Course Description

LS 7A. Cell and Molecular Biology (5 Units)

Lecture, three hours; discussion 75 minutes. Enforced requisite: none. Introduction to basic principles of cell structure and cell biology, basic principles of biochemistry and molecular biology. P/NP or letter grading.



Course Description

Genetics, Evolution and Ecology (5 Units)

Lecture, three hours; discussion 110 minutes. Enforced requisite: LS 7A. Principles of Mendelian inheritance and population genetics; Introduction to principles and mechanisms of evolution by natural selection; population, behavioral, and community ecology; and biodiversity, including major taxa and their evolutionary, ecological and physiological relationships. Letter grading.



Course Description

Physiology and Human Biology (5 Units)

Lecture, three hours; discussion 75 minutes. Enforced requisite: LS 7B. Organization of cells into tissues and organs, and principles of physiology of organ systems. Introduction to human genetics and genomics. Letter grading.


LS 10H

Course Description

LS 10H: Research Training in Genes, Genetics, and Genomics (6)

Lecture, 90 minutes; laboratory, six hours; computer laboratory, 90
minutes. Limited to 30 students. Basic training in biological research,
including techniques in genetics, model organism, bioinformatics,
functional genomics, electron microscopy. Part of Undergraduate Research
Consortium in Functional Genomics sponsored by Howard Hughes Medical
Institute Professors Program. Letter grading.




LS 15

Course Description

LS 15: Life: Concepts and Issues (5)

Lecture, three hours; discussion, two hours. Introduction to important
concepts and issues in the field for non-life sciences majors. Topics
include chemistry of life, genetics, physiology, evolution, and ecology
— all explored in lecture and debates, with a writing component. P/NP
or letter grading.

List of Topics

  • The nature of science
  • Science and its relation to human activity
  • Darwin story Basic Evolution
  • Patterns of Evolution
  • Coevolution and symbiosis
  • DNA replication and inheritance
  • Genetic Engineering
  • Sexual reproduction and Genetic Diseases
  • Patterns of sexual reproduction
  • Evolutionary basis of Behavior
  • Sociobiology
  • Human Evolution and behavior
  • Principles of Ecology
  • Biodiversity
  • Global warming, materials cycles & climatic patterns
  • Biogeography & Introduced species
  • Water resources
  • Environmental Legislation and Action
  • Environmental Success Stories and Failures




LS 20

Course Description

LS 20: Quantitative Concepts for Life Sciences (4)

Quantitative skills are essential for success in the life sciences, chemistry, mathematics and physics classes that make up the core curriculum for Life Science majors at UCLA. The LS 20 is a unique interdisciplinary course designed to introduce a variety of quantitative/mathematical concepts and modeling using inquiry-based active learning styles. Mathematical concepts focus on precalculus algebra and introductory statistics required for quantification, analyses, interpretation and modeling of biological data. In addition to learning the approaches and application of mathematical modeling of biological data, students acquire skillsets in computer-based computations and visualization of data using available tools such as Microsoft Excel and Apps on mobile electronic devices. Students are further introduced to computer programming (MIT Scratch) and digital imaging and image processing through hands-on projects to gain an appreciation for the use of technology in scientific investigation. An emphasis will also be placed on learning study skills and time management behaviors to improve student success. (This course prepares students for more advanced Calculus courses LS 30A and LS 30B and also provides them the necessary foundation in quantitative biology to perform well in other courses of the life sciences curriculum)

Lecture, 3 hours.
Discussion/laboratory, 1 hour
Preparation : three years of high school mathematics (up to Algebra II), some basic
familiarity with computers.


Activities and notes prepared specifically for this course. These will be made available on the course website.

Major topics, by Week

1. Introduction to biological data and measurements: understanding the
importance of quantification and scientific representation of data in biology.

2-3. Experimentation, probability and statistics: understanding experimental
design, probability distribution, descriptive and inferential statistics.

4-5 Biological Variables, Relationships and Mathematical Functions:
understanding biological variables and their relationships through mathematical functions and
their properties; function domain and range, graphing, evaluation and solving; linear, quadratic
and higher order polynomials, exponential, logarithmic, power and logistic functions.

