Spring 2017 Featured Courses

KINS 6094: Genomics of Inherited Metabolic Diseases

Instructor: Elaine Lee

With your advisor’s approval, graduate courses may be included in your Honors Final Plan of Study for graduation. They also count toward your Honors participation requirements.

This graduate level seminar covers the basics of genetics and genomics, personalized and genomic medicine, clinical pathophysiologies, therapeutic approaches, and research into mechanisms of common genetic diseases.  This is a wonderful course for anyone interested in understanding genetics and genomics in an interdisciplinary way, organized by disease and the affected biochemical pathways. Our discussion of sophisticated and technical topics is always based on Personalized Medicine with an applied/clinical perspective and will help students gain literacy in some difficult-to-understand topics in an accessible way.

Contact Dr. Lee for a permission number to enroll.


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POLS 5505: Seminar in Public Law

Instructor: Kristin Kelly

With your advisor’s approval, graduate courses may be included in your Honors Final Plan of Study for graduation. They also count toward your Honors participation requirements.

This course focuses on the relationship between law and U.S. society.  In this seminar, law will be approached as both a political and a cultural institution that constitutes and is constituted by the society within which it operates.  The course is organized thematically and will include topics such as the definition of law, law’s violence, law and identity, feminist legal theory, law and social change, law and the “problem” of litigation, and law and social control.

The class will follow a seminar format and the majority of each class period will be devoted to discussing the assigned readings.  Participation in seminar discussions is therefore expected as a major component of your responsibilities in this class.

If you have questions about the course or if you would like to request a permission number to enroll please contact Professor Kristin Kelly (kkelly@uconn.edu).

ENGL 1616W-001: Major Works of English and American Literature

Topic: The Art of Storytelling

Instructor: Clare Costley King’oo

Prerequisite: ENGL 1010, 1011, or 2011

In this Honors course, designed primarily for non-English-majors, we will encounter several works judged to be literary masterpieces. Our aim will be to explore the art of imaginative story-telling over time, from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century (i.e., from Chaucer to Achebe). We will consider questions of narration, representation, genre, literary authority, intertextuality, and canonicity. Our discoveries will be the focus of our own rigorous writing practices, as we work on improving our argumentative and stylistic skills through a range of reports and essays (with revisions). Lively participation in class discussions will be expected and warmly encouraged.

CA 1, W.

ENGL 3318-001: Literature & Culture of the Third World – CHINA

Topic: Chinese Literature and Culture

Instructor: Patrick Hogan

Prerequisite: ENGL 1010, 1011, or 2011
This course may be repeated for credit with a change in topic.

The literary and cultural traditions of China are vast. Clearly, one cannot cover anything even approximating their range in a single course. In this class, we will focus on a few elements of Chinese tradition, exploring them in greater detail. Specifically, the course will begin with a careful reading of Confucius with perhaps some reference to Laotze and/or Mencius. We will then work through some Chinese lyric poems, principally following Cai Zong-qi’s How to Read Chinese Poetry. Some of this poetry extends back to the ancient beginnings of Chinese literary tradition. Following this, we will treat a collection of Yuan drama (13th-14th centuries C.E.), focusing on the relation of the works to historical concerns (e.g., Mongol domination and Chinese national identity). After this, we will consider some prose work. Depending on what is available, this may be the first volume of Cao Xueqin’s Story of the Stone (a.k.a., Dream of the Red Chamber, 18th century) or perhaps some popular story, such as the often retold tale of “the butterfly lovers,” Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai. The final section of the course will treat one or two works of recent Chinese cinema (e.g., Lu Chuan’s Nanjing! Nanjing!), considering both their thematic concerns and their formal techniques. Midterm, final, short written responses to some of the readings, class presentations.

CA 4-Int.

ENGL 2401-002: Poetry

Instructor: Yohei Igarashi

Prerequisite: ENGL 1010, 1011, or 2011

This course is a beginner’s guide to reading poetry, organized around the study of canonical or “classic” British poems. Along the way, the course introduces elements of poetic form, rhetorical and literary terms, poetic genres, and questions about the status of poetic discourse in society. Assignments include a shorter and a longer paper, in addition to a midterm and final.

