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 
All sections of BISC 1116: Introductory Biology: The Biology of Organisms WITH BISC 1126: Introduction to Organisms Laboratory
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
All sections of PHYS 1025: University Physics I with Biological Applications
All sections of PHYS 1026: University Physics II with Biological Applications
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: 22047
TR 9:00-10:50 AM

HONR 1033: 11- 4 credits
CRN: 23323
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: 25975
TR 2:50-4:40 PM

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

Course Description: The name of this course is taken from the title of a book published in London in 1863. It was called Evidence as to Man’s Place in Nature and its author was Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895). It was one of two books about human origins published in 1863 (Charles Lyell’s Antiquity of Man was the other) and because it is more wide-ranging than the latter, Huxley’s book probably qualifies as the first scientific account of human origins. The course will compare and contrast what was known about “Man’s Place in Nature” at the time Huxley wrote Evidence as to Man’s Place in Nature with what we know now. It will cover 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 will explore 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.


Professor LaTisha Hammond
HONR 1033:MV - 4 Credits
CRN: 22646
TR 10:00-11:50 AM

HONR 1033:MV1 - 4 Credits
CRN: 22049
TR 1:00-2:50 PM

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

Course Description: GMO foods, biofuels, food allergies, vaccines, honeybees. At first glance this may be a seemingly random string of topics, but a common thread throughout them all is biology, and all require some understanding of biological concepts to understand their implications and make informed decisions about them. In this course we will explore biological concepts through the lens of contemporary issues in biology as they relate to society and everyday life. This course will serve as an introduction to the fundamentals of biology and the nature of science. Topics to be covered include cells and molecules, genetics, physiology, ecology and evolution as they relate to the more complex and nuanced biological issues of disease, food sources, organism interactions, sustainability, climate change, and bioethics, to name a few. Lab exercises will introduce biological techniques for studying these topics. Students will engage in the process of science in an effort to increase their scientific literacy. Students will be expected to take an active role in the class, where we will explore these topics through lecture, discussion, debate, experimentation, data analysis, writing, and group projects.

Science of Nutrition

Professor Carly Jordan
HONR 1033:MV2 - 4 Credits
CRN: 23464
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 about nutrition 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.

Science of Microbes

Professor Jelena Patrnogic
HONR 1033:MV3 - 4 Credits
CRN: 25841
TR 8:30-10:20 AM

HONR 1033:MV4 - 4 Credits
CRN: 25842
TR 11:00-12:50 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 into the microbial world. By looking through the microscopic lens our own world looks very different. Only about half of the cells in or on our bodies are human. The rest are microorganisms. They are able to produce different chemicals and vitamins that we can’t produce on our own, help digest food, shape development, and influence behavior. Microorganisms are very diverse in form and function which allows them to inhabit all possible environments that support life. They live in microbial communities, and their activities are regulated by interactions with each other, with the environment, and with the other organisms, shaping and protecting life on Earth. Because the true diversity of microbial life is largely unknown, its effects and potential benefits have not been fully explored. Throughout this course we will explore the microbial world by looking at the structure and function of microbial cells, their metabolic activities, as well as the impact the microorganisms have. The emphasis will be on learning the basic concepts of microbiology and relating this knowledge to the important issues such as antibiotic resistance, infection and immunity, vaccines, microbiome, to name a few. The main objective is to use the acquired knowledge about the basic principles to make educated and informed decisions by evaluating important research and effectively communicating these scientific discoveries. Lectures will be accompanied by lab exercises as a way of introducing techniques used in research. Students are expected to actively participate in class through debate and discussion, and written and oral presentations while exploring these topics.