From Birds to Bees: Comparative Reproductive Biology

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This course is under review for 2021. Course registration will open to accepted students once courses are confirmed.

Course Description

Life revolves around reproduction. From birds to bees, all organisms are on a mission to spread their genes from one generation to the next. To understand reproduction, we use model organisms such as mice, zebrafish, flies, worms, and monkeys. But how does human reproduction have anything to do with fruit flies? What can we learn from studying the worm gonad? In this course you will learn how biologists use different model organisms to advance our understanding of human reproduction. Using popular model systems such as fruit flies, worms, fish, and mice, we examine the genetics underlying gonad formation, sex determination, and fertilization.

Passing on of genetic information is critical for species survival, but it seems like every organism does it slightly differently. In this course you will learn about reproduction through the lens of different model organisms such as C. elegans, Drosophila, zebrafish, and mouse. We will cover how the gonad develops, the molecular mechanism that differentiate males from females, and how fertilization occurs. Students will apply what they learned in class to understand and explain scientific papers. The student’s effort will be showcased in a group presentation and an individual paper describing the mechanism of a reproductive disease.

By the end of the course, students will:

Be able to describe the advantages of different model organisms in studying reproduction.

Be able to describe the function of reproductive cell types across species.

Be able to use their understanding of basic reproductive biology to write a scientific essay explaining the mechanism of a specific disease state.

Deliver an oral presentation in front of their peers.

Read and explain the key points of a scientific paper.
These skills will help students prepare for undergraduate research experiences which often use model organisms.

Prerequisites: Completion of high school biology is required.

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEBI1002
  • Length: 1 week
  • Supplemental Fee: $50

Program Information

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Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

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