BIOLOGY R120; Principles of Biology I (39781); 4 units


Spring, 2017

Meeting time & Place

Lecture = M/W 1:30-3:20 PM (CH308)


Dr. Michael Nicholson

Contact information

Office = Liberal Arts Building, South Wing, room “T”

e-mail = -or-

web page =

Office phone = (805) 678-5197 -or- (805) 498-8451

Office hours

Office Hours = M/W 12:15-1:30; T/Th 9-9:30 & 12:15-1


Description from course catalogue: The first semester of Biology Lecture for majors introduces the student to principles of cellular and molecular biology. Knowledge from a breadth of disciplines related to health, medical and research science careers is examined including:  biochemistry, metabolism, molecular biology, genetics, cellular biology, recombinant DNA, developmental biology, microbiology and molecular evolution.  While the diversity of life is surveyed, an emphasis is placed on the biology worldview derived from experimental data of specific model genera, animal cell culture systems and prokaryotic/eukaryotic viruses. The method of generating hypothesis based research results and the role of paradigms in advancing biological science theory are examined.  This course is applied towards fulfilling University biology prerequisites and the Community College Biotechnology Certificate.


Lecture and Laboratory are separate for grading purposes.  Lecture will be divided into lectures, presentations, and discussion.  Presentations will most likely be video.  Discussions will be open and participation will be expected; try to have constructive things to say, especially if discussion subjects are noted in advance.  Lab must be scheduled separately.  Lab will be comprised of hands-on laboratory work with predesigned experiments and exercises, as well as presentations, brief lectures, and discussions.  Presentations will most likely be video or physical demonstrations of experiments.


Objectives/SLOs:  Students should be able to explain the chemical and molecular aspects of living systems, identify sub-cellular structures and describe their functions, explain the components of cellular metabolism, describe the process of cell reproduction and relate it to the process of neoplasm development, discuss and compare classical Mendelian genetics and Non-Mendelian genetics, compare and contrast viral and bacteriophage genetics, describe current working hypotheses for the origin of life and biological change, and describe current methods of recombinant DNA and biotechnology.  These learning objectives will be evaluated throughout the semester with assignments (mainly term paper and components) and with quizzes and exams.


Texts:  The required text for this class is:


Reece, J., Urry, L., Cain, M., Wasserman, S., Minorsky, P., & Jackson, R. (2014). Campbell biology (10th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Benjamin Cummings. [ISBN 978-0321775658] Lecture Text


The required text (at the book store) may include a registration code for, and use of the site will be completely optional for the course.  Other texts may be used but no direction regarding equivalence will be provided, and the material may not correspond to the course text or the lecture.  Electronic versions of the book cannot be used in class for open-book exams.  Not everything in the required text will be covered in lecture.  Likewise, not everything in lecture will be found in the book.  Some of the material in the book will be skipped completely.  Students are expected to read the text.  Really.  This means every chapter that is covered for the semester!  Reading material several times may be required for full comprehension.  Difficulty understanding the text is often resolved by using the text’s glossary or by using a dictionary.


Grading:  There will be 4 exams, each worth a total of 100 points.  There will be up to 4 unscheduled assessments (quizzes or homework), each worth up to 15 points.  Although each exam or assessment is most likely to focus on the most recently covered subjects, the material may be cumulative in nature, and/or may be designed to demonstrate learning outcomes.  There will be one term paper, worth a total of 140 points.  Exams may be on-line (requiring internet access) or in-class or part on-line and part in-class.  In-class exams are given first thing on the designated date, and should require no more than one class period to complete, though time limits may apply.  DO NOT MISS THE EXAMS - there are no make-up exams.  For each exam, be prepared with a Scantron and a #2 pencil.  The Scantron required is the wide-format (882-E) with 50 M.C. answers on the front side, 50 M.C. on the back.  Essay question answers, if needed, will be recorded on separate sheets included with the exams.  In-class exams may be completely or partially open-book (determined per exam); however, electronic books are NOT permitted.  Out-of-class assessments are always open-book and open-note, but independent work is expected and required.  No exams are dropped.  As noted, exams will be given first thing in class, but there is no set schedule for the assessments, and they may or may not be announced in advance.  Assessments are open-ended in format, may require drawings or diagrams, or may refer to the same.  Quiz-style assessments are most likely to be multiple-choice, in which case they will require Scantron 815-E (prepare to have one on hand at all times).  Assessments of any sort with a due-date WILL NOT be accepted late.  Exams and assessments will generally be related to material that is covered recently, or may be comprehensive.  The term paper is described separately, and includes the following components, each with a specific due date:  Subject identification (5 pts), literature sources [3 review papers] (10 pts), notes from sources (15 pts), rough draft (20 pts), final draft (90 pts).  Term paper components WILL NOT BE accepted late; there are no exceptions to this rule, so prepare your components in advance and in a timely manner.  Extra credit will be available only for very special opportunities that develop during the semester, such as for special, extracurricular scientific presentations or talks that become available and which may be reasonably attended by class participants on an independent basis.  Specific details will be arranged as needed for such opportunities, and these details will be available for all to understand and review, leaving as much time as possible for preparations to earn the particular extra credit.  Extra credit requiring attendance to a specific event will usually require proof in the form of a “selfie” taken at the event with clear details related to the event in the background (the speaker, a display, poster, entrance to venue, etc.).  There is a maximum of 600 points available. The grading scale is 10% (i.e. 90+% is an A, 80-89% is a B, 70-79% is a C, etc).


