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Dr. Ruth Ballard Page 1 07/26/10
BIO 184 Syllabus Fall, 2009
CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, SACRAMENTO
Department of Biological Sciences
BIO 184: General Genetics
LECTURE (T/R): 3:00-4:15 PM, HMB 202
LABS: (T/R): 9-10:15 AM or 10:30-11:45 AM; HMB 220
LECTURE INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Ruth Ballard
LABORATORY INSTRUCTOR: Christin Bendorf
OFFICE HOURS: T/Th, 2-3 PM
OFFICE LOCATION: 120-B Sequoia Hall
RESEARCH LABORATORY: 108 Sequoia Hall
RESEARCH AREA: Forensic serology/DNA
PHONE/E-MAIL: (916) 278-6244; email@example.com
WEB SITE: http://www.csus.edu/indiv/b/ballardr
REQUIRED TEXTS: Genetics: Analysis and Principles, 3rd Edition, Brooker, R. J.
(2009); Available in Hornet Bookstore; Text web site:
BIO 184 Laboratory Manual, R. Ballard, B. Holland, T. Peavy, and
M. Loo (2009). Available at the Hornet Bookstore.
PREREQUISITES: BIO 1, BIO 2, and CHEM 1A (or equivalent courses at other
General Genetics (BIO 184) introduces students to the fundamental principles of the science of genetics
and its central role in understanding life processes. It also exposes students to the legal and ethical
dilemmas posed by modern genetics research, and encourages students to explore and develop their own
informed positions on these issues. Successful students will leave the course with a good understanding of
how information molecules direct the development and ongoing processes of living organisms, how genetic
mutations alter the physical, cognitive, and/or behavioral characteristics of organisms and drive their
evolution, and will be better able to make informed decisions about personal and public policy issues
involving genetic principles. In addition, they will be well-prepared to answer genetics questions on the GRE,
MCAT, and other standardized post-graduate tests, to enter a genetics graduate program, or to obtain an
entry-level position in a biotechnology company or public agency that uses genetics to solve research
problems or to produce products and/or services.
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Genetics is the study of genes. It is traditionally taught as four sub-disciplines: Molecular genetics,
cytogenetics, transmission (or Mendelian) genetics, and population/quantitative genetics. Each of these sub-
disciplines describes the nature and behavior of genes; they just do so from different perspectives.
Molecular genetics describes the structure and behavior of genes as discrete “information packets” of DNA
that control and promote their own perpetuation and change over time. Cytogenetics describes the
structure and behavior of chromosomes, the cellular structures that genes build to organize themselves and
ensure their efficient replication and distribution to daughter cells. Transmission genetics describes how
genes travel through pedigrees and explains the inheritance patterns of genetic diseases and other heritable
traits. Finally, population/quantitative genetics describes the effects of natural forces such as geographic
isolation, natural selection, and mutation on the ebb and flow of genes in whole populations.
In this course, we will start our study of genetics at the molecular level and work outward to cytogenetics,
transmission genetics, and, finally, population/quantitative genetics (lab only). However, bear in mind that
our journey is similar to that of a helicopter pilot who takes off from the roof of the capitol building in
downtown Sacramento and ascends to a height where the entire city can be seen. The pilot is viewing the
same area of the world as he ascends, but the details disappear as their context becomes apparent.
In addition, as the course progresses, experiment with embracing a geneticist’s way of looking at life. To a
geneticist, our study of genes is only possible because of the genes themselves. Over the past 2 million
years, genes in our proto-human ancestors evolved in such a way that their “survival machines”*(us) are
capable of recognizing their existence and examining (and even manipulating) their behavior. To geneticists,
genes are simply tiny packets of information for which living beings serve as temporary hosts. Genes build
and maintain us in order to perpetuate themselves, and in so doing have accidentally given rise to creatures
that are intelligent enough to study them.
*A term first coined by Richard Dawkins in his highly acclaimed book The Selfish Gene (1976, Oxford University Press).
