The Topics Course

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First and second year students attend a four part, two year course during which faculty introduce students to core concepts in evolutionary biology.  This course appears in the university course catalog as BIO471-474.

Classical Population Genetics (Orr)
Topics covered include an introduction to probability theory, Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, selection equations, genetic drift, mutation-selection equilibrium, probability of fixation, stationary distributions, and diffusion approximations.  Homework problem sets are assigned.

Molecular Population Genetics (Presgraves)
A brief history of the neutral theory of molecular evolution, including derivation of several classical results.   Introductory coalescent theory and basic hypothesis testing using molecular population genetic data.  The interaction of natural selection and genetic linkage on patterns of DNA sequence polymorphism, divergence, and adaptation.

Contemporary Evolution (Chen)

Evolution of Developmental Processes (Lambert)
Brief introduction to the position of evolutionary development in the two parent fields.  A primer on transcriptional regulation and early development in flies.  The evidence for the importance of regulatory change in the evolution of development, and counter-examples. Modularity in development and evolution.

Ecological Genetics & Genomics (Brisson)

Evolutionary Ecology (Uy)

Classical Quantitative Genetics (Fry)

Genomics of Quantitative Traits (Bickel)

Adaptation (Fay)

Levels of Selection, Selfish DNA, & Genetic Conflict (Werren)
We consider basic levels of selection theory and the consequences of selection at different levels (from gene to community) to evolution and adaptation.  We also cover the forms of genetic conflict (e.g. intragenomic,  nuclear-cytoplasmic, paternal-maternal genome, parent-offspring, sexual conflict) and how genetic conflict shapes biological processes.

Intragenomic conflict & Eukaryotic Genomes (Larracuente)
Students get hands-on experience in genomic analysis with a focus on questions relating to intragenomic conflict. We discuss recent primary literature where authors use genomic techniques to study selfish genetic elements. Through workshops, students learn basic R and Perl programming and basic genome analysis techniques such as reference-based assembly methods, variant calling and population genomics analyses. We complete a short genomics project on the topic of intragenomic conflict and present the results on the final day of class.

Genome Evolution (Eickbush)

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