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BIOL 8021  Presentation Skills and Research Seminars in Cell and Molecular Biology

BACKGROUND
The clear and effective presentation of investigative research is an essential skill for scientists. If you can organize your investigation clearly in your own mind and present your argument to others in a lucid and stimulating way, then you will be able to engage their interest, convince them about the value of your work, and benefit from their input and support. Seminar programmes, like workshops and conferences, serve as a valuable forum for the presentation, discussion and development of research projects, and it is worth learning how to participate effectively right at the beginning of your postgraduate studies.
This course aims to equip students with the skills needed to critique, construct and deliver scientific presentations effectively. Students are encouraged to think critically about the important elements of a good scientific presentation. The course will not only coach the students through the delivery of their own seminar, but also involving students in the preparation, discussion and analysis of seminars delivered by others.

OBJECTIVES
1. To equip research postgraduates at the start of their studies with the skills to critique, construct and deliver a scientific presentation.
2. To achieve the above objective directly by coaching students through their own seminars and indirectly by promoting active participation in, and reflection upon, the presentations of others.
3. To foster dialogue and awareness by providing a forum through which research projects can be presented, discussed and developed constructively.
Learning outcomes
By the end of this course, students should be able to:
1. critique a scientific presentation, recognize the elements of an effective, well-constructed, and well-delivered seminar;
2. construct a good scientific presentation which follows a coherent, clearly formulated argument running from all the way from the initial question, through the investigation, towards the final answer
3. deliver a scientific presentation on their own research project, using effective verbal and visual communication skills to take the audience through the investigation in a way which is clear and interesting.

COURSE REQUIREMENT
This course is compulsory for all MPhil and PhD Research Postgraduate Students and will normally be completed in the first year of study. The course has a flexible format and students need to take independent, individual responsibility for managing their own studies, making use of the online resources and of scheduled events both to attain learning outcomes, and to fulfill the course requirements within the time available. The course can be passed by fulfilling course requirements in three areas:
(1) Presentation of a research seminar (including a 150-200 words abstract)
(2) Participation in the seminar programme
(3) Presentation of seminar critiques.
The course is run annually, and students must complete all the course requirements within a single academic year in order to pass.

Presentation of a research seminar
Each Research Postgraduate (RPg) student enrolled in BIOL8021 is required to present and pass one seminar of satisfactory quality. This seminar should be 20 minutes duration + time (~ 10 min) for questions and discussion. The presentation should not be shorter than 20 minutes and it should also not overrun significantly beyond 20 minutes. (RPg students who are not enrolled in BIOL8021 should speak for at least 20 minutes, but may also run beyond this, up to a maximum of 40 minutes). Students are required to submit their seminar abstract to the student helpers or course-coordinators before the seminar.

The supervisor is responsible for finding two examiners and notifying the course demonstrators of their names. Subjected to mutual agreement, the course coordinator may serve as the Primary Examiner. Another member of the academic staff who can serve as the Secondary Examiner should also attend your seminar and corroborate the decision with the Primary Examiner. Your supervisor should be present at your seminar but may not serve as an examiner. The two examiners should send the completed forms (Postgraduate Seminar Marking Sheet) to Ms Flora Chan.

Participation in the seminar programme
In order to pass the course, you are required to attend at least 40 seminars. You should register your participation by signing the attendance sheet provided. You need to attend the whole seminar, including the time for questions and discussion at the end. Credit can be gained for attending any of the seminars listed in the course programme, including special seminars and those delivered by guest speakers.

Preparation of seminar critiques
You should complete, submit and pass critiques of satisfactory quality on any 5 seminars. Your critique should be e-mailed to the supervisor of the student presenting, with a cc to the course coordinators. Critiques should be written and submitted within 2 weeks after the presentation. Please use the critique to show that you have attained the learning outcomes of the course - if your critique is incomplete or contains only short one-word answers then you will not gain credit. Critiques will normally be done on standard seminars given by RPg students though they can also be done on special seminars provided a supervisor is listed in the course programme. Critiques cannot be written on seminars given by guest speaker nor on any seminar where no supervisor is listed. In order to fulfill the course requirements, you must ensure your critiques are formally passed; submission alone does not count. If after submitting your critique you do not receive a prompt response, you should follow up with the supervisor, and with the course coordinator.

