Concepts of Biology (BIOL115) - Dr. S.G. Saupe (; Biology Department, College of St. Benedict/St. John's University, Collegeville, MN 56321

An Introduction to Biological Chemistry, Energetics, and Genetics


Stephen G. Saupe, Ph.D. (call me Steve, Dr. Saupe, or whatever feels most comfortable to you)
Office:  PENGL 335
Phone: (320) 363-2782
Office Hours: available via web site
email Address:
Home Page:
Concepts Home Page:  (Information pertinent to the entire course)
Section Home Page:

COURSE (catalog) DESCRIPTION: This course is designed to investigate the basic principles operating in all living things at levels of organization from the cell to an organism. Emphasis is placed on theories underlying our current understanding of biological processes such as energy capture and utilization, internal regulation, growth and change. Another aim of the course is to enhance the students' understanding and knowledge of living organisms, and to provide her/him with a foundation for continued studies in the biological and health sciences.

COURSE THEMES: This course will focus on biological chemistry, energetics (enzymes, photosynthesis, respiration) and genetics (Mendelian and molecular).  Evolution and the integration of the form and function will be two major themes running through our discussions.

AUDIENCE: This course is the first-half of a two-semester introductory biology sequence. This course is required for students majoring in biology. This course also fulfills the Core guidelines for Natural Science for non-science majors.

OBJECTIVES: Upon completion of this course you should be able to:

  1. describe the essential theories and concepts of biological chemistry, energetics and genetics
  2. be familiar with the resources and methods for acquiring scientific information
  3. demonstrate an orderly approach to the solution of a problem
  4. apply problem solving procedures to practical situations
  5. relate past knowledge to an understanding of modern biology
  6. have acquired an openness to new scientific developments and an awareness of their possible implications.

CLASS TIME/PLACE: This class meets even days (2-4-6) from 9:40 - 10:50 am. You will also attend a laboratory session once per cycle that you have separately scheduled. 


  • Campbell & Reece. 2002.  Biology.  6th Edn.  Benjamin-Cummings, NY. (available in bookstore)
  • Concepts of Biology Lab Manual - Fall 2004 (supplied in lab)

COURSE STRUCTURE/FORMAT: This course consists of three lectures and one laboratory session per cycle. You must attend the section of lecture and lab in which you registered. In addition to our regular meetings, special lectures and films may be scheduled through the academic year. These are often sponsored by the Biology Club. Use of the library is an essential part of your education and you are encouraged to use its facilities. Also, you are invited to pursue research under the direction of an appropriate faculty member.


  • Music will greet us at the beginning of class (selected by the class leader; begins no later than five minutes before class.  The music will set the stage for our studies and relax our minds so that we can focus on our task ahead.)
  • Gather Materials - check the front desk and pick up your attendance sticker and any handouts for the day. A good student is prepared and ready for the activities of the day
  • When the music goes off at exactly 9:40, class begins.
  • Opening Greeting: I will greet you by saying "Good Morning/Afternoon". The class will respond, "Good Morning/Afternoon".  (Please return my greeting heartily. "The secret of joyful living is joyful greeting and that is why we greet each other" - Dr. P. Pendse).
  • I will then ask, "How are you this morning/afternoon?" The class answers enthusiastically (one of the following on the overhead or other selected by the class leader):

"Fine and dandy! Why shouldn't I be?"
"I am super good, and getting better!"
"I am fantastic, and improving by the second!"
"I am terrific, you better believe it!" (while saying this thrust your finger towards the instructor)
Or, other greeting selected by the class leader

  • Announcements (from instructor and solicited from the class)
  • Class overview (provided by the instructor)
  • Class Activities - during each class we will typically provide time to:

Review the previous class material (definitions, summary, quizzes, etc.)
Introduce new material (lecture, dialogs, videos, slides, etc.)
Practice & drill new material (exercises, quizzes, etc.)
Cool Down - review class activities

  • Five-Minute Warning - time keeper (class leader) will give signal.
  • End of Class - please do not pack up to leave until we show our mutual respect for one another.  I will close by saying, "Thanks - that ends another incredible day of biology."  The class responds by saying, "Ditto, dude!"  Or, the class leader selects a different closing. 

REVIEW SESSIONS/STUDY TIPSThere will be a review/tutor session held every cycle.  These sessions are optional, but students who earn less than 70% should certainly plant to attend.

