Cruzan Lab - Portland State University - Biology

Courses Offered by Mitch Cruzan

Plant Diversity and Evolution (Bi 432/532).  Fall term every other year.
Developing an understanding of the consequences of evolutionary processes for proliferation and diversification of plants requires an appreciation of their unique biological features.  The processes of mutation, selection, genetic drift, and gene flow remain the same for animals and plants, but specific characteristics of plants modify the way evolution is implemented.  Unique traits of plants affect everything from the fate of mutations through exposure to selection in a haploid life phase to the distribution of genetic variation within and among populations of sedentary individuals, and ultimately the rates and patterns of diversification.  The goal of this course is to develop a deeper understanding of the origins of plant-unique features and their implications for evolutionary processes. 

Plant Reproductive Biology (Bi410/510). Fall term every other year.
An exploration of all aspects of plant reproduction. Topics covered include pollination biology, the evolution of sexual and asexual reproduction, factors favoring selfing and outcrossing, and detailed analyses of reproductive processes. The lab focuses on the exploration of plant reproductive processes. Requires Bi251-253 or equivalent. 

Evolution (Bi 358).  Winter term.
Discussion of the fundamental processes governing change across generations, which leads to diversification of lineages, and the generation of biodiversity.  Includes discussions of population genetics, quantitative genetics, and phylogenetics.  Emphsizes critical thinking along with inductive and deductive reasoning used in experimentation and research. Emphasizes evolution as the foundation of modern biology. The course includes discussion of the origin of unique human traits.  Requires Bi251-253 or equivalent; Bi341 is recommended.

Principles of Evolution (Bi 526/410). Winter term.
Discussion of advanced topics in evolution. Lectures cover background information to prepare for discussion of papers from the primary literature. Students facilitate discussions, write paper summaries, and are responsible for producing a review of the literature on a topic of their choice. 

Senior Capstone: Research & Society.  Summer term.
A capstone specifically designed for natural science majors. Discussions and writing assignments focus on preparation for post-graduate studies.  Students meet their capstone requirements by volunteering 50 hours in a research lab (Independent research) or in a volunteer position with a local organization (science education).

Senior Capstone: Nature in the Neighborhood.
Students participate in research projects on invasive species in the Portland Metro region.  Lectures, readings, and discussions focus on the ecology and evolution of  invasive plants.  Students design, implement, and analyze experiments in group projects.  Each group produces a report that is distributed to managers and research biologists working on invaasive plants.