College of Arts and Sciences
Second Revision
Spring 2008

Course Goals:  This is a course in three parts, each part designed to allow you to acquire specific knowledge and skills in Developmental Biology.  In the lecture component, our present understanding of developmental processes (biological literacy) will be examined and your success with this knowledge will be assessed in written examinations. In the "standard" laboratory component, you will have the opportunity to observe and manipulate developing organisms, thus acquiring first hand knowledge of development and skills in handling and observation. To allow me to assess your progress in handling and observing developing organisms you will keep a detailed laboratory notebook. In the third component of the course, you will apply your skills in biological inquiry and communication as you research, design, conduct and report an independent investigation on genes in development.  Your learning in this project will be assessed in a group presentation and in individual research papers.


Dr. Frances E. Weaver
Office: Kirkbride 423A, ext. 4519
Office hours: MWF 10-10:50, T 11-12-50, Th 9-9:50 or by appointment


Text: S.F. Gilbert, Developmental Biology , 8th edition, Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, MA;  2007

Lab Atlas: G.C. Schoenwolf,  W.W. Mathews Atlas of Descriptive Embryology, 6th edition
Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ 2003  (You may share the cost of the atlas)

Other supplies:
A separate notebook for laboratory, available from the instructor at no cost to you

A laboratory manual prepared for this course will also be distributed at no cost, you need only purchase a 1” three ring binder for this manual.


Lab coats are required, dissecting kits are recommended.

Course Requirements:

Lecture Portion:


Two exams @ 125 each


One compulsory "final" exam 


Standard laboratory component:


Review of  laboratory notebook*

60 (collected twice @30 )

Research based laboratory component (as a group unless specified):
Literature review outline: Genes and Development



Draft of literature review


Draft of methodology


Genes and development mini project power point presentation.

50 points based on instructor evaluation. 
10 points based on peer evaluations.

Peer evaluation of mini project reports (written by each individual)


Final written report of research project 


Your final grade will be based on the percentage of the 830 possible points that you earn. +/- grading will be used in this course.

* Laboratory "ends" when the exercise is completed, that might be in three days time.  Embryos will develop (or not) at their own pace!  Please be informed that considerable out of class effort is required in this course. Failure to complete out of class observations or experimentation or to completely record these in your laboratory notebook will considerably reduce your grade!

Campus Cruiser and course web page:  We will use the Campus Cruiser site for the course for announcements, email and for other materials.  This web site may also be used to link to on-line resources.

Attendance is required. There are no make-ups for missed lectures or labs. You will receive a grade of zero for any lab that you miss. It is not possible to obtain materials for an additional lab period.  Some “lecture” hours are spent in lab, this is especially true of Friday mornings.  Please be aware of this and plan accordingly.   

Exams: Exams may be made-up only under extreme, documented circumstances and at my convenience!
It will not be possible to take an exam prior to the day it is scheduled.
  Everyone must take the final.

Written Assignments and Presentations: We will adhere strictly to the dates listed on the syllabus.
Extensions are rarely given in this course, so get your work done and turn it in on time!

Useful information: I am here every day and you are welcome in my office or laboratory at any time.  Voice mail and e-mail operate 24 hrs. a day and I can access both from off-campus.  Notes may be left for me on my office door. If you are unable to reach me by any of these means; you may leave a message with the Science Office, KH325, ext. 4003. 

Alternative testing: I provide alternative testing to students with documented special needs. Just ask.
Alternative note taking: You may tape record lectures for your personal use.

Academic Integrity:  The Science Division strongly enforces Widener University's policy on academic integrity as stated in the student handbook.    The most common violations are submitting collaborative work when not authorized to do so, and plagiarism.   Either of these violations means that you expect to be given credit for work that is not your own, and that is clearly academic fraud.  If you do not know how to reference a source, or if an assignment should or should not be done collaboratively, consult me before you make a costly mistake. Any form of cheating on examinations is, of course, grounds for an immediate F.

If you do violate the University policy, I will not hesitate to fail you in this course, regardless of your academic standing!