5-6 Curve fitting and modeling: understanding linear fits and goodness of fit
through linear regression and correlations (residuals, least square error minimization),
developing exponential, logarithmic, polynomial and power function based models.

7-8 Rate of change of biological variables: observing change and estimating
rate of change using exponential growth and decay equations; calculating velocity; understanding
absolute and relative changes.

9-10 Periodicity in biology and trigonometry: understanding oscillating
phenomena and periodicity in biology through trigonometry; some geometry, trigonometric sine,
cosine and tangent functions; trigonometric identities; power spectrum and Fourier series.



LS 23L

Course Description

Lecture, pre-lab, post-lab Online, 3 hours
laboratory, 3 hours
Scientific Writing (CPR) 3 hours
Units 3

LS 23L:Introduction to Laboratory & Scientific Methodology (2 credits)

This course is an introductory life sciences laboratory designed for undergraduate students. Each week you will attend one lab section (three hours) led by your Teaching Assistant (TA) and an undergraduate Learning Assistant (LA). During your lab section you will work with your peers in groups of three to conduct experiments in the areas of physiology, metabolism, cell biology, molecular biology, genotyping and bioinformatics, allowing you to grow comfortable in a lab setting. Each lab section will take the full three hours, so please don’t plan to leave section early! You are expected to spend approximately three additional hours per week watching my online lectures, doing your pre-lab reading, and taking online quizzes.

Scientific Writing

LS23L has a significant scientific writing component, and you will learn to write a scientific style research paper and participate in a Calibrated Peer Review process with your peers. You should expect to spend an additional three hours per week, every week, working on your CPR assignments. In total, you should plan to spend nine hours per week on this course.


You should take this course if you have already taken LS7B. We recommend that you take LS23L concurrently with LS7C. If you are not concurrently enrolled in LS7C and haven’t taken it in the past, you can still take LS23L. However, you should be aware that LS23L contains physiology labs and there will be some physiology content on the final. If you haven’t taken LS7C you could be at a disadvantage and will have to spend more time learning the background concepts.


  • Goal 1. To promote critical thinking skills by employing the scientific method.
    Outcome 1.1  Students will be able to formulate testable scientific hypotheses.
    Outcome 1.2  Students will be able to propose a well-designed experiment.Outcome1.3 Students will be able to analyze and evaluate data in order to draw conclusions.
    Outcome 1.4  Students will relate conclusions to key biological concepts.
  • Goal 2. To perform basic laboratory techniques.
    Outcome 2.1 Students will be able to correctly use basic tools and laboratory equipment, such as micropipette, spectrophotometer, gel electrophoresis equipment, light compound microscope, dissecting microscope.
    Outcome 2.2 Students will be able to appropriately handle live research specimens (goldfish).
    Outcome 2.3 Students will be able to perform basic lab techniques such as loading gels, handling histology slides, performing a dissection, swabbing bacterial plates.
    Outcome 2.4 Students will be able to collect and record accurate laboratory data and properly enter and access data in a shared online database.
  • Goal 3. To promote scientific communication skills.
    Outcome 3.1 Students will present their findings to their peers orally.
    Outcome 3.2 Students will draft a scientific style research paper.
    Outcome 3.3 Students will practice giving appropriate and useful feedback to their peers.

List of Topics

Introduction to Scientific Methodology

This introductory lab helps students develop the concepts and skills needed to perform scientific investigations, carry out experiments appropriately, and write reports. Students will apply what is learned in this lab to the Metabolism and Human Physiology labs later in the course.

Concepts: scientific method; formulating a null hypothesis; statistical analysis; reject/accept a null hypothesis by interpreting a p-value; scientific report structure.

Skills: calculating a p-value using a t-value and a table; using a web database to retrieve demographic data; using PubMed or other academic database to retrieve a peer reviewed article.

