Jonathan Wright - Courses

Biology 140 – Animal Physiology (with laboratory)

Full credit, fall annual. Prerequisites: Biology 41C.

Course description:

Biology 140 is designed to introduce students to diverse aspects of animal physiology - how animals work as integrated, functional systems. The course is comparative, with individual topics being explored across a range of animal groups. This approach emphasizes the fundamental importance of cell physiology and biophysics in shaping adaptive design, and the widespread convergence in specific functional systems that is seen as a result. Coverage of topics will build from the foundational principles of biochemistry and biophysics to functioning at the tissue, organ/systems, and organismal levels.

In addition to conventional lectures, the course will include a number of discussion sessions in which we will evaluate and interpret findings of assigned journal articles. Lectures will include frequent reference to experimental methods employed in physiological research, as well as ongoing reference to the seminal studies that have shaped modern understanding in the field.

Labs for this course serve to introduce a range of experimental approaches and techniques, and teach students to use these to address physiologically meaningful questions. Most labs begin as an introduction to a particular experimental preparation and techniques, and then require students to employ this prep in their own self-directed study in the subsequent week(s). In each lab, a small selection of demonstration materials will be available for studying at your leisure. These will include specimens, experimental set-ups, and short reading materials illustrating topics covered in lecture.

Course texts:

Biology 131 – Invertebrate Biology (with laboratory)

Full credit, spring biennial. Prerequisites: Biology 41C or 41E.

Course description:

Biology 131 explores the taxonomy, phylogeny and functional morphology of the major invertebrate phyla. The first part of the course provides a foundational training in phylogenetic systematics and general biology of the main invertebrate groups. Major topics include functional morphology and the biomechanics of skeletal systems, constraints of size and shape, life history biology and evolutionary strategies for exploiting unstable or ephemeral habitats, and comparative physiology of adaptations to extreme environments. Building on this, the course then explores select topics through combined lecture, discussion and experimental laboratory studies. Readings will focus on some of the most pervasive evolutionary questions: the Cambrian explosion, terrestrial colonization, insect-plant co-evolution, the evolution and biomechanics of insect flight, and host-parasite co-evolution. In both readings and laboratory activities, some assignments will require students to pursue their own projects which will be presented and subsequently discussed by the class. Labs explore comparative anatomy, physiology and ecology through a combination of experimental and observational projects and field trips. The course will provide essential training for students wishing to pursue careers in marine biology, ecology, entomology, and curatorial science.

Course texts:

Biology 41E – Introductory Ecological and Evolutionary Biology (with laboratory)

Full-credit, spring annual. Prerequisite: Biology 40.


Drs Frances Hanzawa, Nina Karnovsky and Rachel Levin. Lab Associate, Ms. Yonghong Ren.

Course description:

Biology 41E is a foundational course exploring evolutionary theory and the origins of, and interactions among, organisms in their natural environments. Topics covered include evolutionary and population biology, behavioral and community ecology, and conservation biology. Labs are primarily conducted in the Claremont Colleges’ Robert J. Bernard Field Station and explore population genetics, community ecology, and optimality theory; they also include a final independent project. Students apply various statistical treatments in lab data analysis, and present results as written papers and in poster conferences.

Course texts:

Biology 198/199 – Senior Thesis

Recent experimental theses (Biology 199) mentored in my lab: