B.S., Biology, College of William and Mary,
M.A., Molecular Biology, Princeton University,
Ph.D., Molecular Biology, Princeton
Postdoctoral Research, Biochemistry and
Molecular Biology, Michigan State University, 2001-2004
BIO 118 Concepts of Biology:
Genes, Genomics, and Society
In this course, the impact of genetic and genomic
information on both individuals and various aspects of society is
considered, with a particular focus on human health and disease. The
course begins with an introduction to human genetics, which will serve
as background for discussion of many conditions that have a genetic
basis as well as consideration of medical and other uses of human (and
other organisms') genome sequence information.
This course is designed for non-science majors who have an interest in
the human condition. It is intended to equip students to better
appreciate and evaluate medical and other scientific issues raised in
the news and popular press. In addition to learning the underlying
biology, much emphasis will also be placed on discussion of related
societal, ethical, and policy topics.
BIO 152 Principles of Biology III: Molecules
This course seeks to explore life at the molecular and
cellular levels. Topics covered are Mendelian and molecular
genetics including the central dogma as well as basic biochemistry of
cells, including structure and function of nucleic acids, proteins,
carbohydrates, and lipids. Cellular organelles will be
examined with respect to their roles in physiology and
energetics. Technological applications of molecular and
cellular biology will also be discussed.
BIO 283 Wearing Our Genes: DNA and Determinism (part of the cluster The Changing Human Condition)
In this course, we will review foundational background in genetics and new approaches to investigating our DNA while asking questions about the potential of our genome to define who we are. We will consider how scientific advances are made and utilized in this course designed for non-science majors to help fulfill the SC general academic requirement. I hope to encourage you to consider science as a process that all can engage in and to recognize the role of science in your lives and in society.
BIO 220 Biochemistry
Biochemistry represents the study of organisms, cells, and cellular
components at the chemical and molecular level. In this
intermediate-level course we will consider the structure and function
of both nucleic acids and proteins, including an introduction to enzyme
kinetics and regulation. We will also review carbohydrates and lipids
and discuss aspects of metabolism and signal transduction.
This course is intended for science majors who have had an introduction
to general and organic chemistry as well as introductory biology
(including, but not limited to, topics in genetics and cell biology).
It is designed to be of interest to those students who may pursue
scientific research as well as those interested in a career in the
health professions. Many of the topics discussed and examples used will
relate to human health and disease.
220 Course Website
BIO 385 Genomes and Gene Evolution (GGE), with Dr. Bruce
GGE takes a genomic approach to addressing central questions in the
evolution and development of different animal forms. The choice of
animals reflects the greater research emphasis on animal systems,
although many of the general principles discovered will likely be
relevant to understanding plants as well. The primary technical focus
of the course will be bioinformatic methodologies that allow
comparisons among DNA and protein sequences, as well as measurement of
gene regulation and function. These technologies are applicable to a
wide range of biological research and applications in the clinic and
forensics. Thus we will also have the opportunity to discuss
investigations of whole genome responses to differing environmental
conditions or disease states. Therefore, there are two major goals for
the course: 1) the conceptual content of Evo-Devo and 2) exploring and
applying the practical tools of genomics.
FYS 236 Foods, Broods, and Moods: The Impact of Genetics
Declarations and questions about science and its connection to
individuals and society appear weekly as headline news. However, the
real question is what are we taking away from these stories? How does
presentation influence our perceptions of what is true or ethical? And
how does this affect the choices we make as consumers or citizens?
In this course, we will explore the presentation and role of science in
our society. Topically, we will focus on the impact of recent genetic
advances such as genetically modified food, reproductive and
therapeutic technologies including stem cells, and links between genes
and behavior. Through weekly readings, writings, and discussions these
topics, we will critically and analytically evaluate scientific
information in relation to societal, ethical, and policy issues.
My scientific research interests involve studying the regulation of
gene function: how are genes
controlled so that they are active only in the appropriate types of
cells and developmental stages? In particular, I am
interested in how factors such as packaging of DNA into chromatin and
DNA methylation may affect gene expression in eukaryotic organisms.
We use the plant Arabidopsis thaliana
as an experimental model to explore gene regulation in the context of
its effects on development. My research investigates the biological
roles of proteins known to covalently modify chromatin structure,
including the histone acetyltransferase GCN5 and the associated
transcriptional activators ADA2a and ADA2b. Disruption of these genes'
functions results in dramatic effects on plant growth and development. Further research investigating the function of these genes in plants
will be carried out using a variety of approaches, allowing students to
develop projects in the areas of molecular biology, genetics, and
Students in my lab are also engaged in a comparative genomics project that uses in silico (computer-based) analysis to annotate genes in Drosophila species (defining their start/stop sites, exon/intron boundaries, etc.). The underlying biological question is how genome and chromatin organization impacts gene function, which connects to my basic research interests and work of other members of the Hark Lab. This line of experimentation is a collaborative effort of the Genomics Education Partnership, which is supported by Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
For more information, please see the Hark
Lab Research Page.