Biology of Superheroes: Exploring Limits of Form and Function

Description: (Same as Society and Genetics M157.) Lecture, four hours; discussion, one hour. Requisites: Life Sciences 1 and 4, or 7A and 7B. Combines topics posed in popular graphic novels, movies, and television with primary scientific literature to explore bizarre phenomena in natural world and delve into basic scientific theory and principles. Topics covered include evolution, genetics, physiology, biomechanics, brain-machine interfacing, and artificial intelligence among others. Students synthesize primary literature on diverse subjects presented. Letter grading.

Units: 4.0
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Overall Rating 2.0
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Most Helpful Review
Winter 2020 - I have a lot of mixed feelings about this class. I liked this professor and I felt like he worked hard to give us an interesting glimpse at many topics in EEB including lectures on dinosaurs, death, genetic engineering, AI, etc. I guess I'm not mad that I know exactly how spiderwebs are made. My gripe with this class is its poor execution. Discussion felt entirely useless, it was mostly dedicated to working on your final group project – either an 8-10 page single-spaced research paper or a 30-minute podcast. My group worked for weeks on our project, had it reviewed several times over, and I still don't think we did all that well. All of the little assignments leading up to the project were harshly graded and never explained. I felt like it didn't matter the time I put into the assignment, I'd try really hard on an assignment, get a C, proceed to submit something lazier and get a solid B. The discussion after the midterm was basically people arguing with the TA over points, even though he claimed to have graded it "extremely generously." He strongly discouraged students from pressing any further, threatening that Dr. Campbell-Staton would "only grade it harsher." Had I studied any harder wouldn't have mattered; I still would've gotten tripped up on questions like "how would you use Captain America's vita rays to inject some engineered gene to confer some superpower?" You'd think that question had lots of room for interpretation, but there were only 2 right answers. Questions were very abstract and demanded pure memorization of slides, which proved to be insanely difficult and time-consuming when studying ~5-6 disjointed topics. The same was true for quizzes. Overall, cool concept for a class but definitely needs refining and reevaluation to make it less frustrating. Exams could be less about straight memorization and discussion could be made clearer.
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