Quarter Taken:
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Submitted Jan. 13, 2015
Grade Received:
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This call is essential for the aspiring ecologist who holds any interest in mathematical theory of population dynamics. I highly recommend it for any EBE major as a strong basis for important concepts that underlay most modern looks at population dynamics.

However, I do not recommend this class for (perhaps) individuals who do not hold much interest in ecology and simply are looking to fulfill a requirement. I noticed many frustrated premed students in this class who seemed bitter about the mathematical basis of the course content. The class itself goes over several essential ideas in mathematical modeling of population dynamics in several contexts, including basic ideas of population growth, Lotka-Volterra models, models of disease causing organisms, metapopulation dynamics, and predator-prey systems. I personally find these subjects very interesting (but I am a EBE major interested in population based research) so perhaps the course content is not the ideas choice for the aspiring doctor.

The course is somewhat difficult, but easily manageable with constant studying (which is basically mandatory, because there are weekly quizzes that I later came to greatly appreciate during finals week). The math is not difficult, and one does not even need to implement calculus to solve the given mathematical ideas.

I very much enjoyed professor Amarasekare. She was informative and guided the class though many mathematical proofs in ecology population models that one does not find provided in other classes. She was very approachable and willing to speak during office hours about class content or ecology in general as well as willing to share resources.

I think some people find professor Amarasekare rather intimidating for several reasons that do not really reflect her teaching style. First and foremost, as the class has a mathematical basis, I find that many students are somewhat bitter about having to perform a large number of mathematical operations in an ecology class. In addition, professor Amarasekare does not baby you and expects a lot; if you give an answer, she commonly asks a follow-up question in order to further demonstrate your understanding. I think some people find this to be intimidating rather than helpful - as if some interpret professor Amarasekare as trying to flush out to everyone what you don't known rather than helping you further understand the concepts of the material (which is personal interpretation).

In short, if you are an aspiring ecologist, you should definitely take this class, as it concerns essential aspects of the science. If you want to take this class rather complacently, I suggest a different class.