Course Info

New Course Guidance: Moving to Digital Instruction / COVID-19

Dear students,
–> You may download the updated S20 syllabus HERE.
First of all, we wanted to let you that we are here to help you and support you for the rest of the semester as well as we can. You did not start this semester thinking that you are taking an online course and we did not start the semester planning to teach an online course. We are in this situation together and we need to make the best of it. We (instructors, staff, students) are all facing challenges being that emotional stress, taking care of sick parents, lack of space to study. We hear you, and that is why we collected information from you in the accessibility survey. Your responses informed our decisions about how to proceed with moving the Investigative Biology course online.
We have been spending the past weeks with the Investigative Biology team to come up with the best scenario. This combines live lab sessions and recorded videos, decreased number of assignments and opportunities to receive support from the instructors. This is a large foundation course, and our mission is to prepare students to become scientists. Our approach is student-driven balancing learning and equity: we want to make sure that you learn all the skills you need to succeed in upper-level courses and research laboratories while modifying our assignments because we understand that many of you do not have access to quiet study space or to the technologies needed for online learning.
I do not worry about the lack of access to microscopes or spectrophotometers, as you all have already demonstrated that you are familiar with lab equipment. However, there are some data analysis and scientific writing skills that you still need to gain, and we will focus on those for the rest of the semester.
You will not be able to collect data from the experiments you designed, so the lab staff went back to our archives and got real data sets that were collected by students in the previous semesters. Therefore you will still be able to conduct data analysis with real data, and practice scientific writing, and poster preparation. We cannot replicate the practical exam, where you would show us the hands-on lab skills, but we are developing an open book exam that can fairly and accurately assess what you learned in the course.
The key is clear communication and transparency during this process. We are all dealing with lots of personal challenges during these difficult times, and we know that we need to be patient with our students, lab instructors and staff. We need to do our best to create a stress-free virtual learning environment.
Mitra and I have put together a Q&A based on your survey responses. It is uploaded under handouts. A tentative new syllabus was also uploaded. Your lab instructors will contact you separately to discuss some additional issues, such as office hours.
So what should you do now? You do not need to start any assignments until Monday. Enjoy the last days of spring break if you can. The course will restart next week, on April 6th.
The first lecture on Research proposal writing was posted on Canvas and on our YouTube channel. For “lecture participation” we added 3 poll questions. The link is in the week 7 Canvas module. The first assignment will be the Research Proposal first draft, due on the 10th. Please see the rubric for the proposal uploaded to Canvas. You will have a chance to work on your proposal during the lab next week. Follow the rubric, and post the proposal by the 10th (I will open an upload link mid-week). Since this will be a new link, and now we have a proposal specific rubric, please upload the proposal even if you have posted a proposal right before the university closed. This is not the final proposal that will be graded. Your TA will give you some feedback on your writing, including grammar and formatting, to help you perfect the proposal. You will upload the final version at a later date.
The peer-review and the Twitter assignments were removed to decrease your workload. However, there is a lot of scientific information on Twitter now, so do not give up your Twitter account yet, as it can help you to be more informed about what is happening in the World right now.
Lastly, we just wanted to emphasize again that this is a situation that none of us planned for. It is OK to be scared, nervous, and anxious. We are aware of the challenges that some of you are facing. We are here to support you while you finish this semester and learn the useful skills that will help you grow as a scientist.

~The BioG 1500 team




Important Items You Need:

The texts and technologies (still)  required to succeed in this course:

Investigative Biology Laboratory Text – THIS IS THE ONLY REQUIRED TEXT YOU NEED TO PURCHASE. It is available at the Cornell Store. A new edition is published every semester. You will need the most recent edition to complete your assignments; the previous editions will not suffice.

ISBN: 978-1-5339-2158-1




Introductory Statistics



Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 12.19.08 PM Poll Everywhere classroom response system – available online at Poll Everywhere. The course provides free access to students. No purchase necessary.
Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 12.19.23 PM “R” is a free statistical software that will be needed for data analysis and graphing throughout the semester.   Please download “R” from R Project and R Studio. You will use the Desktop version.
 Canvas & Duo Mobile – You can log in to Canvas using your NetID. You may need to download the Duo Mobile App to authenticate your login. The app is free and compatible with most devices.


Assignment Due Dates:

Please consult pages 9-11 on your syllabus. If you have any questions regarding due dates after reading the syllabus, please email the course account at Thanks!



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