Current Courses I Teach:
1. Introductory Biology I: This is an introductory course that surveys selected topics in the study of life (biology) as applied to prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Topics will include a broad survey of biologically important molecules, cell biology, cell communication, genetics, respiration, photosynthesis, mechanisms of evolution and ecology. Laboratories will offer various hands-on laboratory exercises to further the understanding of concepts and phenomena explained in the class meetings.
2. Population Ecology: This course will investigate factors influencing the structure and dynamics of plant and animal populations. The first part of the course will focus on the dynamics of single populations of organisms, considering the conditions leading to exponential growth, logistic growth, population stability and extinction. The second half of the course will deal with interactions among populations of prey and predators, parasites and their hosts and applied population ecology problems such as harvesting populations, pest control and conservation biology. Through field work, students will be introduced to sampling techniques in aquatic and terrestrial environments.
3. Behavioural Ecology: Students will be introduced to the field of behavioural ecology through lectures, assignments, selected nature films and readings. Behaviour is what animals do, patterns of movement used in surviving, obtaining nutrients and reproducing and the many processes that ultimately serve these functions. While other fields study the internal mechanisms by which behaviour is organized and controlled, behavioural ecology asks how behaviour relates the organism to its physical, biological and social environment. It has an evolutionary perspective, seeing behaviour as a result of natural selection, adapting the organism to its environment, and as a component of natural selection, influencing the process of evolution. It also has an ecological perspective, seeing behaviour as a result of the current and past environment of the individual organism, and as one of many forces that influence the distribution and abundance of species.
4. Conservation Biology: Topics include: genetic, taxonomic, ecosystem and functional levels of biodiversity; biodiversity and ecosystem integrity; biodiversity and ecosystem function in natural and anthropogenic systems; reasons for conserving species; species interactions and 'keystone' roles; the conservation of environments - habitat fragmentation, patch size and buffer zones in conservation; species and genetic richness and ecosystem resilience; ecosystem management for conservation and sustainable development; the role and validity of protected areas, captive breeding and reintroduction programs; the implications for conservation of ecotourism, global climate change and genetic engineering; and, the interface between conservation and restoration.
5. Honours Thesis: This course gives students the opportunity to pursue the full extent of scientific inquiry, from experimental design to communication of results, independently, and with the knowledge that they are actively contributing to the growing body of human knowledge through the scientific process. Students will work with a faculty supervisor either in the Biology Department at Algoma University, or with a scientist at either the Ontario Forestry Research Institute or the Great Lakes Forestry Centre. With this supervisor, each student will develop a research question, and then work to investigate this question using the scientific method. Students will perform background research into their chosen topic, plan and execute a research strategy that addresses their chosen question, analyze their collected data, and produce a poster presentation, a PowerPoint (or equivalent) presentation, and a scientific paper using the general formatting associated with peer-reviewed journal publications in biology (formatting information provided).
6. Aquatic Biology: This course will introduce students to the diverse array of aquatic environments and the various organisms that inhabit them. The first third of the course will focus on the physical properties of the oceanic and freshwater environments. The second third of the course will survey the major components of aquatic food chains and the ecology and adaptations of representative groups. The last third of the course will address issues related to harvesting, pollution and the value of aquatic biodiversity.