50 things every biologist should know

Des Higgins dazzhiggins at hotmail.com
Wed Apr 13 08:20:58 EST 2005

"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
> 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?

Either this is a typo or I am getting old; I could have sworn there were 3
in my day.

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