    There are many ways to effectively study for this course. Check out the Study Tips cited in Concepts web site.  Be sure to check out and use the CD-ROM or text book website.  If you ever need assistance or have questions, please come and see me.

EVALUATION: Grades will be determined on the basis of your performance on:

    1. Lecture Exams (65%)
    2. Laboratory Work (25%)
    3. Class Leader (2%)
    4. Quizzes (3%)
    5. Assignments/Participation (5%)

1. Lecture Exams (65%) - there will be five exams. These will be a mixture of subjective (i.e., short answer, definition) and largely objective (multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank) questions. Sample questions will be provided. Exam questions may be taken directly from homework assignments and material that we cover in class. Anything we do in class is "fair game" for an exam. Thus, you should take copious during class!  The first four exams are each worth 12% of your final grade. The fifth (and final) exam is worth 17% of your final grade (it is worth more than the others because it has a significant comprehensive component.

2. Laboratory Work (25%) - Your laboratory instructor will submit at the end of the semester a grade (from 0 - 100) that reflects your performance in lab. Please note that this grade is worth one-quarter (25%) of your final grade in the course!  Take lab very seriously - it can make or break your grade.

3. Class Leader (2%) - Once during the semester you will be assigned to be our "Class Leader". On this day it is your responsibility to:

  • Choose the music for the day - to be played at the beginning of class.  Bring in a tape or CD and have it in the player ready five minute before class.
  • Choose the "Greeting for the Day" (or create your own)
  • Choose the "Quote of the Day" and write it on the board.  This quote should be either biological (i.e., related to the course) or inspirational.  To find a quote, I have a large selection in a file in my office.  Or, you can visit the "Quote Jar" in the Bailey Herbarium or a Quote website.
  • Provide a reference citation for a recent (within two years) article that is related (at least distantly) to the topic of the class/unit.  Write this reference on the board using the proper citation format.  Note - this must be an article from a journal (electronic or paper if acceptable, however you can not use a website from a course or commercial site - it must be in some sort of journal.  Your best bet is to go to the library and browse through the areas where new journals/magazines are housed.  Among the possibilities include Science News, American Scientist, Scientific American, Science, Nature, Natural History, Discover, and New Scientist.
  • Preview the day's material.  Send an email to me by 9:00 a.m. on the day of class that includes:  (1) a list of the 3 most important ideas in the chapter and a one sentence description of why you think so; (2) one multiple choice question, including answer, based on the material in the chapter; (3) one essay/short answer question, including answer, (4) the music you plan to play; (5) a reference citation for an article that is related to the topic of the class/unit; and (6) the Quote of the Day.
  • Be timekeeper - sound the buzzer when there is five minutes remaining in class.  Also make sure we stay focused - call "Time Out" if we get off on a tangent.
  • Make sure that the attendance sheet and stickers get passed out
  • A grading rubric for this assignment is posted in our course web site.  

4.  Quizzes. (3%) - Complete the "Chapter Quiz" for the following chapters: 1-10, 12-17, and 22-24.  Email your results to me at  They are due the day BEFORE the exam on that chapter.  Your grade will be based on the percentage of total quizzes for which you earned better than 70%.  The chapter quizzes are available on the CD-ROM that accompanies the text or via the website for the textbook (; once you are at the home page, click on the appropriate chapter.  Then, click on "Quizzes"). 

5. Assignments/Class Participation  (5%) - This component of your final grade will reflect your performance on any assignments (Special Topics Days) and your participation in class.

GRADE ASSIGNMENT: Grades will be assigned based upon the percentage of total points accumulated according to the following scale: 100 - 90% = A; 89 - 87% = AB; 86 - 80% = B; 79 - 77% = BC; 76 - 70% = C; 69 - 67% = CD; 68 - 60% = D; below 59% = F

    Getting good grades is very important. Work hard and you will succeed! Remember, review sessions are your secret weapon for success.

    Good achievement on exams will be recognized by stars on your exams (gold = top score; silver = 2nd highest, red = 3rd, green = 4th, blue = 5th). We will applaud when the name of the student earning the top score on the exam is announced. Gold stars will also be given to the lowest three grades in the class in recognition that the course is not easy and that we appreciate the hard efforts that everyone is making to succeed in the course.

    To determine your approximate grade at any time during the semester, simply divide the total number of points you have accumulated by the total possible. This information will always be provided. In addition, I will periodically provide you with a grade report. You should check this report for accuracy and to give you an indication of your progress. Keep all of your graded work, including lab work, for your records.

