A Look Under the Microscope

Students are working as neuroscientists in Clark Lingren’s The Language of Neurons, an introduction to biology course.

In 2000, Grinnell College turned the biology curriculum upside down, involving entry-level biology students in cutting-edge research and offering a unique, hands-on, research-based introductory course — Biology 150: Introduction to Biological Inquiry.

During Lingren’s course, students are designing investigations to attempt to learn something novel about how nerve cells communicate with one another at chemical synapses. As in all Introduction to Biology courses at Grinnell, they not only learn about the subject, they actively design experiments, conduct lab work, and share their results with other scientists.

The students in The Language of Neurons present their findings at the end of the semester via both oral and written presentations. Their papers, each resulting from a substantial independent project, are published in the class journal, Pioneering Neuroscience: The Grinnell Journal of Neurophysiology.

Other Introduction to Biological Inquiry sections for the Fall 2013 semester include:

  • Shannon Hinsa-Leasure’s Microbial Pathogenesis
  • Benjamin DeRidder’s Plant Genetics and the Environment
  • Kathy Jacobson’s The Effects of Climate Change on Organisms
  • Dr. Vida Praitis’s Cell Fate: Calvin or Hobbes?

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