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Selected Modules

These are the selected modules for this Faculty Mentoring Network (FMN). During the Spring 2020 semester, participants will adapt and implement portions from two of the following into their classrooms. These modules cover a range of biological topics from our introductory biology textbook, so please select the activities that will fit best into your course curriculum.

Biology has become too massive to memorize factoids the way you may have been encouraged to in a lecture-based biology courses. We have written an electronic textbook, Integrating Concepts in Biology (ICB), organized around the 5 Big Ideas of biology: Information, Evolution, Cells, Emergent Properties and Homeostasis - core concepts around which biological knowledge is built. Each Big Idea is examined at five levels of biological hierarchy. ICB fully integrates data from the primary literature, the mathematics that has been applied to answer biological questions, and the ethical, legal, and social issues relevant to biological research and students' lives. We have re-envisioned the introductory biology teaching and learning experience with a book that emphasizes active engagement, concepts, and the core competencies of critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, and data interpretation. The four modules that we will be using in this Faculty Mentoring Network each has either a Bio-Math Exploration (BME) or Ethical, Legal, Social Implications (ELSI) accompanying it. Each participant will pick two modules, one with a BME and one with an ELSI for use in their course. What is presented below is an overview of the modules. Participants are asked to visit this website ( to receive their free evaluation copy of ICB, in which they will find the following modules, but also much more, including resources to help prepare for class time.

Section 6.5 What do our genomes tell us about human evolution?

  • Context: Human evolution over the last 200,000 years has been recorded in genomes from around the world. 
  • Major themes: The origin of living systems occurred by natural processes, and life continues to evolve within a changing environment; organisms can be linked by lines of descent from common ancestry; natural selection is a mechanism of evolution that accounts for adaptation; human activity can alter the course of evolution. 
  • Bottom line: Humans originated in Africa, migrated across the globe, and the concept of different races cannot be defined using biology. 
Biology Learning Objectives
  • Interpret DNA evidence to explain the origins of human diversity.
  • Evaluate the use of race in medical diagnoses and treatments.
  • Construct an argument that race cannot be defined using biological traits.


Ethical, Legal, Social Implications 6.2: Have medicine and science been fair to people of color?

Ethical, Legal, Social Implications Learning Objectives
  • Assess the historical reasons people of color are skeptical and suspicious of biomedical research. 
  • Assemble evidence demonstrating how personal prejudices influence scientific and medical research.
  • Predict whether racism can be removed from medical school curricula and workplace culture.

Note: In this textbook, the authors use the term Black rather than African American because some people identify as Black who do not have recent African ancestry. The broader ancestral category Black is capitalized, as are White, Asian and Hispanic, because the term refers to a group of people rather than a color.


Section 13.2 How does blood carry oxygen?

  • Context: Oxygen enters your lungs and needs to be delivered efficiently to all your cells.
  • Major themes: Biological systems require resources, which results in competition or cooperation; and biological systems exceed the sum of their parts.
  • Bottom line: Hemoglobin is a molecular switch that uses the emergent property of cooperativity to change its affinity for oxygen.
Biology Learning Objectives
  • Describe cooperativity and how it produces an emergent property for hemoglobin.
  • Sketch a graph showing a molecular process that benefits from cooperativity.


Bio-Math Exploration 13.1: How can you quantify cooperativity?

The goal of this Bio-Math Exploration is to predict the extent of oxygen binding cooperativity in hemoglobin. You need to know the equation of a line and be familiar with logarithms. You will learn the Hill equation model for cooperative binding of ligands to receptors.

Bio-Math Exploration Learning Objective
  • Use the Hill equation to quantify cooperative binding.
  • Interpret a mathematical model of a molecular process, and compare the model to real data. 


Section 18.2 How do organisms assess their environment when searching for resources?

  • Context: Organisms gather information from their environment to obtain resources.
  • Major themes: Non-heritable information is transmitted within and between biological systems, and imperfect information transfer produces variation.
  • Bottom line: Information from the environment is used when acquiring resources.
Biology Learning Objectives
  • Describe the decisions animals make and the information that they gather while searching for resources.
  • Explain how and why a species adapts to the information passed between individuals of another species.
  • Describe and evaluate data that show how plant roots respond to patches of nutrients in soil.
  • Explain how responses to environmental information may include regulation of genes.


Bio-Math Exploration 18.1: How do you predict foraging results?

The goal of this BME is to help you understand why the exponential equation in Figure 18.7B is a good model for ant foraging data. You need to understand percentages, and know how to manipulate exponents using algebra. To explore the exponential model in depth, you need to be able to manipulate numbers in a spreadsheet. You will learn concepts of exponential equations and how they are used to model diminishing returns. If you explore the model in depth, you will also learn the difference between discrete and continuous mathematical models.

Bio-Math Learning Objective
  • Explore discrete and continuous models of lizards foraging for ants.


Section 30.3: How does increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide disrupt ecological systems?

  • Context: Communities of organisms in ecological systems may change as the abiotic environment changes.
  • Major themes: Biological systems utilize feedback mechanisms to regulate and maintain optimal conditions, time-dependent processes regulate biological systems, and a biological system’s size and environment influences how it addresses physical and chemical challenges.
  • Bottom line: Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide is leading to changes in ecological systems.
Biology Learning Objectives
  • Explain how ecological system homeostasis is maintained during global climate change.
  • Understand and explain how increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide and global climate change are disrupting ecological system homeostasis.


Ethical, Legal, Social Implications 30.3: What's the difference between weather and climate?

Ethical, Legal, Social Implications Learning Objective
  • Explain how one weather event cannot be used to deny the existence of a climate trend.