GENE 481 Genetics I Seminar


Fall 2008


Instructor:    Gary Kunkel, Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Genetics

                        406A Biochemistry



                        webpage URL:


Time, location:         Thurs. 3:55-4:45PM, Room 108 Biochemistry


Prerequisites:         senior classification; GENE 302, BICH/GENE 431 or concurrent enrollment; or approval of instructor



In this course, we will read and discuss landmark papers in molecular genetics from the 1950s and later.  A group of students will be the primary discussants for a paper or set of papers to be presented during each meeting.  As primary discussants, your presentation should include: 1) a biography of the scientist or scientists who led the investigation(s) of the assigned paper(s): 2) background leading up to the assigned paper, 3) data in the paper (including techniques), and 4) discussion of the impact of this paper on the field.  Each member of the primary discussion group should take a turn during the presentation.  Bring visual aids in PowerPoint format on a memory stick. The primary discussion group should meet with me at least one day prior to the presentation in order to go over any questions about the paper or its historical perspective.  Contact me by email in order to set up a time to meet.


It is very important that all class members take part in the discussion, even when you are not the primary discussant.  You will need to be prepared to discuss the papers critically (meaning, that you must read the papers before class).  If you think the data are good or bad, say so, and why.  What controls did the authors present carefully or leave out?  How does the data support various models presented in that paper or other papers that you have read?  At the end of each class, you will take a short quiz (closed book) about the assigned paper.




Grading will be allocated as follows: (200 pts total)

            Attendance (2 points each meeting)                                           26 pts

Quizzes (6 points each)                                                                 72 pts

            Performance as primary discussion group                               102 pts

Participation in other discussions           - up to 20 bonus points total for the semester


Making up quizzes for excused absences: If you provide me with a valid reason for an absence (i.e., a university-recognized excuse), you can make up a missed quiz by writing a one-page review of the paper or papers covered during the class that you missed.  You can receive up to 8 points for your review (6 pts for the missed quiz plus 2 pts for the attendance pts).  Any such review for a missed class must be submitted to me no later than 2 weeks after the absence.



Aggie Honor Code: ŇAn Aggie does not lie, cheat, or steal or tolerate those who do.Ó Academic integrity is paramount in all activities during this course.  On each quiz, you will be required to sign a statement acknowledging that you have observed this honor code.  See the Honor Council Rules and Procedures at