BMCB625:How the class works

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BMCB625 Advanced Topics in Molecular Biology


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Course Reading Material

  1. General Background reading, for example: Alberts et al., "Molecular Biology of the Cell", 4th edition.
  2. Reviews and research articles will be posted on the course web site here: Course Materials


  1. Participation on wiki: 10%
  2. Homework: 10%
  3. Presentations: 50%
  4. Final: 10% (10 min presentation, videotaped)
  5. Class participation: 20%

General Class Design

  • This class is not a faculty-driven lecture class, but is based on student presentations of background material and research papers selected from the current literature. It is designed to maximize active roles for students in each class.
  • Topics areas and papers can be selected from the list of possibilities posted on the course wiki, or you may suggest a specific topic and enlist a faculty mentor for the session.
  • Presentations are to be done in pairs. One student introduces the topic giving background and perspectives (20 min), and the other student presents the paper and figures (30 min).
  • Following a short break there will be a Discussion period for the paper(s) (20 min). The students who are not presenting will post 2 questions about the paper on the wiki before the class meets. After the discussion in class, the students are responsible for posting the answers to their questions on the designated area on the wiki. Homework credit will be given for posting (excellent) questions and (complete and well-written) answers.

Participants in the Class

Master of Class (MC). Sets the tone and pace by introducing the topic and speakers. Introductions are mini-speeches. Introduce the speakers to the audience and the audience to the speaker to establish mutuality—a common bond.

  • Introduction: make audience aware of importance of the topic
  • Body that explains why this subject, this speaker, this audience, this time
  • Conclusion……that leads to the actual talk.

At the end of the presentations and discussion of the papers the MC dismisses the audience (if any) and introduces the Evaluator. After the LE is finished the MC ends the class.

Presenter 1. 20 min. Introduces the topic including a concise background of the topic, perspectives and relevance.

Presenter 2. 30 min. Summarizes the findings reported in the paper, methods and conclusions.

Timer. Keeps the pace by keeping everyone, including moderators and evaluators, on time. Communicates with the speakers, MC and Lead Evaluator.

Lead Evaluator. After the discussion of the paper is complete, the Lead Evaluator gives a summary of the form and content of the presentations according to the class guidelines, 3 minutes/speaker. Incude a polite and constructive critique of talks. The LE will request written and verbal evaluations from the audience, then turns class over to the MC for a final word and dismissal.

  • Keep in mind:
    • It is OK to be nervous! It’s how you use the nervousness that counts. Learn to make it work in your favor.
    • Rehearse! You need to practice this new skill. You need to know how long it will take to get through your slides and make your major points. You need to know what you might trip over.
    • Evaluators and moderators should practice too!

Preparation for the Class

  • Each student should be prepared to discuss each figure in the assigned papers. The classroom will be reserved on Wednesdays for you to practice your presentations and coordinate the content in the two presentations. Class will meet on Thursdays for presentations and discussion.