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Swarthmore College, Fall 1995

Instructor: Dr. Judith A. Cebra-Thomas

Embryology is the study of how life takes form with each generation. The developing organism creates itself anew while it is trying to survive in a hostile environment. Embryology is characterized by a species-specific pattern of orderly change, yet there is enormous variation within the permissible limits. Whereas the finished organism merely maintains its form, the embryo creates it.

This embryology course is designed to introduce you to the study of development, primarily of vertebrates. It will attempt to integrate the study of molecules, cells, tissues, organs, and organisms over time. We will also strive to live up to the motto "Study Nature, Not Books" hanging in the library of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, one of the birthplaces of modern embryology. We will place a high degree of emphasis on the observation of living embryos as they develop. We will attempt to primarily address the question "What Happens?" Don't expect any complete answers. We are just beginning to understand how certain developmental events occur. ("Why does it happen at the molecular level?" will be the subject of Developmental Genetics in the spring.)

Student responsibilities:

1. Please be on time for all classes. (Time is critical in embryology). You are responsible for any material presented at the lectures; how you obtain it is your affair. However, in general, it will be difficult to make up missed labs. If an absence can be anticipated, please make arrangements to come to the alternate lab period (let me know in advance if possible). FOR A REALLY GOOD REASON, it may be possible to make up a lab Friday afternoon, or by staying late the next week. But, then again, it may not, depending on the embryos. So, don't attempt this unless it's an emergency.

2. There will be two exams during the course of the semester. There will also be a final exam. The exams will focus on the material presented in recent classes, but they will presume knowledge gained earlier in the course AND IN THE LABS.

©Cebra-Thomas, 2001