Questions about the Weekly Readings

Before each class session, students will submit three questions (at least one from each of the assigned readings). The questions should extend directly from the papers read each week. The questions can pertain to the topic of the article, the field in general, a proposed follow-up experiment, background information, or simply be a question about a technique used in the paper. Each week students should be prepared to discuss any figure or table from the papers.

Written Assignment (due Ses #10)

Students will write a 2-3 page (double-spaced) report proposing a follow-up experiment to extend or clarify one of the papers discussed in class. This report should include a summary of the main conclusions of the original paper, the flow of logic and methodology of the follow-up experiment (including controls), and the interpretations of possible outcomes.

Oral Presentation (Ses #13)

On the last day of class each student will present a 15-minute PowerPoint presentation of a paper relevant to the course. The paper will be selected either from a list provided by the instructor during the second week of class or a paper of your own choice upon consultation with the instructor. The paper must be selected by Ses #11. The goal of this oral presentation is to learn how to critically evaluate key experiments in a primary scientific article and how to clearly present a scientific talk to a general audience.

The presentation should be no more than 10 slides long. The introductory slides (1-3 slides) should provide a brief background about the topic. Try to develop a basis for how the authors tried to address the key questions in the paper. The result slides (3-5 slides) should highlight the important data and the implications of the data. These slides should describe the key experiments and controls, along with your and the authors' interpretations. The final slides (1-2 slides) should provide a brief summary and conclusion. Presentations will be followed by five minutes of questions and discussion by the group. The lengths of the presentations may vary depending on the number of students.