20.320 | Fall 2012 | Undergraduate

Analysis of Biomolecular and Cellular Systems

Instructor Insights

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


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


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

Requirements Satisfied

Required for undergraduates majoring in Biological Engineering


Every fall semester

How Student Time Was Spent

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


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


  • 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

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

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2012
Learning Resource Types
Problem Sets with Solutions
Exams with Solutions
Lecture Notes
Instructor Insights