Coordinator: Dr. C B Chan (Course coordinator) and Dr. Jetty C Y Lee (Co-coordinator), Dr. Gary Y W Chan (Co-coordinators)

 

BIOL8022  Science Communication (SEMESTER 1)

OBJECTIVES
It is increasingly urgent that scientists effectively communicate their research findings to the general public to increase scientific literacy and subvert pseudoscientific beliefs and misinformation in a ‘post-fact’ era. This course aims to train the Ecology & Biodiversity research postgraduate to use a modern toolkit to develop effective communication of science while exploring other transferable skills related to professional development in the sciences.

COURSE LEARNING OUTCOMES
During this course, students will:

  1. Gain confidence in public speaking to a lay audience on specialized topics in ecology & evolutionary biology.
  2. Obtain effective skills in communicating science in both oral and written formats.
  3. Hone skills in proposal writing, with emphasis on scientific writing composition, flow, and clarity.
  4. Nuture departmental camaraderie and networking with their peers and faculty mentors.

FORMAT
The course is compulsory for all new research post-graduates in the Division of Ecology & Biodiversity. A regular 2 hr class meeting will be held weekly over 10 weeks for a total of 20 contact hours. The first hour will be dedicated to sharing with Research Faculty within SBS (30 min lecture, sharing, and professional advising), the remaining hour will be used to work on the course assignments, interactive activities, and team-building.  From 2019/20 this course can be taken in lieu of GRSC6008 (Transferable Skills).

ASSESSMENTS
Students will be expected to complete the following in class and on their own or in small groups:
1. Write a short formal grant proposal (e.g. Nat Geo Young Explorer)
2. Give a short, 15 minute presentation on their research plan (to be presented in the second semester departmental seminar series)
3. Develop a short, <2 min “pitch” of their research
4. Conduct brief interviews on a scientific subject (current event, etc.) in both roles (interviewer, interviewee).
5. Create a CV through peer evaluation
6. Initiate the development of a professional website

Assessments will be made on a pass/fail basis.  The course will rely on peer-evaluation and individualized review of tasks with the Course Coordinator.

SUPPLEMENTARY READINGS
Randy Olson:
Don't Be Such a Scientist: Talking Substance in an Age of Style
Houston, We Have a Narrative: Why Science Needs Story
Nancy Baron:
Escape from the Ivory Tower: A Guide to Making your Science Matter
Alan Alda:
If I Understood You, Would I have this Look on my Face? My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating
Cornelia Dean:
Am I Making Myself Clear? A Scientist's Guide to Talking to the Public

Coordinator: Dr. D M Baker

 

BIOL8023  Topics in Ecology & Biodiversity (SEMESTER 2)

OBJECTIVES
Research postgraduates in Ecology & Biodiversity are increasingly interdisciplinary and coming from various backgrounds. While this is positive, there is a tendency to miss out on fundamental training in ecological theory, which may not be easily filled through Ug
coursework. This course aims to elevate RPg conceptual understanding of classic ecological concepts through the reading and discussion of classic papers in ecology and evolution.

FORMAT
The course will be compulsory for all new RPg cohorts and will be open to all RPgs at any stage of their degree. A regular ~1 hr class meeting will be held during lunch on Mondays.
Assigned readings will be circulated 1 week prior to class, and a student ‘champion’ will be identified to lead the group through the paper, and stimulate discussion.

ASSESSMENTS
Students will be expected to lead and participate in discussions.

READINGS
Papers will be selected from, with consideration for diversity of authors:
Courchamp & Bradshaw (2017) 100 articles every ecologist should read. Nature Ecology & Evolution. 2: 395-401
Reiners et al. (2016) 100 years of ecology: what are our concepts and why are they useful?
Ecology. 87(2): 260-277.

