50 things every biologist should know

Jeff Houlahan jeffhoul at unbsj.ca
Thu Apr 7 06:58:29 EST 2005

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 defense=
/qualifying exam as part of the requirements for completion of a Ph. D.  Th=
e rationale for this, as we understand it, is that students should not be e=
xpected to have a detailed understanding of the entire discipline of biolog=
y.  A proposal defense/qualifying exam is only expected to test a student o=
n areas relevant to their Ph. D. research.  This is a concept we support, b=
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 re=
search that has no explicit evolutionary context could graduate without kno=
wing the difference between evolution and natural selection.  Our discussio=
n group has suggested that one way to deal with this is to develop a list o=
f =E2=80=98The 50 things every biologist should know=E2=80=99 and make thos=
e 50 topics fair game in a qualifying exam/proposal defence.  Thus, our goa=
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 love=
 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 list=
=2E  Ultimately, we will be putting together a survey to rank the suggestio=
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 t=
his group when the survey is complete.  Thanks for any comments you can pro=
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?
5.=09What are the four unique properties of water?
6.=09What three elements define organic compounds?
7.=09What is an element?
8.=09What is a protein
9.=09What is a carbohydrate?
10.=09What is a lipid?


11.=09What is DNA?
12.=09What is a gene?
13.=09What is natural selection?
        13b. Are evolution and natural selection synonymous terms?
14.=09What is a chromosome?
15.=09What are the four principles of Mendelian genetics
16.=09What is a genome?
17.=09How is DNA replicated?
18.=09What is epistasis?
19.=09What are the sources of genetic variation?
20.=09What is epigenesis?


21.=09What does the Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium predict, and what is the imp=
ortance of the model assumptions?
22.=09How have continents moved and how has that affected the formation and=
of species?
23.=09What is evolution?
24.=09What is the difference between micro and macro-evolution?
25.=09Can you read a phylogenetic tree?
26.=09What are the kingdoms of living organisms?
27.=09Finish the following Kingdom, Phylum=E2=80=A6
28.=09What is the =E2=80=9CEvolutionary Synthesis=E2=80=9D?
29.=09Is evolution progressive?
30.=09What comes first: the adaptation or the selective pressure?
31.=09What is meant by the =E2=80=9Cinheritance of acquired traits=E2=80=9D=
, who made this claim, and why was he wrong?
32.=09What is the object of natural selection?
33.=09Are cladogenesis and anagenesis synonymous terms?
34.=09What is a phenotype?


35.=09What is osmosis?
36.=09What are the key differences between prokaryotes and eukaryotes
37.=09What is mitosis and what happens during mitosis?
38.=09What is meiosis and what happens during meiosis?
39.=09What are the ? cell organelles and what are their functions?
40.=09What are the key differences between plant and animal cells?
41.=09What is a cell?


42.=09What is photosynthesis?
43.=09What is glycolysis?
44.=09What is the Kreb=E2=80=99s cycle?
45.=09How does energy flow and matter cycle?
46.=09What is a trophic level?
47.=09How does water cycle?
48.=09Can you describe the cycles for key nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, =
49.=09What is biomagnification?


50.=09What is the Theory of Island Biogeography?
51.=09What are r and K selected life histories?
52.=09What is an ecosystem?


53.=09What are Newton=E2=80=99s Laws?
54.=09What are the key organs in the human body and what are their function=
55.=09What are Theories, hypotheses and predictions and how do they differ?
56.=09What are the important plant structures and their functions?
57.=09What is homeostasis and why is it important?
58.=09What is the scientific method?
59.=09What is a confidence interval?
60.=09What is an ANOVA?

Excuse the cross posting =E2=80=93 we are trying to get a diverse group of =


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