Course Logistics

Course Expectations

Broad Aims

In this course, we will integrate perspectives from cell and molecular biology, genetics, biochemistry, and morphology, constructing a holistic view of how multicellular organisms form and grow. After successfully completing this course, you will have an understanding of (1) how biological patterns emerge, (2) the morphogenesis of organs and tissues, (3) the mechanisms for controlling cell differentiation, (4) growth regulation, and (5) some of the consequences of development gone awry.


The main text for this course is Principles of Development, 4th edition by Lewis Wolpert and Cheryll Tickle with contributions from Peter Lawrence, Elliot Meyerowitz, Elizabeth Robertson, Jim Smith, and Thomas Jessell. From time to time, additional readings and video viewings will be assigned and available on Moodle.

Other recommended (but not required) textbooks include Langman's Medical Embryology text by T.W. Sadler. Links for all non-textbook reading assignments will be shared on Moodle. From time to time, Moodle selfquizzes and wiki study guides will be posted to help you hone and remember your new-found knowledge, ensuring that you understand the material.


It is imperative that you keep an accurate record of your lab experiments. You will need to have a laboratory notebook for dedicated use in class or use an electronic notebook (tablet device like an iPad or similar). The Bio Binder (something that you used during Intro Bio) may be helpful for data analysis. If you have any questions or concerns about the materials you'll need for this course, please see me.

Assessments: To become a scholar, one must master a large body of material. To help you monitor your progress in the class, self-assessments will be available on Moodle and we will have ungraded "quick quizzes" during class. Graded assessments include the following: take-home exercises, two mid-term exams, a final exam, laboratory notebooks, a laboratory write up, a visual presentation, and an oral presentation of your independent project. In addition, you are asked to attend and summarize at least one of the departmental seminars, which occur on Fridays at 4:10 pm in B19.


  • Late work will be penalized -10% for each day late.
  • If you miss a class or plan to miss a class, please see me AND get notes from a classmate.
  • This is an upper level course and you are expected to have a strong foundation in basic biology and chemistry. An understanding of basic genetics and/or cell biology will be very helpful. If you need more information or supplemental readings, please see me.

Your understanding of the material will be evaluated as follows*:

  • Final Exam (35%)
  • In-class mid-term exams (15%)
  • Take-home written exercises and other assignments (15%)
  • Departmental Seminar Summary (2.5%)
  • Lab Write-up/Lab Slides and presentation (10%)
  • Lab Independent Project (12.5% for project proposal and experiments + 10% for presentation)

*If you take this course as lecture only, your understanding will be evaluated as follows:

  • Final Exam (45%)
  • In-class mid-term exams (25%)
  • Take-home written exercises and other assignments (25%)
  • Departmental Seminar Summary (5%)