Epidemiology & Laboratory Techniques

In the first part of this lab students will perform and analyze a disease transmission simulation using a common bacteria and will be introduced to proper streaking techniques. In the second part of this lab students are going to get to know the most commonly used instruments and tools in molecular biology; the micropipetter, the spectrophotometer, a 96-well plate, an SDS gel apparatus, and an agarose gel apparatus. Students will learn the proper procedure for operating pipetters during this exercise and then load an agarose gel, an SDS gel and a 96-well plate.

Concepts: disease transmission, serial dilution

Skills: proper use of micropipetters; loading an SDS gel, agarose gel, and 96-well plate; operating a spectrophotometer; setting up dilutions.

Biochemical Assay of b-Galactosidase Activity

Beta-galactosidase is an enzyme that breaks down lactose into two monosaccharides. Students will learn to measure the activity of the enzyme by measuring the rate at which products appear and the time required for this enzyme to be synthesized.

Concepts: understanding the lac operon and its function; using an assay to indirectly calculate enzymatic activity.

Skills: proper use of micropipetters; correct handling and disposal of bacterial cells; use of the spectrophotometer, including using the correct blank.

Metabolism in Goldfish

Students will use electronic data acquisition tools to explore respiration in animals. Computerized tutorials will serve as a guide in use of probeware, oxygen electrodes and oxygen chambers, enabling students to formulate predictions about metabolic rates in goldfish and develop experimental strategies by which to test them.

Concepts: proposing a testable hypothesis; designing an experiment with controls; understanding and interpreting p-values.

Skills: handling live experimental subjects; use of a computer interface with a dissolved oxygen probe to collect data; analyzing results in Excel (creating a graph, finding the slope, combining data between groups to strengthen analysis).

DNA Isolation and Amplification

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) is a technique that allows scientists to make many copies of DNA from a small sample. In this lab, students will isolate DNA from cheek cells and prepare the sample for PCR. The samples will be amplified and sent out for sequencing for use in lab 10. Good primer design is a vital part of developing a PCR protocol, so students will be asked to practice creating a primer pair in the primer design exercise.

Concepts: primer design (by hand and using Primer-3), mitochondria and maternal lineage PCR for DNA amplification; how primers work 5′ to 3′.

Skills: proper use of micropipetters; chelex extraction of DNA from cheek cells; using BLAST to check primer uniqueness.

Polyacrylamide & Agarose Gel Electrophoresis

In this lab students will conduct two gel electophoresis experiments. The SDS-PAGE experiment is used to elucidate protein structure. One of the basic ways to understand a protein is to know its mass. There are a few methods to learn the mass of a protein. In this exercise students will use SDS-PAGE gel electrophoresis to estimate the mass of the subunits of an unknown protein. In conjunction with information gathered from other methods, the number of subunits of the unknown protein also will be determined.
For the second experiment students will receive a portion of their amplified DNA sample from the lab earlier in the quarter. They will check for PCR product in two ways: by visualizing the product on an agarose gel and by checking the concentration using the spectrophotometer. Students also will learn how to use BLAST, ClustalX and Mega4, programs to be used in the analysis of individual sequences in lab 10.

Concepts: understanding protein structure; understanding protein size estimation methods; understanding qualitative and quantitative measures of PCR success; understanding MCRA and how to read phylogenetic trees; understanding the concept of the molecular clock.

Skills: proper use of micropipetters; loading an SDS-PAGE gel; creating a standard curve in Excel; determining the size of an unknown polypeptide using a standard curve; load and run an agarose gel; use of the spectrophometer to determine DNA concentration; using BLAST to align two DNA sequences; estimating a divergence rate for a set of sequences; aligning multiple DNA sequences in ClustalX; drawing a phylogenetic tree in Mega4.

LAB G – Human Physiology

Students will use different sensors to record their own physiological data. Measuring the activity of the upper respiratory tract, the lungs, the heart, the nervous system, and the musculo-skeletal system, various human organ systems will be examined. Data will be collected, analyzed and submitted to a collective database.

Concepts: observing pulse response to various stimuli; recognizing EKG wave forms; associating muscle activity with joint movement; comparing lung capacities and volumes.

Skills: correct use of a wireless heart rate monitor, EKG/EMG, grip strength sensor, and spirometer; use of a computer interface to collect data.

