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Course Information

Instructor Info:Patricia Brennan
TA Info:Katie Marony
Term: 2012F
Meeting Info: Tuesday Thursday
10:30 AM - 11:50 AM Adele Simmons Hall (ASH) 112
10:30 AM - 11:50 AM Adele Simmons Hall (ASH) 112

Sex is ubiquitous in nature and getting male and female gametes together has resulted in incredibly diverse strategies in both sexes to insure successful reproduction. This class will primarily examine animal behavioral sexual strategies drawing from examples of recent scientific research, all placed in an evolutionary context. We will discuss how we classify the sexes, the role of hormones on sexual behavior, the field of sexual selection including some of the current debates, sperm biology, sexual conflict and a biological examination of human sexuality. Students will be reading primary literature and class participation is expected and part of the assessment. Students will also write a research review on a topic of their choosing. This class is suitable for students who want to gain a biological and evolutionary understanding of sex in nature.

Course Objectives:


-At the end of this class students will be able to criticize and synthetize scientific information from primary literature, and use this acquired knowledge to think critically about scientific inquiry.

-At the end of this class students will be able to explore a scientific question and evaluate and synthetize references on this topic.  Students will apply this knowledge to communicate the most up to date information about their subject of interest in writing.

-At the end of the class students will: understand the basic hypotheses of sex evolution, mechanisms that are responsible for sexual functioning and sex determination, hypotheses that help to explain behavioral and morphological differences between the sexes, compare and contrast pre and post-copulatory selection events, critically evaluate scientific studies that deal with human mating strategies, differentiate hypotheses for homosexual behavior in nature, propose alternatives to scientific observations and determine the level of analysis in which these alternatives belong, and gain an appreciation and understanding of the diverse evolutionary consequences of sexual behavior in nature.

Evaluation Criteria:

In order for you to get an evaluation in this class you must attend every class and arrive on time. Excused absences are only given for serious reasons with written documentation (e.g. physician’s note) and you are responsible to catch up by talking with your peers about what you missed during class. Attendance is absolutely necessary. If you have 3 or more unexplained absences you will not get an evaluation.

I will evaluate students on their demonstrated ability to think clearly, their responsibility with turning in assignments, class attendance, and the quality of their written work as indicated by fulfillment of the course objectives.  In this class you will acquire competence in Independent work (IND) and Writing (WRI).

Additional Info:

Katie's TA Hours: Monday/Wednesday 6-8pm in the Bridge

You can also find me at the RCC front desk on Mondays/Wednesdays from 9pm-12am