Gregory A. Buck, Ph.D.
Director

csbc.vcu.edu

The Center for the Study of Biological Complexity is a multidisciplinary focus of research and scholarly activity within VCU Life Sciences. The mission of the center is to apply the principles of complexity to contemporary biological problems in all aspects of research and scholarly activity, supporting research in integrative molecular, cellular and developmental biology.

 
 
 
 

Bioinformatics

BNFO   201. Computing Skills and Concepts for Bioinformatics. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: MATH   151 or 200 with a minimum grade of C, or satisfactory score on the VCU Mathematics Placement Test within the one-year period immediately preceding the beginning of the course. An introduction to computation in bioinformatics, including basics of data representation, and computer organization, as well as programming in PERL or other appropriate scripting language. Bioinformatics applications in the literature will be discussed. Guest speakers will share bioinformatics career experiences and opportunities.

BNFO   251. Phage Discovery I. 2 Hours.

Semester course; 4 laboratory hours. 2 credits. Corequisite: BIOL   151 or 152. An exploratory laboratory where students will purify phage from soil, visualize phage using electron microscopy and isolate genomic material for nucleic acid sequencing. Registration by override only. Crosslisted as: LFSC   251.

BNFO   252. Phage Discovery II. 2 Hours.

Semester course; 4 laboratory hours. 2 credits. Corequisite: BIOL   151 or 152. An exploratory laboratory where students will learn about the genomes of viruses infecting bacteria. Students will be given the genome sequence of a novel virus, which will be the basis for a series of computer-based analyses to understand the biology of the virus and to compare it with other viruses that infect the same host. Registration by override only. Crosslisted as: LFSC   252.

BNFO   292. Independent Study. 1-2 Hours.

Semester course; variable hours. 1-2 credits. May be repeated for a maximum total of 6 credits. Prerequisite: permission of instructor. A course designed to provide an opportunity for independent readings of the bioinformatics literature under supervision of a staff member.

BNFO   300. Molecular Biology Through Discovery. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. The course aims to expand students' "ignorance," a prerequisite for success in science, by confronting them with the interface between the known and the unknown, stressing the process by which the boundary is traversed. It will do so using as the raw material the study of molecular biology, an essential groundwork for bioinformatics.

BNFO   301. Introduction to Bioinformatics. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Introduction to the basic concepts, tools and possibilities of bioinformatics, the analysis of large bodies of biological information. The course stresses problem-solving and integrative projects, making extensive use of exercises in class that draw on bioinformatics resources on the Web and on local servers. Graded as pass/fail. Crosslisted as: BIOL   351.

BNFO   380. Introduction to Mathematical Biology. 4 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture and 2 laboratory hours. 4 credits. Prerequisites: MATH   200 and BIOL   151, or permission of instructor. An introduction to mathematical biology. Various mathematical modeling tools will be covered and implemented in a range of biological areas. Additionally, the collaborative research process will be presented and discussed. Crosslisted as: MATH   380/BIOL   380.

BNFO   420. Applications in Bioinformatics. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 2 laboratory hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: CMSC   245 or 255 and BNFO   301. Capstone course. Students will integrate biological, computational and quantitative skills to complete bioinformatics projects in a professional team-problem-solving context. Course includes explicit instruction in the conduct of research as well as a review of applicable strategies, methods and technologies. Written and oral presentation is emphasized, with systematic feedback and practice opportunities provided.

BNFO   440. Computational Methods in Bioinformatics. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 2 laboratory hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: CMSC   255 and 256; BNFO   301, or permission of instructor. An introduction to mathematical and computational methods in bioinformatics analysis. Topics include but are not limited to operating systems, interfaces, languages, SQL, search algorithms, string manipulation, gene sequencing, simulation and modeling, and pattern recognition. Students will be exposed to Maple, Matlab, SPSS, E-cell, BioPerl, Epigram and C as part of the requirements of this course.

