More info for my developmental biology students

The syllabus for Biol 4181, Developmental Biology is now online. Start reading! It looks like I’ll have you reading 50-100 pages of Wolpert and Carroll or Zimmer a week.

I want you all to know this is something of a miracle—I usually finish my syllabus the night before the class starts, so I’m very proud of myself for getting it done a whole four days ahead of time. Of course, the reason it’s early is that I’ve got a stack of extra-curricular writing that needs to be done in the next couple of days…


  1. plunge says

    Link broken for me… or did you post a link to an intelligent design lab course by mistake? (tee hee)

  2. Dustin says

    A graded class blog… I’m not sure whether that’s a work of pedagogical genius or of pure sadism.

  3. Cocky Bastard says

    Zimmer? Since when is he a scientist?

    Refer us to some peer reviewed stuff, please, not fluff.

  4. says

    Hmmm. It’s working reliably for me…but then, the server is right across the street.

    The grading on the class blog is very, very generous — all it takes is a couple of short posts a week to get the full marks. It’s more a matter of keeping up with it and having a little discipline to succeed, much like showing up for class is fairly easy to do. Or should be.

  5. says

    Oh, and Mr Bastard: this isn’t for you, anyway.

    Zimmer is a far better scientist than anyone at the Discovery Institute, so I don’t see the problem.

  6. says

    To the mysterioius Mr. Bastard: If it’s peer-reviewed stuff you actually crave, turn to the back of my book. You’ll find a few hundred items to keep you busy. (And while my book is not a peer reviewed scientific paper by any means, it was carefully fact-check with many scientists.)

    To PZ: I hope At the Water’s Edge is useful for the class. You may also want to point the students to my blog entries that follow up on the newer research on whales and tetrapods. Just to let them know that science keeps growing even after books leave the printer.

  7. plunge says

    Zimmer you lucky bastard. You get to write about science all day long. Me, I get to write perl code so that it can be localized in hindi. I hate you. Follow up question: do you offer apprenticeships?

  8. Patrick says

    To PZ: I hope At the Water’s Edge is useful for the class.

    How could it not be? That book is awesome.

  9. Owlmirror says

    Hmmm…works fine for me.

    The webserver on is doing something weird. When a local browser connects with an “Accept:” header that includes “text/html” to retrieve the link you gave, the server gives the following response:

    $ wget -S –header=”Accept: text/html”

               => `index.html'
    Connecting to||:80... connected.
    HTTP request sent, awaiting response...
      HTTP/1.1 302 Found
      Date: Thu, 24 Aug 2006 05:03:16 GMT
      Server: Apache/1.3.33 (Darwin) PHP/5.0.1 PHP/4.4.1 mod_perl/1.29
      Vary: accept
      Connection: close
      Content-Type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1
      Expires: Thu, 24 Aug 2006 05:03:16 GMT
    Location: [following]
               => `missing.html'
    Connecting to||:80... connected.
    HTTP request sent, awaiting response...
      HTTP/1.1 403 Forbidden
      Date: Thu, 24 Aug 2006 05:03:17 GMT
      Server: Apache/1.3.33 (Darwin) PHP/5.0.1 PHP/4.4.1 mod_perl/1.29
      Connection: close
      Content-Type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1
    22:02:33 ERROR 403: Forbidden.

    However, if the “Accept:” header does not include “text/html”, (which is true for wget and a very few other web clients) the page is retrieved normally.

    Talk to your local Apache guru about configuration files and such.

               => `index.html'
    Connecting to||:80... connected.
    HTTP request sent, awaiting response...
      HTTP/1.1 200 OK
      Date: Thu, 24 Aug 2006 05:08:04 GMT
      Server: Apache/1.3.33 (Darwin) PHP/5.0.1 PHP/4.4.1 mod_perl/1.29
      Vary: accept
      X-Powered-By: PHP/5.0.1
      Set-Cookie: exp_last_visit=841054084; expires=Fri, 24-Aug-2007 05:08:04 GMT; path=/
      Set-Cookie: exp_last_activity=1156414084; expires=Fri, 24-Aug-2007 05:08:04 GMT; path=/
      Set-Cookie: exp_tracker=a%3A1%3A%7Bi%3A0%3Bs%3A27%3A%22%2Fdb%2Fcomments%2F2006_syllabus%2F%22%3B%7D; path=/
      Connection: close
      Content-Type: text/html
      Expires: Thu, 24 Aug 2006 05:08:04 GMT
    Length: unspecified [text/html]
  10. Kele says

    Hm… this class sounds like fun. It’s neat that I own/have read 1/3 of the textbooks already, and plan on 2/3 eventually. Are the posts written by students right there on I’m assuming so since it appears past students have written there, but just checking.

  11. says

    I found it! You need to replace “db” with “weblog”.

    This sounds like my dream course. Reading pop. sci. books, writing on the Internet. I wish you, or someone like you, were my professor; but I get some boring old fart instead.

  12. says

    The labs are basic embryology, no fancy techniques. I’m mainly concerned with drilling basic rules of documentation and image preparation into them, so they get lots of practice with digital photomicrography and time-lapse imaging, and putting together short summaries of developmental processes. We work with chick, fruit flies, nematodes, and zebrafish (of course!).

  13. Greg Peterson says

    I am so envious of your students. I’ve read “Endless Forms” and “Water’s Edge,” and they are two of the very best science books I’ve ever read. Zimmer in particular is astoundingly good at explaining biology. I would love to be able to ask some questions about stuff I didn’t quite grasp. I might have to put on a Scanner suit and sneak into your class for “Whales!” Pay no attention to the annoying, ambiguous blur.

  14. says

    Looks good (though it would be above my head to do). It seems, however, that grading students as a percentage of the best student in the class is a recipe for collusion, if the class is sufficiently small. I remember a friend long ago having a high school math class with that policy on exams and the students were tempted to all answer two questions they were absolutely sure of. (I guess this is harder to do for the whole course, though.)

    Is 65 minutes the ordianry length for a lecture there?

  15. jbark says

    Very boring question here for you PZ.

    Do you really hold to giving absolutely no makeup exams? Or is that just a scare statement to keep the groveling for them to a minimum.

    I hate makeup exams, but I’ve never quite had the gumption to hold firm and not offer any at all.

    Good on you if you manage it.

  16. says

    All of the exams are take-home — it’s not a problem at all. If they can’t get them to me in a week because they’re missing that much class, I can’t give them a passing grade.

    In courses with in-class exams, I do have a make-up policy. There is one opportunity to take a missed exam: the Monday after the exam (I usually give exams on Fridays) at 7AM. That 7AM time is the scare tactic that really keeps them in line.

  17. fyreflye, FCD says

    Link isn’t working for me, either. Do you discriminate against Macs or Firefox?

  18. says

    Neither are most textbooks. So? They use the primary research literature, and my students will also be reading papers from the research literature.

  19. RavenT says

    Maybe “Follower of Cocky Bastare” [sic] should worry less about peer review, and more about proofreading.

  20. says

    7 AM makeup? I’m not sure you’d be allowed to do that at the places I’ve been a student … and it sounds mean to the instructor, too. Maybe that’s the point. :)

  21. Owlmirror says

    It’s not mean to me at all — I’m up and in the office [at 7 AM] every day.

    From annelids and mollusks,
    And bloody great arthropods,
    And godforsaken early risers,
    Good Lord, deliver us!