Genetics, Evolution, and Ecology
Fall 2019 - Absolute garbage professor. Yet another reason why I hate most of the South Campus professors in this school. This speaks to a broader problem in general in UCLA, which is the lack of consistency in the quality of professors as well as little repercussions for having students screwed over to boost the professor's ego or due to negligence. I don't care how nice Princess Confusion is. I cannot stand her incompetency and I think should be fired
Fall 2021 - This class is divided into two sections. Genetics is covered in the first couple of weeks, and I found that a little challenging because it was more statistics/problem solving. The rest of the class is evolution and ecology, which I found incredibly straightforward and pretty easy. I found this class to be easier than LS7A. I didn't read launchpad at all throughout the course, and I mostly studied for the exams by rewatching the lectures at 2x speed and I did fine. If you took AP Bio in high school, then you should be totally fine for this class. Prof Kane was an ok lecturer, she did seem interested in the later units though, and brought up examples from her own research, which was interesting.
Winter 2021 - professor Kremer was honestly what saved this class for me, he was super into the content and related a lot of the stuff he was doing as a researcher to what we were learning in the class which made it more engaging to me. he hosted this zoom session where he talked about becoming a researcher and it absolutely pushed me in the right direction (as a rare bio major who isn't premed). he gave me advice, emailed me, sent me resources, and did so much out of his way as a professor, i genuinely felt cared for and i'm really thankful for that! overall, i would recommend taking LS7B with professor Kremer.
Winter 2020 - This review will have a little bit of information about Professor Marcot, but will mainly focus on 7B as a class. Professor Marcot was very nice and clearly knowledgeable about the material if you asked him a content-related question. He also encouraged students to discuss with each other and ask questions. However, this caused our class to go a little slow, and we were always behind on material. If you asked him a course logistic-related question such as whether certain material would be on an exam, he didn't know because this class is entirely controlled and designed by Debra Pires. The clicker questions are so ambiguous that the professor occasionally crosses out all of the options and writes "It depends" as the answer. This translates to ambiguous exam questions too, to the point where my TA said during an exam, "We're getting lots of questions about how to interpret the problems, but we can't help you with that." The first midterm was nearly impossible to finish on time because you have to draw multiple detailed pedigrees from scratch and answer questions about them, but the second midterm was slightly better. The lab sections are designated to be nearly two hours long, but somehow the labs themselves are designed so that you have to work extremely quick if you have any hope of finishing them (they average around 6 pages worth of questions). The labs are also mostly unrelated to material that will be on the exams. For example, there was a lab where we had to go to 15 stations to learn about coelacanths, cephalopods, vertebrates, etc. and another lab where we had to go to different stations in the Botanical Garden on our own time. None of the professors answered questions on the online Campuswire forum, so it was just students trying to help other students. My best advice for this class is to get most, if not all, of the free points for participation, Launchpad pre-class review questions, Launchpad practice exam questions, etc., and go to your TA's office hours if you have questions. I would HIGHLY recommend going to the CLC problem solving sessions because this is where the LA's teach the material that the professors do not teach during the lecture but will nevertheless be on the exams. To study for exams, I would recommend focusing on the clicker questions, practice exam questions, the practice midterm questions that Professor Pires will email you, and the CLC worksheets. Don't worry too much about which professor you take for this class, because it's going to be very challenging (but doable if you work hard enough) no matter what.
Winter 2022 - I have quite mixed feelings about this class. Before I begin, let me mention that Professor Pham in an amazing teacher and is very educated on the topics he discusses. However, his flaw is that he stop class too often to answer questions, which causes us to stay later online or have to watch the recordings after class. Who knows, maybe in person class will be different. I believe that the grading system is quite fair, they give you room to miss a couple of points in each category, similar to LS7A. The textbook and launchpads are absolutely useless. The only thing that is worthy of your time is the PEQs and the quizzes in the launchpad. The tests are pretty difficult and wordy, however if you enjoy the subject that might make it slightly easier. The labs are long and mindlessly boring. Overall Pham makes the subject interesting, but it does take a little time and effort. I believe the lectures and clicker questions are most helpful in preparing for the exams.
Spring 2021 - ***I took this class during the COVID-19 pandemic in an online format. -- OVERVIEW: Maybe I had an individual bad experience, but I'm not sure why this professor's reviews for this class were so raving. Perhaps the online format is a little different, but I did not feel like Phelan lived up to the other reviews. "Going above and beyond" and "explaining concepts thoroughly" are phrases I would not attribute to Phelan. He seemed very reluctant to answer questions and help out, ignoring questions in Zoom chat and being unresponsive to emails. Lectures would often go on tangents about his personal life, which isn't productive when LS7B is so information dense and every minute is valuable. Dr. Pham was much better in LS7A, at least. Even considering that the LS series is just horrible, I still think Phelan wasn't the best choice. -- GRADING: Grading is pretty straightforward. There's mandatory lectures, enforced with clicker questions, of which you can miss about a week. LaunchPad practice questions and exams were the same, you could miss a week's worth and get full credit. Same goes for the labs. The two midterms and final were worth a lot more points, not curved, but there were extra credit opportunities if you did a "mini-final" and reflection assignment afterwards. Other EC opportunities were available for completing surveys about LAs. The class isn't curved, so you need to earn every point yourself. -- HOMEWORK: This section isn't really relevant to Dr. Phelan. I don't think he really controls the format of the homework and labs. But my god, if you thought LS7A was bad, LS7B makes 7A look like a cakewalk. The amount of LaunchPad material is crushing, even if you just skip the material and do the questions. I can't imagine how much time it would take to actually do all the material as they intended. Lots of stuff isn't gone over in lectures because of the sheer material density, and the practice exams make it feel like there's a full on test every week. Again, Phelan doesn't control this, so it's not his fault the homework is so bad. Labs aren't much better, they're very time consuming and I didn't find them very helpful, though that may vary with students. They seemed very poorly designed, like the entire LS7 series. Not much to say other than you just have to sit through them. -- EXAMS: Most in this section also isn't really Phelan's fault. LS7 exams are just horrible, and it doesn't get better in 7A. The actual length of the exams isn't bad, but the questions are consistently confusing, poorly-worded, ambiguous, or just straight-up wrong. No amount of studying will prepare you for a question you have no idea what it's asking. The main gripe I have with Phelan is that he seemed to be just as unaware as students of how to go about regrade requests. His policy is that regrades are not processed unless it affects our final grade, which puts the stress on students trying to determine if we will get the grade we need, when it was a mistake made on the instructor's part. Trying to reach out to him via email or during class won't result in anything, and the only saving grace is that tests are graded really fast because they are online and multiple choice. Just don't expect your grading to actually be right. -- TIPS: This class is the definition of grind. There's so much you're expected to do yourself, and while the LaunchPad makes it difficult to fall behind, they're also not comprehensive enough to truly prepare yourself. This class is 5 units, but it's probably about 6-7 units worth of work. It's much harder than 7A in my opinion, but this varies between students so take it with a grain of salt. I have quite a negative review here, but it seems that many other students had good experiences, and I'm just one view. To be honest, the class time is probably the most important factor for LS, since professor matters less for such a standardized series.
Winter 2018 - Professor Pinter-Wollman is a good lecturer when she knows what she's talking about. I had her and Professor Kane for 7B, and sometimes Professor Kane would have to step in and clarify a mistake during Professor Pinter-Wollman's lectures. That being said, Professor Pinter-Wollman is extremely knowledgeable in evolution and some other topics, and you'll definitely learn a lot from her. But it can get concerning at times when she seems a little unprepared for her lectures