I. ATTENDANCE AND LECTURE/DISCUSSION NOTES
I will not take roll in lecture but I strongly suggest that you attend. Lectures provide the theoretical
framework for your understanding of genetics and for solving the genetics problems that you will encounter
on exams. Each week, you should review your notes from the lectures, read the sections of the textbook
pertaining to them, and test your understanding by working through the study problems at the end of the
chapter. (The solutions to the even-numbered problems are in the back of your textbook.) On Tuesday of
each week, I will spend the period lecturing and, on Thursday, we will finish up the lecture and spend some
time going over the answers to the study problems. It is your responsibility to come to class and keep up
with the material so that you are prepared for exams. Study problems will not be collected for grading.
Your laboratory instructor will provide you with course policies pertaining to lab. Please note, however, that
the weights assigned to lecture and lab will be the same for all students in my lecture session, regardless of
which lab section they attend.
Students may earn a total of 600 points in the course, 400 points from lecture and 200 points from lab.
The points are distributed as follows:
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1. Lecture: 400 points
Midterm examinations (2) 200
Final examination (1) 200
The Lecture Exams will be multiple choice. The midterm exams are non-cumulative but the final exam is
comprehensive. Questions may be derived from the lectures and the assigned study problems. On
instructional furlough days, exam questions will be pulled from readings in the textbook that cover the
information I was unable to cover in class. Exam dates are listed in the “Lecture Schedule” near the end of
MAKE-UP exams will be given only if the circumstances of missing the exam are deemed by me to have been
beyond your control (e.g. documented illness, car trouble, sick child, etc.). If you miss an exam, you must
contact me as soon as possible to schedule a make-up exam. If this contact is not made before the exam or
within 24 hours after the exam, you will be assigned a grade of “0” on the exam.
2. Laboratory: 200 points
Your laboratory instructor will provide you a breakdown of the point distribution in the laboratory.
At the end of the semester, points from all assignments (lecture and lab combined) will be totaled and
grades will be calculated as follows:
90.0 - 100% = A
80.0 - 89.9% = B
70.0 – 79.9% = C
60.0 - 69.9% = D
less than 60% = F
Plus and minus grades will be assigned in each category as appropriate. Usually, I use the total point score
earned by the top student in the class as the “100%” mark for grading purposes. However, in some
semesters, I have averaged the top 2-4 total point scores and used that number to set the modified grading
III. STUDENT CONDUCT
1. Lectures and Exams
Lecture is a “technology free” zone. Students are required to turn off or silence all electronic devices
(including cell phones, laptops, iPods, etc.). Students should be prepared to take notes, and I strongly
suggest bringing colored pencils or pens to class to help with note-taking. Students should also be prepared
to participate actively in class discussions. Students who do not regularly attend lecture are VERY unlikely to
be able to pass this class. You have been given fair warning!
GIVE ME FOUR WEEKS. Research shows that students who actively attend class and keep up with the
readings and other course assignments during the first four weeks earn significantly higher grades than
students who do not take the class seriously until well after the semester has started (or after they do poorly
on the first exam). It is very, very hard to “play catch-up ball” once you get behind.
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No communication is permitted between students during exams. No materials other than a pencil (with a
good eraser), a simple calculator (NOT one associated with a cell phone or other sophisticated electronic
device that might contain stored electronic data), and a scantron may be used during a quiz or exam. Caps
may never be worn during any quiz or exam.
Students may not leave the room during an exam unless they get my permission to do so. Please
go to the bathroom before the exam so that this does not become an issue. If you have a medical condition
that requires you to take breaks during exams, please arrange to take your exams at the campus test
If I obtain evidence of cheating on any lecture exam, I will report the incident to the Department
Chair and the Dean of Students for disciplinary action.
2. Communication with the Instructor Outside of Class:
I will communicate with you through My Sac State. Be sure to log onto your My Sac State site regularly to
check for messages.