*Laboratory Notebooks: Each student will keep a detailed, dated laboratory notebook of all activities in the lab, which will include, but are not limited to, all methodologies, observations (many of which will take place outside of the scheduled lab period) including drawings, raw and analyzed data, discussions and suggestions for future experiments or improvements to the lab. Lab notebooks will be collected and graded as indicated, and returned to each student the following week (or sooner as necessary).  I expect your lab notebook to improve each time it is turned in.  A GOOD LAB NOTEBOOK IS PRECISE, DETAILED AND LEGIBLE!!!!! 

I reserve the right to modify the syllabus, this may include, but is not limited to, changes in the order of laboratories to accommodate shipping and preparation schedules. Changes will be announced in class, or on Campus Cruiser or by email.

LECTURE SEQUENCE   Please note: topics rarely fit neatly into 50 minute blocks. Material will "spill over" as is necessary.




Jan. 14, 16, 20

Intro-the anatomical tradition: Principles of Developmental Anatomy
Life Cycles and Developmental Patterns



23, 25

Life Cycles and Developmental Patterns
Experimental Embryology

The Genetic core of Development: review of some molecular techniques



4  pp. 81-98

28, 30, 1

The Genetic core of Development: The Germ Line, Eggs and Sperm

19, 7 

4, 6, 8

Early Developmental Processes: Illustrated by Invertebrates

7, 8 

11, 13, 15

Early Developmental Processes: Illustrated by Invertebrates
Development of Polarity:  Illustrated by Drosophila

8, 9

18, 20, 22

Drosophila cont. 


Feb 25th

Exam I , covers chapters 1, 2, 4, 19 and 7. This will be an in class exam


27, 29

Early Development of Vertebrates

10, 11

March  3-7

Spring Break


10, 12, 14

Early Development of Vertebrates


17, 19

CNS and Sensory Organs; Neural Crest  (Spring Holiday March 21st)

12, 13 

24, 26, 28

Neural Crest 


31 Apr 2, 4

Mesoderm and Endoderm

14, 15

7, 9

Mesoderm and Endoderm

14, 15

April 14, due 18th

Exam II  


14, 16

Limb Development, (Student Project's day April 18)


21, 23, 25

Sex Determination


28, 30, May 2

Sex Determination, Selected Topics



Laboratory Schedule





Form groups and begin background research for genes and development project


Differentiation in Dictyostelium discoideumRegeneration in Lumbriculus


Gametes and Gametogenesis, Meiosis and fertilization Sea Urchins (if available), Chylamydomonas, Oedogonium

Plan Genes and Development experiments, work on ordering this week


Xenopus, zebra fish* and sea urchin* (if available) fertilization and early development.  Data collection for Lumbriculus*


 Continue observations of Xenopus, zebra fish* and sea urchin*  if possible


Genes and Development project 
begin experimental work


Genes and Development project 
Lab note books collected,  Literature review outline due


Spring Break


Genes and Development project 
continue experimental work.


Genes and Development project 
continue experimental work. Complete experimental work and prepare presentations outside of class.  
Draft of literature review due


Chick development I: Observations 
Blastoderm explanation and cardia bifida*

Draft of methods due


Chick development II: Blastoderm explanation and cardia bifida* (repeat if needed) ; Staining embryos for cartilage*


 No lab – Weaver will complete staining for you


Observe cartilage staining , Presentations in lecture  on the 21st.


Mammalian development,  Peer reviews of presentations due


Lab notebooks collected

Final written reports of the Genes and Development project are due NO LATER THAN THE END OF FINALS WEEK


* observations continue beyond this period.


Bio 306  2008


REVISED Calendar for Graded Work  (strike through items are complete)


2/22/08                        Exam I

2/28/08                        Lab note books collected

3/14/08                        Literature review outline due (email or upload to Campus Cruiser)

3/21/08                        Draft of literature review due (email or upload to Campus cruiser) (one of you isn’t done here)

3/27/08                        Draft of methodology section due (an additional draft of lit. review is recommended) PAST DUE

4/18/08                        Exam II is due

4/21/08                        Presentations (person on the bubble may be presenting on 4/23)

4/24/08                        Peer reviews of presentations due

5/01/08                        Lab notebooks collected

Finals week                  Final Exam (take home, which I hope to have ready early)

End of Finals week       Final written reports due