amie McClellan | FA2014 | MTh, 8:10AM-10:00AM | BIO2111.01
  • Amie McClellan | SP2013 | MTh, 10:10AM-12:00PM | BIO2111.01
  • Amie McClellan | SP2014 | MTh, 10:10AM-12:00PM | BIO2111.01
  • Amie McClellan | FA2011 | TF, 10:10AM-12:00PM | BIO2111.01

Introduction to Cell Biology Lab

Introduction to Cell Biology Lab

  • Amie McClellan | FA2014 | W, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | BIO2111L.01
  • Amie McClellan | SP2013 | W, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | BIO2111L.01
  • Amie McClellan | SP2014 | W, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | BIO2111L.01
  • Amie McClellan | FA2011 | W, 8:20AM-12:00PM | BIO2111L.01

Introduction to the Biology of Cancer

The cells in our bodies need to grow and divide in order to make new tissue, and to repair or replace damaged tissue. The processes that govern cell growth and division are tightly regulated. When the cells that comprise the tissues of our bodies lose the ability to properly regulate their growth and proliferation, cancer is the result. This introductory level course will provide an overview of the basic causes, mechanisms and genetics underlying human cancers, as well as explore current diagnostic and therapeutic strategies. Prerequisites: None.

  • Amie McClellan | SP2011 | MTh, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | BIO2104.01
  • Amie McClellan | FA2013 | MTh, 8:10AM-10:00AM | BIO2104.01

Local Land-use History and Landscape Ecology

Landscape ecology works across multiple scales in space and time to understand the drivers of ecosystem function and pattern in broad context. Can diversity and productivity of particular pieces of the landscape be better predicted given knowledge of spatial and historical context? How do parts of the landscape interact as sources and sinks in population dynamics of plants and animals? How do present ecological patterns reflect past land-use and environments? How should landscape interactions inform conservation management? The local landscape is ecologically diverse and complex in the history of human occupation; this course will revolve around group research projects taking advantage of this landscape-laboratory and building on data-sets developed in previous courses and projects. It will involve both historical research and intensive group and independent field-work. Prerequisites: Previous coursework in natural sciences involving lab or fieldwork, and permission of instructor. Students should be comfortable with basic quantitative skills and tools.

  • Kerry Woods | FA2013 | M, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | BIO4113.01

Microbiology

It is estimated that there are over 150 million microbial species, less than 1% of which have ever been studied. Microbes live in every habitat imaginable, from the deepest hot sea vents to Antarctic ice, and even the stratosphere. Although some are harmful to humans, others are beneficial. Many microorganisms play essential roles in the biosphere, performing vital functions in oxygen production, carbon and nutrient cycling, and habitat maintenance. The course will look at the microbial world, organized by groups of organisms and the functions they perform. The course will cover the basic structure and functions of microbes, organisms of medical interest, organisms of environmental interest, and organisms of general interest. Course materials will include a textbook as well as readings from the primary scientific literature. Prerequisites: Previous college biology course(s). Corequisites: Students must also register for the lab, BIO4220L.

  • Michele Gilson | SP2012 | TF, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | BIO4220.01

Microbiology Lab


  • Michele Gilson | SP2012 | W, 2:10PM- 5:30PM | BIO4220L.01

Modeling Landscapes: An Intro to Applied GIS

A project-driven course introducing conceptual and applied approaches to describing, analyzing, and modeling patterns and dynamics at the landscape scale. Landscape properties are the result of spatial and temporal interactions among physical, biological, and cultural processes, playing out over scales of many m or km, and over periods of years and decades. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software offers increasingly accessible tools for quantitative and predictive modeling of landcape patterns and processes. Increasing availability of long-term landscape-scale digital data (satellite imagery, maps of terrain properties, aerial photography, etc.) enhances the potential of GIS. In this class, we will bring these data-sets and tools to bear in projects addressing practical and theoretical questions about our local landscape. Projects might include, for example, development of a landscape model of carbon budgets for the 500-acre campus landscape, or plans for trail-system development on campus. Class projects could have practical consequence in campus planning -- for example, in developing land-use plans to approach carbon neutrality. Prerequisites: Students should have prior coursework in natural sciences (preferably in ecology or earth sciences), have good skills with basic computer applications, and be comfortable with algebra and geometry.

  • Kerry Woods | FA2011 | T, 10:10AM-12:00PM | BIO4110.01
  • Tim Schroeder | FA2011 | T, 10:10AM-12:00PM | BIO4110.01

Molecular Mechanisms of Cancer

The normal mechanisms governing cell physiology and replication are tightly regulated at the molecular level. Collectively referred to as "the cell cycle", these molecular signals, if altered to become either hyperactive or hypoactive, have a profound impact on the cell's ability to control replication. Although loss of cell cycle control is a commonality that exists among all cancers, the molecular origins of these perturbations can be quite heterogeneous from one cancer type to another. This upper-level course will focus on the physiology of a cancer cell, with particular emphasis on the various mechanisms by which signal transduction pathways become constitutively active in a cancer cell. Additionally, student presentations will guide in-depth discussion of the primary literature ranging from the pioneering experiments of Bishop and Varmus et al. that elucidated a viral origin to cancer, to current research in cancer therapeutics. Prerequisites: BIO2111 Introduction to Cell Biology or permission of the instructor.

  • Michael Shea | FA2012 | T, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | BIO4130.01

Mutants: Genetic Variation and Human Development

Why do humans have precisely five fingers and toes? How does a bone know to stop growing when it reaches the appropriate length? What controls our gender? While the human genome successfully encodes the information required to produce a "normal" human being, genetic variation dictates the subtle and not so subtle differences that make us each a unique individual. "Mutant" humans throughout history have provided insights into how genetics underlie development by showing us what can happen when the delicate balance of genes and their proper expression is perturbed. This course will focus (a little bit) on the history and (a lot) on the science behind some of the more pronounced human "mutant" conditions, including conjoined twinning, dwarfism and giantism, and progeria (rapid aging), to name a few. Students will also read and discuss recent scientific developments such as personalized medicine, preimplantation genetic diagnosis, and stem cells. Prerequisites: None.

  • Amie McClellan | SP2013 | MTh, 8:10AM-10:00AM | BIO2210.01
  • Amie McClellan | FA2014 | MTh, 10:10AM-12:00PM | BIO2210.01

Natural History of Plants

Plants define the biological environment. All other organisms depend on plants' capacity for photosynthesis. Plant structure and chemistry have shaped animal (including human) evolution, and we depend on plant products for food, medicine, structural materials, and many other things. Yet few people can name even the dominant plants in their environment and what determines their distribution, can recognize the role of vegetation in controlling the living landscape, or are aware of the particulars (and vulnerabilities) of our dependence on plants. This course is a general exploration of the adaptive structure, habits, and diversity of plants, with strong emphases on the study of plants in habitat and development of taxonomic repertoire and observational skills. Themes include: basic plant structure and function; taxonomy and identification of plants, particularly local flora; ecology plant distribution and abundance, and the history and nature of human use of and dependence on plants. In addition to classroom and written work, the course includes lab time and extensive fieldwork in diverse terrain and weather, and there will probably be one weekend field trip. All class meeting may include field or lab work, but Thursday meetings will generally be of this nature. Prerequisites: None. Corequisites: Students must also register for the lab, BIO2107L.01.

  • Kerry Woods | SP2012 | M, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | BIO2107.01
  • Kerry Woods | SP2014 | M, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | BIO2107.01

Neurons, Networks, and Behavior

How does light energy falling on the back of our eye get interpreted as a particular image of our friend or a painting or a leaf? How does a cockroach escape imminent predation by a toad? How does a slug remember that a recent poke wasn't dangerous? How do we remember? A rigorous consideration of general principles of neural integration at the cellular, sensory, central, and motor levels of organization serves as the groundwork for an examination of such questions of integration. Then we apply those principles to particular systems including: locust flight, cockroach escape, the role of giant fibers in crayfish behavior, memory and learning in invertebrates and vertebrates, and vertebrate visual systems (from light transduction in the retina through integration in the visual cortex). Students read appropriate primary literature and conduct their own research projects. Prerequisites: Cell biology and permission of the instructor.

  • Elizabeth Sherman | SP2012 | TF, 8:10AM-10:00AM | BIO4202.01
  • Elizabeth Sherman | SP2014 | TF, 8:10AM-10:00AM | BIO4202.01

Neurons, Networks, and Behavior Lab


  • Elizabeth Sherman | SP2012 | , - | BIO4202L.01
  • Elizabeth Sherman | SP2014 | , - | BIO4202L.01

Reimagining Memory in Biology and Beyond

How are memories formed, stored, and accessed? This question has been central to psychology and neuroscience since their founding. In this class, we will first review psychological and neurobiological views of memory. We will then explore how memory as a dynamic process might be extended to biological systems outside the brain. We will also survey cultural, social, and linguistic concepts of memory. Finally, we will compare and contrast two compelling-but very different and competing-views of memory: one in which memories are created from the ground up through a process of instruction; and another in which memories arise from selective interactions between an unlabeled world and vast repertoires of pre-defined components, i.e., neurons and neuronal networks. Can such a selection-based view of memory be extended well beyond nervous systems into non-biological domains of human interaction? This is a survey course in which well be exploring the concept of memory in the broadest of terms. As such, it is intended for both students thinking of concentrating in neuroscience and those outside of the sciences wishing to explore the relevance of an important focus of neuroscience to their own areas of interest. Prerequisites: None.

