Course Information:

Autumn Quarter, Research Apprenticeship
September 25 - December 9, 2006
Biology 499 (15 credits)

Instructors: Dr. Jonathan Alberts, Dr. Adriana Dawes, and Dr. Kerry Kim
Center for Cell Dynamics, UW Friday Harbor Laboratories

There is increasing recognition among biologists that understanding biological systems/networks of even modest complexity requires the aid of computational modeling. These models have greatly advanced our understanding of biological systems responsible for movement, division, pattern formation, and cell fate commitment. Additionally, models that reconstruct these systems have revealed unexpected emergent behavior such as astonishing robustness to variability and operation at or near theoretical optima.

This apprenticeship will provide an opportunity to build research-level, biologically realistic simulations of networks to gain deep insights into their workings. Basic lectures, exercises, and readings will introduce apprentices to fundamentals of gene networks, empirical and computational analysis of gene network dynamics, and computer modeling of such networks. Specific topics include:

Apprentices will work in small groups modeling specific gene networks. Each team will work closely with a faculty mentor to develop and carry out an intensive study of their chosen topic. Apprentices will become experts at public scientific speaking by making frequent presentations of their projects as they proceed, and by making a final, public seminar presentation. Possible topics include:

Prerequisites: One semester (or 2 quarters) of calculus and introductory biology, a willingness to immerse yourself in a fascinating scientific problem, and an enthusiastic determination to learn. We expect apprentices to develop new skills in areas they may not have thought of yet, learning from both their instructors and peers. Accordingly, we will choose class participants to bring a balance of skills. Grading is based on all aspects of course participation and on a combination written and oral presentation of projects. Enrollment limited to 8 students.

This apprenticeship is sponsored by Friday Harbor Laboratories and the NIGMS (National Institute of General Medical Sciences) Center for Cell Dynamics.

For additional information contact: or

The application deadline for this course has passed. Information about upcoming apprenticeships is available here.