Splash! November 2013

I taught a Splash! class at Stanford this weekend with my colleagues Shaila Musharoff and Sandeep Venkataram on “A Brief Introduction on Population Genetics“, geared at students in grades 9-12. This was the fourth time we taught this class together.  In the class, we covered basic concepts from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium and demonstrated how allele frequencies change as a consequence of various factors such as small population sizes, demographic events, and selection events. We illustrated these concepts using a game, as well as several examples from the literature, videos available online, and, some of my own 23&Me results.

In case you are curious, I am pasting below some links to movies that I think are particularly fun to watch. Thanks to Pleuni Pennings for sharing some of these on her website.

I particularly enjoyed the videos about lactase persistence and about Darwin’s voyage. See the links on Pleuni’s website.
Here are some videos from 23&Me about human out-of-africa history.
This particularly well made video of Wallace by the New York Times sheds light on an important scientist’s career and the scientific process.

Stanford BioCore Explorations Class on Rapid Adaptation

This week, as part of the Stanford Biocore curriculum for undergraduates, I taught a mini course with my lab-mate, Ben Wilson, on rapid adaptation. This course was geared toward first and second year Stanford undergraduate students focusing on key concepts that Ben and I study in our research including the definition of a hard and soft sweep, the relationship between population size and the rate of adaptation, as well as applications in drug resistance in HIV and Drosophila.

Here is the abstract for the course:

Astonishing examples of adaptation by natural selection inspire many of us to study the mysteries of biology, but how do these adaptations get there? Exactly how does HIV evolve resistance to antiretroviral drugs? Or how did humans gain the ability to consume milk from other mammals long after we finish weaning? The process of adaptation—perhaps the most fundamental process of evolution—can be surprisingly complex, so we will use several case examples, candy games, videos, and computer demonstrations to understand how adaptation occurs.