Syllabus for Genetics Lab

Syllabus for Genetics Lab

Syllabus for Genetics Lab


Office: 221J
Telephone: (435) 722-1780
Fax: (435) 789-3188

Vernal Fridays: 2:00 – 4:30 pm


Charles T. Hanifin, Ph.D.

USU Uintah Basin Regional Campus

320 North Aggie Blvd, Vernal, Utah 84078

Location: Vernal: BEERC ROOM B222 (Biology Research Lab)

Required Materials/Textbook:

None. Primary Literature and supplemental reading will be provided as relevant.

Course Description

Genetics Lab is a two credit course that fills elective credits for Biology majors. The USU course catalog describes the class thus:

Experimental approach to genetics using bacteria, fungi, plants, insects, and humans. Students will be introduced to several computer and laboratory techniques, and will design many of the experiments.

Course Goals

The broad goals for this course are to help you:

  • Develop a functional understanding of tools and techniques used in genetics research
  • Develop experience with experimental design and application of research tools
  • Develop practical skills and experience with laboratory skills and abilities
  • Practice science communication skills such as writing and/or presentation of research

Please use Canvas to look at the schedule of topics as well as the specific schedule of assignments and due dates.

Course Structure

The course is entirely lab based with minimal lecture. We will meet once a week. Meetings will include informal discussion and review of material, hands on demonstrations, and practice with techniques. Much of the course will be focused on self-directed research projects and/or participation in ongoing projects in the Hanifin/Geffeney research lab that provide relevant practice with class topics. Please see Canvas for a detailed list of topics.

Office Hours

Tuesdays & Thursdays, 10:00 – 11:00 am, e-mail anytime

I will be in my office in Vernal and available to speak by phone or in person during these times. I am usually on the USUB Venal campus during regular hours and can often be reached by phone outside of these office hours as well but email is probably the best way of contacting me. I understand that family and work issues can make it difficult for students to come by or contact me during scheduled office hours. Please feel free to come by my office outside of listed office hours. If you have something critical to discuss I strongly suggest that you schedule a meeting either by email (preferred) or phone. Also, don’t forget to look in the Biology Research Lab (BEERC 222) if I am not in my office.

Course Management System: Canvas

You will need to use the course website on Canvas to access matrials for the course (see below), as well as: current grade status, course information, link to my email, study guides, links to useful learning resources and more. Go to and login to Canvas using your A-number and password, click on Courses in the top menu, and then click on the Biology 1010 link.


You will be working in an active lab for this course. As such we will follow all relevant USU safety policies to guarantee that the teaching environment is safe. We will cover lab safety at the beginning of the course. Failure to follow instructions and follow appropriate safety protocols in the course will result in being asked to leave the course for the day. This is will result in an unexcused absence (see below).


Grading for the course will be based on participation as well as assignments. We will only meet for 14 class sessions throughout the semester so you will need to attend all of them. Because this course is lab based and requires full participation from all students I will take attendance and you are required to attend all classes unless you make arrangements with me. I do not assign points to attendance but will reduce your final grade by a full letter for each unexcused absence.

Your grade in the course will be based on three elements: weekly analysis of the primary literature, a final paper/presentation, and a final exam. The specifics for each are as follows:

Primary Literature-Reading and understanding the primary literature is a critical skill in biology. You will have a paper to read before class each week (roughly). You will need to turn in a short (1 to 2 paragraph) summary of the paper with a specific discussion of a research tool and/or technique used in the paper. Each of these will be worth 2.5 points. There will be ten of these worth a total of 25 points or 25% of your grade.

Final Paper/Presentation-The structure of this assignment will vary depending on student interests and class variation. However you will be required to generate a final product in the form of a research paper or formal research presentation. Some years this will focus on student projects in the lab and in others it will focus on deep research associated with a tool or techniques. The final project will be worth 50 points or 50% of your final grade.

Final Exam-The final will be an open book take open exam worth 25 points or 25% of your grade. The final will require complex understanding of topics covered in the course as well as test your ability to apply the tools learned in the course to specific research hypotheses.

Course Grading Policy: Grades will be posted on Canvas throughout the semester. I will need to hand grade/score short answer questions in the guided-study quizzes. You can use Canvas to calculate/view your current point totals/grade for the course throughout the semester.

Final Grades

A - achievement that is outstanding relative to the level necessary to meet course requirements.

B - achievement that is significantly above the level necessary to meet course requirements.

C - achievement that meets the course requirements in every respect.

D - achievement that is worthy of credit even though it fails to meet fully the course requirements.

F - represents failure (or no credit) and signifies that the work was either (1) completed but at a level of achievement that is not worthy of credit, or (2) was not completed and there was no agreement between the instructor and the student that the student would be awarded an I.

I (Incomplete) - assigned at the discretion of the instructor when, due to extraordinary circumstances (e.g.,

hospitalization), a student is prevented from completing the work of the course on time.