  • David Edelman | FA2013 | MTh, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | BIO2140.01
  • David Edelman | FA2012 | MTh, 8:10AM-10:00AM | BIO2140.01

Research in Cell Biology

"Students will conduct directed research projects utilizing molecular genetic, cell biological and biochemical techniques, with a focus on molecular chaperone-mediated cellular processes such as protein folding and degradation. Students are expected to spend a minimum of 8-10 hours a week on laboratory experiments and notebooks, reading primary literature pertinent to their projects, and participating in weekly lab meetings. Each student will also present at least one research paper during the term and prepare a final paper on their project." Prerequisites: Introductory work in cell biology or genetics

  • Amie McClellan | SP2013 | , - | BIO4212.01

Sensation and Movement in the Ocean

How do marine animals negotiate the challenges of a complex, ever changing, and often dangerous, environment? How can we make sense of the rich repertoires of sensory and motor adaptations that are found among the diverse multicellular creatures that have evolved in the oceans over more than half a billion years? Finally, what kinds of nervous system innovations coincided with this sensory and motor efflorescence? In this course, we will explore the anatomical and physiological aspects of marine sensory and motor organs, with particular emphasis on their neural substrates. I'll highlight key sensory and motor leitmotifs that are recurrent in marine bodyplans (e.g., aspects of vision, hearing, chemoreception, touch, locomotion, etc.) and distinguish between homologous versus analogous structures and functions in sensory and motor systems across different marine phyla. Prerequisites: Animal Physiology or Neurons, Networks, and Behavior.

  • David Edelman | FA2014 | MTh, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | BIO4125.01

Sensation and Movement in the Ocean Lab

Lab for Sensation and Movement in the Ocean BIO4125

  • David Edelman | FA2014 | T, 8:20AM-12:00PM | BIO4125L.01

Stimulus, Sensation, and the Brain

How do animals extract information that is critical for survival from an often complex and ambiguous world? When an octopus sees a crab, what features and behaviors of that crab are capturing the octopus attention? How can we investigate sensory percepts in animals that cant report those percepts to us via natural language? What are the neural correlates of perception? In this course, well cover the foundations of the science of psychophysics, which seeks to identify the relationship between the physical world and the sensory percepts informed by that world. Well explore experimental design and review psychophysical studies of perception in humans and a variety of non-human animals. Finally, we'll deploy simple psychophysical experiments in the lab to investigate certain fundamental aspects of visual perception in a large-brained marine invertebrate: the octopus. Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor.

  • David Edelman | SP2014 | MTh, 4:10PM- 6:00PM | BIO4126.01

The Science of Consciousness

Most of us have an intuitive sense of what consciousness is. It is what slips away when we fall asleep and returns when we awaken. It is the awareness of a particular word, object, or scene. It is the feeling of an internal presence. For centuries, nearly all thought about the nature of consciousness was the sole preserve of philosophers-most notably Rene Descartes, John Locke, and David Hume. Although William James had expressed the brilliant and timely insight that consciousness is a process whose function is knowing-i.e., a process and not a thing-as early as 1904, it wasn't until well into the 20th Century that consciousness emerged as a legitimate area of scientific inquiry. In this course, we will review the most prominent theories of consciousness within neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy, explore the means by which consciousness can be assessed and measured in humans and non-human animals, and discuss the known brain and behavioral correlates and properties of conscious experience. What is the distinction between sensory consciousness and higher-order consciousness (e.g., self-awareness)? What is the effect of embodiment on conscious experience (i.e., what it is like to be a human vs. what it is like to be a bat or other non-human animal)? Which animals experience conscious states? How and when did consciousness evolve and what is its function, if any? We will confront these questions as we explore the nature of consciousness: a mysterious and compelling process that is, today, a tractable object of scientific study. Prerequisites: Permission of instructor.

  • David Edelman | SP2013 | MTh, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | BIO4123.01
  • David Edelman | SP2014 | MTh, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | BIO4123.01

Women and Men: The Biology of the Sexes

What are the biological differences between men and women and how do they come about? Beyond the obvious reproductive differences, do other biological differences influence the behavior of women and men? For example, not only do women and men differ in various sex hormone levels, but their brains are influenced in different ways by those hormones. To what extent are the differences in sexual behavior among men and women due to genetic variation? How has our evolutionary history influenced our sexuality? Why are cultural sanctions against sexual "cheating" more severe for women than men? Can we make inferences about our own sexuality by examining mating systems in other primates (particularly the great apes)? Our discussion of these and other questions will be facilitated by a careful reading of selected evolutionary, medical, developmental, neurophysiological, and sociobiological literature. Prerequisites: None.

  • Elizabeth Sherman | FA2012 | TF, 10:10AM-12:00PM | BIO2203.01
  • Elizabeth Sherman | FA2014 | TF, 10:10AM-12:00PM | BIO2203.01

Chemistry

Biochemistry

Biochemistry is an intermediate chemistry course in which students apply principles from general and organic chemistry, as well as general biology, to understand the molecular processes that characterize life. Biochemistry is a broad discipline that is growing rapidly in its scope - new developments and discoveries are being made daily. The goal of this class will be to give students a solid background with which they can appreciate the latest developments and research reports. We will begin with fundamental principles, but quickly move into a detailed look at metabolism - the specific means by which organisms use chemical energy to drive cell functions and how they convert simple molecules to complex biological molecules. This approach will provide a context to illustrate many of the core ideas we will cover. Students will also have the opportunity for independent work which will allow them to apply these ideas to topics of their own specific interests. Students will have weekly review assignments and at least two independent projects, including an oral presentation of a final project. Prerequisites: General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry I, General Biology or permission of the instructor.

  • Janet Foley | SP2011 | MTh, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | CHE4301.01
  • Janet Foley | SP2012 | MTh, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | CHE4301.01
  • John Bullock | SP2013 | MTh, 10:10AM-12:00PM | CHE4301.01
  • John Bullock | SP2014 | MTh, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | CHE4335.01

Chemistry 1: Chemical Principles

This class is the first of a four course sequence covering General and Organic Chemistry. Students do not need to take the entire sequence. This course will focus on introductory chemical principles, including atomic theory, classical and quantum bonding concepts, molecular structure, organic functional groups, and the relationship between structure and properties. The class will have lecture/discussion meetings at which we will critically examine the major concepts of reading assignments, discuss articles, and review some of the current developments of the field. The aim of the laboratory will be to develop your experimental skills, especially your ability to design meaningful experiments, analyze data, and interpret observations. Some background in math (pre-calculus) would be helpful. Prerequisites: None. Corequisites: Students must also register for the lab, CHE2211L.01.

  • John Bullock | FA2014 | MTh, 10:10AM-12:00PM | CHE2211.01
  • John Bullock | FA2011 | TF, 8:10AM-10:00AM | CHE2211.01
  • Janet Foley | FA2012 | TF, 10:10AM-12:00PM | CHE2211.01
  • Janet Foley | FA2013 | TF, 10:10AM-12:00PM | CHE2211.01

Chemistry 1: Chemical Principles Lab

Students in the laboratory portion of Chemistry 1 will learn analytical and synthetic techniques in the context of the material covered in lecture and will have the opportunity to design and execute their own chemical investigations.

  • John Bullock | FA2014 | T, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | CHE2211L.01
  • Janet Foley | FA2012 | W, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | CHE2211L.01
  • Janet Foley | FA2013 | W, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | CHE2211L.01
  • John Bullock | FA2011 | W, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | CHE2211L.01

Chemistry 2 Lab


  • John Bullock | SP2013 | T, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | CHE4212L.01
  • John Bullock | SP2014 | T, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | CHE4212L.01
  • Janet Foley | SP2011 | W, 8:20AM-12:00PM | CHE4212L.01
  • Janet Foley | SP2012 | W, 8:20AM-12:00PM | CHE4212L.01

Chemistry 2: Organic Structure and Bonding

Students will explore stoichiometric relationships in solution and gas systems which are the basis of quantifying results of chemical reactions. Understanding chemical reactivity leads directly into discussion of equilibrium and thermodynamics, two of the most important ideas in chemistry. Equilibrium, especially acid/base applications, explores the extent of reactions while thermodynamics helps us understand if a reaction will happen. Students will be introduced to new lab techniques and ways to measure progress of reactions. They will also devise their own questions and experiments. Kinetics (rates of reaction) provides information about how reactions work and, along with thermodynamics, provides the basis for evaluating the viability of a reaction. This concept will be explored particularly with respect to substitution reactions. Research articles will relate these ideas to current topics in the literature such as solar-enhanced fuels, rates of atmospheric reactions, and using chemistry for remediation. Taking CHE2211 Chemistry 1 and CHE4212 Chemistry 2 provides a good background for students interested in environmental applications. Prerequisites: CHE2211 Chemistry 1. Corequisites: Students must also register for the lab, CHE4212L.01.

  • Janet Foley | SP2012 | MTh, 8:00AM-10:00AM | CHE4212.01
  • Janet Foley | SP2011 | TF, 10:10AM-12:00PM | CHE4212.01
  • John Bullock | SP2013 | TF, 10:10AM-12:00PM | CHE4212.01
  • John Bullock | SP2014 | TF, 10:10AM-12:00PM | CHE4212.01

Chemistry 3 : Organic Reactions and Mechanisms Lab


  • John Bullock | FA2012 | M, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | CHE4213L.01
  • John Bullock | FA2011 | T, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | CHE4213L.01
  • John Bullock | FA2013 | T, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | CHE4213L.01
  • Janet Foley | FA2014 | Th, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | CHE4213L.01

Chemistry 3: Organic Reactions and Mechanisms

Chemistry 3 focuses on how reactions happen: what the steps are, how we discover them, and how we use this to look at some practical systems: the synthesis of a drug, the kinetics of substitution. Emphasis will be using the general principles such as nucleophiles and electrophiles, to guide an understanding of specific reactions. Lab will focus on several clusters of experiments designed for students to extend what they know to answer questions of their own. A major project will be the development of a research proposal based on the student's own question. Background from the literature will motivate the proposal and initial experiments will be proposed. Prerequisites: CHE2211 Chemistry 1 and CHE4212 Chemistry 2. Corequisites: Students must also register for the lab, CHE4213L.01.

