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Developmental Biology

Spring 2004
Judith Cebra-Thomas

Development is the way that living things become different. This course will focus on embryology, the process by which a fertilized egg becomes an entire organism. The creation of a new organism from a single cell requires coordination of growth, differentiation and morphogenesis, the generation of form. We will explore several model animal systems and a variety of scientific approaches that have been used to study them. As embryology is, by definition, the study of embryos, it should be taught in the lab; we will spend as much time as possible there. (In a perfect world, embryology should be taught in a marine station on the Mediterranean, but ...)Timeis an essential ingredient in development; you should plan on returning to make observations over the course of the week.


By the end of the course, you should have a good understanding of the basic processes that underlie the development of a variety of organisms, and the molecular interactions responsible for them.In addition, we will focus on written and oral communication skills in a variety of formats (including the design of Web pages to contribute to the course Web site), and on the interpretation of primary literature.

Student responsibilities:

We will make every effort to operate the lab as a research lab, especially while conducting independent projects. I expect you exercise caution, good judgement and consideration for others while working in the lab. You are responsible for leaving your work area clean and for rinsing out your own glassware.Soap and other toxic chemicals should be kept away from glassware used for embryos.In addition, we will be making extensive use of research equipment, including microscopes with digital cameras; these must be treated with respect and the microscopes left clean. Failure to do this could result in being forced to document your observations the old fashioned way - by drawing them! You are responsible for maintaining and returning your microscopes and dissecting equipment in good working condition. Please notify one of your instructors if you have any problems.

Each student is required to maintain an orderly laboratory notebook.This should contain your actual notes, observations, calculations and conclusions. It should notbe recopied. The basic principle that should should keep in mind is "could another student repeat what I have done, using my notebook as a guide?"Try to make your observations as complete as possible; your notebook will be your only source of data when writing your experiments up. Take time at the beginning of each experiment to consider what information you need to obtain and what your data gathering strategy will be.

© Cebra-Thomas, 2004