Scientific Reasoning and Discovery

Using a problem-based learning approach to explore topics in science, students in the Scientific Reasoning and Discovery seminars will learn to identify hidden regularities and patterns in nature that may indicate fundamental unifying principles and laws; apply the scientific method to unearth these laws and principles; evaluate scientific information; describe the limitations of the scientific process; understand the importance of collecting accurate and precise data; and develop a valid scientific hypothesis. Investigation will use the tools and methodologies of biology, chemistry, physics, and other disciplines. The emphasis of inquiry in any given section might reflect the particular instructor's area of expertise.

Who Should Take These

Freshmen take one Scientific Reasoning and Discovery course each semester. Freshmen may also take a Scientific Reasoning and Discovery alternative instead of Scientific Reasoning and Discovery.

Scientific Reasoning and Discovery Alternatives

Students can fulfill their Honors Scientific Reasoning and Discovery requirement by either taking an approved alternative course or successfully petitioning a course not already listed here. This list of approved courses is the only eligible list for students who entered the University Honors Program in the fall 2014 semester or later.

All sections of BISC 1111: Introductory Biology: Cells and Molecules
All sections of BISC 1115: Introductory Biology: Cells and Molecules WITH BISC 1125: Introduction to Cells and Molecules Laboratory
All sections of BISC 1112: Introductory Biology: The Biology of Organisms 
Any 4-credit 2000-level Biology course with lab
All sections of CHEM 1111: General Chemistry I
All sections of CHEM 1112: General Chemistry II
Any 4-credit 2000-level Chemistry course with lab
All sections of PHYS 1021: University Physics I
All sections of PHYS 1022: University Physics II
Any 4-credit 2000-level Physics course with lab
Other Lab-Based Science Courses (With Successful Petition)
A lab-based science course that is not already on this list may be petitioned to count as an alternative. Speak with a Program Officer for more information about the petition process and to obtain a petition form. Students should begin the petition process as soon as possible, and may submit a petition no later than seven days before the end of the add/drop period for the given semester.
CRNS, course meeting times, appropriate prerequisites, and other pertinent registration information for these courses can be found at the online Schedule of Classes

Who Should Take These 

Freshmen take one Scientific Reasoning and Discovery course or an approved alternative each semester.



Professor Bethany Kung
HONR 1033:10 - 4 Credits
CRN: 82161
TR 9:00-10:50 AM

HONR 1033:11 - 4 Credits
CRN: 83586
TR 11:00-12:50 PM

Fulfills: CCAS: GPAC Natural/Physical Science with Lab, GPAC Local/Civic Engagement; ESIA: Science; GWSB: Science

Course Description: Our lives are a complex web of energy, yet we never give energy much thought. Only when energy resources (e.g. oil, solar, nuclear) become big news do people start paying attention.  But how can we be savvy consumers of energy rhetoric without a basic understanding of the fundamental physics of energy?  This course will serve as an introduction to the physics of energy, from the basics, e.g. kinetic vs. potential energy, to more complex issues such as energy production, storage and transportation.  We will explore alternative energy sources such as solar and nuclear energy.

Topics to be covered will include:
* The physics of energy: work, power, heat, electromagnetic radiation, electricity
* Energy storage and transportation: fuels, batteries, the electrical grid
* Nuclear physics: atoms, quantum mechanics, fission and fusion
* Energy resources: coal, wind, alternative fuels, solar, nuclear
Throughout the course, students will also tackle the fundamentals of science including the scientific method, experimentation and error measurement.  Quantitative analysis will be emphasized to help build problem solving abilities and mathematical intuition (mathematics will be confined to algebra and geometry).  This course is designed to increase student scientific curiosity and science literacy.  Students will be expected to take an active role in the classroom, where we will explore these topics through lecture, discussion, debate, writing, experimentation, group projects and mathematical exercises. (This is a Green Leaf course that satisfies the “Track A” requirement toward a Minor in Sustainability.)

Your Place in Nature

Professor Bernard Wood
HONR 1033:12 - 4 Credits
CRN: 87353
TR 2:50-4:40 PM
Fulfills: CCAS: GPAC Natural/Physical Science with Lab, GPAC Local/Civic Engagement; ESIA: Science; GWSB: Science

Course Description: This course covers the history of ideas about our relationship with the rest of the natural world, how we work out how animals are related, the fossil record for human evolution and the growth of the sciences involved in the interpretation of that fossil record. It explores the social and intellectual context of relevant discoveries as well as the biographies of the people who made major contributions to working out the relationships among the great apes and to the recovery and interpretation of the fossil evidence for human evolution.

