Based on 14 Users
Would never take another class with him again and would advise others to do the same.
Hardest class I have taken at UCLA. I constantly had to study for this class and barely pulled off an A-.
Groups are randomly assigned and you have to work with them on all quizzes and half the midterm. It’s obvious that everyone burns out towards the end of class, so it’s common that only one group member works on the work at the end.
The worst part about this class. Slide shows are all over the place. The professor’s accent is very thick (he is French) and lectures need to be rewatched very slowly to write everything down. Questions on tests are often unclear and the grading rubric expects things that were not even asked of. Oh yeah, tests are entirely free response.
I went to office hours several times. He answered my questions sometimes, but other times it felt like he expected me to already know it. How am I supposed to know the experimental method for every figure in the research papers we have to read? That’s why I’m asking you!
Coming into this class, it seemed quite interesting and fun, however, after the 10 weeks spent on the material, I did not learn anything at all and had more of a headache than any other class I've taken so far. Let me get started:
The professor is quite unclear about his expectations and his exams don't really reflect what is taught during class. Some questions were memorization-based, and others practically covered topics/concepts that were never taught at all. It seems like his grading rubrics are quite unclear according to the TA, and that sometimes the things he expects the students to get are not reflective of what is actually taught. On top of this, he doesn't even respond to emails most of the time and is VERY unclear about most things (doesn't follow the syllabus at all).
In terms of the lectures, his accent makes it quite difficult to understand things but most importantly what he 'teaches' is just him reading off his slides and going on these tangents that are completely unrelated to microscopy. The content itself is very dry and disorganized to the point that there is no structure to it. Nonetheless, with that said, he doesn't seem to know too much about microscopy (don't get me wrong, he is quite knowledgeable) and likes to tell people to refer to other sources at times; it seems like he just started learning about microscopy not too long ago, so whether he is fit to teach some concepts/techniques is questionable.
TLDR: Overall, if you would like to learn more about different microscopic techniques, I honestly learned more from MCDB 165a (core class), than this class. It is unnecessarily stressful, ambiguous, and a huge pain in the butt even compared to other harder classes. The fact that he is unresponsive to emails, and always relies on other people/is not clear about what his expectations are makes it even harder to succeed in the class; most labs were graded after the final was taken and we were not even given a rubric for the exams. Not only this but the fact that he is quite unaccommodating to the class (the average was quite low, which can reflect on his teaching) and doesn't give people reasonable chances to improve on their scores makes it even worse. Just don't take this class and save yourself a hassle.
Dr. Prunet is a good professor. Although he isn't the most clear due to his accent, you can understand him, and he is more than patient to repeat anything you missed. He is also very happy to answer any questions you have. The lectures are organized and very clear. As far as the class goes, the tests mostly focused on understanding the experiments in the papers read for homework (although I heard from friends that the tests have changed a bit since I took it). I heard now they placed a bit more weight on memorizing the content in the lectures, but when I took it, there was very few questions on the actual lectures for the midterm and finals, and more emphasis on the papers.
I was disappointed in my overall grade because it is entirely unrepresentative of my understanding of the material. The class is overwhelmingly focused on memorizing every sentence he ever says in lecture. Prunet is very kind and is more than willing to help but ultimately it doesn't matter how nice he is because the breakdown is 50% final and 35% midterm and both tests are all free response. I was frustrated because studying for the final was literally just attempting to memorize every bit of information from every lecture of the year (final was cumulative). Even though I am a good memorizer it was extremely challenging because the test questions were free response and incredibly specific so if you forgot one sentence of one lecture it might cost you 2 points in a midterm out of 48 points and every question was like that. I'd recommend taking this class towards the end of your degree in order to pickup more information from other classes that might help on the final/midterm and also during a quarter where you have time to watch lectures over and over so you can attempt to memorize them.
Yes, there is a lot of memorization involved and that is annoying but frankly it's still way less memorization than 138. Basically if you just memorize the slides then you should be able to get an A. (I'm not a great memorizer.) Prunet himself is a great lecturer and is very kind and helpful. The class is straightforward and informative and I recommend it.
The topic of this seminar was Plant Development, so if you don't enjoy studying plants, I would really not recommend it. The class consisted of giving a solo 1 hour presentation on a paper you were assigned. Especially without having taken plant development before (I've only taken plant physiology), this class was not very fair. It was difficult to understand majority of the scientific papers without having to google everything, and googling can only get you so far. I thought it was unfair how we were expected to understand papers and then have participation be included in such a huge portion of our grade. I don't understand how anyone would be able to ask/answer questions and discuss without having a strong understanding in any of the topics. In short: plant development shouldn't even be a topic in the MCDB seminars unless MCDB C141 is a prerequisite.
The whole quarter, we weren't updated on our grades as far as what we received on our presentation or pre-presentation outline that we turned in. We received no grades for any of our assignments so you can only imagine how annoying that was, even as the class concluded. On top of that, there was no clear grading criteria such as a rubric for any of the assignments we were given, including the 1 hour presentation which was like 50% of our grade. Overall, I would not recommend this class at all. I would recommend other topics in the seminars because plant development was not very interesting, especially since much of our course backgrounds aren't in plants.
I really enjoyed this class and felt that the professor was very accommodating. Lectures were recorded this quarter which I really liked as it allowed me to go back to repeat any material that I may have missed in class. The most difficult part about this class were the papers, but as long as you read them and pay close attention during discussion + attend office hours if needed you should be fine. There is some group work but it isn't too much.
Professor Prunet is also good at explaining the material. As of Fall 2021, exams were open note and had a collaborative component which was very helpful but I'm not sure if he is planning on continuing that. The exams were very fair and in my opinion very doable as long as you paid attention during lecture and understood the papers. Class is not super memorization-based which is nice but if exams are moved in person I expect that memorizing details will become more important. Overall I would really recommend this class and am glad I took it with this professor!
I felt like I learned nothing in this class. Lectures consisted of Prunet talking about random concepts like TIRF microscopy or peroxisomes. He used slides, but he said a lot of things that were not present. The problem with that was his accent was impossible to understand. I tried to rewatch his lecture videos at 0.5 speed but still had trouble understanding. In discussion, a TA would talk about a long research paper in one hour. It was bad. Like how is the TA supposed to go over a really long paper in one hour while properly explaining everything? When I tried asking him questions about the figures and experimental setup, he would often times not help. He expected me to already know many abstract concepts (for example, he expected us to know how to read ATPase activity levels on a graph without ever going over it). The exams asked questions mostly on the research papers. The questions were really hard. He is very inflexible regarding regrade requests and is just not a good professor. Avoid him!
Dr. Prunet is a very caring and hard working professor. His lectures are very clear and often connect with other lectures in the class, facilitating better content retention and understanding. His accent isn't the most clear, but it isn't that bad and your brain will soon adapt to understanding it. This class was great as we did get hands on experience with an Eco Revolve microscope, as well as a confocal microscope from the Dr. Sagasti's lab in BSRB. He is more than generous on the grading and the tests were just the right difficulty. He's a no BS guy and is always open to answering your questions!