  • John Bullock | FA2012 | MTh, 10:10AM-12:00PM | CHE4213.01
  • Janet Foley | FA2014 | TF, 10:10AM-12:00PM | CHE4213.01
  • John Bullock | FA2011 | TF, 10:10AM-12:00PM | CHE4213.01
  • John Bullock | FA2013 | TF, 10:10AM-12:00PM | CHE4213.01

Chemistry 4 - The Nature of Materials

This course represents the culmination of the two-year integrated general/organic chemistry sequence and will introduce special topics that go beyond those traditionally covered in those courses. Material presented will focus on functional materials such as semiconductors and structures involved in energy transfer and storage. Topics such as electrochemistry, molecular orbital theory, and transition metal chemistry will be introduced to provide a solid theoretical foundation for the applications we will cover. Students will write several papers related to the material; there will also be review assignments and exams. Prerequisites: CHE2211 Chemistry 1, CHE4212 Chemistry 2, and CHE4213 Chemistry 3.

  • Janet Foley | SP2014 | MTh, 8:10AM-10:00AM | CHE4215.01
  • Janet Foley | SP2013 | TF, 10:10AM-12:00PM | CHE4215.01
  • John Bullock | SP2011 | TF, 10:10AM-12:00PM | CHE4215.01
  • John Bullock | SP2012 | TF, 10:10AM-12:00PM | CHE4215.01

Chemistry 4 Lab: Independent Research Projects

Students will apply the principles of Chemistry 1, 2, and 3 to the execution of substantive research projects of their own design. They will also be responsible for independently analyzing their data and publicly presenting their findings. Enrollment is limited to those students who have had a project proposal approved as part of Chemistry 3. Prerequisites: CHE2211 Chemistry 1, CHE4212 Chemistry 2, and CHE4214 Chemistry 3.

  • Janet Foley | SP2013 | W, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | CHE4216.01
  • Janet Foley | SP2014 | W, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | CHE4216.01
  • John Bullock | SP2012 | W, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | CHE4216.01

Chemistry 4: The Nature of Materials Lab


  • John Bullock | SP2011 | T, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | CHE4215L.01

Medicinal Chemistry

The action of drugs and their mechanisms are of immense importance to people interested in health care. In this tutorial we will examine basic mechanisms of drugs, side effects, clinical trials, and evaluation of efficacy. Students will direct the study by choosing drugs to investigate and by presenting information identifying what they need to know to understand how the drug works. The focus will be on the literature available and student presentations. Class will outline basic principles of drug design, structure, and properties of drugs, receptors, and mechanisms. A lab project is a possibility depending on the student's personal interest. Prerequisites: Some chemistry and cell biology.

  • Janet Foley | FA2014 | , - | CHE4130.01

Computer Science

Advanced Topics in Computing

In this course, we will apply computing methods in order to develop solutions to real world problems. We will focus on problems that require computing in order to create, collect, process, or visualize data and that offer opportunities to hone our coding and software development skills. Students are invited to bring their project ideas or existing projects in need of development into the class. Prerequisites: Prior programming experience and either an ongoing or new project you want to bring to fruition.

  • William Doane | SP2012 | F, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | CS4302.01

Big Data

No question should go unanswered on account of the size, complexity, or difficulty in gathering and analyzing data. In this class, we will explore three areas in computing - programming, databases, and distributed computing. The first area, programming, will help students to identify problems that can be solved by means of computer programs, and show us how ideas can be transferred into algorithms and, ultimately, code. The second area is databases. Here, students will be exposed to what a database is and does, the various types and styles of databases, and ways in which data may be organized, imported, manipulated, analyzed, exported and shared. Finally, we will be introduced to Hadoop - a distributed processing framework used to work with massively large data sets. Students will design, refine, and implement a project that uses the theory, skills and tools from one or more of these areas to ask and answer a data-driven question of their own. Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor.

  • Andrew Cencini | FA2012 | MTh, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | CS4130.01

Computing Ecology

Google, Twitter, Facebook, and the iPhone have fundamentally transformed the way we live, learn, create and work. But are they also transforming our environment? Data centers have been referred to as the factories of the information age - who's paying attention to what's coming out of the smokestacks? What is the environmental cost of bloated software? Is the accelerated pace of technological planned obsolescence (also known as Moore's Law) a critical risk to clean water and air? This course provides an introduction to the environmental impact of computing - in particular, examining data center and personal computing power consumption, as well as physical waste generated by computing. We will conduct physical and virtual experiments to measure and analyze power consumption and efficiency relative to computing (hardware and software), and will learn essential programming and analysis skills applicable to a broad array of questions and problems. In addition, we will survey current academic and industrial research and initiatives relative to green computing, and consider ways to reduce the environmental impact of computing on a personal, local and global level. Students with all levels of technical and programming experience are welcome. Prerequisites: None.

  • Andrew Cencini | FA2012 | MTh, 10:10AM-12:00PM | CS2150.01

Computing Fundamentals

Students will rediscover the foundational ideas that gave rise to modern computing including Boolean logic, binary arithmatic, algorithms, Turing machines, transistor logic, stored program computing, and modern computer hardware and software architectures. Students will learn to program in at least one computer language and will explore the problem solving idioms unique to computational thinking. Prerequisites: None.

  • William Doane | FA2011 | TF, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | CS2110.01

Computing in the Developing World

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can play a pivotal role in the developing world by helping to reduce poverty, broaden and equalize access to fundamental human rights, lessen environmental harm and alter environmentally harmful practices, and promote social and economic justice. ICT projects in the developing world, while often well-meaning, can also be implemented very, very wrong, or simply be misconstrued as silver bullet to the developing world's problems. In this class, we will study the past, present and future of ICT projects for the developing world, and learn to analyze and critique projects and proposals using a framework developed from discussion of relevant literature, scenarios, outcomes and technologies. The class will also be organized around a central large-scale systems design and deployment project that will help familiarize students with the technical, social and logistical challenges related to this area of work. Additionally, students will propose, design and present projects of their own related to a particular region and problem in the developing world. Neither a background in computing, nor a knowledge of the developing world is assumed; however, those with deep and broad skills and experience in these areas are especially encouraged to enroll. Prerequisites: None.

  • Andrew Cencini | FA2013 | MTh, 10:10AM-12:00PM | CS2108.01

Contributing to Free/Open Source Software (FOSS)

Most of us use free/open source software (the Web, Open Office, R, Linux) or services that rely upon FOSS (Yahoo!, Facebook, Google). In this course we will explore how these software projects are managed, the community of developers working to improve these projects, and the tools and languages they use. We will learn how to read, understand, and contribute to these projects. Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor.

  • William Doane | SP2012 | W, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | CS4120.01

Distributed Systems

In this class, we will, as a group, build a working distributed system from scratch, such as a web search engine, distributed file system, or peer-to-peer network. By building such a system, students will learn about key theoretical and practical fundamentals related to distributed systems, such as concurrency, replication, commit models, fault-expectancy, self-organization and management, load-balancing, capacity planning, and physical and environmental considerations. These key principles are what lie at the core of the designs of well-known systems such as built by Google, Bing, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter and others. The class will evolve from working through the design of the system, to developing it, planning its deployment, and releasing it into the wild. Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor. Corequisites: Student must also register for lab.

  • Andrew Cencini | FA2013 | MTh, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | CS4125.01

Distributed Systems Lab

Lab component for Distributed Systems.

  • Andrew Cencini | FA2013 | W, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | CS4125L.01

Intensive Introduction to Computer Science

In this class, students will be exposed to the main areas and questions related to computer science, while beginning their journey towards becoming skilled practitioners in the field. A large part of this process will include learning basic programming skills (C, C++, or Python), computational thinking and algorithm design. In addition, students will also formulate and explore questions of their own related to computer science. Prerequisites: None.

  • Andrew Cencini | FA2014 | MTh, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | CS2137.01
  • Andrew Cencini | SP2014 | MTh, 10:10AM-12:00PM | CS2137.01

Make Me Dangerous

Some computer scientists are considered "dangerous" because they are able to solve difficult problems quickly and efficiently. In this class, students will undergo an intensive introduction to the field of computer science; this introduction will include learning to command Unix-based operating systems (Linux, MacOS), essential programming skills (Python), computational thinking, and fundamental principles of computer science such as algorithm design, recursion, searching, sorting, and basic data structures. Students will become conversant in the various areas of computer science, and will learn the lore, history, and current problems of the discipline. Prerequisites: None. Corequisites: Students must also register for lab CS2107L.

