The Shape of Things

05 Dec

jim-morrison-quotes-sayings-future-famous-quoteThe End is near.

Only Final Exams are left this semester and they come on Tuesday for both classes between 9am and 3pm. Students are welcome to come in any time in the window, but are encouraged to start at either 9am or 12pm. If you expect to come at a significantly different time, please email me.(

I thought I would use this space as a last (?) posting to encourage students to propose sample questions for the exam. Well thought out questions (and answers) will be considered for inclusion, giving you the opportunity to (at least in some small way) write your own exam. Actually, if anyone in the world wants to propose a question, it will be considered.

Regarding the topics covered…

For each class, it is your responsibility to know anything we have covered. However…. I am strongly biasing the exams toward the most recent material which I believe encapsulate ideas taught throughout the semester.

How things are now:

The General Biology Exam:

Begins with ten questions that are directly based in Unit I. This may include chemistry, membrane biology, cellular anatomy (Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic), Enzymes and Energy, Photosynthesis, Cell Respiration, and Cell Division. (Special emphasis is placed on bold topics)

The Bulk of the exam consists of questions on Mendelian Genetics, the Chromosomal and Molecular bases of Genetics and the application of this knowledge in problem solving. It is vital to have a good grasp of notations for following autosomal and sex-linked traits through family pedigrees and be comfortable with monohybrid and dihybrid crosses.

The MicroBiology Exam:

Begins with just five questions that are directed based in Unit I. Each of these regards the larger ideas we spoke about in those chapters and which could be said to define biology / microbiology.

I also expect you to understand the structure of operons (specifically the lac operon). I can’t remember if this was covered in Unit I or II, but regardless, it is something you should know.

The majority of the exam covers topic of microbe/host interaction, requiring knowledge of the steps involved in this response, a good grasp of the overarching structure of an immune response and some details about major players (cells and molecules) involved in this response. What functions are innate? What functions are acquired? How do these two responses connect?

And don’t forget that I’m pretty transparent about the kind of extra credit questions I ask: One brand is deeper knowledge or application of the core material. One brand is based upon recurring themes of pseudo-randomness.

“Extra credit is not what it seems”

This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.

Open the pod bay doors, HAL.

1 Comment

Posted by on December 5, 2014 in Uncategorized


One response to “The Shape of Things

  1. downhousesoftware

    December 8, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    I received some sample questions for the Micro Exam that highlights our discussion of resident biota as supported by a good figure in Chapter 13 of the book:

    Chapter 13-
    1. “Cell for cell, microbes on the human body outnumber human cells at least ten to one.”
    These microbes can be described as “resident biota”.
    Name three sites on/in the human body where these microbes live as “commensals”:
    Possible Answers:
    • Skin & its adjacent mucous membranes
    • Respiratory tract & lungs
    • Gastrointestinal tract (various parts)
    • Outer opening of urethra
    • External genitalia
    • Vagina
    • External ear canal
    • External eye (lids, conjunctiva)
    Basically, anywhere that is open to the outside world can be colonized

    Chapter 13-
    2. Some anatomical sites and fluids in/on the human body are thought to be sterile (microbe free).
    Name three:

    Possible Answers:
    All internal tissues & organs
    • Heart & circulatory system*
    • Liver*
    • Kidneys & bladder
    • Brain & spinal cord
    • Muscles
    • Bones
    • Ovaries/testes
    • Glands (pancreas, salivary, thyroid)
    • Sinuses**
    • Middle & inner ear
    Fluids w/in an organ or tissue
    • Blood**
    • Urine in kidneys, ureters, bladder
    • Cerebrospinal fluid
    • Saliva prior to entering the oral cavity
    • Semen prior to entering the urethra
    • Amniotic Fluid surrounding the embryo & fetus**
    * Data analysis pending, Human Microbiome Project.
    **Preliminary Human Microbiome Project data show the presence of microbial species.
    Basically, all the spaces NOT open to the outside world.


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