Coordinator: Dr. D M Baker

 

BIOL6002  Special topics in botany

OBJECTIVES
This course aims to introduce students to special botany topics which are of relevance to their research study but have not been taken previously. Students will be instructed to attend one undergraduate course or a combination of undergraduate courses from the department as prescribed by the supervisor(s) and/or the Chairman of the Departmental Research Postgraduate Committee.  Students will be required to do further guided readings and/or attend extra tutorials.

ASSESSMENTS
Examination (60-70%) and continuous assessment (30-40%) depending on the studies selected; pass/fail

Coordinator: Dr. C S C Lo

 

BIOL6003  Special topics in biotechnology

OBJECTIVES
This course aims to introduce students to special biotechnology topics which are of relevance to their research study but have not been taken previously. Students will be instructed to attend one undergraduate course or a combination of undergraduate courses from the department as prescribed by the supervisor(s) and/or the Chairman of the Departmental Research Postgraduate Committee.  Students will be required to do further guided readings and/or attend extra tutorials. 

ASSESSMENTS
Examination (60-70%) and continuous assessment (30-40%) depending on the studies selected; pass/fail

Coordinator: Dr W B L Lim

 

BIOL6004  Advanced topics in food science

OBJECTIVES
This course aims to introduce students to special food science topics which are of relevance to their research study. Students will be required to do further guided readings and/or attend extra tutorials and activities including exchange with food science related International programmes.  Assessment will be based on critical and logical thinking in problem-based-learning models in food science. 

ASSESSMENTS
Written assignments (80%) and continuous assessment (20%); pass/fail

Coordinator: Dr. Olivier Habimana

 

BIOL6005  Advanced topics in nutrition

OBJECTIVES
This course aims at providing in depth knowledge on special topics in human and animal nutrition.  Students need to consult their supervisor and select three topics from the following: Nutritional Status Assessment, Body Weight Regulation and Obesity, Nutrient-Gene Interactions, Metabolic Programming, Nutrition & Immunity, Nutrition & Cancer, Laboratory Animal Handling and Surgical Techniques.

ASSESSMENTS
Written assignments (50-80%) and continuous assessment (20-50%) for each topic; pass/fail

Coordinator: Dr. Jimmy C Y Louie

 

BIOL6007  Biostatistics (= BIOL2102)

(students who plan to undertake ecological research and have not previously passed BIOL6007 must take this course during the first year of their postgraduate studies)

OBJECTIVES
The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the core ideas and concepts of statistical analysis with special attention to the modeling approaches used in biological sciences. The course will give students the skills and knowledge to understand how to apply these concepts using the R statistical programming language for data analysis. Although the course covers some basic concepts (experimental design, distributions, hypothesis testing), the main emphasis of the course is on model building and selection, linear models (regression and analysis of variance), basic random effects and mixed effects models, and multivariate statistics (PCA, MANOVA).

COURSE CONTENTS AND TOPICS
Introduction to Biostatistics; Descriptive Statistics and Estimation; Statistical Inference; Statistical Explanation and Diagnosis; Likelihood and Model Selection, Categorical predictors (ANCOVA and ANOVA); Factorial design, Multiple Comparisons and Block Design; Correlation and Regression Analyses; Multiple Regression Analysis; Introduction to Multivariate Analyses. Students will learn how to use R to conduct the statistical analyses, and correctly interpret the results.