Rat Dissection

During this lab students will dissect a rat, focusing on the relationship between structure and function in approximately a dozen major organ systems. In addition to providing detailed guidance with the dissection procedures, computer enhancements will facilitate comparisons to other mammals.

Concepts: learning the functions of the major organs of the rat; relating the morphology and function of organs in rats to humans.

Skills: proper dissection techniques (using dissection pins, scalpel, scissors, forceps and bone shears); proper disposal of tissue waste.

Microscopy and Histology

This is an introduction to the dissecting and compound microscopes, incorporated into a laboratory investigation of histology. While becoming familiar with the use of these tools and with the aid of information describing the function of various tissues and cells, students will relate structure to function as they deduce the identities of a variety of unknown human cell and tissue samples. This exercise will enhance understanding of cell, tissue and organ systems explored in the rat dissection lab.

Concepts: making the connection between morphology and function.

Skills: proper use of dissecting and compound microscopes; proper handling of prepared microscope slides.

Sequence Analysis and Maternal Lineages

In this lab students will receive their mitochondrial DNA sequence, which was sequenced off site after the PCR amplification. Students will compare it to many other sequences, an analysis that will allow them to determine their maternal lineage based on human migration patterns. Students will annotate their sequence and re-visit the programs used in the Molecular Clocks lab to create phylogenetic trees with their own sequence.

Concepts: understanding the dideoxy sequencing method; understanding human migration patterns and haplogroups; interpreting data obtained from BLAST; interpreting a phylogenetic tree.

Skills: using Chromas to clean up a DNA sequence; using BLAST to search for a haplogroup; annotating a sequence; aligning sequences in ClustalX; drawing a phylogenetic tree.



LS 30A

Course Description

LS 30A: Mathematics for Life Scientists (5)

This course teaches mathematical modeling as a tool for
understanding the dynamics of biological systems. We will begin with
the fundamental concepts of single-variable calculus, and then
develop single- and multi-variable differential equation models of
dynamical processes in ecology, physiology and other subjects in
which quantities change with time. The laboratory will use the free
computer program Sage for problem-solving, plotting and dynamical
simulation. The necessary basic programming concepts and skills,
such as program flow control and data structures, will be
introduced. (No prior programming experience is assumed.)

Lecture, 3 hours.
Computational laboratory, 2 hours
Preparation : three years of high school mathematics (up to Algebra II), some basic
familiarity with computers.


Garfinkel, Alan, Jane Shevtsov, and Yina Guo. Modeling life: the mathematics of biological systems. Springer, 2017.

Major topics, by Week

1. Introduction to modeling and differential equations. The importance of dynamics in biology.

2. State spaces, vector fields and trajectories. Differential
equations as instructions for constructing vector fields. Behavior
as a trajectory through state space. Attractors and forms of

3-4 The derivative. Algebraic and geometric interpretations.
Simple rules for differentiation. The shapes of functions. Maxima,
minima and inflection points. Optimization as an application of the

4-5 Integration; linear approximation and Euler’s method. How
trajectories arise from vector fields. Numerical integration.
Recovering f from f′: integration as the area under f′.

Fundamental Theorem of Calculus.

6 Exponential growth and decay. From discrete to continuous
time. Linear differential equations.

7 Equilibrium points and graphical stability analysis. The concept of
dynamical stability. Assessing the stability of equilibria in 1-D.

8 Types of equilibria in 2-D. Stability and instability of equilibria.

9 Bifurcations of fixed points: qualitative changes in behavior from
quantitative changes in parameters. Simple examples of saddle-node and
pitchfork bifurcations in 1- and 2-D. Biological examples.

10 Limit cycle attractors. Oscillations in biology. Negative feedback
as a cause of oscillation. Introduction to Hopf Bifurcation.


LS 30B

Course Description

LS 30B: Mathematics for Life Scientists (5)

LS30B will continue the dynamics focus of LS30A, while
introducing the concept of matrices and linear transformations.
The goals are to equip the student with some basic tools for
understand the dynamics of multi-variable, non-linear systems.
Examples will come from ecological, physiological, chemical and
other systems.