Students should communicate with me via e-mail rather than by telephone, using the e-mail address
provided on the first page of this syllabus. When writing me (or your other professors) an e-mail, please use
the following rules of etiquette:
1. Address your professors as “Dr” or “Professor” unless they expressly tell you otherwise.
2. Write in complete, grammatically correct sentences.
3. Sign e-mails with your full name, particularly if your e-mail address does not include your full name.
4. Drop the “cutesy” e-mail address for school purposes. Using an address like
firstname.lastname@example.org is not professional and can be off-putting to many professors (not to
mention prospective employers, medical school admissions committees, etc.) It is best to choose an
address that includes your name, such as email@example.com.
5. Before sending an e-mail, try to answer the question or solve the problem on your own. For
example, don’t write me an e-mail asking me when I hold my office hours or if BIO 184 is a
requirement for BIO 180. This information is readily available online.
6. Respect that fact that your professors have already set aside time for office hours every semester.
Do not request to meet with a professor outside of these hours unless (1) You are at work or in class
during the professor’s office hours and (2) Your questions pertain specifically to a course taught by
that instructor or to an advising issue that can only be answered by (or is clearly best answered by)
7. Do not assume that professors are available 24/7. Some do not answer e-mail over the weekends or
in the evenings, and many try to go home at 5 PM. Limit your communications and requests for
meetings, as much as possible, to reasonable business hours.
IV. ADD/DROP POLICY
The Add/Drop policy will be followed as outlined in the “Student’s Registration & Advising Handbook – Fall
2009-Spring 2010 (p. 2-3 and 7) with the exception that, with the instructor’s permission, the Department
of Biological Sciences allows students to drop a course without serious and compelling reasons up through
the sixth week of the semester (October 9th in Fall 2009). Please be forewarned, however, that after the end
of the sixth week, you will be required to produce convincing and compelling documentation of your reason
for dropping the course. Please see me if you need to drop the course after October 9th. I will gladly provide
you with information about what types of difficulties are deemed acceptable (a low grade in the course does
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not, by itself, qualify) and how the process works. Special forms are needed and are available in the
Biological Sciences Department office (SQU 202).
DROPS DURING FINALS WEEK ARE NOT PERMITTED FOR ANY REASON. Students with an emergency
during this time period can request to be assigned a grade of “I” in the course and must make up the missed
assignments/exams within 12 months or the “I” grade will automatically become an “F”. A special form is
required to request an “I” grade. The form can be obtained from the Biological Sciences Department office
(SQU 202) and must be completed and signed by both the student and the instructor.
V. HOW TO SUCCEED IN THIS CLASS
1. Read the textbook before coming to class. If you have already read through the material before
you hear it in lecture, you will be much better prepared to ask questions and gain clarification on
any topics from the readings that you did not understand.
2. Don’t be shy about coming to office hours – and don’t wait to come to office hours until
you are failing the class! If you can’t meet me during my regularly-scheduled office hours, I will
be happy to arrange another time to meet with you. You can contact me by e-mail to arrange
meetings outside of my office hours. Please note, however, that I am not on campus on Tuesday and
Thursday mornings. I am the DNA/Biology Advisor for the Forensic Science Graduate Program at
UC Davis and also do occasional work for the court system as a DNA expert witness. I have
sequestered Tuesday and Thursday mornings for these off-campus academic- related activities. I
will also be furloughing on specific days and am not permitted to work during this time.
3. The enforced prerequisites for this class are BIO 1, BIO 2, and CHEM 1A (or the equivalent courses
at another campus). These courses should have introduced you to the following concepts and skills.