Internet Access:  It is expected that students will have internet access, even if only through the library on campus.  Emails and notifications, if distributed, will be sent to the address on file in Banner, so please make sure your information is up-to-date and accurate.  This syllabus is available for review/printing online only.  Other materials required for points during the course may be available online only, including information, handouts, and homework assignments or “take-home” quizzes or exams.


Attendance:  Attendance will be tracked primarily with sign in sheets.  Attendance does not contribute to the grade, but missing class can hurt a grade if material is being missed or is not being completed as a result of absences.  Missing the first date of class is grounds for being dropped.  Furthermore, if a student misses 1/9 of the course (about 4 days), he/she should expect to be DROPPED from the course or receive a failing grade.  Failure to attend is NO GUARANTEE of being dropped!  To avoid receiving a failing grade, students who stop coming to class are urged to drop the course on their own, instead of expecting to be automatically dropped.  Certain participation-based assignments, quizzes, and/or exams will only offered one time, so failure to attend class on days with such material will result in an automatic zero grade for the specific item.


Academic Honesty:  Cheating is not tolerated and any student found cheating will receive a summary grade of zero on the material at hand.  Academic Dishonesty Reports will be filed as appropriate for a student who performs any acts of cheating.


Cell Phones and Other Distractions or Disruptions:  Cell phones and other electronics cannot be used during lab and must be muted or otherwise silenced.  Recognizing that emergencies can occur and that some students may have a specific responsibility, if an incoming call MUST be answered, please exit the laboratory to do so.  During exams or quizzes, cell phones must be turned off, so students with responsibilities to others must prepare for a temporary break in communications at these times.  Other disruptions may be interpreted as (to name a few examples) arriving late to class, excessive attention to or reliance on messaging/paging/texting, casual/off-topic conversation, eating, and using electronics for purposes not directly related to the course material at-hand.  Students who choose to ignore cell phone/distraction/disruption rules or who decide to engage in distracting or disruptive activity may be summarily dismissed from class, and may therefore miss points as a result of the forced departure.


Educational Assistance Center (EAC):  Students with disabilities, whether physical, learning, or psychological, who believe that they may need accommodations in this class, are encouraged to contact the EAC as soon as possible to ensure that accommodations are implemented in a timely fashion.  Authorization, based on verification of disability, is required before any accommodation can be made.  The phone number for the EAC is (805) 986-5800 ext 5830 and they are located in the Student Services Building (behind business office and admissions and records).


Financial Aid:  Educational costs can be a burden, but options exist meeting the costs!  Talk to someone at Financial Aid, in the Student Services Building, Room 140, to identify the best options for you.  The phone number for Financial Aid is (805) 678-5828.



One exam is scheduled for approximately every 5 chapters.  Exams will be at the start of the lecture hour only, and though the exams are comprehensive in nature, the subject focus for any specific exam will be the chapters that were concluded by the previous lecture.  On-line exams and quizzes, when offered, are timed and are available only for a limited number of days. Assignments will be due at the beginning of lecture only.





Text Chapter




Classes Start



Water / Carbon




MLK No Classes



Carbon / Biomolecules




Last day to drop w/refund





subject due



Last day to drop w/out “W”



Exam 1 / Cell




Cell / Metabolism




Metabolism / Resp/Ferment




Presidents' Birthdays No Classes



Resp/Ferment / Photosynthesis


lit rev due







Cell Communication


notes due



Spring Break No Classes



Exam 2 / Cell Comm / Cell Cycle














rough draft due



Exam 3 / Inheritance




No classes



Last day to drop w/ “W”





Inheritance / Protein production




Protein production / Gene regulation




Gene regulation / Viruses


final draft due



Final Exams Week



Final Exam at 12:30-2:30