F2402 2016 Contemporary Biology II  

Please read all of this carefully even if you took F2401 last term. Last update 01/07/2016.

Biology F2402 is the second term of a one year introductory course for postbac premedical students & special students who have completed Bio F2401 or the equivalent with a grade of C- or better. Bio F2402 covers cell biology, developmental biology and physiology. Undergraduates in GS may take either F2402 or C2006, although C2006 is recommended. Any exceptions to any of the rules on this page must be approved by Dr. Mowshowitz, in advance.

Class meets in 301 Pupin, Tuesday & Thursday,  4:10 to 5:55 pm. (Students may attend the morning C2006 lectures instead -- see below.)

For additional information see announcements on CW web site,  Lecture Schedule (to be posted as soon as it is finalized) & Textbooks.  For a list of topics and links to notes, audios etc. of last year, see the 2015 schedule.

F2402 vs C2006: The lectures in Bio F2402 and Bio C2006 are identical, and students in either course may attend either set of lectures. (C2006 lectures are in 417 IAB, 10:10 -11:25 am, Tuesdays & Thursdays.) The recitations for the two courses are separate. F2402 students may not attend a C2006 recitation (and vice versa).* The recitations in F2402 are optional and are geared toward less traditional students with more variable science backgrounds. (The recitations in C2006 are required; that's why C2006 is more points.) Undergraduates should enroll in C2006; post-baccalaureate students and students in Continuing Education (School of Professional Studies)  must enroll in F2402. The grading scale for F2402 is the same as the one for C2006 -- the C2006 grades are used to set the scale, and the F2402 grades follow accordingly. Therefore there is NO advantage (gradewise) to taking C2006 vs F2402. See below for details of grading. For the rationale behind the differences between C2006 and F2402, see http://www.columbia.edu/cu/biology/ug/advice/faqs/gs.html

*Students in F2402 who need to attend a recitation after the 4:10 class
should contact Dr. M if no late F2402 section is scheduled.

SCHEDULING PROBLEMS: If you need to take F2402, but the lectures conflict with another required class, you can register for F2402, but attend the morning lectures. You will have to register in person instead of online, and Dr. M will have to sign your add/drop form.

EXAMS: There will be 3 exams given during the term and a 4th during final exams week. The lowest grade of the first 3 exams will be dropped. If you miss a midterm exam for any reason, that is the grade that will be dropped. The exam questions will be similar to the starred and R questions in the problem book (& the recitation questions). All 4 exams will stress material covered since the last exam, but the exams may refer back to topics covered earlier, since each section builds upon the material covered in previous ones.  Each of the 4 exams will be graded on the basis of 100 points. 

If there is an emergency at the time of the final, you will have to apply for an incomplete (which a dean must approve) and take a make up exam at the officially scheduled time. 

All details about rooms, times, material covered, extra office hours etc. will be posted before each exam.

EXTRA CREDIT: Students may earn up to 4 points of extra credit by attending the SURF seminar and writing brief reports. See extra credit for details (including what to do if you have a conflict with work or other courses). Reminder: The SURF symposium is Friday, January 29, the second week of class -- don't miss it!

ADVICE:  If you did not take C2005/F2401 last term, be sure to check out "Advice to Students". It can't hurt to re-read it anyway, even if you did take C2005. 

STUDY QUESTIONS: he questions in A Learner's Manual are intended to help you learn the material and to develop skills in problem solving and critical thinking about the topics discussed in class.  You are urged to discuss the questions with your fellow students, either in recitation and/or in a study group. Whether you study alone or with your friends, try to do the problems as you go along -- don't leave them all for just before the exam. (If you can't do them all as you go, at least try to do some of the problems weekly -- if you leave them all until just before the exam you may not have time to do them properly.) If you have questions about the problems, feel free to ask a TA or Dr. M -- you are encouraged to come to recitation, but you are also welcome to use Piazza, email Dr. M, or come to her office hrs.  You are not expected to know all the answers before you come to recitation or office hours, but you will get more out of it if you have worked on the problems (or gone over the notes) and have questions of your own. See the manual or http://www.columbia.edu/cu/biology/courses/c2005/advice/problem-solving-tips.html for more advice on how to handle the problems.

