BIOL 2020-001: Principles of Cell Biology Spring 2018 (rev Jan 18)

Lectures and discussions will explore the relationship between cell structure and function using examples from both prokaryotes and eukaryotes (plants, animals, and fungi). Expected learning outcomes...

Download a PDF of the syllabus and schedule for Spring 2018 (opening PDF files requires the free Adobe Acrobat Reader, available here).

Prerequisites: BIOL 1210 Principles of Biology and CHEM 1210 General Chemistry I. You will need to complete BOTH of these courses with a C- or better before enrolling in BIOL 2020.

Transfer students: If you have completed these courses (or the equivalent) at a University outside of UT and they are not recognized by the U's tracking system, please submit permission code requests using this link...


Dr. David Gard
101 Bldg 44

Office hours: I am available to meet with students most Wednesdays from 12:45 to 1:45 PM. I also conduct two discussion sections on Wednesdays (see schedule below).,

Open office policy: If my office door is open, I am happy to meet with students... feel free to drop-in. However, please remember that I will be prepping for lecture on Tuesday and Thursday mornings!

You can schedule an appointment by e-mailing me at (preferred) or by calling 801-581-7365.

Teaching assistants: This semester, I will be assisted by six Undergraduate Teaching Assistants (TAs):

Natasha Andreasen 801-897-7460 natasha.andreasen at
Allison Astill 801-540-2337 allison.astill at
Anderson Fackler 801-259-6843 andersonfackler at
Michael Mangum 801-608-6888 m.mangum at
Makenzie Pavich 801-636-8022 makenziepavich at
Emily Tippetts 208-901-9578 emily.tippetts at

All of your TAs have completed BIOL 2020 with me with high marks. TAs will lead weekly discussion/problem solving sessions (see schedule and locations below) and conduct one-on-one/small group tutoring sessions in the Biology Learning Center (103 BIOL; see schedule below). These sessions can be very helpful!

Class periods: Biology 2020 is a 3 hour class. University Policies and Procedures defines one credit hour as: “...approximately three clock hours of the student's time a week for one semester” (Chapter VII section 2). Thus, a typical student should expect to spend approximately nine hours per week on this course, including in-class time and time spent outside of class completing the assigned reading and problem sets.

Lectures: Lectures are Tu/Th from 2:00 - 3:20 PM in ASB 220. A 3-5 min break will be provided midway thru most class periods. Attending lectures is one of the most important factors contributiong to success in this course!

Lecture Notes: PDF files containing key slides from the lecture presentations with space to take notes in class can be downloaded from the course website.

Discussion sections: TAs and I will conduct 8 weekly “Discussion” sections. These sessions provide an opportunity to discuss material from the assigned reading, lectures, and problem sets.Attendance at these sessions is optional. However, I STRONGLY suggest you attend one or more sessons per week. In addition, one or more review sessions will be conducted before each exam.

TA Tutoring: One-on-one/small group tutoring sessions conducted by the TAs will be held on Mondays and Thursdays) in 103 BIOL (see schedule below).

Additional Tutoring is available through the Biology Learning Center (103 BIOL and the 1st floor foyer of BIOL building; Info and schedules can be found here...).

Schedule of Discussion sections and Tutoring
Time/Date Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
8:35-9:25 Tutoring
103 BIOL Allison
9:40-10:30 Discussion
102 LS Allison
107 LS Makenzie
102 LS Gard
103 BIOL Michael
10:45-11:35   Discussion
308 JWB Natasha
102 LS Gard
103 BIOL Natasha
11:50-12:40 Tutoring
103 BIOL Emily
BIOL 2020
12:25 - 1:45
  BIOL 2020
12:25 - 1:45
12:55-1:45 Discussion
310 AEB Emily
Office hours Gard
12:45-1:45 101 B44
2:00-2:50 Tutoring
103 BIOL Anderson
206 HEB Anderson
111 LS Michael
3:05-3:55 Tutoring
103 BIOL Makenzie
  Exam reviews
3:30-5:00 220 ASB
7 Feb, 7 Mar, 4 Apr

Note: Discussion sections and Tutoring sessions begin Wed 10 January...