Lecture, 3 hours.
Computational laboratory, 2 hours.
Preparation: LS 30A (enforced)


Garfinkel, Alan, Jane Shevtsov, and Yina Guo. Modeling life: the mathematics of biological systems. Springer, 2017.

Major topics, by Week

1 Delay differential equations. Time delays as a cause of oscillation.

2 Nonlinear difference equations and chaos. Discrete logistic equation.
Introduction to properties of chaos. Erratic and aperiodic behavior from
deterministic models

3 Chaos in systems of differential equations. Examples of chaotic
behavior in biology and physiology.

4-5 Concept of a linear function. Vectors and linear transformations of
vectors. Matrices as representing linear transformations in N-space.
Operations on matrices. Matrix multiplication representing the
composition of linear functions.

6 The dynamics of matrix models. Iterated matrices and discrete time
systems: steady states, growth and decay, oscillations.

7 Eigenvalues and eigenvectors. Dynamical significance of eigenvalues
and eigenvectors of matrices that represent linear ODEs.

8 The stability of equilibria in 2D and in N dimensions. Linearization:
analytical approach to stability of nonlinear equations in one

9 Partial derivatives. Linear approximations to functions in higher

10 The stability of equilibria in higher dimensions. The Jacobian
matrix in stability analysis. Hopf bifurcation: the role of complex
conjugate eigenvalues.

LS 40

Course Objectives
Statistics for Life Sciences

The objectives of this course are to acquaint students with the simulation- based approach to statistics, in which distributions are computer simulated, as opposed to the formula-based approach, in which theoretical distributions are simply assumed. Students will also learn the computer coding necessary to carry out these simulations. These will be done in Python, a general scientific programming language, which they have already seen and used in two quarters of LS30.


Tintle, Nathan, Beth L Chance, George W Cobb, Allan J Rossman, Soma Roy, Todd Swanson, and Jill VanderStoep. 2015. Introduction to statistical investigations: Wiley Hoboken, NJ.

Good, Phillip I. 2005. Permutation, parametric and bootstrap tests of hypotheses. 3rd ed,
Springer series in statistics. New York: Springer.

Course Description

This course is an introduction to Statistics designed for Life Science lower- division students. It replaces the traditional formula-based approach to statistics with an emphasis on computer simulation of chance probabilities. Simulations provide a deeper understanding of statistical concepts, and are applicable to a much wider class of distributions and estimators. Students will learn a simple programming language to carry out statistical simulations, and will apply them to the classic problems of elementary statistics. The course will develop the simulation-based approach to such traditional statistical issues as:

  • Null hypothesis significance testing
  • measures of central tendency and variabilityconfidence
  • intervalscomparing 2
  • groupscorrelation
  • regression and ANOVA

Lecture, 3 hours. Computational laboratory, 2 hours

Prerequisite: LS30A

Reading: Markus, Monica Th. 1994. Bootstrap confidence regions in nonlinear multivariate analysis. Leiden, Netherlands: DSWO Press, Leiden University.

Assignments and Grading

There will be weekly problem sets, consisting of designing and coding resampling approaches to the various statistical concepts.

Grading Structure

Grades will be based 70% on the weekly problem sets, and 30% on a final exam.

LS 107

Course Description

LS 107. Genetics (5 Units)

Lecture, three hours; discussion 75 minutes. Enforced requisite: Chem14a or 20A; Chem14C or 30A; LS7C and LS23L. Advanced Mendelian genetics, recombination, biochemical genetics, mutation, DNA, genetic code, gene regulation, genes in populations. Letter grading.


LS 110

Course Description

LS 110. Career Exploration in Life Sciences

Seminar, two hours. Recommended for sophomore and incoming transfer students. Designed to help life sciences students expand awareness of their interests, needs, and skills to make deliberate career choices. Introduction to many components that go into making effective career decisions to help students explore diversity of career options for life sciences majors. P/NP grading.


