Chris primarily teaches biology to majors across the academic spectrum. My students major in a wide variety of disciplines, from ecology and geology to exercise science and biochemistry. He has taught high school through graduate courses, some for majors and some for non-majors, at Montana State University, Brown University, Daniel’s Academy (a private high school), Simmons College, University of Utah, and Harvard University.
Current & Recent Courses
Veterinary Physiology I (VM 513)
This is the first of a two-semester medical physiology course. The initial focus will be on basic mechanisms of cell physiology with an emphasis on control of gene expression and signaling. Next, we will examine how proteins function to carry out their duties as enzymes, receptors, and structural components of the cell. The focus will then shift to how cells communicate among one another. We will learn the diversity of extracellular signals and how they are generated. By necessity, we will venture back into the cell to probe the mechanisms by which cells take extracellularly-derived information and translate it into cellular action. The focus here will be on grasping general principals, major cellular participants, and strategies of regulation. Later in the semester, the topics will shift to more integrative cellular responses to stress and disease. Finally, the semester will end with an introduction to global control systems (nervous and endocrine systems) and the first of the organ systems-respiratory physiology.
Earth History and Evolution (GEO 211)
This class covers the evolution of the earth and its life from origin to present configuration, including the role of plate tectonics and major evolutionary patterns in the history of life. At the end of this course, I want students to be able to:
- Describe the major groups of life, their traits and evolutionary trends
- Summarize the major geological patterns and processes that shaped the planet
- Articulate how hypotheses are formed and tested in historical sciences
- Demarcate science from pseudoscience, and appreciate how evidence and reason drive scientific
The Ultimate Cause of a Dog: How We Encounter Reality (HONR 494)
Co-taught with Kent Davis
We all approach situations with specific biases and perspectives formed by our upbringing, education, and biology. This class explores those perspectives in an effort to better understand ourselves and others, and ultimately to consciously cultivate the ways in which we encounter new or unfamiliar ideas. To achieve a better understanding of the way we assess situations and make decisions, it is imperative to study those processes from interdisciplinary angles, from the arts and humanities to the hardest sciences. Students will be exposed to seminal texts, case studies, data sets, performance works, and artistic artifacts in order to identify the dominant way they react to different situations. Through class discussions of readings/viewings/encounters and by conducting research on assigned topics students will identify and examine their current tendencies toward assigning value or assessing quality. We will guide students to a deeper understanding of the way we decide/encounter/judge/explore questions.
Once students develop such skills they will be able to use them to their advantage in their remaining coursework, eventually their chosen vocation, and in the rest of their lives. Self-understanding and the understanding of the motivations and priorities of others is an integral part of succeeding in almost every field, from political science to evolutionary biology to electrical engineering to art therapy.
Comparative Vertebrate Biology (BIOO 310)
This course represents an intensive exploration of most vertebrate systems through both lectures and dissection labs. The course emphasizes the function and phylogenetic history of anatomy and physiology. At the end of this course, I want students to be able to:
- Recognize the major groups of chordates and list anatomical differences among groups
- Identify the major anatomical parts of vertebrate organ systems.
- Summarize the function, biological role, and evolution of these systems.
- Explain why organ systems vary among vertebrates according to function, adaptation, embryology, and phylogeny.
- Create and test hypotheses using maximum likelihood and Bayesian comparative methods
- Plan, design, and synthesize original, student-driven research as a submission to the Journal Science