PREREQUISITES
Pass in BIOC1600 Perspectives in Biochemistry or BIOL1110 From Molecules to Cells or BIOL2306 Ecology and Evolution or ENVS1301 Environmental Life Science or ENVS2002 Environmental Data Analysis

TEACHING
36 lectures, 24 tutorials/computer-lab sessions and 100 reading/self-directed study

ASSESSMENT
Project (40%) Assignments (30%) and Examination through progressive quizes (30%)

Coordinator:  Dr. Juan Diego Gaitan-Espitia

 

BIOL6009  Advanced studies in Ecology & Biodiversity for postgraduate students

OBJECTIVES
This course aims to provide student centred learning opportunities which will be designed for each individual student. Students will be required to take parts of existing Masters courses or advanced courses from the BSc curriculum which are considered necessary for their particular needs and which they have not previously taken.  Opportunities for internships with local conservation organizations (1 day per week over at least one semester), that will allow students to gain relevant practical experience, may also be available. 

ASSESSMENT
Examination (70-80%) and continuous assessment (20-30%) depending on the studies selected; pass/fail

Coordinator: Prof. Gray A Williams

 

BIOL6014  Guided study in endocrine/microbial research

OBJECTIVES
This course aims at providing the student a guided approach to his/her chosen area of research study in endocrinology or microbiology.  The guided study is coordinated by the student’s research supervisor. Students are required to consult their supervisors and select topics that are related to their research project(s).  

ASSESSMENT
Written assignments (50-70%) and continuous assessment (-30-50%) from laboratory reports, laboratory meeting presentations and discussions and any other assignments; or based on the discretion of the supervisor that may include written examination, essays, and any other assignments; pass/fail

Coordinator: Dr. G W Y Chan

 

BIOL6015  Advanced experimental  techniques in endocrinology/microbiology

OBJECTIVES
This course focuses on advanced techniques in experimental animal and microbial sciences to assist the student’s research studies.  The learning is coordinated and taught by the student’s research supervisor.  Students are required to consult their supervisors and select topics related to their thesis studies from and not limited to the following: Advances in Growth Hormone Research, Signal Transduction within Animal Cells, Cell Culture and Biosensing Techniques and Design, Cytochemical and Cytometry Techniques,  Gene Cloning and Related Techniques, Laboratory Animal Handling and Surgical Techniques, Protein and Peptide Analysis and Synthesis, Transgenic Biotechnology in Animals, Advanced Immunoassays and Immunotechniques, Clinical Laboratory Techniques.

ASSESSMENT
Written assignments (50-70%) and continuous assessment of laboratory performance (30-50%); pass/fail

Coordinator: Dr. Chaogu Zheng

 

 

BIOL8017  Advanced studies in Environmental Sciences

OBJECTIVES
This course aims to provide student centered learning opportunities which will be designed for each individual student. Students will be required to take parts of existing advanced courses from the BSc curriculum (Environmental Science major) which are considered necessary for their particular needs and which they have not previously taken.

ASSESSMENT
Examination (70-80%) and continuous assessment (20-30%) depending on the studies selected; pass/fail

Coordinator: Prof. Gray A Williams

( The course will be offered to SBS RPG students only.)

 

BIOL8018  'Omics' and Systems Biology (= BIOL4417)

OBJECTIVES
Recent progress in high-throughput omics technology has revolutionized the biological research. Genome-wide profiling of various biomolecules simultaneously by omics technology generates huge amounts of data, providing the potential to obtain a global and holistic view of the system. This course aims to introduce the state-of-the-art technologies of Omics and Systems Biology, and overview of various applications of omics technology in agricultural, biomedical, environmental, and nutritional sciences.
This course will also provide students hands-on experience in large scale data analysis. The course covers proteomics, genomics, bioinformatics, and systems biology with special focus on sequence alignment, microarray, next generation sequencing, computational modeling with systems biology, and statistic programming. This course will make the state-of-the-art knowledge of Systems Biology and know-how available to those working on an omics projects as well as those preparing their research proposal.

ASSESSMENT
Examination (60%) and assignment (40%)

Coordinator: Dr. J W Zhang

 

 

BIOL8021 | BIOL8022 | BIOL8023 | BIOL6002 | BIOL6003 | BIOL6004 | BIOL6005 | BIOL6007 | BIOL6009 | BIOL6014 | BIOL6015 | BIOL8017 | BIOL8018