If the courses you took did not cover this information or you took the courses a long time ago, find a
first year college biology text and review the material so that you are up to speed with your
classmates. I will not review material that I already except you to know, except very quickly.
a. The structure of a eukaryotic cell and the location/function of organelles within the cell.
b. The chemical structures and physical/chemical properties of life’s large biomolecules: lipids,
proteins, nucleic acids, and carbohydrates.
c. The central dogma of molecular biology: DNA » mRNA » polypeptide » protein.
d. Watson/Crick base-pairing rules for DNA and RNA.
e. Chemical properties of carbon and water and why they are important for life.
f. Mendel’s Laws and the basic rules of genetic inheritance.
g. The basic structure of a gene: promoter, exons, introns, 5’-UTR, 3’-UTR, etc.
h.. Dynamics/molecular mechanisms of transcription and translation.
i. Genome size and organization in eukaryotic organisms.
j. Oxidation-reduction reactions
k. Atomic structure and chemical bonding
a. Understanding of the scientific method and proper use of experimental controls.
b. Fluency with MW, moles, molarity, percent solutions, and unit conversions.
c. Experience with microscopes and pipetting instruments (serological pipettes, micropipettes).
d. Exposure to agarose gel electrophoresis
e. Maintaining a laboratory notebook
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VI. LECTURE SCHEDULE (TENTATIVE; See Section VII, below)
DATE TOPIC(S) READINGS (TEXT) STUDY PROBLEMS
9/1 Introduction to the Course Chapter 1 All
9/3 Overview of Genetics
PART 1: MOLECULAR GENETICS
9/8 Molecular Structure of DNA and RNA Chapter 9 All
9/10 Tentative Furlough Day
9/15 Gene Transcription Chapter 12 All
9/17 Gene Transcription
9/22 Translation of mRNA Chapter 13 All
9/24 Translation of mRNA
9/29 Mutagenesis and Protein Function Chapter 16 C1-C30; E1-E9
9/30 Mutagenesis and Protein Function (16.1-16.2 only)
10/6 DNA Replication Chapter 11 All
10/8 DNA Replication
PART II: CYTOGENETICS
10/13 Review for Exam 1
10/15 EXAM 1
10/20 Reproduction and Chromosome Transmission Chapter 3 All
10/22 Reproduction and Chromosome Transmission
10/27 Reproduction and Chromosome Transmission Chapter 8 (8.1-8.2 C1-C38
10/29 Variation in Chromosome Structure/Number only)
11/3 Variation in Chromosome Structure/Number
11/5 Review for Exam 2
PART III: TRANSMISSION GENETICS
11/10 EXAM 2 Chapter 2 All
11/12 Mendelian Inheritance
11/17 Mendelian Inheritance
11/19 Molecular Basis for Dominance and Recessivity
11/24 Tentative Furlough Day – NO CLASS
11/26 THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY – NO CLASS
12/1 Extensions of Mendelian Inheritance Chapter 4 All
12/3 Linkage and Genetic Mapping in Eukaryotes Chapter 5 (5.1-5.2
12/8 Linkage and Genetic Mapping in Eukaryotes
12/10 Review for Exam 3
12/15 FINAL EXAM: 3-5 PM, HMB 202
For the past 10 years the CSU system has suffered chronic under-funding. This year, because of the state
economic crisis, the budget cuts are draconian, $584 million, the worst ever in decades. The CSU
administration is attempting to manage these cuts by dramatically increasing student fees and by
furloughing almost all University employees, including faculty, staff, and administrators. A furlough means
mandatory un-paid days off for employees. Indeed, employees are required to sign statements indicating
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that they will not do any University-related work on furlough days. There are 18 of these this year for
faculty, 9 in the Fall semester and 9 in the Spring semester.
For students, this means that on some days the campus will be closed. The library will have shorter hours
and many campus support services will be decreased or eliminated. It will, for example, be more difficult to
get signatures to meet deadlines. Some classes you need may have been cut from the class schedule or are
The days when I’m forced to cancel class because of the furloughs are marked on the “Lecture Schedule”
above. These dates have not yet been formally approved by my Dean, which is why the lecture schedule is
marked as “Tentative”. As soon as the dates have been approved, I will post a final version of the syllabus
for you to download from my website. These days off are not holidays for students, and I expect students to
master the same amount of material as I would in other semester. Students will simply get less direction
from me in the form of lecturing and discussions.
If you would like to take action, or simply learn more, I strongly recommend you contact the Students for
Quality Education at CSU Sacramento: