Course Information

Class time: MW 10:10-11:30am, W 1:25-3:20pm

Location: Ecology Computer Lab

Instructors: Dr. John Drake (Office: 133 Ecology, email: & Dr. Pejman (Office: 36 Ecology, email:

Course description. The fundamentals of infectious disease biology focusing on microparasite infections (e.g., viruses, bacteria). Taught in four-week modules, the course covers essential concepts in ecology, evolution, immunology, biochemistry, cell biology, and metabolism as they relate to specific infectious diseases. Each module is self-contained, and students can register to receive credit for one or more modules. For Spring 2017, these modules are:

  1. Morbillivirus
  2. Mycoplasma
  3. Arboviruses
  4. Influenza

Course objectives.

This course provides students interested in infectious diseases with a “cross-scale” foundation via the in-depth analysis of specific case studies focusing on microparasites (e.g., viruses, bacteria). Lectures will focus on essential organizing principles in infectious diseases stemming from research at the molecular, cellular levels through the organismal, population, community, and biosphere levels. Computer labs focus on posing and solving numerical problems related to the dynamics of infectious diseases and also reinforce the content introduced in lectures.

Students are expected to develop a skill and appreciation for thinking about microparasite infections from multiple perspectives and will be challenged to identify and articulate the connections between biological scales. Specifically, they will:

  • Learn to consider infectious disease problems from the perspective of different levels of organization.
  • Develop the expertise to frame research questions that bridge multiple levels of organization and that have cross-scale implications.
  • Acquire an in-depth, cross-scale understanding of at least one distinct infectious disease system and acquire the skills to translate this knowledge to other disease systems.

Assignments and grading policy. This course is graded on the A-F system. A grade will be assigned for each module based on a written assessment, i.e. a short exam (50%), class participation (20%), and performance on lab assignments (20%). Students that enroll for all modules will be assigned an overall grade based on performance leading a class discussion (10%), average of grades for each module (60%), and final class project (30%).

Class project. Students work independently on a disease system of their choice. They are tasked with investigating and writing about a cross-scalar problem. Goal of project is to have students apply the skills they have acquired in at least one case study module (above) by identifying a problem that bridges scales and investigating the problem from different perspectives.

Missed class policy. Unless permission is obtained in advance or appropriate documentation is received (e.g., doctor’s note), the instructor reserves the right to assign a grade of F if more than three classes are missed.

Office hours & contact policy. Office hours are by appointment; the primary means for out-of-class contact should be e-mail ( and

Official University Policy. The course syllabus is a general plan for the course; deviations announced to the class by the instructor may be necessary. All academic work must meet the standards contained in A Culture of Honesty. Students are responsible for informing themselves about those standards before performing any academic work.