  • Andrew Cencini | SP2013 | MTh, 10:10AM-12:00PM | CS2107.01

Make Me Dangerous Lab

Lab for Make Me Dangerous

  • Andrew Cencini | SP2013 | W, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | CS2107L.01

Making Computing Socially Relevant

Educators are beginning to attend to the challenges of developing meaningful computer science education: identifying a common core of intended learning outcomes, instructional designs, and assessments. Computer scientists are beginning to attend to the challenges of making computing relevant to communities and society and educating the next generation of computing professionals. However, existing approaches to teaching computing tend to focus on small projects, solely for the consumption of the teacher and students in the class ("toy projects"); formal methods (the "traditional" approach); game development ("projects about toys"); or examples intended to be meaningful to the digital generation ("relevant" projects, but with a lower-case "r"). We will review existing computing curricula such as the Association for Computing Machinery's model K-12 computing curriculum and Cisco Academy; frameworks such as the media computation, robotics, and game approaches to introductory computing; and trends such as recent calls for computational thinking across disciplines to understand efforts to make computing accessible to a wide audience. We'll learn the underlying computing topics (programming, networking, etc.) at a level of detail that will allow us to address issues in curriculum development and instruction, assessment, and evaluation planning. Students will develop learning modules that are Socially Relevant (with a capital "R"), meaningful in the sense that they contribute to our understanding of and ability to improve society at large. This course will be of interest to education and computing students and those interested in computing education in service to public action. No prior programming experience is required. Prerequisites: None.

  • William Doane | SP2011 | TF, 4:10PM- 6:00PM | CS2105.01

Mobile Web Applications Development

We will learn how HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript can be used to create Web (i.e., non-native) applications for smart phones. We will build several applications that demonstrate the potential to address mobile computing needs. Prerequisites: Ideally, some experience with HTML, CSS, and/or JavaScript. For those without such experience, a short workshop (TBA) will be offered.

  • William Doane | FA2011 | MTh, 4:10PM- 6:00PM | CS2130.01

Operating Systems

Students will study the theory and practice of operating system development. Topics will include processes, memory management, threads, i/o, file systems, scheduling, naming, security, and current trends in operating system design (low-power systems, mobile computing, hardware disaggregation). Students will read key research in the field, as well as engage in several moderate-intensity programming projects to solidify core concepts in the systems programming space. Students will also have the opportunity to work in groups to specify their own "dream OS", which they will defend as part of a group critique. Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor.

  • Andrew Cencini | SP2014 | MTh, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | CS4152.01

Programming and Data Structures in C

In this class, students will learn the C programming language, as well as the design and implementation of computer science's foundational data structures: stacks, queues, linked lists, trees, and their various and sundry variants. Since virtually every piece of software in existence relies upon several of these key data structures, the class will also look at examples of occurrences of these data structures in the wild, such as the Linux kernel and in other free and open-source software. Students will also learn to analyze the performance and suitability of algorithms and data structures, and how they are also connected to essential systems concepts. No prior knowledge of the C programming language is necessary, but at least one semester of programming experience (or its equivalent) is required. Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor.

  • Andrew Cencini | FA2014 | T, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | CS4170.01
  • Andrew Cencini | SP2013 | T, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | CS4170.01

Seven Languages in Seven Weeks

For students with some programming experience, we will explore the structure, syntax, and philosophy of seven different programming languages in an effort to understand the reasoning underlying each model of problem solving and the types of problems to which each is well-suited. Prerequisites: Programming experience. Permission of the instructor.

  • William Doane | FA2011 | MTh, 4:10PM- 6:00PM | CS4150.01

Systemic & Generative Visual Investigations

What is possible when the work of art is a computational system and the means of production are robotic? This advanced computation course will lead students from abstract computational structures to physical two and three dimensional forms. The conceptual artist Sol Lewitt stated, "the system is the work of art; the visual work of art is the proof of the System." Our platform will be to drive the NURBS modeling software Rhino using Python. Automating Rhino through Python is new, but well documented. Our research will add to the field and be made public. We will conduct a series of framed exercises with 2D and 3D digital outputs including CNC drawing, laser cutting, 3D printing, and digital projection. Students are expected to creatively respond to project conditions and undertake self-directed research to realize their artistic goals. Prerequisites: Permission of instructors.

  • Andrew Cencini | SP2014 | T, 8:20AM-12:00PM | CS4160.01
  • Guy Snover | SP2014 | T, 8:20AM-12:00PM | CS4160.01

The Nature of Information

What is information? How do you measure it? Is information perishable? Is it scarce? Understanding what information is and how (and whether) it can be created, shared, manipulated, or destroyed is increasingly critical in understanding science, public policy, and civic engagement. This course will explore how our understanding of information has changed over the past 100 years and how that understanding changes how we behave individually and collectively. Prerequisites: None.

  • William Doane | SP2012 | TF, 10:10AM-12:00PM | CS2113.01

Understanding Alan Turing

Alan Turing is a central figure in the history and theory of computing. Turing gave the first precise definition of algorithms and computability and a guideline for understanding artificial intelligence: the Turing Test. Turing played a role in the cracking of German military encryption during World War II and in the post-war development of the first digital computers. Turing lost his security clearance and was largely forgotten for the last half of the 20th century because he was homosexual. We will explore the man, his ideas, and his lasting contributions to modern computing. Prerequisites: None.

  • William Doane | SP2012 | TF, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | CS2106.01

Earth Sciences

Bedrock Geology

Understanding solid-earth processes requires detailed observations of both the mineralogical/chemical makeup of rocks, and of textures and structures within rocks. The emphasis of the course will be on field and laboratory observation of rock textures and structures, including depositional features that allow us to interpret how the rocks formed, and tectonic/metamorphic features that can help us determine how Plate Tectonic activity modified the rocks since their formation. Students will be expected to become proficient at field observation skills and laboratory methods used to interpret field data. This is an intermediate/advanced level course that assumes prior knowledge of earth systems. Prerequisites: An introductory Geology or Earth Science course; ES2102 Environmental Geology or ES2101 Geology of the Bennington Region.

  • Tim Schroeder | FA2012 | T, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | ES4125.01

Energy and the Environment: What Lies Ahead?

Many problems facing the U.S. and the world today are the direct or indirect result of our need for energy to power industrial society. Our most urgent environmental issues, many foreign wars and conflicts, and an array of economic problems would cease to exist if we suddenly discovered an endless supply of cheap clean energy. Unfortunately, such a simple solution is not likely to emerge soon enough to save us from the tough choices and possible sacrifices that will be required to preserve a world in which humanity can thrive. This course will examine both the scientific principles and societal implications of energy exploration, production, and consumption. We will analyze the history of energy use and industrial development that built modern American society, assess the current state of energy supply and production impacts, and evaluate the array of energy options before us to continue development into the future. Students will be expected to perform independent research in addition to completing readings on technical and non-technical topics. Prerequisites: None.

  • Tim Schroeder | FA2011 | MTh, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | ENV2201.01

Environmental Geology

This course will focus on the planets internal and surficial processes and how they both affect humans and are impacted by humans. The scope of environmental geology is broad and represents applied geology in a very practical sense. A basic understanding of minerals, rocks & the modern plate tectonics paradigm is the foundation for appreciating internal processes and such hazards as earthquakes & volcanism. Properties of minerals & rocks affect surficial processes such as weathering, erosion and the formation of soil. Hydrologic processes in ground and surface waters and the contamination of soil, sediment and water resources will be studied using local case studies from the Instructors files. Flooding and flood control along nearby rivers will be closely examined. There will be a mixture of lectures, indoor lab-type exercises and outdoor local field exercises. Prerequisites: None.

  • Tim Schroeder | FA2012 | MTh, 8:10AM-10:00AM | ENV2102.01
  • David De Simone | SP2014 | F, 8:10AM-12:00PM | ES2102.01

Environmental Hydrology

Fresh water is perhaps the world's scarcest and most critical resource. Giant engineering projects are built to control water distribution, wars and legal battles are fought over who controls water, and the problems will only get worse as populations grow. This course is a broad survey of hydrology, the study of the distribution, movement, and quality of water. Students will be expected to perform quantitative analysis of water budgets and movements through Earth systems including rivers, lakes, artificial reservoirs, and groundwater. The focus will be on practical applications and people's access to safe water. This course will require several field trips within and outside of normal class time. Prerequisites: Prior coursework in Earth Science. Students should be comfortable with quantitative thinking and have a firm grasp of basic algebra.

  • Tim Schroeder | SP2011 | MTh, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | ES4105.01
  • Tim Schroeder | SP2013 | MTh, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | ES4105.01

Geology of the Bennington Region

The stunning landscapes seen from Bennington's campus were sculpted by geologic processes over millions of years. Bennington College lies near an ancient boundary, along which the Proto-North American continent's coast collided with other continental fragments over 400 million years ago to build the continent as we see today. The Bennington region is an excellent natural laboratory to study both internal and external Earth processes, and learn how continents are built. This course will introduce basic geologic concepts, including: Plate Tectonics, geologic time, Earth materials, rock-forming processes, the water cycle, erosion, and glacial flow. Students will explore how these processes acted locally by applying field, mapping, and laboratory techniques to study rocks, sediments, and landscapes. Students will be expected to participate actively in field excursions and laboratory exercises, and independently acquire and analyze data. Field trips may require moderate physical activity. Prerequisites: None. Corequisites: Students must also register for the lab, ES2101L.

  • Tim Schroeder | SP2012 | MW, 4:10PM- 6:00PM | ES2101.01
  • Tim Schroeder | FA2014 | T, 8:20AM-12:00PM | ES2101.01

Geology of the Bennington Region Lab


  • Tim Schroeder | SP2012 | W, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | ES2101L.01

Intro to Maps & Geographic Information Systems

This is an introductory course on the theory and practice of analyzing and displaying spatial information. We will investigate the history of cartographic techniques, how the Earth's shape was determined, and the development of coordinate systems for describing locations. Modern computer systems allow mapping of more spatial information than ever before, but more importantly, provide tools to manipulate, process, and query spatial information. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) combine the tools of a computerized mapping system with those of a relational database to allow us to better understand spatial information, formulate inquiries about spatial information, and inform decision making. In this course you will use simple computerized mapping systems to acquire and display spatial information, and you will begin to use GIS tools to manipulate spatial information so that you can formulate and answer questions. Students will be expected to develop their own work and are encouraged to use data from other classes or projects. Prerequisites: None; Students who have previously taken ES2105 Introduction to Maps and Graphs should not take this course.

