ArkansasRanger

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I'm tempted to take genetics this fall. I'd kind of like to take it since I'd like to know more about it, plus it'd be a four hour class that would push me to the limit of being classified as a full-time student.

That said, what does one do in a genetics class? What about the lab? I don't really like labs, and although I wouldn't be obligated to take the lab I'm not sure there'd be a point to taking the lecture without the lab? Are they hard courses.

I've got a bit of biology background. I've taught at the high school level and have read some supplemental genetics books, and so I now wonder if I'd even walk away from the class knowing much more than I do now which may not be a lot in the grand scheme of things. I'll be taking organic chemistry I and physics I with labs for each, and I really don't want to overload myself. I hate math, and I'm not that good at it so I need to really limit myself in the numbers department.

That said, would you take genetics? What about cell biology which won't be until next spring? It doesn't even have a lab component which I think is fantastic, but does it get mathy at all?
 

jinx520

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I don't know why, but I found genetics to be the easiest of all the upper-level bio courses I ever took. If it's intro genetics, it doesn't get any more mathy than plug-and-chug into the Hardy-Weinberg equation, doing punnett squares, or maybe trying to find out the percentage of a particular base pair in a sequence--easy stuff like that. In the more advanced genetics, you'll be running sequences through the various databases out there to search for sequence homology or to make a cladogram, but even those don't need a whole lot of math. Just enough to know how to input your data and know how to read your output. And I will tell you straight up that I am probably the most math-challenged individual in the world. And any sequences that I had to examine "manually" (without running it through the database) were mercifully short and the consensus sequences were very easy to find. Note, however, that your school may have a different focus than the courses I took did, but GENETICS IS FUN!!!
 

ArkansasRanger

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Well, it's a senior level (4000) class with a 3 credit hour lecture and 1 credit hour lab. It's also at a rather small state college with slightly less than 3,000 total students so I really doubt they have a lot going on with databases and faculty research in the field.

What was the lab like? I always hear these tales of the fruit fly.
 

CarlATHF

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In my genetics class, we had a variety of topics which were covered, including gene linkage, gene mapping, recombinant DNA, bacterial and viral genetics, mutations and repair, structure and function of DNA, transcription, translation, control of gene expression, and population/evolutionary genetics. We also learned some elementary genomics and bioinformatics searching techniques.

The lab course (at least for me) included a survey of model organisms, how to map genes, and the collaboration of our lab class (about 25 student pairs, 50 total students) with a research lab in the bio department to do a screen for certain mutants in a model organism (yeast). From what I understand, it's pretty standard stuff.

Biochem and Cell Bio were pre-reqs for our Genetics class but we didn't really need them. We had some math, but it wasn't too bad (mostly just solving puzzles and being logical). In my opinion, the problems in genetics were much more fun/enjoyable that memorizing pathways in Cell Bio and Biochem.
 

jinx520

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IDK, none of my genetics classes had labs, but I would imagine if there are fruit flies involved you would either be cross-breeding for certain traits and/or smooshing those buggers up, extracting DNA, and analyzing it. MORE FUN!! Except for dealing with the maggots.

But the databases are maintained by the big boys, NCBI et al., and most are available to anyone with internet access. You'll be getting at the very least a cursory introduction to them, at least to be aware of what you can do with them.

You'll probably be focusing on stuff like how to read a sequence, transcription and translation, working with the genetic code, examine gene linkages, looking at alleles of paternal generations and predicting what the crosses of the offspring would be (punnet square stuff), different types of mutation, etc., in an introductory course. My advanced genetics classes covered more biochemistry, like the mechanisms of DNA methylation, and more detailed info on gene regulation, transcription/translation, etc., plus actually running sequences through the databases and analyzing the results. But we were always just given the sequences, so I don't know what the lab would be like. Sounds like fun, though.
 

FutureDocSteve

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Because the above writers covered the "what" of your question, I'll take the "should you take it" part: If you're headed to medical school, then it would be a good idea to take it. Many schools already have it on their "recommended" list of pre-reqs, and some are beginning to require it. As the Human Genome Project has completed its goal of sequencing the entire human genome, medical science is picking up the information gleaned from that project. We are now in the early stages of approaching medicine from a genetic standpoint and it seems that this field will be the area of focus in the foreseeable future. I would recommend jumping in with both feet.
 
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Genetics seems tedious to me but I will be taking it. It is a highly recommended upper-level course. At my school they use alot of fruit flies in lab...lol...can barely hold an intelligent conversation without choking on one...
 
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I am finishing a Genetics class right now. For someone in your situation, you will probably be fine-most of the students in my class with a solid bio background seem quite comfortable with the material.

I wish I had taken my Genetics class after a couple of Bio courses; this class was my first science class in years, and I admit that I'm struggling a little (well, more than a little). But that has much more to do with the fact that I am quite rusty and unsure of myself than the material itself.

Go for it. Despite the fact that I am struggling, the material itself is truly fascinating.