This page focuses on the course 8.591J Systems Biology as it was taught by Jeff Gore, Latham Family Career Development Assistant Professor of Physics in Fall 2014.
This course provides an introduction to cellular and population-level systems biology with an emphasis on synthetic biology, modeling of genetic networks, cell-cell interactions, and evolutionary dynamics.
Course Goals for Students
- Understand how cells respond to the environment and process information in order to divide.
- Explore how interactions between genes influence the decision-making of cells.
- Examine how interactions between individuals shape how the population behaves in response to environmental pressures.
In the following pages, Professor Jeff Gore describes various aspects of how he teaches 8.591J Systems Biology.
Learn more! In the video at the following Residential Digital Innovations page, Professor Gore explains various techniques he uses to gauge students’ understanding of material.
In addition, each weekly problem had a computational problem, so prior experience with a computational package such as MATLAB®, Mathematica®, or Python was expected. The “officially supported” package was be Python (sample code, etc), but students were able to do problems in any language.
GIR Science Core, Biology
Every fall semester
The students’ grades were based on the following activities:
- 40% Problem sets
- 5% Pre-class reading questions
- 15% Midterm #1
- 15% Midterm #2
- 25% Final exam
Student enrollment was 26 in Fall 2014, and has ranged from 23-35 students in past years.
Breakdown by Year
2/3 graduate, 1/3 undergraduate
Breakdown by Major
1/3 physics, 1/3 biology, 1/3 biological engineering and chemistry
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 90 minute sessions; 24 sessions total, mandatory attendance.
- In-class activities included multiple-choice concept questions and collaborative learning.
Out of Class
- Students were required to submit answers to the pre-class reading questions online, prior to each lecture.
- Students completed weekly problem sets for the course.