LS 192A

Course Description

LS 192A: Introduction to Collaborative Learning Theory and Practice

Course Description: Seminar, one hour. 1 unit. Requisite: one course from 1, 2, 3, 4, 7A, 7B, 7C, 20, 23L, 30A, 30B, 40, 107, 110. Training seminar for undergraduate students who are selected for learning assistants (LAs) program. Exploration of current topics in pedagogy and education research focused on methods of learning and their practical application in small group settings. Students practice communication skills with frequent assessment of and feedback on progress. Letter grading.


LS 192B

Course Description

LS 192B: Methods and Application of Collaborative Learning Theory in Life Sciences (4)

Course Description: Seminar, one hour; clinic, six hours. 3 units. Requisites: course 192A (may be taken concurrently) and at least one term of prior experience in same course in which collaborative learning theory is practiced and refined under supervision of instructors. With instructor guidance, students apply pedagogical principles based on current education research, assist with development of innovative instructional materials, and receive frequent feedback on their progress. May be repeated three times for credit. Combination of courses 192B, 192C, 192D, and 192E may not be taken for more than total of 4 times or 4 courses. Letter grading.


LS 192C

Course Description

LS 192C: Methods and Application of Collaborative Learning Theory in Life Sciences (4)

Course Description: Seminar, three hours; clinic, nine hours. 4units. Requisites: course 192A (may be taken concurrently) and at least one term of prior experience in same course in which collaborative learning theory is practiced and refined under supervision of instructors. With instructor guidance, students apply pedagogical principles based on current education research, assist with development of innovative instructional materials, and receive frequent feedback on their progress. May be repeated three times for credit. Combination of courses 192B, 192C, 192D, and 192E may not be taken for more than total of 4 times or 4 courses. Letter grading.


LS 192D

Course Description

LS 192D: Methods and Application of Collaborative Learning Theory in Life Sciences (4)

Course Description: Seminar, three hours; clinic, three hours. 2 units. Requisites: course 192A (may be taken concurrently) and at least one term of prior experience in same course in which collaborative learning theory is practiced and refined under supervision of instructors. With instructor guidance, students apply pedagogical principles based on current education research, assist with development of innovative instructional materials, and receive frequent feedback on their progress. May be repeated three times for credit. Combination of courses 192B, 192C, 192D, and 192E may not be taken for more than total of 4 times or 4 courses. Letter grading.

LS 495

LS 495: Preparation for College-Level Teaching in the Life Sciences

This 495 TA training course is designed for graduate students who are teaching assistants (TAs) in the Life Sciences Core Education Department (LS Core). This course is to be taken concurrently with the term in which you are teaching for the first time in the LS Core. The pedagogical knowledge, instructional methodologies, and peer observation strategies covered in this course are suitable for teaching in large enrollment undergraduate courses with secondary sections overseen by TAs (i.e., discussion sections, laboratory sections, computational laboratory sections). With an emphasis on creating inclusive learning environments for our students, topics in this course will include active learning, peer instruction and other collaborative or group activities, reflective teaching models, assessment and course design approaches that promote transparency and equity in the classroom. This course also provides resources to support your lifelong learning and ongoing professional development as a teacher, a scientist, and a science communicator. By the end of this course, you will have observed and collected a portfolio of instructional materials and approaches to apply in your own courses now as a TA and in your future career. You should also leave with knowledge about the literature supporting the merits of student-centered teaching practices as a means to promote the academic success and persistence of all UCLA undergraduate students.

Requisites for LS 495:

Annual TA Orientation Meeting with LS Core faculty and instructors held during zero week of fall quarter.
Quarterly TA Organizational Meeting with LS Core SAOs/lab staff.

Learning Goals:

Students will acquire foundational knowledge about learning theory, course design, and evidenced-based teaching techniques in order to foster an inclusive learning environment.
Students will apply new knowledge of evidence-based teaching techniques through deliberate practice informed by multiple feedback opportunities.
Students will integrate their learning from LS 495 to improve other aspects of their graduate education and support their overall professional development as a scientist.
Students will develop new insights and awareness about their own perspectives and experiences and how these impact their interactions within the UCLA community and society.
Students will reflect on their potential to have a large positive impact on student success in their role as a Teaching Assistant at UCLA.
Students will explore and reflect on which strategies for teaching, learning, and communication are most effective for themselves and their students.