Stem Cell Biology, Politics, and Ethics: Teasing Apart Issues
Selling the Course reader. It is brand new, I had to drop the course. Selling for $25 (Originally $35). I can also sell the "Stem Cells" by Slack for $5. It has some high lights in the beginning. Otherwise in a great condition. Please reach me at 650.303.4928 or email@example.com.
Spring 2020 - Mitra Hooshmand is an absolute GOAT. She is incredible knowledgeable, with engaging lectures that cover everything one needs to know about stem cell biology and policy. Although I am not a STEM major at all and was worried about learning all the biology, the science behind stem cells was actually the most fascinating part of the course for me. While she didn't cover as much of U.S. stem cell policy and ethics, she did an incredible job structuring the course, making the content easy to understand for non-STEM students, and getting us to critically think about stem cells. The tests do require studying and really good understanding of the material. I would absolutely recommend this class. (note: this class is definitely geared towards people without a background in stem cells, so it probably won't be as interesting for people that already know a lot) Grade breakdown: 5.5% - section participation 22% - homework (super short and easy, basically graded on completion) 13.5% - paper (kinda long tbh but not that hard) 11% - 2 short quizzes 32% - final
Fall 2021 - All you need to do to do well in the class is show up at discussions where you are given the answers to each week’s quiz. You don’t need to watch the lectures or do the reading (though it is very interesting). The weekly slack participation just involves commenting on a news article. The group project is pretty easy, and just takes some minimal effort. The only difficult assignment in the class is a 5 page research paper about diversity issues in stem cell treatment. As long as you can handle that, the course will be a breeze.
One of the most interesting and best classes here at UCLA. The class is easy, ALTHOUGH it is IS graded like a GE. Meaning stupid attendance, weekly assignments, etc. Very good class though, and easy midterms and finals with lots of extra credit. If you were looking for a GE that won't bore you to death, here it is. Take it.
Fall 2020 - Strengths: Dr. Lee seems very knowledgeable and the lectures and discussions are very interesting conversations. Weaknesses: during discussions, it would be helpful for Dr. Lee to respond with positive affirmation after a student shares because it is really nerve wracking to speak in front of other students and it's hard to read other people's body language over zoom. In addition, I would advise Dr. Lee to be careful with her choice of words. During one particular discussion where we discussing an ethical situation that involved saving lives, I wanted to share my opinion and was sort of put on the spot by Dr. Lee. I don't usually mind being grilled but I was arguing for the unpopular opinion and Dr. Lee said "I understand what you're trying to say but you're not putting it in a very elegant way". I felt that comment was a little insensitive because it is hard to think on the spot and be grilled in front of the other students about a stance that most of them don't support. Therefore, she could have worded that better. Additionally, I feel that Dr. Lee could be more lenient with grading especially during this pandemic and MCDB 50 being a General Education class and not a Biology major class. It is pretty heavy on biology knowledge and the midterm free responses were graded pretty harshly. If you are interested in stem cells and need to satisfy a GE requirement, it would be okay to take this class. Just make sure to double and triple check your midterm exam because they are very harsh with grading. Your responses need to match everything that was said in lectures and they take off big chunks of points very freely. My TA was Natalie G. and she was a really friendly and nice TA but I'm not sure about the other TA (Salena).
Ignore the class it says I took up there - I actually took LS4 with Merriam (LS4 wasn't a choice). Anyway, Merriam is a complicated professor to evaluate. He's simultaneously the most available, concerned, and wackiest professor I have ever had. HOWEVER - he is not an effective teacher for LS4. He dressed up as Mendel on the first day of class. It was funny, but contrary to what I expected, we never really moved on past randomness like that in the whole 10 weeks. Case and point: we spent the first 10 minutes of class every Monday singing pun-filled songs about genetics. He wore his pajamas and green track jacket to midterms, which at first was weird, but then it just seemed like Merriam after a while. Unfortunately, he tended to spend way more time on teaching concepts and experiments when the tests were almost completely numerical and probability based. He's a genuinely nice guy, though. So much so that the class started to feel like a self-help and empowerment therapy class. Here are some of the "mantras" he wrote on the board every single day before class started: "Everybody passes." (That's his main one) "Everyone matters." "Everyone counts." "Everyone matters. And, you don't have to be perfect." "Everyone can be trained." "Everyone's time is valuable." I got an A in this class, but throughout the whole quarter I worried about my grade due to his four midterms (weeks 3,5,7,9). They were all multiple choice, 100 points and 20 questions each. That's 5 points each, no partial credit. His final includes mostly past questions from midterms, but "tweaked," which really means it's a whole new problem since the math changes if he asks for a different probability. You would think this would increase the average, but all of the tests except midterm 1 (easier) had around 56-59% as the average. So yes, everybody probably passes. But with what grade? I would hold off on taking LS4 if you want to be on a level playing field and not constantly worry about your grade.
I took MCDB 50... terrible class if you're looking for an easy GE. I slacked off a bunch at the beginning and got a below average on the midterm (which was pretty hard). There are alot of essays and the TA graded them exceptionally hard. It seems like he's looking for a specific style of writing and if you don't do it... you will fail. His comments didn't really help either. Overall, the class will teach you stem cell biology pretty well... however, most people take it as a GE... and it was terrible. After around week 5, I started working hard and got second highest score in class on the final. However, I ended up with a B. So yeah, study hard since the beginning and always ask the TAs what they are looking for on the essays. I thought I could get a high score by making it up on the final, but it wasn't the case. Bottom line: if you're looking for an easy GE, do not take this class or this professor... but if you're generally interested in stem cell bio, take it.