  • Tim Schroeder | FA2012 | T, 8:10AM-10:00AM | ES2110.01

Introduction to Maps and Graphs

This is an introductory course on the theory and practice of analyzing and displaying quantitative and spatial information. The methods covered have a wide range of applications in the natural and social sciences. Students will learn how to utilize software to analyze large datasets, and how to plot information on graphs and maps using spreadsheet programs, graphing programs, computerized algebra systems, and geographic information systems (GIS). Students will be expected to develop their own work and are encouraged to use data from other classes or projects. Prerequisites: None.

  • Tim Schroeder | SP2011 | W, 4:10PM- 6:00PM | ES2105.01

Landforms and Surface Processes

Rivers, wind, glaciers, and time act on sediment and rock to develop the landforms we see around us. An understanding of the surface processes that produce our regional landforms will enable you to appreciate the soils we farm, the ground water we drink, and how we manage environmental issues that impact the landscape. Our investigations will primarily be field based with observations and detailed study of many topics, including: * Major landscape elements - origin of the form of local mountains & valleys * River erosion & deposition - channels, floodplains, terraces & management * Soils - formation & recognition of soil horizons * Geoarchaeology - techniques of field study of sediment & soil for archaeology investigations to be done with local archaeologists * Landslide & hill-slope erosion processes * Glacier processes & products - arguably the most important agent in our landscape origins was glacial ice & we will learn to recognize glacial landforms & interpret the glacial history our region Most weeks will consist of field study modules and there will be a single all-day Saturday field trip, tentatively scheduled for November 23. Prerequisites: None.

  • David De Simone | FA2013 | W, 8:10AM-12:00PM | ES2106.01

Modeling Landscapes: An Intro to Applied GIS

A project-driven course introducing conceptual and applied approaches to describing, analyzing, and modeling patterns and dynamics at the landscape scale. Landscape properties are the result of spatial and temporal interactions among physical, biological, and cultural processes, playing out over scales of many m or km, and over periods of years and decades. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software offers increasingly accessible tools for quantitative and predictive modeling of landcape patterns and processes. Increasing availability of long-term landscape-scale digital data (satellite imagery, maps of terrain properties, aerial photography, etc.) enhances the potential of GIS. In this class, we will bring these data-sets and tools to bear in projects addressing practical and theoretical questions about our local landscape. Projects might include, for example, development of a landscape model of carbon budgets for the 500-acre campus landscape, or plans for trail-system development on campus. Class projects could have practical consequence in campus planning -- for example, in developing land-use plans to approach carbon neutrality. Prerequisites: Students should have prior coursework in natural sciences (preferably in ecology or earth sciences), have good skills with basic computer applications, and be comfortable with algebra and geometry.

  • Kerry Woods | FA2011 | T, 10:10AM-12:00PM | BIO4110.01
  • Tim Schroeder | FA2011 | T, 10:10AM-12:00PM | BIO4110.01

Mathematics

Abstract Algebra and its Applications

This course will be organized around two main themes. One will be the analysis of symmetries, in particular the symmetries of tiling patterns and crystals. The other will be classical polynomial algebra, in particular the analysis of the extent to which polynomial equations may be solved explicitly (and what that means). The relevant mathematical topics are what are known as group theory and Galois theory. Our treatment of group theory will be fairly abstract, while the treatment of polynomial algebra and Galois theory will be very concrete, classical, and historically motivated. Students with sufficient background may also do optional material on differential equations or quantum mechanics. Prerequisites: MAT2115 Introduction to Pure Mathematics, or permission of the instructor.

  • Andrew McIntyre | SP2012 | TF, 10:10AM-12:00PM | MAT4118.01

Advanced Linear Algebra

Linear algebra is the study of vectors, matrices, and linear transformations. It has wide application throughout science and computing. This advanced course will give a concrete geometric and computational point of view, but will also build a theoretical foundation for more sophisticated theory and examples. Applications will include linear geometry and computer graphics, networks, fourier analysis and quantum mechanics. Students without the prerequisites may prefer to take MAT2125 Linear Algebra, Networks and Geometry, which covers some of the same topics at an introductory level. Prerequisites: MAT2115 Introduction to Pure Mathematics or permission of the instructor. Knowledge of calculus is recommended but not required.

  • Andrew McIntyre | FA2012 | TF, 4:10PM- 6:00PM | MAT4175.01

Calculus I

The study of Calculus is the study of functions whose properties can be approximated by lines when considered over small enough intervals. This idea, when combined with the powerful limit concept, is what allows us to work with nonlinear functions and extend the property of slope to curves or compute the area of a region whose boundaries are nonlinear. In Fundamentals of Calculus we will find that the scope of these ideas is much broader, however. Topics to be covered include limits, derivatives, and integrals of single variable functions as well as methods of computing these quantities and their applications. Further topics may include Taylor series, parametric functions, and multivariable Calculus. Fundamental computing concepts will also be introduced throughout the class. The computer work will allow students to explore computationally prohibitive problems and obtain the basic skill set necessary for future study of more advanced numerical techniques. Prerequisites: One of the following: MAT2111 Introduction to Pure Mathematics, MAT2115 Introduction to Applied Mathematics, MAT2125 Linear Algebra, Networks, and Geometry, permission of the instructor

  • Michael Reardon | SP2013 | MTh, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | MAT4201.01

Calculus: Analysis of the Infinite

Calculus is the mathematics of quantities that are infinitely small or infinitely many in number. For example, in physics, the curved trajectory of a planet can be understood by splitting it into infinitely many, infinitely short straight line pieces. An area can be computed by splitting the shape into infinitely many, infinitely small squares or triangles. The paradox of Achilles and the Tortoise asks us to sum infinitely many diminishing numbers. Talking vaguely about infinity of course quickly leads to confusion or paradox; calculus is the art of handling infinity safely. It finds application in any situation involving continuous change. This course is an introduction to calculus. However, it will cover more than a typical first course, including some integral calculus, infinite series and differential equations. The approach will be historically motivated, and will be organized around a few key problems and major applications. Note that this course is not a repetition of AP calculus. Prerequisites: MAT2111 Introduction to Applied Mathematics or MAT2115 Introduction to Pure Mathematics or permission of the instructor.

  • Andrew McIntyre | SP2011 | MTh, 4:10PM- 6:00PM | MAT4145.01
  • Andrew McIntyre | SP2014 | MTh, 10:10AM-12:00PM | MAT4145.01
  • Andrew McIntyre | SP2012 | TF, 4:10PM- 6:00PM | MAT4145.01

Calculus: Techniques & Applications

Calculus can be used to find optimal solutions to problems, to calculate areas and volumes, and to solve a wide range of problems. This course will build on MAT4145: Calculus: Analysis of the Infinite by providing you with techniques for computing derivatives, integrals, and solutions to differential equations, and opportunities to apply your calculus skills to real world problems. The scheduled time for this class will be determined by the schedules of the enrolled students. Prerequisites: Calculus: Analysis of the Infinite, MAT4145.

  • Kathryn Montovan | FA2014 | F, 4:10PM- 6:00PM | MAT4130.01

Differential Equations

Differential equations are the most powerful and most pervasive mathematical tool in the sciences. Planets, stars, fluids, electric circuits, predator and prey populations, epidemics: almost any system whose components interact continuously over time is modeled by a differential equation. Differential equations are fundamental in pure mathematics as well. The main emphasis of this course is on the classical theory of ordinary differential equations, but we will also devote time to the qualitative theory and to partial differential equations. Prerequisites: MAT 4145 Calculus: Analysis of the Infinite.

  • Andrew McIntyre | FA2011 | MTh, 10:10AM-12:00PM | MAT4331.01

Dynamical Systems, Chaos, and Fractals

Dynamical systems are rules which describe how to obtain the future state of a system from knowledge of present and past states. These systems are used to model a wide variety of phenomena in the physical, biological, social and economic sciences. In the study of dynamical systems one finds that even simple systems can lead to complex behavior including chaos, which is commonly referred to as the "Butterfly Effect". One of the great challenges in modern scientific study is to extract order from chaos so that predictions based on a dynamical system model exhibiting chaotic behavior can be made. Topics in Dynamical Systems, Chaos, and Fractals will include discrete, continuous and coupled dynamical systems, fixed points, stability, bifurcations, period doubling, and fractals including Julia sets and the Mandelbrot set. Further topics may include phase plane analysis, Poincar maps, the double pendulum, and the Lorenz equations. This course will also include an introduction to fundamental computing concepts as we will find that computers will be of great assistance in both computation and data visualization. Prerequisites: One of the following: MAT4145 Calculus Analysis of the Infinite, MAT4175 Advanced Linear Algebra, MAT2115 Introduction to Applied Mathematics, or permission of the instructor.