Additional questions ("recitation questions")  are given out weekly in recitations, and the questions (& hints) are posted
on the Courseworks site for F2402 on a weekly basis. The answers are posted later, usually the following week. These questions are intended to give you a chance to work through some problems that do not have answers easily available. You are urged to work through these questions with your fellow students before you have access to the answers. If you get stuck, ask Dr. M or a TA.

PRACTICE EXAMS: A practice exam (from '15 or a previous year) will be posted before each exam. Answers will also be provided, but not necessarily right away. The idea is to give you time to do the problems without the temptation to look up the answers.

Note: Students often claim that the exam problems are harder than the starred or R problems in the manual. This is highly unlikely, as virtually all the practice problems in the manual are from old exams. The exam problems probably feel more difficult because of the difference in circumstances -- doing problems under exam pressure (especially if they are to be carefully graded)  is not the same as doing them at home, at your leisure, when you can look up the answers in the back of the book. The recitation problems & practice exams are provided to give you multiple chances to try some exam-level problems that do NOT have answers readily available. If you are having trouble with the problems, please check out the advice on the web and feel free to consult Dr. M or your TA.

ONLINE RESOURCES: Detailed outlines of all lectures will be posted online, usually the night before the class. Audio recordings of the lectures will be posted in various formats, including podcasts, usually the day after the class. Outlines & recordings will be linked to the lecture schedule as soon as they are ready. These resources are intended to supplement the live lectures. They are not intended to replace the live lectures, and regular attendance at the lectures is strongly advised. Exams from last year, answers to recitation problems, and answers to exams of the current year will be posted as the term progresses.

HANDOUTS: Extra copies of all handouts distributed in class will be available in the cubby boxes on the 7th floor of Mudd (aka Fairchild Extension) between rooms 749 & 753C. PDFs of all handouts will also be available on the web, usually in advance.

RECITATIONS:   Recitation times will probably be before the evening class, and after the morning class, with an additional section on Wed.  (Rooms and Times will be posted on the bottom of the Recitation page.) There will be no regular F2402 recitation after the 4:10 pm class because attendance last term (& the year before) was so low.* Attendance at one of the recitation sections is highly recommended but not required. If you cannot make recitation, you should try to set up a study group to help you go over the notes and the problems. (We will be happy to help you set one up. See Piazza to find partners, and see study group for advice on what to do in your study group.) Recitations will begin the second week of class on 1/26/16. The recitation sessions will be primarily used to (1) answer your questions on the lecture material& (2) go over how to do the study (& exam) questions.

*If that's the only time you can come, contact Dr. M.

GRADING: We will use the following scale for grading, assuming that the average exam grade (in C2006) is 70-75. Note that the scale is exactly the same as the scale in C2006, except that no quiz points are included.

Point Total = Total points from best 2 of 3 midterms + final  (300 max. pts):

Grade Point Total Required
A 271
A- 256
B+ 241
B 226
B- 211
C+ 196
C 181
C- 166
D 151

If all the students in the course get over 270, everyone will get an A, no matter what the grade distribution is. This scale is based on the assumption that the average exam grade is between 70 & 75.  If exams prove to be more difficult than expected, and the exam median is significantly less than 70, then either we will add points to the raw exam scores and/or we will lower the cut-off points for grades appropriately, and publicize a new grading scale. This new scale will be determined by the grades in C2006, and the grades for F2402 will then follow the same scale.

If you achieve the indicated score you are guaranteed the corresponding letter grade. The scale may be adjusted downward, but will not be adjusted upward. That is, points required to earn a particular grade may be decreased, but will not be increased. The scale is intended to be realistic, but adjustments are possible. A+ , D, and F grades are given on a case-by-case basis. Extra credit is not used in calculating A+ grades.


Instructor phone mailbox* e-mail @columbia.edu office hours
Dr. Mowshowitz 854-4497 2453


Tues &  Thurs. 2-3 or by appt. in 744D or 744E Mudd. Email or call to make an appointment.

*The mailboxes are the metal ones located on the 7th floor of Fairchild near the Fairchild elevators. The wooden boxes in Mudd are not active mailboxes. The instructor's office is 744 D Mudd. It can be reached from Fairchild, via the connecting doors on the 6th or 7th floor of Fairchild.  

Additional office hours for Dr. M and the TAs will be scheduled before each midterm.