Morphology of Vascular Plants
This course is a survey of the structure and evolution of the major groups of vascular plants. Major questions in plant evolution are explored, including the origins of the land flora, the evolution of the land plant life cycle, and the origins of important plant structures including leaves, roots, reproductive organs, and vascular tissues.
Taxonomy of Flowering Plants
This course focuses on the systematics of the flowering plants (angiosperms). In addition to covering basic concepts of phylogeny reconstruction, students learn to recognize the major families using representatives from our rich local flora. Laboratory exercises are structured around developing skills in using a professional level dichotomous key for species identification. Lessons in herbarium practice are also included.
In this course, students learn why the great biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky said that "nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." There is an emphasis on mechanisms of evolution, but phylogeny reconstruction and major events in the history of life are also presented.
Science, Pseudoscience, and Society
Today there are many beliefs that masquerade as science, such as creationism, ancient astronauts, parasychology, and "alternative" medicine. In this course, which I co-teach with Dr. Phillip Carr of the Anthropology Department, we take a critical look at many of these beliefs. In addition to lectures. classroom discussions, and readings, students are encouraged to perform actual experiments to test some paranormal claims. Skeptics and true believers are welcome