Introduction to Biology 251
All of you have taken Biology 150, Introduction to Biological Inquiry. Each section emphasized skills important to all scientists: reading the literature, defining a good question, designing a good experiment, learning the tools to carry out that experiment, analyzing and presenting data, and writing scientific papers. The next course in our curriculum is Biology 251, in which you will apply these skills to a broader range of topics. This course will differ from BIO 150 in at least three important ways. First, it is a 200-level course, so you can expect it to be more demanding. Second, it has prerequisites of BIO 150 and CHM 129, and a co-requisite of CHM 221, so we expect you to draw on that information in this course. Finally, BIO 251 has a different mix of content and process. You will be asked to learn a good deal of content, much of it from a careful reading of the text. We will build on what you have learned in Bio 150 about reading papers, designing experiments, and interpreting data by spending most of lecture time on understanding how this biological knowledge was obtained. That is, the process of scientific discovery will continue being emphasized.
BIO 251 focuses primarily on cell and molecular biology. You will learn about many classic experiments that helped us understand a variety of topics such as how DNA is replicated, how proteins are made, and the functions of proteins in cells. We want you to keep in mind that these molecular and cellular processes are occurring in organisms. Most of the time, the processes are similar in organisms that appear to be very different, and by examining these same processes in both Bio 251 and Bio 252, you'll understand how fundamental they are to solving challenges all organisms face.
Finally, BIO 251 serves a variety of student audiences. For some of you, this will be your last biology course, so this is your opportunity to learn some important cell and molecular biology. Others of you will continue on to Biology 252, Organisms, Evolution, and Ecology. There will be several connections between BIO 251 and 252. The most obvious is the word "organisms" in the titles of both courses, and many of the same organisms will be used in 251 and 252 laboratory projects. You will also use some data collected in 251 later in 252 to provide the cellular and molecular basis for understanding how organisms change over time and how organisms interact with one another and with the environment. Others of you will go on to take BCM 262, Introduction to Biological Chemistry. Many of the topics discussed in the biological chemistry course (e.g. membranes, enzymes, signal transduction) are first presented in Bio 251. Regardless of the path you take, the skills and content you master in BIO 251 will be worthwhile.
Not only are students in BIO 251 taking different paths after the course, but you have taken different sections of BIO 150 to get to this point. We see this as a strength because biology is a highly collaborative discipline. By now all of you have read many scientific papers and almost all of them have multiple authors. We ask our students to collaborate in our courses, just as professional biologists do, because it often leads to new insights and new perspectives. Each of you will bring different skills from BIO 150 to BIO 251 and our hope is that you will learn from one another, in addition to learning from your professors and your texts.