  • Michael Reardon | SP2013 | MTh, 4:10PM- 6:00PM | MAT4119.01

Entry to Mathematics

Mathematics is inherent across all disciplines and undertakings. It is necessary for building structures, assessing risk in everyday life, mixing paint for specific shades, creating business models of growth and decay, setting traffic lights, and can even help assess the correct time to propose. This course will show how math has evolved from counting to the combination of abstract symbols and numbers it appears as today. Covering algebra, geometry, ratios, patterns, series, graphing, probability, and more we will focus on the foundations of mathematics and the basic skills and reasoning needed for mathematical success. Our goal will be to become conversant in the language of mathematics and understand how it affects our specific disciplines and work as well as strengthen our mathematical skills. This is a basic course, covering most of high school mathematics, and will be accessible to all interested and willing students. Prerequisites: None.

  • Josef Mundt | FA2011 | MTh, 6:30PM- 8:20PM | MAT2100.01
  • Josef Mundt | SP2013 | MTh, 6:30PM- 8:20PM | MAT2100.01
  • Josef Mundt | SP2014 | MTh, 6:30PM- 8:20PM | MAT2100.01

Introduction to Applied Mathematics

In this course we will develop mathematical modeling skills that will help us better understand the complex systems that arise in different scientific fields. Applications will include population growth, predator-prey systems, planetary motion, reaction and diffusion, heat and fluid flow, and evolutionary trees. To model these systems, we will use difference equations, exponential and logarithmic functions, trigonometric functions, dimensional analysis, estimation of orders of magnitude, interpretation of graphs, and elementary probability. This course is not a repetition of high school mathematics; rather, it places high school mathematics in a larger context, and concentrates on the applications of mathematical thinking to the sciences. You do not need to know about logarithms or trig functions to take the course - we will develop these from the beginning but you should be comfortable with topics like elementary algebra and drawing simple graphs. Prerequisites: None.

  • Michael Reardon | FA2012 | MTh, 4:10PM- 6:00PM | MAT2111.01
  • Kathryn Montovan | FA2013 | MTh, 8:10AM-10:00AM | MAT2111.01
  • Andrew McIntyre | SP2011 | TF, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | MAT2111.01
  • Andrew McIntyre | FA2011 | TF, 4:10PM- 6:00PM | MAT2111.01
  • Kathryn Montovan | FA2014 | TF, 8:10AM-10:00AM | MAT2111.01

Introduction to Game Theory

We typically think of games (like football, scrabble, and bridge) as entertaining competitions where each player or team tries to outsmart, outrun, or generally be better than their opponent. In this course, we will broaden this definition of a game to be any interaction between individuals where there are well-defined rewards that depend on what the opponent decides to do. In this context, we will learn how to frame social, economic, political, and evolutionary dilemmas as a mathematically defined game, then we will learn how to analyze these games to determine the best way to respond. We will also use this framework to understand how we can create rewards and punishments that should produce certain desired behaviors from individuals. Topics will include dominance, backward induction, Nash equilibria, evolutionary stability, asymmetric information and signaling. Prerequisites: None.

  • Kathryn Montovan | SP2014 | MTh, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | MAT2242.01

Introduction to Pure Mathematics

Are there infinitely many prime numbers? How can we know? How do we know for certain that the infinitely many digits in the decimal expansion of the square root of 2 never repeat? Can we ever have definite knowledge about abstractions like infinite sets or the fourth dimension? These questions are typical of "pure" mathematics: mathematics studied for its own sake rather than for any particular application. Pure mathematical questions are usually not only about how to compute something (e.g. how to find prime numbers), but also about how we know something for certain (e.g. that there are infinitely many prime numbers). However, pure mathematics often leads to important applications. This class is an introduction to this type of reasoning. We will look at some fundamental ideas of mathematics: rational and irrational numbers, infinite sets, geometric axioms, and some classic questions about them. This course is intended to serve as a foundation, and it will be a prerequisite for many other advanced mathematics courses. Students will be expected to have a good facility with high school algebra. Students without this solid background can still take the course if they are willing to work on this as the course progresses. Prerequisites: None.

  • Andrew McIntyre | SP2012 | MTh, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | MAT2115.01
  • Andrew McIntyre | FA2013 | MTh, 10:10AM-12:00PM | MAT2115.01
  • Andrew McIntyre | FA2014 | TF, 4:10PM- 6:00PM | MAT2115.01
  • Andrew McIntyre | FA2012 | TF, 10:10AM-12:00PM | MAT2115.01

Linear Algebra, Networks, and Geometry

Linear algebra is the study of vectors, matrices, and linear transformations. It has wide application throughout science and computing. This introductory course will be taught from a concrete geometric and computational point of view, with an emphasis on examples. The focus will be on two major applications: the mathematics of linear geometry and computer graphics, (for example, rotations, translations and perspective projections), and the mathematics of networks. A facility with high school algebra is assumed, but there are no other prerequisites. Students who have taken MAT2115 Introduction to Pure Mathematics may prefer to take MAT4175 Advanced Linear Algebra, which goes into the same topics at a higher level and in more depth. Prerequisites: None.

  • Andrew McIntyre | FA2012 | MTh, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | MAT2125.01

Mathematics of Fundamental Laws

The aim of this course is to understand the mathematics that are used in the fundamental laws of physics: classical mechanics, Newtonian gravitation and planetary dynamics, Maxwell's laws and electrodynamics, special relativity, and quantum mechanics. The mathematical content will include vector calculus, some differential equations, some advanced linear algebra, and a bit of differential geometry. We will not cover all these topics in depth, but will organize the material around what is necessary to understand the physical laws. The prerequisite is Mathematics I/Calculus; having also Linear Algebra or a second calculus course would be helpful. Prerequisites: Mathematics I / Calculus (required). Linear algebra (recommended).

  • Andrew McIntyre | SP2014 | MTh, 4:10PM- 6:00PM | MAT4120.01

Nonlinear Dynamical Systems

Dynamical systems are interactions that change in somewhat predictable ways. For these systems, rules can be written to describe the future state of a system from knowledge of present and past states. These rules are used to model a wide variety of phenomena in the physical, biological, social and economic sciences. This course will build on calculus skills and visual intuition to understand complex interactions in physical systems. It will be an introduction to nonlinear dynamics, with applications to physics, engineering, biology, and chemistry. Emphasis will be placed on using analytical methods, concrete examples, and geometric thinking. Topics will include one-dimensional systems; bifurcations; phase plane analysis; nonlinear oscillators; and Lorenz equations, chaos, strange attractors, fractals, iterated mappings, period doubling, renormalization. Prerequisites: One of the following: MAT4145 Calculus Analysis of the Infinite, MAT4175 Advanced Linear Algebra, MAT2115 Introduction to Applied Mathematics, or permission of the instructor.

  • Kathryn Montovan | FA2013 | TF, 8:10AM-10:00AM | MAT4127.01

Orbital Dynamics

This course will introduce many of the concepts needed to describe orbits of bodies moving in a gravitational field. After an introduction to Newtonian mechanics, the two-body problem will be covered in detail including the classical theory of Kepler orbits, the orbital elements, and orbital transfers. We will then cover important aspects of the three-body problem which is used to model trajectories of small satellites moving in the Earth-Moon and Sun-Earth/Moon systems. This particular problem was made famous for its study by Poincaré whose seminal results provided the foundation for the modern theory of dynamical systems and chaos. We will find that this topic provides a natural introduction to the rich dynamical structure underlying nonlinear systems including fixed points, periodic orbits, stability, and chaotic orbits. Knowledge of differential equations, introductory physics, and linear algebra will be helpful but are not required as necessary concepts from these areas will be provided in class. A good understanding of differential and integral calculus is the only definite prerequisite. Prerequisites: MAT4145 Calculus: Analysis of the Infinite or equivalent.

  • Michael Reardon | FA2012 | TF, 10:10AM-12:00PM | MAT4123.01

Real Analysis

Differential and integral calculus - nowadays referred to together as simply ""calculus"" - were developed in the late 1600s and early 1700s to allow infinitely small numbers and formulas with infinitely many terms. These techniques turned out to be immensely powerful, and it is impossible to imagine modern physics, engineering or mathematics without them. However, for almost two hundred years the theory was plagued by inconsistencies and a complete lack of logical foundation - it gave correct answers when it had no right to do so. In the mid 1800s, a logical framework was constructed which put calculus on a solid footing, and which allowed it to be greatly extended, and melded with linear algebra and topology, in the twentieth century, becoming even more powerful. (This process continues even today: physicists are finding startling results with ""functional integrals"", apparently by magic, but no one yet knows how to logically justify their methods.) This class will introduce real analysis in its modern form, with motivation from history. Prerequisites: Sets, measure and topology.

