50 things every biologist should know

Ursula Cox ursula.cox at postgrad.manchester.ac.uk
Mon Apr 18 04:43:56 EST 2005

Des Higgins wrote:
> "Jeff Houlahan" <jeffhoul at unbsj.ca> wrote in message
> news:d3e6tf$1a7$1 at mercury.rfcgr.mrc.ac.uk...
>>Hi, MolEvol members.  Like many Biology departments in universities across
>>Canada, our university, the University of New Brunswick at Saint John, has
>>decided to phase out the comprehensive exam in favour of a proposal
>>/qualifying exam as part of the requirements for completion of a Ph. D.
>>e rationale for this, as we understand it, is that students should not be
>>xpected to have a detailed understanding of the entire discipline of
>>y.  A proposal defense/qualifying exam is only expected to test a student
>>n areas relevant to their Ph. D. research.  This is a concept we support,
>>ut it does raise the concern that students could graduate with a Ph. D. in
>>Biology without understanding some very basic biological concepts if those
>>concepts are not relevant to their project.  For example, students doing
>>search that has no explicit evolutionary context could graduate without
>>wing the difference between evolution and natural selection.  Our
>>n group has suggested that one way to deal with this is to develop a list
>>f =E2=80=98The 50 things every biologist should know=E2=80=99 and make
>>e 50 topics fair game in a qualifying exam/proposal defence.  Thus, our
>>l is to put together such a list.  We have put together a preliminary list
>>of 60 different questions (maybe) every biologist should be able to answer
>>(see that list below), but we are looking for broader input.  We would
>>to hear from anybody who would like to add a question or questions to the
>>list, or make some comment about the questions that are already on the
>>=2E  Ultimately, we will be putting together a survey to rank the
>>ns we get and identify the =E2=80=9950 things every biologist should know=
>>=E2=80=99 as ranked by survey responses.  We will distribute that list to
>>his group when the survey is complete.  Thanks for any comments you can
>>vide on this.
>>The UNBSJ Ecology discussion group
>>1.=09What is an atom?
>>2.=09What is a molecule?
>>3.=09What causes water to be green?
>>4.=09What are the two laws of thermodynamics?
> Either this is a typo or I am getting old; I could have sworn there were 3
> in my day.
According to Adkins (Equilibrium Thermodynamics, McGrawHill) there are
four, the zeroth, first, second and third!!

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