Download a PDF of the contact info and discussion/tutoring schedule for Spring 2018...

Text, assigned reading, problem sets, and other resources:

Required text and assigned reading: Reading from Alberts et al., Essential Cell Biology 4th edition (AKA ECB4) will be assigned for each lecture. Used copies of ECB4 may available at the University bookstore, and several copies are on general reserve at Marriot library.

I do NOT recommend using the 3rd addition of ECB!

Questions are included in the page margins and at the end of each chapter of ECB4. A subset of those probles are assigned for each lecture (listed at the beginning of each on-line problem set). Students are encouraged to work the problems assigned from the text.

Study questions: To help you focus your studying, collections of additional “study questions” are available for each lecture or series of lectures. These problems can be downloaded as PDFs from the course website. Many of these problems are taken from old exams, and students are encouraged to solve/answer them. Answers are provided on the course website.

Note: These study questions introduce new material or consolidate/synthesize concepts from lecture. You are responsible for all material/topics covered in these problem sets.

Past exams: Finally, exams (with solutions) from Spring 2017 Biol 2020 can be downloaded (as PDF files) from the course website (scroll down from the “problem sets”). These exams provide good examples of the sorts of questions that might appear on exams this spring. Students are encouraged to work the problems in the old exams in preparation for their exams.

Note: the order of presentation and scheduling of exams vary slightly from year to year, so material may be covered on different exams in different years.

On-line resources: Course materials and important announcements regarding classes and exams will be posted on the class website. Course materials are password protected, the username and password will be provided in class.

Electronics: Laptops and tablets may be used in class for following lecture powerpoints or note taking. Use of cell phones in class will not be tolerated. Please turn off all cell phones prior to entering the classroom. Non-programmable calculators may be used in exams when appropriate.

Exams: There will be four in-class exams (three mid-terms and a final exam). All exams are closed book/notes. A non-programmable calculator can be used (no PDAs, tablets, cell phones, etc). All exams will be counted towards your final grade. Review sessions will be scheduled before each exam (see schedule).

Exams #1-3 are scheduled during class periods on Thurs 8 Feb, Thurs 8 Mar, and Thurs 5 Apr. Exams 1-3 will each be worth 100 points. Exams 1-3 are comprehensive only in that material presented later in the semester builds on material presented earlier.

Exam #4 (the "FINAL") is scheduled for Wed 2 May from 10:30-12:30 PM (note the time!) in ASB 220. Exam 4 is worth 125 points, and will include up to 25 points of material drawing together concepts presented throughout the semester.

Note: I try to write exams that can be completed within the allotted class time. However, students are occasionally provided with additional time. Please plan your schedule accordingly.

Rescheduled, make-up, or missed exams: Requests to reschedule or make up an exam will only be granted for medical, legal, or religious reasons (requiring a written note from a medical doctor, officer of the law/court, or clergy), or for official University business (as per chapter VII section 15 of the University's policies and procedures). Please notify Dr. Gard BEFORE the exam that will be missed. Rescheduled/make-up exams must be completed within one week of the original exam date. Rescheduled exams may be given orally, at my discretion.

If you know you will miss an exam for any OTHER reason, I recommend taking BIOL 2020 another semester.

Re-scoring exams: If a student believes their score to be in error, they may submit their exam for re-scoring, subject to the following conditions:

Do NOT write ANYTHING on your exam! Exams will not be re-scored if they have been altered in any way. A subset of exams may be photocopied before they are returned to students. Students submitting an altered exam for re-scoring will receive a 0 for that exam, and will be reported to the University.

Include a brief explanation ON A SEPARATE PIECE OF PAPER explaining why you believe your score is in error.

