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The primary goal of this course is to assist student development as scholars and advance their research skills in fields of science that use molecular evolution and molecular design (i.e. synthetic biology) to address a wide diversity of biological questions and problems. The course focuses on the critical evaluation of scientific methodology and how such methodology can be applied to engineer new biomolecules.
In this course, we will examine how (and why) nature has evolved its repertoire of biological macromolecules (DNA, RNA, and proteins) to perform the functions of life. The last 50 years has seen an explosion in our knowledge of how these macromolecules function. Importantly, we are now able to design and build our own macromolecules for bespoke purposes—for example, enzymes to access to new synthetic methods, proteins as biosensors, and the design and engineering of new biosynthetic pathways in cells to produce biofuels. Thus, in parallel to learning how nature has evolved its macromolecule repertoire, we will also explore how we design new macromolecules; that is, synthetic biology. Within this context, we will consider a broader understanding of the social and cultural sensitivities to genetic engineering and use of native NewZealand genetic diversity.During the course our aim is to encourage and provide advice and feedback to enable you to develop skills in written and oral communication, and in the efficient acquisition of scientific information. The course will involve group discussion, presentation of scientific papers, and preparation and critique of a review article.Recommended preparatory course(s): BIOL 331/BCHM 301 and/or BIOL461 / BCHM461, which is designed to be a compatible course run in Semester 1. In addition, one from the following is highly recommended: BIOL313 or BIOL333 (or equivalent, as determined by course coordinator).
As a student in this course, I will develop:A detailed understanding of how evolution selects for particular functions in a biomolecule(RNA/DNA/Proteins) (assessment task: preparation of method summaries)The ability to analyse and critically interpret experimental data and published research (assessment task: data analysis exercises, oral presentations, exam).Skills in the verbal and written presentation of scientific ideas (assessment task: oral presentation, practical write-up, review and proposal).An understanding of the scientific practice and principles of evolution and macromolecular science, and an appreciation of why the evolution of macromolecules is important in the new field of synthetic biology (assessment task: oral presentations, review, proposal and exam).A bicultural understanding relating to the area of genetic modification (gene engineering) and gene piracy in the context of New Zealand (the discovery and use of New Zealand specific fauna and flora in accessing new and novel genetic diversity) including recognizing the knowledge that comes from Maori about these species and sharing any knew knowledge we gain (assessment task: scenario and consultation).Synthesise and critically evaluate primary scientific literature to generate a clear and concise argument in support of a perspective (assessment task: evaluation of a research paper).Transferable Skills RegisterAs a student in this course, I will develop the following skills:Experience in analysing protein science and evolutionary data generated using a variety of methods. There will also be the opportunity to gain experience in carrying out some of these experiments and using the equipment. We will have tutorials looking at the analysis of protein science data, and you will be given the opportunity to analyse novel data.Critical synthesis of information. In everyday life and in many job situations you will be required to read information from different sources, construct your own understanding and shape your own viewpoint. In tutorials we will discuss recent macromolecular engineering and evolution research papers in a group environment and this will develop your abilities to assess the quality of the information, how methods are applied to research, and develop skills in working in a collaborative environment (providing a sense of Whanaungatanga).Verbal presentation. In most careers in science the ability to present findings clearly in verbal form is likely to be critical. In tutorial sessions we will provide clear guidance on what makes a good presentation and you will test these skills in small group sessions.Critically competent XEmployable, innovative and enterprising XBiculturally competent and confident XEngaged with the communityGlobally aware X
RP: BIOL331/BCHM301 (Biochemsitry 3) and/or Protein Science (BIOL435/BCHM403), which is designed to be a compatible course run in S1. In addition, one from the following is highly recommended: BIOL313 (Microbiology) or BIOL333 (Molecular Genetics) (or equivalent, as determined by course co-ordinator).
BIOL331/BCHM301 (Biochemsitry 3) and/or Protein Science (BIOL435/BCHM403), which is designed to be a compatible course run in S1. In addition, one from the following is highly recommended: BIOL313 (Microbiology) or BIOL333 (Molecular Genetics) (or equivalent, as determined by course co-ordinator).
Students must attend one activity from each section.
SCHEDULE OF SEMINARSThe class will meet on Wednesday’s from 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. in Karl Popper 508 (note that timetabling may change this so check). The schedule of seminars are as follows:Seminar 1 - Molecular Adaptation - Ren Dobson - 20th JulySeminar 2 - Protein Engineering 1: engineering thermal stability - Grant Pearce - 27th JulySeminar 3 - Protein Engineering 2: engineering membrane proteins - Tim Allison - 3rd AugustSeminar 4 - Protein Engineering 3: designing enzymes - Jodie Johnston - 10th AugustSeminar 5 - RNA design and engineering- -Steve Lodmell - 14th SeptemberSeminar 6 - RNA Evolution - Steve Lodmell - 21st September
Dr Steve Lodmell
Collecting readings for this course is your responsibility. For set seminars, readings will be provided in electronic form (available on Learn or emailed) or in a form that may be photocopied. All course announcements will be distributed by email and/or announced on Learn or in session.
Domestic fee $1,145.00
International Postgraduate fees
* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.
For further information see
School of Biological Sciences