You will need to complete assigned reading before coming to class. Failure to complete readings will make the in class experience useless.

Online Student Resources:

The USU Academic Resource Center can help you develop your study skill at the Online Learning Center ( Additionally, the Student Policy Manual can be read online at


Instructor’s Responsibilities

I will help you learn by engaging you in the material and challenging you to think like a biologist. You can expect me to attend all lectures, read the assigned material, and prepare examinations and quizzes that are fair and representative of the reading assignments, and lecture activities as they relate to the learning objectives provided. I will also be available by email, telephone, or in my office during the day to answer questions and provide any needed assistance toward the course learning objectives.

Student’s Responsibilities

You are expected to attend each course and participate.

Use of mobile devices and laptops in class

Phones and other mobile devices are not allowed in the lab space. I will provide a charging station in the lab were they can be stored during class but use of phones during actual lab work is not safe or permitted.


Students with Disabilities

USU welcomes students with disabilities. If you have, or suspect you may have, a physical, mental health, or learning disability that may require accommodations in this course, please contact the Disability Resource Center (DRC) as early in the semester as possible (University Inn # 101, 435-797-2444, ). All disability related accommodations must be approved by the DRC. Once approved, the DRC will coordinate with faculty to provide accommodations.

Withdrawal and Incomplete Grade

Students are required to complete all courses for which they are registered by the end of the semester. In some cases, a student may be unable to complete all of the coursework because of extenuating circumstances, but not due to poor performance or to retain financial aid. The term 'extenuating' circumstances includes: (1) incapacitating illness which prevents a student from attending classes for a minimum period of two weeks, (2) a death in the immediate family, (3) financial responsibilities requiring a student to alter a work schedule to secure employment, (4) change in work schedule as required by an employer, or (5) other emergencies deemed appropriate by the instructor. If an incomplete grade is to be given, an Incomplete Grade Documentation Form must be filed by the instructor in the department or college office. Students may not be given an incomplete grade due to poor performance or in order to retain financial aid. An incomplete grade may be granted only if the student has completed the majority of the course and is passing the class at the time. More information can be found at


Plagiarism includes knowingly "representing, by paraphrase or direct quotation, the published or unpublished work of another person as one's own in any academic exercise or activity without full and clear acknowledgment. It also includes the unacknowledged used of materials prepared by another person or agency engaged in the selling of term papers or other academic materials." To help you learn how to identify and avoid committing plagiarism, go to

The penalties for plagiarism are severe. They include warning or reprimand, grade adjustment, probation, suspension, expulsion, withholding of transcripts, denial or revocation of degrees, and referral to psychological counseling. More about USU policy on plagiarism can be found at

Academic Honesty – The “Honor System”

Each student has the right and duty to pursue his or her academic experience free of dishonesty. The Honor System is designed to establish the higher level of conduct expected and required of all Utah State University students.

The University expects that students and faculty alike maintain the highest standards of academic honesty. For the benefit of the students who may not be aware of specific standards of the University with regards to academic honesty, the following paragraph discussing infractions of academic integrity is quoted from the Student Policy Handbook ((


Acts of academic dishonesty include, but are not limited to:

1. Cheating. (1) Using or attempting to use or providing others with any unauthorized assistance in taking quizzes, tests, examinations, or in any other academic exercise or activity, including working in a group when the instructor has designated that the quiz, test, examination, or any other academic exercise or activity be done “individually”; (2) depending on the aid of sources beyond those authorized by the instructor in writing papers, preparing reports, solving problems, or carrying out other assignments; (3) substituting for another student, or permitting another student to substitute for oneself, in taking an examination or preparing academic work; (4) acquiring tests or other academic material belonging to a faculty member, staff member, or another student without express permission; (5) continuing to write after time has been called on a quiz, test, examination, or any other academic exercise or activity; (6) submitting substantially the same work for credit in more than one class, except with prior approval of the instructor; or (7) engaging in any form of research fraud.

2. Falsification. Altering or fabricating any information or citation in an academic exercise or activity.

3. Plagiarism. Representing, by paraphrase or direct quotation, the published or unpublished work of another person as one’s own in any academic exercise or activity without full and clear acknowledgment. It also includes using materials prepared by another person or by an agency engaged in the sale of term papers or other academic materials.


A. An instructor has full autonomy to evaluate a student’s academic performance in a course. If a student violates the Honor System, the instructor may sanction the student as part of the course evaluation. Such sanctions may include: (1) verbally warning the student; (2) giving the student a written reprimand; (3) requiring the student to rewrite a paper/assignment or to retake a test/examination; (4) adjusting the student’s grade—for either an assignment/test or the course; or (5) giving the student a failing grade for the course. A sanction by the instructor is not a disciplinary penalty. If the instructor believes that, in addition to any sanction, the student should be disciplined and a penalty imposed, the instructor shall refer the student for disciplinary proceedings.