BIOL 464/GEN 535

Population and Quantitative Genetics
Spring 2014







INSTRUCTOR:       Stephen P. DiFazio
                                   5200 LSB

M,W,Th 1:00-2:00, or by appointment


 SCHEDULE:           M,F 10:30-11:20 AM

LOCATION:           3131 LSB





INSTRUCTOR:       Rose Strickland-Constable
                                   5206 LSB

M,F 11:30-12:30; W 4:30-5:30, or by appointment


 SCHEDULE:           W 6:30-8:20 PM

LOCATION:            3306 LSB (Computer Lab)




Department of Biology

West Virginia University

There will be two 50 minute lectures per week and a two-hour computer lab session each Wednesday evening. Lectures will be in 3131 LSB, and the computer labs will be in 3306 LSB. Please bring a calculator to class, as we will do some practice calculations from time to time.  Copies of slides will be distributed for most lectures, and will also be available from the course website.

Hedrick, P.W. Genetics of Populations. 4th edition. 2011. Jones and Bartlett. ISBN-13 978-0-7637-5737-3. Please do the reading BEFORE lecture, as this will greatly enhance your understanding of the material.  Lecture is primarily intended to reinforce and hopefully illuminate the contents of the text. Partially available on Google Books.

You must also purchase a laboratory manual from the WVU Bookstore prior to the January 8 laboratory, and bring it with you for each lab session.

On reserve in downtown library:

Hamilton, M.B. 2009. Population Genetics. Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester, West Sussex.

Gillespie, J.H. 2004. Population Genetics: A Concise Guide. John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 214 pages.

Falconer, D.S., and T.F.C. Mackay. 1996. Introduction to Quantitative Genetics. Prentice Hall, Harlow, England. 464 pages.

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Describe and critically evaluate major theories and approaches in modern population genetics.
  • Execute and interpret standard population genetic analyses using hand calculations and publicly available software tools
  • Assess the validity of experimental results such as DNA fingerprinting and genetic testing for disease susceptibility in the light of population history
  • Quantitatively explore mechanisms of biotic evolution


Exam 1 : 120 pts
Exam 2 : 120 pts
Lab Reports : 120 pts
Final Exam: 140 pts

The laboratory is intended to reinforce concepts introduced in lectures, and as a bridge to application of population genetics approaches to real-world problems. Lab reports will be a combination of manual calculations, output from population genetics software, and a written description of methods and interpretation of results. Students will often work in groups to solve problems, but reports should be the work of individual students. All lab reports will be due before the beginning of the lab in the following week, unless otherwise specified. Late reports will be penalized 0.5 points per day. Each report is worth 10 points.

There will be 2 two-hour practical exams during the semester. These will be held in the computer lab and will be a combination of hand calculations, software calculations, and short answers. Exams will be closed book, but key formulas and documentation for the software will be available.

Grading will be on the following scale:

475-500 A   370-384 C
450-474 A-   350-369 C-
435-449 B+   335-349 D+
420-434 B   320-334 D
400-419 B-   300-319 D-
385-399 C+   <300 F

Please inform me if you need special assistance in this course, and make arrangements as necessary either with me or through Disability Services (293 6700). The first week of the semester is the best time for these discussions, and all matters will be kept confidential. West Virginia University is committed to social justice. I concur with West Virginia University's commitment and expect to maintain a positive learning environment based upon open communication, mutual respect and non-discrimination. Our University does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, age, disability, veteran status, religion, sexual orientation, color or national origin. Any suggestions as to how to further such a positive and open environment in this class will be appreciated and given serious consideration.

Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. Academic dishonesty includes plagiarism, cheating, and dishonest practices, as defined in article III section B of the WVU Student Conduct Code. Academic dishonesty will result in a zero being assigned to that component of the course (e.g., exam or lab report).

Attendance will not be formally taken at lectures, but attendance is strongly recommended. Population Genetics builds upon increasingly complex concepts, and it is easy to get lost if pieces are missing or poorly-understood. Attendance at labs is even more important, as a substantial fraction of the grade is based on lab reports, which cannot be properly completed without attending the lab. Furthermore, the exams will require skills that will be learned during the labs, so overall grades are sure to suffer due to lack of attendance. Finally, students will not be excused from preparing lab reports due to absence. Reports will still be due according to the schedule on the lab webpage.

3131: In the event of an emergency, please proceed to the stairway located to the left of room 3131 (heading out of the room, away from the main Biology office).
3306: Please proceed out the nearest door and turn right, then turn left and proceed straight ahead toward the exit sign, descend the stairway to ground level, then exit to the street.