In Fall 2018, I took Honors Introduction to Ecology and Evolution.
Ecology and Evolution introduces central concepts of how biology relies on ecological and evolutionary theories. This class investigates how organisms interact with their environment within populations, communities, and ecosystems. Also, the class dives into evolution and how it impacts organisms on a larger scale. The lecture was interactive, and included occasional journal article discussions relating to the lecture content, which I always found relevant and compelling. In addition to the lecture, there was a lab component as well. In lab, groups of students had a semester long independent research project relating to the fields of ecology or evolution. This class was the first Honors class that I have taken where half of the class was in Honors, while the other half was taking it as a regular class. The Honors component of the class only occurred in lab. The Honors students worked together on the projects, with higher expectations of a more complex project.
I enjoyed this class because ecology and evolution are my favorite aspects of biology. While I respect microbiology, life on a larger scale interests me more, therefore I was more in my comfort zone. I loved comparing and contrasting different ecological theories and learning the history behind these concepts. Ecology and evolution are relatively newer sciences compared to others, so it was fascinating to me that these theories only were developed a few hundred years ago.
The artifact that I chose was my presentation for my group’s research project, which we presented at the Research Symposium in the Fall. Our group researched the water quality in Farmville using the model organism Daphnia magna, a freshwater flea. We tested Appomatox River, Gross Creek, and the Campus Pond in order to see which one would be most suitable for survival over generations. Our results were inconclusive due to the testing kits we used, and we also didn’t feed them well enough.