Intro Cell Biology

Fall, 2012

Course Goals

Hydrogen bonds between water moleculesThis course is designed to expose you to the structure and function of the cell, the basic unit of life. In order to understand cell structure and function, we will learn the fundamental principles of chemistry as they relate to cell biology, and discuss the kinds of molecules found in cells and the interactions of those molecules. We will trace the flow of energy through the cell during photosynthesis and respiration, and understand the processes of nuclear and cellular division. Finally, we will learn the means by which inherited information in the form of genes is transformed into cellular activity in the form of RNA and proteins, and the various applications of these principles to solve biological problems.

Each of these broad topic areas is further detailed on the Topics page.

Structure of the Class

We will begin each class session with a brief overview of the key points from that day’s readings. In order to be successful in this class you will be required to read and understand the modules assigned for that topic before class. Each module has a due date associated with it on the Principles site and I will expect you to come to class having studied that topic in advance. I do not plan to lecture in-depth on every topic from these readings, even though you are responsible for mastering them.

This will allow us to spend the majority of class time working on a question, problem, or activity that allows us to apply or practice with the topic of the day. Sometimes we will work in small groups, sometimes alone, but the goal is always to solidify our understanding and resolve any misunderstandings as we go.


  • 4 Midterm exams, each worth 100 pts
  • 1 Final exam, worth 200 pts
  • Class activity summaries and other assignments, worth 200 pts
  • Combined lab score, worth 200 pts
  • Total of 1000 pts possible

Exam Dates

  • Fri, Sept 14
  • Fri, Oct 5
  • Fri, Nov 2
  • Fri, Nov 30
  • Final Exam Tues, Dec 18, 8:30am


Your lab grade depends on attending and completing each lab experience. Most exercises will result in a written product that will be due at the next lab meeting, either a formal lab report or responses to specific questions that test your understanding of the concepts from the lab. Due to space and logistical considerations, you are required to attend the lab section in which you are registered.


We will be using an online textbook from the publishers of Nature. Make sure you enter my last name (Wolverton) on that page to gain access to the specific version of the text for our class. This online text costs $49 for lifetime access and works great on the iPad, iPhone, iPod touch and other smartphones.

The lab manual will be available in lab during the first week for a nominal fee, which covers the cost of duplicating and production. Before coming to lab each week, you are required to read the entire lab exercise, noting any questions you have and planning your work strategy. Each exercise indicates the expected product of the experiment, either a formal lab report or written responses to the questions found at the end of the lab exercise.

Grading Policies

All quizzes, exams, and assignments are to be completed on the scheduled date and time. You may lose up to 10% of the possible points within the first 24h for written assignments submitted late, and 5% for each day late thereafter.

Letter grade assignments follow the standard plus-minus grading scale.

Special Needs

Any student requiring special accommodations due to a learning difference should notify me before the end of the second week of classes. They should also make arrangements with the Learning Disabilities Assistance Center, 316 Corns, for the proper paperwork to be filed.