Anatomy, physiology and general biology are traditionally taught in separate portions of a biology curriculum, and introductory A&P courses often lack an evolutionary biology emphasis. Penn State have developed a Plant and Animal Biology course taken by first- and second-year undergraduate biology majors that integrates plant and animal biology around common themes, such as physical support, gas exchange, and energy acquisition, with an emphasis on anatomy & physiology. Students study how plants and animals evolved solutions to shared challenges such as the transition to land and maintaining homeostasis in a terrestrial environment. Many of these solutions are surprisingly similar despite co-evolving separately. Other mechanisms can be traced back to the last eukaryotic common ancestor that gave rise to plants and animals.
The goal is to help students organize their understanding of biology around larger themes common across the life sciences, and to see plants and animals (including humans), not as unrelated entities relegated to artificial boxes within a curriculum, but as evolutionary cousins in a diverse family of intimately related organisms.
About the speaker:
John R. Waters, PhD
The Pennsylvania State University
John Waters is a professor in Penn State’s Biology Department who has taught undergraduate courses in anatomy & physiology, general biology, the history of anatomy, and pedagogy over the last twenty-eight years. In addition to teaching, John is interested in identifying effective teaching methods for lecture and laboratory settings, and enjoys collaborating with colleagues and students in Penn State’s Department of Educational Psychology who are interested in conducting research in biology education. John is a member of the American Association of Anatomists (AAA) and is a member and president emeritus of the Human Anatomy and Physiology Socieity (HAPS). At Penn State, John currently serves as the Biology Associate Department Head for Undergraduate Education.
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