CA 1

PSYC 3201-002: Animal Behavior

Instructor: David B. Miller

Prerequisites: BIOL 1102 or 1107; PSYC 1100

PSYC 3201 ANIMAL BEHAVIOR is an overview of the scientific study of animal behavior covering a broad range of topics, including evolution, adaptation, domestication, mating, communication, development, ethological concepts, and much more. The course is constructed around many examples from the scientific literature on a wide range of species. This is actually a “hybrid” course, in that 90% of the material is available day and night via streaming screencast videos. Around 8 in-class sessions allow for the presentation of additional content that is not contained in the screencasts, and around 6 in-class sessions are devoted to questions and answers. This is a combined class, with 185 seats open to all students (who register in Section 001) and 15 seats reserved for Honors students (who register in Section 002 for automatic Honors credit). Honors students meet once weekly for around an hour for a discussion session. The instructor is Professor David B. Miller, of the Department of Psychological Sciences, who has an extensive background in field and laboratory animal behavior research, primarily on birds.

MATH 3094: Undergraduate Seminar – Quiver Representations

Instructor: Prof. Ralf Schiffler

Students with an interest in Algebra and Combinatorics may be interested in this Honors seminar. Appropriate for any junior or senior with substantial mathematical background and interest, not just math majors.

A quiver is an oriented graph. A quiver representation is a collection of vector spaces and linear maps; one vector space V_i for each vertex i of the quiver and one linear map f_{ij} from V_i to V_j for each arrow i–>j of the quiver.

The complexity of different representations depends on the quiver. For some (few) quivers we can explicitly write down a finite number of representations such that any representation of the quiver can be constructed from our finite list by taking direct sums and using isomorphisms.  In these cases our finite list can be constructed combinatorially in the so-called Auslander-Reiten quiver.

We will study the properties of quiver representations, and see how to compute the Auslander-Reiten quiver in specific examples, using algebraic methods as well as combinatorial methods for example triangulations of polygons.

Contact Prof. Schiffler with any questions or to request a permission number.

MCB 2225: Cell Biology Laboratory

[UConn Storrs]

Instructor: David Knecht

Prerequisite: BIOL 1107 or equivalent

Many Honors students in the life sciences have benefited from MCB 2225, Cell Biology Laboratory.  The laboratory is designed to help students decide if they are interested in research and to prepare them for working in a research laboratory. Students will become proficient with experimental design, quantitative data analysis, and data presentation in the context of learning to work with living cells.  Like a research laboratory, the course laboratory is accessible 24/7 because real science often does not fit into 3 hour time blocks.

Students do not need an extensive knowledge of cell biology in order to succeed in the class.  The background cell biology for each experiment will be discussed in class and a general protocol will be provided.  Students working in pairs will then design the details of the specific experimental question, develop a protocol including the necessary controls, carry out the experiment and then analyze the data.  Experiments are often repeated outside of class time as student researchers fine-tune their technique or protocol.  The results are then discussed in a “group meeting” so that each group can see how others approached related problems. There is great flexibility for students to branch out from the starting point provided to take the experiment in a direction that is of interest to the student.

Students will maintain their own wild type and mutant cell lines throughout the semester.  The laboratory is equipped with computer controlled video microscope workstations for acquiring data on cell behavior. The experiments will focus on the growth, motility, development and underlying cellular structure of the soil amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum.  Many of the experiments will ask questions about how cells move and respond to signals both in unicellular and multicellular environments.  Students will transfect cells DNA to express fluorescent probes (GFP and RFP) and investigate the role of the cytoskeleton in cell motility and signaling. Flow cytometry and confocal microscopy will also be used to analyze cells.  Open source image processing software (Fiji/ImageJ) will be used to analyze the data captured from the microscope.   One emphasis of the course will be on the quantitative analysis of image data.

In the last third of the course, students will work on independent projects of their choosing.  Often these projects involve investigation of mutant cell lines available from a National Stock Center or cells isolated from the local environment.

Unlike many courses that aim to teach science concepts, this course puts an emphasis on teaching students to think like a scientist. The class size is small and there is ample opportunity for individual attention from the instructor and TA. This course will provide students with specific skills and experience that will aid them in applying to any laboratory in MCB (and other departments) for Honors thesis research. There is also the possibility of continuing these projects as Honors thesis research in the instructor’s research laboratory as many of the experiments conducted in the class are an outgrowth of ongoing research projects.

ECON 4206: Mechanism Design

Instructor: Vicki Knoblauch

Prerequisite: ECON 2201

Recommended preparation: Well developed mathematical reasoning skills, ability to work in small groups on an independent project. Prof. Knoblauch is willing to waive the ECON 2201 prerequisite for Honors students who possess the recommended mathematical and analytical reasoning skills.

One-semester introduction to mechanism design. Mechanisms are designed to induce people to act in such a way as to promote social welfare. Topics include public goods provision, 2-sided matching markets and peer evaluation of performance. The project in this course may serve as a good start for an Honors thesis or other piece of research.