BISC 413, Advanced Genetics Laboratory

Section 010

Tuesdays, 2-4:50 p.m.
Thursdays, 2-4 p.m.

021 McKinly Hall

Instructor: John McDonald
322 Wolf Hall (office)
Phone: 831-2007 (I rarely check messages, so e-mail is better)
Class web page:


This schedule has links to the online lab manual for the course. The web pages will be revised throughout the semester, up until the morning of each lab, so don't print them out ahead of time.

Date Day Lab Other
Aug. 26 Tuesday Cats  
Aug. 28 Thursday Finish cats
Pick species for allozyme project
Sept. 2 Tuesday Collecting trip to White Clay Creek Cat report due
Sept. 4 Thursday Literature search for allozyme project  
Sept. 9 Tuesday Begin worm project Allozyme pre-proposal due
Sept. 11 Thursday Kill microworms! Amy, Becky, Rachel, Sarah: marine field trip after class
Sept. 16 Tuesday Allozyme field trips  
Sept. 18 Thursday See if microworms died Allozyme proposal due
Sept. 23 Tuesday    
Sept. 25 Thursday    
Sept. 30 Tuesday Allozymes  
Oct. 2 Thursday    
Oct. 5 Sunday   Amy, Becky, Rachel, Sarah: marine field trip at 8 a.m.
Oct. 7 Tuesday    
Oct. 9 Thursday    
Oct. 14 Tuesday Allozymes  
Oct. 16 Thursday    
Oct. 21 Tuesday    
Oct. 23 Thursday    
Oct. 28 Tuesday    
Oct. 30 Thursday    
Nov. 4 Tuesday Election Day; no school  
Nov. 6 Thursday    
Nov. 11 Tuesday    
Nov. 13 Thursday    
Nov. 18 Tuesday    
Nov. 20 Thursday    
Nov. 25 Tuesday   Worm paper due
Nov. 27 Thursday Thanksgiving, no class  
Dec. 2 Tuesday Presentations: meet in 318 Wolf Allozyme paper due

Overall plan

Each of you will complete two semester-long projects. One will involve surveying allozyme variation in natural populations of an invertebrate. I will assign you one species of insect, isopod, or other invertebrate that is easy to collect and easy to identify. With the assistance of your classmates, you will collect samples from at least six locations and look for variation in allele frequency. Students with insects or isopods will collect samples within walking or bicycling distance of Newark, while students with marine invertebrates will collect on a couple of day-long field trips on Saturdays or Sundays.

The second project will be a mass selection experiment on a quantitative trait in the microworm, Panagrellus redivivus. Working as a team of 4, you will design an experiment to measure a quantitative trait and select for an extreme value of this trait over multiple generations. Each student will then perform this experiment individually, so the team has 4 replicates of the same experiment.

To get warmed up, you will start the semester with a short project on cat coat genetics.

Office hours

There are no fixed office hours. You can make an appointment by talking to me before or after class, or by e-mailing me.

Lab manual

We will not use a printed lab manual this fall. The individual labs for the first few weeks will be linked from this web page. The topics for each lab may change at the last minute, so don't print out the labs ahead of time. Later in the semester, the instructions for each lab will just be "Continue working on your alloyzme and worm projects," so there may not be written instructions for each lab.


You will not be penalized for absences, but you must make up the work you miss. If you know in advance that you will miss a lab, please talk to me so we may make arrangements for you to do the work at another time. If you have an unplanned absence, please e-mail me as soon as you can so we may make arrangements.


Your grade will be based on the following:

The grades will not be curved. There are no extra credit projects. The points from the assignments will be combined and converted to letter grades as follows:

A 93-100; A- 90-92.9; B+ 87-89.9; B 83-86.9; B- 80-82.9; C+ 77-79.9; C 73-76.9; C- 70-72.9; D+ 67-69.9; D 63-66.9; D- 60-62.9; F 0-59.9.

Students who are less than 3 points below the minimum grade needed for their program (such as an undergraduate biology major with 67 to 69.9 points) will be given the opportunity to take an incomplete grade and complete an extra credit project. This project will be a lot of work, such as writing a 15-page term paper on a topic of my choice. Upon satisfactory completion of the project, you'll get the minimum grade needed for your program (such as C- for undergraduate biology majors). There will be no other extra credit.

Return to John McDonald's home page

This page was last revised September 18, 2014. Its URL is