This Course at MIT

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Course Overview

This page focuses on the course 20.320 Analysis of Biomolecular and Cellular Systems as it was taught by Professors Forest White and Ernest Fraenkel in Fall 2012.

This course is a required part of the biological engineering undergraduate curriculum. The two central themes of the course are modeling of complex dynamic systems and protein design and engineering.

Course Outcomes

In 20.320, students learn how to analyze biological problems mathematically and computationally in order to guide design decisions. The scale of the problems range from proteins, through cellular signaling pathways to whole-body pharmacokinetics.

Student Information

Sixty-one students took this course in Fall 2012.

Enrollment has varied from 40 students to 70 students; during the Fall 2012 semester, 61 students enrolled in this course. Typically, most students taking this course are third-year undergraduates majoring in biological engineering.

 

Curriculum Information

Prerequisites

All of these courses are required for undergraduate students majoring in Biological Engineering.

Requirements Satisfied

Required for undergraduates majoring in Biological Engineering

Offered

Every fall semester

The Classroom

  • A large classroom with tiered seating and several chalkboards.

    Lecture

    A large auditorium-style classroom was used for lectures. The professors used both the chalkboards and the projector.

  • A medium-sized classroom with student desks and several chalkboards.

    Recitation

    Students optionally attended one of two recitation sections in a medium-sized classroom like this one.

 

How Student Time Was Spent

During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:

Lecture

3 hours per week
  • Met 2 times per week for 1.5 hours per session; 24 sessions total.
 

Recitation

1 hour per week
  • Met 2 times per week for 1 hour per session; 24 sessions total.
  • Two sessions were created to accommodate the students’ schedules; both sessions covered the same material.
  • Recitations were optional.
 

Out of Class

8 hours per week
 

Semester Breakdown

WEEK M T W Th F
1 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No session scheduled. Lecture session. No session scheduled.
2 Recitation. Lecture session. No session scheduled. Lecture session. Recitation.
3 Recitation. Lecture session. No session scheduled. Lecture session. No classes throughout MIT.
4 Recitation. Lecture session; recitation. No session scheduled. Lecture session. Recitation; project due date.
5 Recitation. Lecture session; review session. No session scheduled. Exam held. Recitation.
6 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. Recitation. Lecture session. Recitation; project due date.
7 Recitation. Lecture session. No session scheduled. Lecture session; project due date. Recitation.
8 Recitation. Lecture session. No session scheduled. Lecture session. Recitation.
9 No classes throughout MIT. Lecture session. No session scheduled. Lecture session. Recitation; project due date.
10 Recitation. Lecture session. No session scheduled. Lecture session. Recitation.
11 No classes throughout MIT. Lecture session; review session; project due date. No session scheduled. Exam held. No session scheduled.
12 No session scheduled. Lecture session. No session scheduled. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
13 Recitation. Lecture session; project due date. No session scheduled. Lecture session. Recitation.
14 Recitation. Lecture session. No session scheduled. Lecture session; project due date. Recitation.
15 Recitation. Lecture session. No session scheduled. No classes throughout MIT. Review session.
16 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT; exam held. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
Displays the color and pattern used on the preceding table to indicate dates when classes are not held at MIT. No classes throughout MIT
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when lecture sessions are held. Lecture session
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when review sessions are held. Review session
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when exams are held. Exam
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when no class session is scheduled. No class session scheduled
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when recitations are held. Recitation
Displays the symbol used on the preceding table to indicate dates when projects are due. Project due date
 

Course Team Roles

Lead Instructors (Prof. Forest White and Prof. Ernest Fraenkel)

  • Design and structure the course
  • Deliver the lectures
  • Hold office hours

Teaching Assistants (two graduate students in biological engineering — Daniel Martin-Alarcon and Allison Claas)

  • Attend lectures and take lecture notes
  • Lead recitations to supplement lectures
  • Hold office hours and exam review sessions