    Never hesitate to come and talk to me about your grade, or any aspect of the course, at any time during the semester!

    S/U grading can be requested at any time during the regular semester. You must submit your request in writing on a separate sheet of paper (not on a test or other assignment). Note: I do not recommend that anyone take the course for S/U grading, especially considering this is a majors course, but this is ultimately your decision. After final grades have been submitted to the Registrar, I will not change a letter grade to S/U or vice versa. Note: "S" is awarded for a letter grade of "C" and above.

BONUS WORK:  You will have the opportunity to earn bonus points by attending lectures, analyzing journal articles, participating in formal nature walks, or even reporting on science-related television programs.  If it is "scientific" and can be reasonably considered to pertain to our course you can earn bonus points for participating in the activity.  Obtain a "Bio-Bonus Card" and turn it in to me following the activity.  Cards are due no later than Study Day.  As a general guide -  lectures are worth five bonus points, journal summaries and book reviews are worth 3 bonus points, and summaries of TV programs are worth 1 points.  For other activities, we will assign an appropriate number of points.  If in question, ask.  The Bonus Card can be obtained in the file box or online.  As a rule of thumb, more than 20 bonus points will have little impact on your final grade.

HOW MUCH TO STUDY? As a general rule of thumb, you should study at least 2 hours for every hour in class. Thus, at a minimum you should be studying at least six hour per cycle for lecture exams. Note that this doesn't include lab work or completing assignments. Imagine that you are an academic athlete working on the mental practice field. 

THREE-RING BINDERS:  I recommend the use of a 3-ring binder for your course materials and notes.  All class handouts will be punched with three holes to make it easier to put in a binder.  In my experience, students with organized notebooks perform better in the course than those with messy ones.

PERSONAL FILE, REFERENCES and CUBBY: You will have a file folder in a file in the Botany Lab, SC 342. You may use it to store papers/notes/etc. In addition, I will place in this file any assignments not returned to you personally, extra copies (if any) of handouts, and course readings. When in doubt or need, check here.

HONOR CODE: I run this class on the Honor Code system; in other words, I trust you to do your own work at all times. If you violate my trust, the consequences will be severe. If you have even the slightest doubt that an activity violates the Honor Code - don't do it. For more information, consult our institutional policies on Academic Honesty.

ATTENDANCE: Each class I will pass around an attendance sheet to sign/initial.  To reward you for your attendance you will receive a "cool sticker" every class.  You will not be penalized for missing class, but remember that being absent does not excuse you from completing assignments on time (i.e., turning in any that are due and getting the assignment for the next class). In general, you will not be able to make up anything missed in lecture or lab.

VISITORS: Visitors to our classroom are welcome. Please introduce your visitors to me. They should plan to participate (as best they can) in class activities.

SPIRAL BOUND PAPER: Assignments completed on paper torn out of a spiral notebook will be penalized 20% of the total possible points. If you like to use a spiral notebook that’s no problem - simply remove the frayed edges before turning in your work.

LATE ASSIGNMENTS: I expect that assignments will be turned in on time. I reserve the right to accept/refuse late assignments.

PRIDE: I believe that the appearance of an assignment is a reflection of the quality of the work and the degree of respect it deserves. Thus, for your benefit I require that written assignments must be typed. There will be many obvious exceptions. For example, any assignments completed in your field notebook or assignment book need not be typed. If in question about whether an assignment should be typed, please ask. Assignments not typed will be penalized 50% of the total possible points. Also, invest in a small stapler.

COURSE PHILOSOPHY:   I think that learning should be enjoyable. Hopefully we will laugh together and have fun. Stamps, stars and stickers will adorn some of your graded assignments. "Biological" music will greet you when you arrive in class. This is all done in good fun, to make our learning environment more pleasant. Yet, we will always be respectful of one another. Some students in the past have commented that they think some of what we'll do is "childish". I hope so because I want to generate some of the fun and enthusiasm that children have for learning. But remember, even though we may be silly and have fun, I am still very serious about the goals of our course.

COMPUTER LITERACY: Every biologist should be familiar with word-processing (i.e., WordPerfect, Word), database (i.e., Access), and spreadsheet (i.e., Excel, Lotus 123) software. Computing Services offers many interesting workshops that you should consider if you need to improve your computing skills.

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Last updated: January 06, 2008     � Copyright by SG Saupe / URL: