1.1 Major principles of biology

The major principles of biology include homeostasis, genetics, evolution, reproduction, and metabolism. During freshman year I attended the LIFE STEM bridge in which I had the opportunity to travel to the Baliles Center at Hull Springs Farm to get a head start on the college experience and collect data and samples from the Chesapeake Bay. After we got back to Longwood I took the class all LIFE STEMers had to take, ISCI 120 where we got to analyze the samples taken during the summer. The project I worked on was analyzing the sediment samples to examine the organic matter, carbonates, and water concentrations within them from various locations in the Bay. This was a good way to consider one of the major principles of biology, homeostasis. Based on the percentages of organic matter and other compositions within the sample, we were able to determine how well the organisms in the Bay in each location were able to survive with the current conditions, thus maintaining homeostasis. This project was one of the first presentations I gave in college to a class so I remember it vividly!

In the fall of 2020, I took BIOL 251, Intro to Ecology and Evolution. This class was hybrid, so I took it on zoom and in person. As a part of one of our lab periods, we went to the local cemetery and recorded the birth and death dates of individuals that has been buried there. By doing this we were able to analyze the data and make survivorship curves of life expectancy throughout the years pre and post-1950. It was interesting to go out to the cemetery and physically record the data and be able to visually see the survivorship curves so clearly from the data we collected. We were able to visually see how humans have evolved to live longer post-1950. I also wrote a research paper on the project we did. It is interesting to reflect now on how my abilities have changed in my research writing skills!

Another aspect of biology is genetics. In my freshman year, I took BIOL 250 as an introduction to genetics and cell biology. During this class, we had the opportunity to swab our cheeks to obtain DNA and analyze them to determine if we had specific SNPs related to blue/ brown eyes and cilantro aversion. While we could have determined this information ourselves, just by experiencing day-to-day life, it was really cool to see it happen within our DNA. My partner for the lab and I also made a poster to present at the research showcase, however, I took this class during the COVID year so we had to record it online. This was one of the first biology courses that I had taken in which I did an individual research project and made a poster so I think it set me up well for future classes at Longwood!