BNFO   491. Special Topics in Bioinformatics. 1-4 Hours.

Semester course; variable hours. 1-4 credits. Prerequisites: permission of instructor and adviser. An introductory, detailed study of a selected topic in bioinformatics unavailable as an existing course. Students will find specific topics and prerequisites for each special topics course listed in the Schedule of Classes. If multiple topics are offered, students may elect to take more than one. Adviser's approval is required for counting each special topics course toward meeting specific requirements of the B.S. program.

BNFO   492. Independent Study. 1-4 Hours.

Semester course; variable hours. A minimum of three hours of supervised activity per week per credit is required. 1-4 credits. May be repeated for a maximum total of 6 credits. Prerequisite: BIOL 218. Projects should include data collection and analysis, learning bioinformatics-related research techniques, and mastering experimental procedures, all under the direct supervision of a faculty member. A final report must be submitted at the completion of the project. Graded as pass/fail.

BNFO   496. Undergraduate Teaching Assistantship in Bioinformatics. 1-2 Hours.

Semester course; variable hours. 1-2 credits. May be repeated for a maximum total of 2 credits. Prerequisites: permission of instructor and a minimum grade of B in the course the student will TA. Student will work with course instructor to implement course objectives. Typical duties involve media preparation, answering questions, providing feedback on course assignments and peer mentoring. Provides exposure to the practice, possibilities, rewards and responsibilities of the act of teaching.

BNFO   497. Research and Thesis. 1-4 Hours.

Semester course; variable hours. A minimum of three hours of supervised activity per week per credit is required. 1-4 credits. May be repeated for a maximum total of 6 credits. Prerequisites: BIOL 218, junior or senior status. Projects should include data collection and analysis, learning bioinformatics-related research techniques, and mastering experimental procedures, all under the direct supervision of a faculty member. A written thesis of substantial quality is required at the completion of the research.

Life Sciences

LFSC   251. Phage Discovery I. 2 Hours.

Semester course; 4 laboratory hours. 2 credits. Corequisite: BIOL   151 or 152. An exploratory laboratory where students will purify phage from soil, visualize phage using electron microscopy and isolate genomic material for nucleic acid sequencing. Registration by override only. Crosslisted as: BNFO   251.

LFSC   252. Phage Discovery II. 2 Hours.

Semester course; 4 laboratory hours. 2 credits. Corequisite: BIOL   151 or 152. An exploratory laboratory where students will learn about the genomes of viruses infecting bacteria. Students will be given the genome sequence of a novel virus, which will be the basis for a series of computer-based analyses to understand the biology of the virus and to compare it with other viruses that infect the same host. Registration by override only. Crosslisted as: BNFO   252.

LFSC   301. Integrative Life Sciences Research. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 1 recitation hours. 3 credits. Pre- or corequisite: UNIV   200 or HONR   200. Students will leave this course knowing enough about science and the process of science to feel confident in critically evaluating scientific information and/or embarking on their own process of discovery with a faculty mentor. They will gain an appreciation of the interdisciplinary and complex nature of life sciences and will hone their critical thinking about how science interacts with and informs society.

LFSC   307. Community Solutions: Multiple Perspectives. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: PYSC 101. Explores possibilities for addressing social concerns of the Richmond community by understanding the complex nature of social issues as essential to their successful amelioration via perspectives of life and social sciences. Toward this end, expertise from the social sciences, the life sciences and the community are integrated. Includes a service-learning experience (a 20-hour volunteer requirement). Crosslisted as: PSYC   307.

LFSC   401. Faith and Life Sciences. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: UNIV   200 or HONR   200. Open to students of any school or program. Explores the complex relationships between faith traditions and the life sciences. Topics include epistemology, impact of life sciences on ideas of fate and responsibility, limits of science and technology, and scientific and religious perspectives on human origins, consciousness, aggression, forgiveness, health, illness and death. Crosslisted as: RELS   401.