92% of Students Responded

99% of Students Reported

Small groups explore a topic in biology while learning to think like a scientist

Are you interested in catching the excitement of biology by talking with a faculty member and other inquisitive students? If you answered yes, then consider enrolling in a BIOG 1250 Seminar that is facilitated by enthusiastic faculty members who love teaching.

Spring 2024 Seminars

  • 1 cr., S/U, Monday, 2:30 pm - 4:25 pm, 2/22/2024 - 3/20/2024,
  • Instructor: Bailey Lubinski (bl744 [at] cornell.edu)

What are viruses? How do we study something so small? Scientists have been researching viruses for over 100 years and despite the rapid advancement of biotechnological research, there are still endless things to learn. The continued progression of the field depends on many things; including research techniques, available funding, and public interest. This course will investigate these topics, as well as past and current virological research, with students determining the direction of the discussion based on class interests. Students will come away from this course with a basic understanding of select virology concepts as well as key strategies for finding, reading, and understanding scientific research.

  • 1 cr., S/U, Monday, 7:00 pm – 8:55 pm, 3/13/2024 - 5/18/2024,
  • Instructor: Miranda Farricker (mjf344 [at] cornell.edu)

This immersive seminar course is designed to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of research methodologies using the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) as a model organism. Throughout the course, students will engage in active learning, focusing on formulating research questions, designing experiments, collecting and analyzing data, and drawing conclusions within a collaborative environment. Additionally, the course will emphasize the development of effective communication skills, as students learn to articulate their research findings through written reports and oral presentations, targeting diverse audiences with varying levels of scientific knowledge. By the course's conclusion, students will have acquired a solid foundation in research methodologies, enabling them to continually advance their scientific expertise.

  • 1 cr., S/U, Wednesday, 7:30 pm – 9:25 pm, 3/13/2024 - 5/18/2024,
  • Instructor: Katie Edwards (kae24 [at] cornell.edu)

We often take over-the-counter and prescription medications to treat various acute and chronic conditions, but how does that pill in a bottle lead to relief of symptoms? This seminar course will allow students to appreciate the intersection of biology and chemistry driving the science behind successful therapeutics. Why does a drug work better for some people than others? Why is taking many medications with grapefruit juice ill-advised? Students will learn the fundamentals of drug action and timing using selected FDA-approved drugs as examples in these sessions. The interactive lectures will allow students to better understand drugs marketed to consumers and gain familiarity with the terminology used in drug development and clinical application. Students will develop their critical thinking skills by exploring a drug of their choice in the scientific literature and have an opportunity to practice their written and oral communication skills through open discussion of their findings.

  • 1 cr., S/U, Wednesday, 2:30 pm – 4:25 pm, 3/13/2024 - 5/18/2024,
  • Instructor: Beatriz Aguirre (baa84 [at] cornell.edu)

Have you ever wondered why some regions of the world have high animal and plant diversity while other regions have much less? Distinct ecological factors, such as climate and species interactions can contribute greatly to shaping biodiversity hotspots. In this course, we will learn about the ecology that contributes to biodiversity hotspots and will explore different levels of biodiversity across distinct ecosystems. We will discuss the role of biodiversity in agricultural and wild systems and will address the main threats to biodiversity.

Examples of Previous BIOG 1250's

Anxiety. Burnout. Stress. These are common feelings experienced among students in college. When we worry or experience stress, our body turns on our fight or flight response, the same physiological response that animals experience in the wild. In this course, we will explore the stress response in humans and wild animals. We will discuss the biological mechanisms that orchestrate the response, when the stress response goes from good to bad, and strategies for coping with stress in college.

For millennia, viral pathogens have been infiltrating the human population causing widespread disease and from their history we can better understand the outbreaks that currently burden mankind. This course takes a case-study approach to introduce students to the world of infectious disease by investigating outbreaks that have occurred throughout the globe during the 20th and 21st centuries. During this course, students will explore basic microbiology principles from the unique perspective of global health and epidemiology. Key topics cover the emergence, pathogenesis, control, and socioeconomic effects of viral pandemics, including Ebola, HIV, influenza, and SARS-CoV-2.

The molecular machines of our cells comprise the enzymes, receptor molecules and ion channels which use chemical energy to generate motion. These tiny machines silently work away to keep you breathing, your blood circulating and cells dividing to help you grow. These are essential for your survival yet you do not need conscious efforts to keep them going when you are awake or when you are asleep. In this course we will learn how do these molecular machines keep going and what happens if they pause. Finally we will look into pharmacological strategies that can target these molecular machines to make sure you keep going even when you are asleep.

Unsubstantiated claims about COVID-19 and vaccines circulate as rapidly as the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and they can be just as serious. How can you distinguish pseudoscience from real science? How can you make well-informed decisions about your health if you don’t know immunology?  The answer is that you become science literate … capable of asking questions, finding scientifically reputable sources, determining answers, and engaging in productive social conversations based on your informed views.  This course will teach students how to evaluate scientific claims and make science-informed views. It will provide a foundation of basic understanding of the immunology of vaccines and the COVID-19 pandemic.  Students will apply science literacy skills by exploring a sociocultural issue of the pandemic, such as vaccine hesitancy, and communicating their informed views.

From the current COVID-19 pandemic to Romaine lettuce recalls, pathogens make the news when there are outbreaks, but researchers are always studying these disease-causing microorganisms and rely upon a variety of cell-based and animal models to do so. In this course, students will explore the basics of bacterial pathogenesis, the models that scientists use to learn about pathogens, and the benefits, limitations, and ethics associated with these models. As students explore these topics week by week, they will also learn to read and understand primary literature as we work through relevant sections of a representative primary research article in class. By the end of the course, students will be equipped to present a primary research article of their choice, addressing the topics covered in the course.

Student Feedback

Random responses from students who were asked if they would recommend the seminar to other students:

  • "I definitely would. It piqued my interest in marine life. The lecturer was instrumental in doing that."
  • "Yes, it’s a great foundation-builder in biological research skills!"
  • "Yes. This course helped me feel less intimidated by scientific papers, introduced me to a variety of topics, and helped me understand the general format of scientific papers required by different journals."
  • "Yes I would recommend the course, it was very informative and would especially benefit anyone with an interest in botany or pharmaceuticals."

"I would definitely recommend this course to others. Not only did it help me understand some medical issues seniors have to face, it also helped me understand the economics of the US healthcare system. This class also exposed me to concepts I have never touched upon and it was interesting."

  • "It was good to study a variety of topics chosen by students who had an interest in them. An awesome idea for a course – combining both discussion of papers and practical laboratory skills."
  • "Yes, but only to those people who are serious about majoring in science and who want to improve their communication skills (i.e., as they present)."
  • "Yes. It’s a great experience in a wide range of areas/skills. I definitely would, it is a great way to learn a bit about microbiology. I really was not thinking about taking microbio but I think I will now."


  • Increase the opportunity for students to have a meaningful interaction with a biologist
  • Perpetuate excitement in studying biology
  • Develop critical thinking skills by exploring topics in the biological sciences (review at least one scientific paper)
  • Increase sense of community by expanding social and academic networks
  • Learn the value of collaborative learning
  • Discuss ethical issues in science