  • Andrew McIntyre | SP2014 | TF, 10:10AM-12:00PM | MAT4128.01

Real and Complex Analysis: From Euler to Riemann

Real analysis is the intensive study of the logical foundations of calculus, and application of the infinitary methods of calculus to more sophisticated mathematical problems. Complex analysis is the calculus of complex numbers; unexpected and beautiful new properties appear in this domain. This course is historically organized and motivated. We will start with some of Euler's virtuosic and magical infinite series inventions, and motivate later developments by the challenge of justifying Euler's work. Goals of the class include rigorous proof of Euler's solution to the Basel problem, and a careful reading of Riemann's famous paper on the distribution of prime numbers, in which he stated the still unsolved Riemann hypothesis. Prerequisites: MAT2115 Introduction to Pure Mathematics and Calculus

  • Andrew McIntyre | SP2011 | MTh, 10:10AM-12:00PM | MAT4125.01

Sets, Measure, and Topology

This course provides a brief introduction to three foundational areas of modern mathematics: set theory, measure theory, and topology. In set theory, we will see how to count well past infinity (ordinal and cardinal arithmetic), and we will also see how set theory forms a logical foundation for the whole of modern mathematics. In topology, we will see how continuous deformation is defined and used (for example in fixed point theorems), and in particular we will look at the concept of the dimension of a set (for example, what makes a line one dimension, or a plane two dimensions). Measure theory asks how one can define and find the ""content"" of a set, that is ""how much stuff is in it"" (for example, length of a curve or area of a region); we will see examples of sets, called fractal, for which the most natural measures of how much ""stuff"" is in them involve thinking of them as sets of fractional dimension. This course is ideal as an immediate sequel to Introduction to pure mathematics. It will be a valuable foundation for anyone considering seriously studying more mathematics; in particular, it will be a prerequisite for Real Analysis in Spring 2014. Prerequisites: MAT 2115, Introduction to pure mathematics

  • Andrew McIntyre | FA2013 | MTh, 4:10PM- 6:00PM | MAT4106.01

Statistics and Their Presentation

Statistics is the art of finding meaning in mathematical abstracts. It is looking at patterns and trying to reason what those patterns mean for the future. Statistics have pervaded modern society--politics, business, economics, and all walks of science depend on statistics and the models contained within to estimate and confirm patterns within their data. This course will focus on learning the basic statistical methods and how to present that data to others. We will focus on regression, correlation, probability, and inference, finishing the course with ANOVA testing. We will combine this statistical knowledge with data presentation, searching for the clearest ways to present knowledge to others. This is an introductory course. No formal prerequisites are required, but a comfort/ability with mathematics including algebra is a necessity. Prerequisites: None.

  • Josef Mundt | FA2012 | MTh, 6:30PM- 8:20PM | MAT2236.01
  • Josef Mundt | SP2011 | MTh, 6:30PM- 8:20PM | MAT2236.01
  • Kathryn Montovan | SP2014 | TF, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | MAT2236.01

Symmetry

Symmetry is a central theme of modern mathematics and theoretical physics. The intuitive idea of symmetry has been abstracted by mathematicians in to a more powerful, general concept - group theory - by means of which we can analyze symmetries, not only of faces and snowflakes, but also of equations or mathematical structures. Mathematicians before the nineteenth century had succeeded in extending the solution of quadratic equations, that you learn in high school, to cover equations with third or fourth powers of the unknown; but the solution of polynomial equations with fifth and higher powers had eluded everyone for hundreds of years. In 1832, Galois showed that the ability to find a solution of an equation was intimately tied to the symmetries of that equation. Ever since, symmetry has played a unifying and illuminating role, up to the present day when it is central to much of mathematics and to our fundamental theories of physics (for example, underpinning the "Eightfold Way", which is our periodic table for subatomic particles). This class will cover: the basics of finite group theory, group actions and representations; techniques of generators and relations; the analysis of tiling patterns and crystal structures; the beginnings of galois theory; and the beginnings of continuous symmetries and their application to physics. The topics will be similar to a standard first course in abstract algebra, but with a difference in emphasis. Prerequisites: MAT 2115 Introduction to Pure Mathematics

  • Andrew McIntyre | FA2014 | MTh, 4:10PM- 6:00PM | MAT4138.01

The Creation of Statistics

The goal of this course is to develop the skills to create, analyze, and present data found in the world around us. The course will focus on the basics of statistics and the creation of visualizations that will allow us to accurately display our information to others. Classes will be split between lecture and labs where we will be using a statistical software called R (http://www.r-project.org/) to help us present data sets and explore the mathematical values held within. The course will culminate in the creation of a survey or collection of data that will be fully analyzed, displayed, and explained. While this course is an introduction to statistics, students should have familiarity with some college mathematics, a general understanding of scientific thinking, and/or a comfort with some aspects of computer programming. Entrance into the course will be at the discretion of the instructor. Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor upon receipt of a one paragraph description of the student's background, need for statistics, and, if applicable, the dataset the student will workshop in this class. Email to jmundt@bennington.edu by November 7. A class list will be decided by November 9.

  • Josef Mundt | SP2012 | MTh, 6:30PM- 8:20PM | MAT4122.01

Physics

Applied Physics - Deformation of Solids

This course applies the concepts of mechanical physics to practical engineering and environmental problems. Any structure, be it a building, a nuclear reactor, a dam, an embankment, or a natural hillside, must be able to withstand the stresses that are placed on it by its environment without failing in order to ensure peoples safety. You will learn how forces cause stress within solid materials and how to map the three-dimensional state of stress through a material. We will then apply concepts of material science to predict how the stress state of a material causes it to deform and predict how, and at what load, a structure will fail. One emphasis of this course will be learning how to study a natural setting or a design and reduce it to a simplified model that can be analyzed mathematically. Prerequisites: PHY2235 Forces and Motion and strong quanitative skills.

  • Tim Schroeder | SP2012 | MTh, 8:10AM-10:00AM | PHY4215.01

Extragalactic Astronomy

Galaxies are massive collections of stars, gas, dust, and dark matter. They are both the birthplace of stars and planets and the signposts of the universe. By studying what happens inside galaxies, we are able to understand the conditions under which stars form. By studying the galaxies themselves, we can understand how the environment shapes their structure and makeup. By studying the distribution of galaxies, we gain insight into the structure and evolution of the universe as a whole. In this class, we will undertake a detailed, quantitative study of galaxies, with particular attention to the environment in which galaxies form and evolve and their place in the universe as a whole. Prerequisites: Any 2000-level astronomy class or permission of the instructor.

  • Hugh Crowl | FA2014 | MTh, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | PHY4216.01

How to Build a Radio Telescope

Astronomy has gained great insights from Radio Astronomy - details of star formation, the first evidence for Dark Matter, evidence for massive galactic central black holes, and star formation in the early universe are all examples of things we have learned from observations of radio light. In this course, students will build an eight-foot radio telescope to be used in this (and future) courses. Students will learn enough radio astronomy, engineering, computational thinking, and computer programming to effectively build and operate a small radio telescope. Some previous experience with astronomy, electronics, and/or programming is expected. This class will only be offered as pass/ fail. Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor(s).

  • Andrew Cencini | SP2014 | T, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | PHY4203.01
  • Hugh Crowl | SP2014 | T, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | PHY4203.01

Modern Observational Techniques

How are we able to learn about the universe around us? All information astronomers gather about the universe comes in the form of light. Sensing this light can be as simple as looking up at a nearby star or as complex as pointing a computerized telescope with a state-of-the-art digital detector at a distant galaxy. This class will focus on observing - naked eye observing, visual telescopic observing, and digital telescopic observing. We will cover celestial coordinate systems, the design and operation of telescopes, digital detectors, and how modern astronomers extract scientific results from telescopic observations. Work for this course will consist of problem sets, exams, and observing labs, with a self-designed observing project serving as the culminating work. A significant component of this course will involve nighttime observing at Stickney Observatory, which can only be accomplished on clear nights. Because of changeable New England weather, students who enroll in this class will need to have flexible nighttime schedules. In addition, this course is largely a technical course, so a solid background in introductory astronomy is assumed. Prerequisites: A solid background in introductory astronomy.

  • Hugh Crowl | FA2012 | MTh, 10:10AM-12:00PM | PHY4107.01

Modern Physics

The physics of Issac Newtons time describes well the motion of most things humans have observed. However, in the early part of the 20th Century, it was discovered that Newtons description was incomplete. While it may describe the properties of large things moving relatively slowly, it becomes less descriptive of reality as one measures things that are very small or are moving very quickly. This course will serve as a rigorous introduction to the physics of the very small - Quantum Mechanics - and the physics of the very fast - Special Relativity. Prerequisites: The introductory physics sequence (PHY2235 & PHY4325) and either MAT4145 Calculus: Analysis of the Infinite or MAT4175 Advanced Linear Algebra.

  • Hugh Crowl | SP2013 | MTh, 10:10AM-12:00PM | PHY4105.01

Observational and Stellar Astronomy

All information that astronomers are able to gather about the universe comes in the form of light. In this class, we will learn the details of observational astronomy and how what we learn from light can tell us about the size, structure, and evolution of stars. This class will involve significant nighttime observing, including observing at Stickney Observatory, so students are expected to have flexible evening schedules. Prerequisites: None.

  • Hugh Crowl | SP2014 | MTh, 10:10AM-12:00PM | PHY2108.01

Observational Techniques in Astrophysics

A laboratory course introducing the basic observational, computing, and data analysis techniques used on the cutting edge of modern astrophysics and astronomy. The course will cover the entire electromagnetic spectrum utilizing data from the space based Hubble, Chandra, and Fermi telescopes, as well as the Very Large Array (VLA), the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), and the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). Students will learn how to research, retrieve, calibrate, and produce publication quality images toward ongoing real world research projects. Lectures will cover the physical fundamentals behind different energy spectra and how we observe them. Guest lecturers will assist in adding technical expertise in the reduction of Hubble and Fermi data. Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor.

