PRISM seminars aim to catch the attention of every science and mathematics student. This is why the seminar course listings have so much variety. See for yourself what is happening in the fall of 2010:
Biotechnology Industries Professors Joe Beckmann & Brian Doyle
Biotechnology continues to be a growth industry that spans multiple disciplines, and which increasingly impacts health care, agriculture, and other areas. In this course we will discuss historical and current applications, delve into relevant economical and legal issues, and explore several case studies of biotech company development. Several fundamental techniques will be reinforced through hands-on laboratory exercises. Finally, you will investigate aspects of an assigned company, which will culminate in a written and oral presentation at the end of the term.
The Size of Life Professor Timothy Keeton
What would it be like to “swim” in the cytoplasm of a cell? What challenges do bacteria face in trying to locomote through an aquatic environment that to them appears as a honey-filled swimming pool would to a human? Does an hour seem like a long time to a bacterium? Why on earth should I care? This seminar is meant to introduce students to the fascinating life of molecules, including gaining an appreciation of the time and distance scales that are meaningful to the molecules that drive our cells. The constraints placed upon life by molecular-level forces and energies will be investigated using a multi-disciplinary approach which introduces probability, physics, chemistry, and of course, amazing biology.
Your Inner Fish Professor Karin Grimnes
This seminar will be based on a popular science book called “Your Inner Fish” that involves fossil hunting adventures in the Artic, with enough background in current advances in anatomy, genetics and developmental biology to trace the origin of body systems (nerves, eyes, legs, teeth, etc.) from fish through to humans. This seminar is designed for student interested in the life sciences.
Science and the World Around Us Professor Sean Mo
In today’s fast-changing world, science plays a vital roll in how we live everyday. From medicine and cosmetics to energy and security, we rely on the science discoveries to maintain and transform our lives. Furthermore, science plays an important roll in today’s politics, and law. The course will highlight the importance of being science savvy in today’s technology-oriented world by examining current trends in science and the effects of science in our lives.
Flavor and Fragrance Chemistry Professor Jeff Turk
Fragrance – the very word represents indulgence; pleasure; luxury. Designed to accommodate those not who have completed high school chemistry, this course will show how chemistry is used in the exciting and rewarding flavors and fragrances industry. We’ll study the very nature of our sense of smell, the history of flavors and fragrances and the modern F&F industry. Also discussed will be classes of different fragrance materials, their isolation from nature and the creation of new fragrance ingredients.
Food for Thought Professors Janie Diels & Maurie Luetkemeier
The goal of this interdisciplinary course is to help create informed students who value nutrition as a science, are able to consider the social and cultural factors that influence food choices and understand how policy can influence food systems. Additional goals for the course include instilling within students enthusiasm for life-long learning about nutrition and an appreciation for the universal importance of adequate diets for the well-being of all people.
Science and Crime Literature Professors Chih-Ping Chen & Melissa Strait
This interdisciplinary course looks at short stories and novels of popular crime authors from both literary and scientific perspectives. The class will explore how science is used in the plot through hands-on lab exercises and literary analysis.
Discovering Mathematics Professor Zhewei Dai
Many of you have already learned at least the most basic mathematical skills you will need for your future, but there is more to mathematics than its arithmetic applications. This course is an invitation to make yourself at home in the world of mathematics, to explore and admire some ofthe unique aspects of mathematics by investigating some of the greatest ideas of humankind. It is an invitation to understand the nature and practice of mathematics as an art, as a way of seeing the world, and as a way of exploring mystery. The only prerequisites for this course are an open and curious mind and the willingness to put aside any prejudice against or fear of mathematics. Very little formal mathematical experience is assumed.
Arctic Rush Professor Britt Cartrite
"Arctic Rush" is a year-long FYS exploring both the scientific research regarding the melting Arctic Cap and the geopolitical dynamics changes in the Arctic are generating. Over the course of the year we will study scientific research generally, looking in detail at the role of uncertainty in science, and assess the current state of research in the Arctic region. We will then turn to the five countries bordering the Arctic Ocean (the United States, Canada, Russia, Denmark, and Norway), exploring the differences and similarities between these states and their responses to the challenges and opportunities posed by a melting Arctic. We will evaluate international law as both a source of and solution for disputes in the area. And we will consider the interests and actions of states and international organizations as they pressure for open access and sharing the benefits of a melting Arctic more broadly.
Discussion topics for all seminars will include academic and career development, research project planning, and current topics in science.