This course concentrates on the fossil and to a lesser extent the molecular evidence; it will refer to the archeological record when the latter can provide insights into hominin behavior. Because it will emphasize the importance of trying to reconstruct as much biology as possible from the fossil record it is most aptly described as a course in hominin paleobiology (HPb). Because this is a freshman course about how science works, we will stress how a historical science differs from an experimental one, and how paleontologists go about reconstructing evolutionary history.


Professor Robert Kambic
HONR 1033:MV - 4 Credits
CRN: 82831
TR 10:00-11:50 AM

Fulfills: CCAS: GPAC Natural/Physical Science with Lab, GPAC Local/Civic Engagement; ESIA: Science; GWSB: Science

Course Description: Biology underlies many important issues we face in our society. Understanding discussions about topics such as the safety of GMO foods, the safety of vaccines, impacts of climate change, and the prevention and treatment of cancer requires knowledge of biological concepts. This course will serve as an introduction to the fundamentals of biology and the nature of science, and contemporary issues will be used to explore real world applications of these fundamentals. Topics to be covered include cells and molecules, genetics, physiology, ecology, and evolution. Lab exercises will introduce techniques for studying these topics, providing students an opportunity to actively engage in the process of science. Classroom participation in labs, discussion, and activities will form a major part of the course, so students should expect to participate actively. 

Professor Jelena Patrnogic
HONR 1033:MV1 - 4 Credits
CRN: 82163
TR 1:00-2:50 PM

Fulfills: CCAS: GPAC Natural/Physical Science with Lab, GPAC Local/Civic Engagement; ESIA: Science; GWSB: Science

Course Description: This course aims to serve as an introduction to fundamental biological concepts by exploring contemporary issues in science. It will provide the basic understanding of the scientific method and the impact of knowledge and technology on the society and every day life. The main objective is to use the acquired knowledge about the basic biological principles and make educated and informed decisions. Also, it is important to acquire the ability to discern and evaluate important research and effectively communicate these scientific discoveries. The topics will explore the structure and function of the living organisms, from cells and molecules, basic concepts in genetics, to physiological processes and evolution. Lectures will be accompanied by lab exercises as a way of introducing techniques used in biological research. Students are expected to actively participate in class through debate and discussion, and written and oral presentations while exploring these topics.

Science of Nutrition

Professor Carly Jordan
HONR 1033:MV2 - 4 Credits
CRN: 83757
MW 1:00-2:50 PM
Fulfills: CCAS: GPAC Natural/Physical Science with Lab, GPAC Local/Civic Engagement; ESIA: Science; GWSB: Science

Course Description: Every day we hear all sorts of claims about how to live a healthy life, especially about nutrition. How do you know if the claims you hear are true? The content of this course will focus on the chemistry of food and the biology behind how we turn french fries into energy for life, but the real work will be building skills. You will develop science literacy and critical thinking skills to make sense of the information you encounter. You will learn quantitative skills and basic statistics that will help you interpret data. You will practice communication, in many different forms. The major project in this course will be to find a claim and investigate its validity. You will determine the legitimacy of its makers, learn where to find primary sources to support or refute the claim, and create a public information piece to share your understanding with your peers. In this course, we will analyze serious medical claims and silly urban legends, but we will do it all using sound logic and the scientific method. At the end of the semester, you will be armed with the knowledge and skills to make informed decisions about your health.

Cancer Biology

Professor Yolanda Fortenberry
HONR 1033:MV3 - 4 Credits
CRN: 87180
MW 9:00-10:50 AM

HONR 1033:MV4 - 4 Credits
CRN: 87181
MW 11:00-12:50 PM

Fulfills: CCAS: GPAC Natural/Physical Science with Lab, GPAC Local/Civic Engagement; ESIA: Science; GWSB: Science

Course Description: How often have you heard that product X promotes cancer or that Drug Y can cure cancer?  Have you ever been told that a relative has Stage IV breast cancer and has to undergo chemotherapy?  What does all this mean?  What is cancer?  Is it one disease or is it several diseases?  Is there a cure? These are questions that you may have asked or will ask in the future. Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the world.  Consequently, it is not surprising that cancer is the driving force behind several major research advances.  Also not surprising is that cancer research is continually progressing; we are learning new things every day. In light of this, gaining a better understanding of the basic biology of cancer, as well as its impact on the human body will provide you with the necessary knowledge to make informed decisions regarding your health, lifestyle, and future medical treatments. This course will offer you a comprehensive overview of the biology of cancer, combining traditional textbook knowledge with the latest advances in research. We will explore the modern scientific method, ways to interpret data from scientific journals and media outlets, and how to critically analyze various cancer-related claims.  Upon completing this course, you will have a more in-depth understanding of cancer, how it affects us, and how scientists are working towards an effective cure.