of ID1 BioBio Writing Assignments
I. Reaction papers.
What are reaction papers? The reaction papers are essays, written well with a thesis and logical arrangement of topics, as well as good writing mechanics. They are to be only 1 page long, single spaced. The audience is meant to be an informed lay person, such as one of your peers in this course. The focus is on your reaction to an assigned reading.
Reaction paper 1. Charles Darwin started life as a religious person but ended up as an agnostic. Examine this progress and make and argument about how it may have affected his life and science; comment on how it affected his morale when his results were published. Discuss your own feelings about these matters and compare with Darwin’s if you are comfortable doing so.
Reaction paper 2: Louis Pasteur was confronted with other scientists who believed in a different explanation for disease than Pasteur. What was his strategy when faced with scientific opposition? Compare/contrast with a strategy you might have used if faced with such opposition.
Reaction paper 3: What is the driving force for James Watson in science, as he portrays himself in The Double Helix? Explain what you think is his motivation, then illustrate with examples from the book, explaining how you think they show the characteristic you have chosen.
Discuss his writing style and how it affects our perceptions of his character.
Reaction paper 4: Watson and Franklin. In examining how Watson describes Franklin and characterizes her and how Sayre describes Watson and writes about him, explain how writing can influence the reactions of the readers. Discuss whether it is possible to know which one is the correct version of events. Draw a conclusion about the correct version and support it to the extent possible with direct evidence and evidence about character of the two individuals. Discuss whether or not it is ‘fair’ that McClintock is not a Nobel laureate.
Reaction paper 5. Barbara McClintock. McClintock became a scientist in spite of a lack of encouragement on the part of many she encountered. What were the early experiences or influences that you think lead her to this career choice? How did she deal with the mid-career treatment she encountered? Compare/contrast with your own early experiences and their effect on your interest in science.
Reaction paper 6. Francois Jacob was unusually thoughtful about the roots of his interest in science in his autobiography. What kind of experiences did he have that were harbingers of his science interest and approach? What kind of career planning did he do early on? How did he react to the reality of a major war as a disrupting force? Would you see your own reactions in any of his?
Reaction paper 7. Francois Jacob worked with different scientists at the Institut Pasteur and was introspective about their approaches to science. Describe some of the approaches he notes, and then explain what you perceive to be his own approach. Compare/contrast with how you would approach scientific research.
Reaction paper 8. David Baltimore has won the Nobel prize and arguably has conducted subsequent research that may result in another such recognition. In his early life, can you see any events or thoughts he had, as reflected in the Crotty biography, that foreshadowed this great scientific success? Compare/contrast with your own life events if you wish.
Reaction paper 9. David Baltimore was involved in two major ethical issues: the recombinant DNA debate and the controversy over Teresa Imanishi-Kari’s data. Did he react similarly to the two different ethical situations? Would you imagine that he had a consistent ethical stance about science from which both of these arose? Compare and contrast with your own probable reactions, based on your character.
Reaction paper 10. Peter and Rosemary Grant tried to test Darwin’s predictions about evolution by examining finches on the Galapagos. They and their collaborators operated under rather severe field conditions. What kinds of limitations would their conditions have presented to their ability to do research? Reflect on how you might react if asked to conduct research under similar conditions.
Reaction paper 11. Lydia Villa-Komaroff (working with Walter Gilbert) and the team of Art Riggs and Keichi Itakura had a race to clone human insulin for treatment of patients as described in Invisible Frontiers. Discuss how being in such a race affected their behavior. Would you find such a competition to be stimulating or discouraging? Discuss how their characters interacted with their behavior in the race as described.
II. Long papers for ID1.
A. First long paper. The paper is to be a 3 page paper developing the ideas in one or more of your reaction papers plus class discussions and your own reflections to date into a longer paper. In this paper, you should start by proposing a thesis that will make for a strong paper. It is possible but not necessary to use a thesis from one of your reaction papers. In the paper, you will analyze the experiences or approaches of the biologists we have studied and if you wish, relate them to your own experience. Make sure you have an inclusive, strong thesis, development that relates to and supports the thesis, and that your writing is clear and has good mechanics. The Writing Fellows can assist you to make sure your paper is understandable and well written before you submit it. This paper is due Thurs, Sept 25. It will be graded, will receive peer reviews, and will be rewritten and regraded; both grades count.
Paper is due on Thursday, October 16 and will be graded, peer reviewed, returned for a rewrite, and regraded. The collection of materials for this paper will begin with the visit to the library by the professor and students on Sept 18 during class time. It will consist of a 5 page, well organized essay based on one of the topics below or another topic that is preapproved by the instructor. Each of you will sign up in class for one of these topics. In your paper, you need to use (without plagiarism, please review rules for proper paraphrasing and citation of ideas) and cite with correct format, both in the text and in a list of references, 5 different references. You will probably need to follow up the library visit with more research on your own. This paper will be graded, submitted to peer review, revised, and regraded. Both grades count.
12. Rosalind Franklin was involved in a good deal of productive research apart from her work on DNA. Examine her other scientific contributions and decide whether or not she would have considered her work on the x-ray crystallography of DNA to be her most important work. Argue that her character and scientific taste were or were not responsible for the view that Watson and Crick discovered DNA, using Rosalind Franklin, Dark Lady of DNA by Brenda Maddox and four other sources to obtain the facts and insights you need. You may cite Sayre’s book on Franklin, but it may not be one of your 5 major sources.
C. Third long paper.
The third long paper will be a 7 page paper due on November 13 at the start of class. In the third paper, you will prepare by interviewing a biologist from Pomona or another nearby institution, chosen from a list discussed in class on Oct 23. The material you obtain from this interview will be documented as discussed in class and will be compared and contrasted with lives of other biologists you have encountered during the semester’s readings and paper preparations. This paper is going to show me that you are a great writer, so don’t forget to have a clear thesis and organization, use supporting materials in sufficient quantity, well organized, and described in exciting rather than boring language, and write clearly with good mechanics. As usual, you may consult the writing fellows for help in polishing your essay. This paper will be graded before and after peer reviews as the others were.