From Birds to Bees: Comparative Reproductive Biology

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Course DatesLengthMeeting TimesStatusFormatInstructor(s)CRN
June 28, 2021 - July 14, 20216/28 - 7/142 WeeksOnlineCancelledOnlineMichelle Kossack

Course Description

Life revolves around reproduction. From birds to bees, all organisms are on a mission to spread their genes from one generation to the next. But how does it work? Did you know some sperm are the shape of fish hooks? Did you know fertilization occurs in the fallopian tubes? How is human reproduction similar to fruit flies? What can we learn from studying how fish mate? In this course you will learn how biologists use different organisms to advance our understanding of human reproduction. You will study how reproduction works normally and then how reproductive diseases effect outcomes. We will also discuss what all of this means in the context of human society, sex, gender, and identity.

Passing on of genetic information is critical for species survival, but it seems like every organism does it slightly differently. In this course you will learn about reproduction through the lens of different model organisms. We will cover how the gonad develops, the molecular mechanism that differentiate males from females, how fertilization occurs, sexual selection, and reproductive disease. Students will apply what they learned in class to understand and explain scientific papers. The student’s effort will be showcased in a group presentation and an individual paper describing the mechanism of a reproductive disease. While we delve into the science behind reproduction we will also explore how this informs our understanding of human sex and gender, and some fun facts about the diversity of reproductive biology.

Dr. Kossack studies reproductive toxicology is fish and has a network of experts who will show you how they study reproduction in different animals and the disease states that effect them. As a student you will hear from a wide range of experts and get a chance to ask the weird questions you've always wanted to know. How come some fish can switch sex but others can't?

By the end of the course, students will:

  • Be able to describe the molecular interactions that take place to cause fertilization
  • Be able to describe the function of reproductive cell types across species.
  • Be able to use their understanding of basic reproductive biology to write a scientific essay explaining the mechanism of a specific disease state.
  • Prepare and record a video presentation for their peers.
  • Read and explain the key points of a scientific paper. These skills will help students prepare for undergraduate research experiences which often use model organisms.

      Prerequisites: Completion of high school biology is recommended.

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEBI1002

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences for students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

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