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Dr. Peter Minchin

Teaching

BIOL 592 (Graduate Colloquium in Biology)

This course allows graduate students to attend a series of seminars by invited speakers and learn the skills of making effective scientific presentations.

BIOL 596 (Topics in Organismal Biology)

This is a graduate course in which students read, critique, summarize, and discuss primary research articles. The topic varies each time it is taught. I've taught this course five times, with the following themes: Restoration Ecology, Biological Effects of Climate Change, Foundations of Ecology, Demons in Eden: the Paradox of Plant Diversity, and Conservation of Endangered Species.

BIOL 417 (Quantitative Methods in Experimental Biology)

This is the department's statistics course. It covers basic statistical techniques with an emphasis on their applications in biology. I teach this course in rotation with other faculty. It is usually taught in the spring semester.

BIOL 463 (Conservation Biology)

In this course, I introduce students to the fundamentals of conservation biology. Labs focus on the use of population models to manage species and minimize the risk of extinction under different conservation scenarios. Field trips allow students to interact with professionals in a range of organizations involved in conservation, including government agencies, non-profit organizations, zoos, and botanical gardens. This course is usually taught in the fall semester.

BIOL 490/590 (Travel Study in Biology)

This course, which I team-teach with Dr. Rick Essner, is always associated with a faculty-led travel study to locations outside the state of Illinois. It is designed to allow students to experience the biodiversity and natural history of regions that are very different from our immediate surroundings in southwestern Illinois. For example, in summer 2014, the course was taught in Panama. Assessment is based on a virtual collection of annotated photographs of animals and plants observed in the field, field notebooks, a species identification quiz, and post-trip exams. The course is in the process of being registered as a permanent part of the curriculum and will eventually be known as BIOL 405. It can be taken for graduate credit.

BIOL 490/590 (Wildlife and Vegetation Techniques)

This course is also usually team-taught with Dr. Rick Essner and is generally associated with a faculty-led travel study to locations outside the state of Illinois. Students learn sampling and description methods used for animals and plant communities and then apply some of these techniques in independent field-based research projects. Assessment is based on a Powerpoint presentation and written report on the project, together with post-trip exams. The course is in the process of being registered as a permanent part of the curriculum and will eventually be known as BIOL 406. It can be taken for graduate credit.

BIOL 492/492M (Biological Sciences Colloquium)

This course allows undergraduate students to attend a series of seminars by invited speakers and learn the skills of making effective scientific presentations. It is generally taken in the senior year. In BIOL 492, students attend and learn to critique seminars. In BIOL 492M, students who have performed research projects for their Senior Assignment present their findings in the form of an oral or poster presentation.

BIOL 497 (Senior Assignment)

This is an alternative way of satisfying the requirement for a Senior Assignment and is taken by students who have not undertaken a research project. Students work in groups to choose a topic, formulate a hypothesis, find published papers that have tested the hypothesis, and then prepare a poster presentation.

BIOL 365 (Ecology)

This course is an introduction to the basic principles of ecology. I teach it in rotation with other faculty. Labs are a mix of field-based exercises, a greenhouse experiment on plant competition, and virtual computer-based exercises that allow students to explore various important topics in ecology. We try to offer this course every semester.

BIOL 111 (Contemporary Biology)

This is a non-majors course that covers various topics in biology, such as genetics, human evolution, sustainable agriculture, and genetic engineering.

BIOL 111 (Freshman Seminar)

This is a course that introduces freshmen to the culture and facilities of the university while also teaching basic biology.

BIOL 151 (Introduction to Biological Sciences II)

This is the second semester of our introductory biology sequence. It covers the diversity of microbes, protists, plants, fungi, and animals, the structure and funtion of plants, the structure and funtion of animals, and an introduction to ecology. I teach this course occasionally in rotation with other faculty. I am due to teach it next in fall 2018.

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