  • Douglas Gobeille | SP2011 | W, 6:30PM-10:30PM | PHY4106.01

Physics I

Physics is the study of what Newton called "the System of the World." To know the System of the World is to know what forces are out there and how those forces operate on things. These forces explain the dynamics of the world around us: from the path of a falling apple to the motion of a car down the highway to the flight of a rocket from the Earth. Careful analysis of the forces that govern these motions reveal countless insights about the world around you and enable you to look at that world with new eyes. Prerequisites: One college level math course, a solid high school physics background, or permission of the instructor Corequisites: Students must also register for the lab, PHY4235L.01

  • Hugh Crowl | FA2013 | MTh, 10:10AM-12:00PM | PHY4235.01
  • Hugh Crowl | FA2012 | TF, 10:10AM-12:00PM | PHY4235.01

Physics I Lab


  • Hugh Crowl | FA2012 | W, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | PHY4235L.01
  • Hugh Crowl | FA2013 | W, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | PHY4235L.01

Physics I: Forces and Motion

Physics is the study of what Newton called 'the System of the World.' To know the System of the World is to know what forces are out there and how those forces operate on things. These forces explain the dynamics of the world around us: from the path of a falling apple to the motion of a car down the highway to the flight of a rocket from the Earth. Careful analysis of the forces that govern these motions reveal countless insights about the world around you and enable you to look at that world with new eyes. While there are no explicit prerequisites for this course, a proficiency with algebra is assumed. Prerequisites: None. Corequisites: Students must also register for the lab, PHY2235L.01.

  • Tim Schroeder | FA2011 | MTh, 8:10AM-10:00AM | PHY2235.01
  • Tim Schroeder | FA2014 | MTh, 8:10AM-10:00AM | PHY2235.01

Physics I: Forces and Motion Lab

Physics I Lab.

  • Tim Schroeder | FA2011 | W, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | PHY2235L.01
  • Tim Schroeder | FA2014 | W, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | PHY2235L.01

Physics II: Fields

How does influence travel from one thing to another? In Newton's mechanics of particles and forces, influences travel instantaneously across arbitrarily far distances. Newton himself felt this to be incorrect, but he did not suggest a solution to this problem of "action at a distance." To solve this problem, we need a richer ontology: The world is made not only of particles, but also of fields. As in-depth examples of the field concept, we study the theory and applications of the electric field and the magnetic field, including Maxwell's explanation of light as an electromagnetic wave. The surprising resolution of the dichotomy of particle vs. field will be the wave-particle duality of quantum theory. Prerequisites: PHY2235 Physics I. Corequisites: Students must also register for the lab, PHY4325L.01.

  • Tim Schroeder | SP2011 | MTh, 8:10AM-10:00AM | PHY4325.01
  • Tim Schroeder | SP2013 | MTh, 8:10AM-10:00AM | PHY4325.01
  • Hugh Crowl | SP2012 | MTh, 10:10AM-12:00PM | PHY4325.01
  • Hugh Crowl | SP2014 | TF, 10:10AM-12:00PM | PHY4325.01

Physics II: Fields Lab


  • Hugh Crowl | SP2012 | W, 8:20AM-12:00PM | PHY4325L.01
  • Hugh Crowl | SP2014 | W, 8:20AM-12:00PM | PHY4325L.01
  • Tim Schroeder | SP2013 | W, 8:20AM-12:00PM | PHY4325L.01
  • Tim Schroeder | SP2011 | W, 9:00AM-12:00PM | PHY4325L.01

Stars and Galaxies

All but a handful of the objects you see in the night sky are stars in our Galaxy, the Milky Way. These stars are not just points of light, but large, gravitationally-bound balls of plasma governed by the laws of physics. These stars are found with dust, gas, and dark matter in larger structures called galaxies. These galaxies, in turn, are found in even larger structures called groups and clusters. As the universe has aged, stars, galaxies, and clusters of galaxies have changed and evolved. In this course, we will study the formation and evolution of stars, the formation and evolution of galaxies, and how these galaxies fit into the large scale structure of the universe. Prerequisites: None.

  • Douglas Gobeille | SP2011 | MTh, 8:00AM-10:00AM | PHY2106.01
  • Hugh Crowl | SP2013 | TF, 10:10AM-12:00PM | PHY2106.01

Stars, Planets, Life

In the last twenty years, the study of life beyond our own planet has gone from science fiction to legitimate science. The course will initially focus on how stars form and evolve starting from the formation of the universe. We will discuss current planetary formation theories, planet detection techniques, and the explosive discovery of planets outside our solar system in the past year. We will examine the conditions under which we think life evolves and whether any of the glut of planets we've discovered in the last year may support life. While there are no specific prerequisites for this class, an ability to think quantitatively will be a great asset. Prerequisites: None.

  • Hugh Crowl | SP2012 | TF, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | PHY2107.01

The Search for Life in the Universe

Carl Sagan once said "The nature of life on Earth and the quest for life elsewhere are the two sides of the same coin: the search for Who We Are". Only in the last century have we truly begun to ponder our place in the universe in conjunction with active research towards seeking life elsewhere in the cosmos. The course will build an accurate picture of the beginning of time through the formation of our solar system and the abundance of life on Earth. We will then turn to our recent exploration of the solar system and our fledgling search for exoplanets, exploring the science and techniques we currently use and plan for the future. Finally, we will build a picture of our current ability to dialog with alien beings and worlds and how we might ultimately explore the universe focusing on the laws and consequences of relativistic space travel. The class will be aimed at a general audience and not solely toward science majors. Prerequisites: None.

  • Douglas Gobeille | SP2011 | MTh, 10:10AM-12:00PM | PHY2105.01

Thermal Physics

The simple concept of Temperature is not so simple. In this class, we will investigate the meaning of temperature and how what we know about thermodynamics and entropy informs our view of the physical world. Such an investigation is fundamentally statistical, so we will build a statistical view of physical systems and use that understanding to broadly study such topics as the quantum nature of photons, chemical potential, and states of matter. Prerequisites: Physics I, Physics II, and Calculus. Or permission of the instructor.

  • Hugh Crowl | FA2014 | MTh, 10:10AM-12:00PM | PHY4104.01

Science and Mathematics

Communicating Science to the Public

One of the largest challenges scientists and media face is communication of complex scientific ideas to the public. This is despite the vast importance of this enterprise: if science is the advancement of human knowledge, scientists have an obligation to communicate what they learn to the public. In this class, we will learn strategies for communicating science to the public using electronic tools: specifically podcasts and web videos. A significant component of this will focus on writing about science for public consumption, in addition to technical instruction on how to record and edit audio and video. The topics of the projects in the course will be student-designed, so it is expected that students will enter the course with a firm grounding in science at the college level. Exceptions to this expectation may be granted on a case-by-case basis. Prerequisites: A solid background in college-level science, or permission of the instructor.

  • Hugh Crowl | FA2013 | T, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | SCMA4106.01

Energy

Energy has been called the "universal currency" (Vaclav Smil) but also "a very subtle concept... very, very difficult to get right" (Richard Feynman). Building on skills started in physical computing, we will, through generating and measuring electricity, gain a more nuanced and quantitative understanding of energy in various forms. We will turn kinetic and solar energy into electrical energy, store that energy in batteries and capacitors, and use it to power small devices. We will develop skills useful in a variety of undertakings, from citizen science (distributed remote sensor networks) to large-scale art installations. Students will build a final project using skills learned in the class. Prerequisites: None.

  • Jeff Feddersen | SP2012 | Th, 8:10AM-12:00PM | SCMA2110.01

Foundations of Physical Science

A Concise Introduction to the Principles Governing The Transformations of Matter and Energy and How They Relate to Our Environment Mastery of fire was just the beginning. After fire came kilns, then furnaces, then steam engines, then nuclear reactors. Since our humble beginnings, the story of the development of our species has featured a nearly ubiquitous and insatiable appetite for energy, most commonly in the form of combustible fuels and the heat they provide. But what is heat and what makes such a seemingly familiar and mundane phenomenon such a driving force for human activity? And as traditional sources of heat become scarce, what alternatives exist? These questions provide the framework for this course and the context for examining the foundations of chemical and physical science. The answers provide insights into the nature of heat, energy, and matter, their limitations and possibilities. The environmental, economic, and political challenges that face all countries are deeply intertwined with the scarcity of energy, making an understanding of how it is obtained, harnessed, and lost, of critical importance to all citizens and especially for future leaders and policy makers. This course will include two weekly lectures with occasional lab exercises to be conducted in class, reading assignments, short papers, review assignments, and a project. Students will publicly present their project work at the end of the term. Prerequisites: None.

  • Janet Foley | FA2013 | TF, 8:10AM-10:00AM | SCMA2104.01
  • John Bullock | FA2014 | TF, 10:10AM-12:00PM | SCMA2104.01
  • John Bullock | FA2012 | TF, 10:10AM-12:00PM | SCMA2115.01

Science and Math Fifth Term Seminar

This two-credit seminar is required for all fall-term juniors whose Plan significantly involves mathematics or science (other students may register with permission of instructors if background is appropriate). The seminar uses students' ideas/plans for advanced work as a vehicle for intensive exploration of the scientific process. We will look at the research methods employed by Bennington science faculty and visiting scientists, read primary scientific literature, learn how to formulate scientific questions, and learn how to plan a research/inquiry project. By the end of the term, students will be expected to produce an initial proposal for advanced work in science/math. This may, if desired and appropriate, be used as the basis for his/her sixth-term plan confirmation essay. Students in this course will be assessed only on a pass/fail basis. Prerequisites: Prior work in natural science or math and permission of the instructor.

  • Amie McClellan | FA2013 | F, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | SCMA4105.01
  • Andrew McIntyre | FA2011 | F, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | SCMA4105.01
  • Hugh Crowl | FA2012 | F, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | SCMA4105.01
  • Janet Foley | FA2012 | F, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | SCMA4105.01
  • John Bullock | FA2013 | F, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | SCMA4105.01
  • Kathryn Montovan | FA2014 | F, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | SCMA4105.01
  • Kerry Woods | FA2011 | F, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | SCMA4105.01
  • Tim Schroeder | FA2014 | F, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | SCMA4105.01