Dr. Gard will re-score your entire exam. Re-scoring is FINAL, and your new score (be it higher or lower) will be used in calculation of your final grade.

Requests to re-score and/or correct addition errors for exams #1-3 MUST be submitted IN WRITING prior to the next scheduled exam. Requests to re-score and/or correct addition errors on the final exam must be submitted in writing prior to the date announced at the end of the semester.

Quizzes: In addition to the exams, at least seven "pop" quizzes will be administered in lectures throughout the semester. Each quiz will consist of a single question with a short answer (True/False, multiple choice, or 1-2 word answers). Each quiz will be worth 2 points for a correct answer, 1 pt for an incorrect answer, 0 pts for no answer/no quiz. Students should bring a 3" x 5" file card to every EVERY lecture for taking quizzes.

The dates and times of quizzes will NOT be announced in advance, and there will be NO MAKEUPS for missed quizzes. A maximum of 10 quiz points will be counted towards the final grade.

Grading: The scores of all four in-class exams (425 pts max) and quiz points (max 10) will be added to yield a "point total" for each student (max = 435 points). Final grades will be assigned according to a "curve" generated from the point totals of all students with four exam scores*. The break point between a C+ and B- will set at or near the median (half above/half below) of the classes point totals.

Typically, ~18-20% of the students will receive As (A and A-), ~30% Bs (B+, B, and B-), ~30% Cs (C+, C, and C-), and ~10% Ds (again, NOT including students with fewer than four exams). I do not assign grades of D+ and D-.

* Students with fewer than four exam scores will not be used in generation of the curve, but their grades will be determined by the curve.

Other policies:

Content accommodations: The content of this course fulfills legitimate pedagogical goals. I do NOT grant content accommodations. Students are responsible for all material presented in the lectures, problem sets, and required reading. Attendance accommodations are made according to University policies and procedures (chapter VII section 15; see above): "Students absent from class to participate in officially sanctioned University activities (e.g., band, debate, student government, intercollegiate athletics) or religious obligations, or with instructor's approval, shall be permitted to make up both assignments and examinations..." See my policies regarding rescheduling exams (above).

Drops and Withdraws: The drop policy of this class is consistent with that of the University: the last day to drop (delete) classes is Friday 19 January. Classes dropped before this date will not appear on transcripts. The last day to withdraw from classes is Friday 2 March. A "W" will appear on transcripts. Instructor approval is not required for withdrawal. After 2 March, withdrawal requires approval of the Dean of your majors college, which is only granted for compelling non-academic reasons.

Incompletes: University policy allows assignment of a grade of incomplete (I) if 20% or less of the course work remains unfinished. I will consider assigning an "incomplete (I)" only under EXCEPTIONAL circumstances unrelated to academic performance, and only if a student is passing the course with a C- or better when the "Incomplete" is requested.

Cr/NC option: Registering under the Cr/NC option does not require instructor approval. However, University policies may require specific levels of achievement for this grade to be administratively assigned.

Audits: I will not approve requests to audit (V) this course.

A.D.A. : The University of Utah seeks to provide equal access to its programs, services, and activities for people with disabilities. If you will need accommodations in this class, reasonable prior notice needs to be given to the instructor and to the Center for Disability Services, 162 Olpin Union Building, 581-5020 (V/TDD) to make arrangements for these accommodations. All written information in this course can be made available in alternative format with prior notification.

Wellness: Personal concerns such as stress, anxiety, relationship difficulties, depression, cross-cultural differences, etc., can interfere with a student's ability to succeed and thrive at the University of Utah. For helpful resources contact the Center for Student Wellness at or call 801-581-7776.

Letters of recommendation: BIOL 2020 is a LARGE class... it is very difficult for me to get to know individual students. It is difficult and unsatisfying to write letters for even the best students when all I can say is "They took my class and got an A." I won't write those letters. If you expect to ask me to write a letter of recommendation, you will need to go out of your way to make yourself known to me...