Lecture Times

Mondays and Wednesdays
2:40 - 3:55
207 Math Building


An introductory biology course is a prerequisite. Most students in this class have taken Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology (C2005/C2006) or Contemporary Biology (F2401/F2402) here at Columbia.  If you took a biology course a few years ago or at a different school, it would be a good idea to review some basic principles, either in the course textbook, or in any of the general biology textbooks on reserve in the Biology Library, such as:

Sherwood, Human Physiology, 5th ed.

  • Cell structure: Chapter 2 (17-29; 38-45)
  • How stuff gets across membranes: Chapter 3 (49-70)
  • Communication between cells: (70-76)

Purves, et al.,  Life: The Science of Biology, 6th ed covers these topics in less depth and in fewer pages.

  • Cell structure: Chapter 4
  • How stuff gets across membranes: Chapter 5
  • Communication between cells: Chapter 15

Problem Sets and Recitation 

Problem Sets contain questions that were asked on exams in previous years.  You will not see the same questions again, but trying to solve those questions is the best way to test yourself to see if you really understand the material.  Recitation is optional.  This is a chance to review material that wasn't clear in lecture; work on additional study problems; test your knowledge by asking and answering each others questions.  

Recitation times:

Monday, 5:30-6:30, 253 Engineering Terrace (Medha)
Tuesday, 6:30-7:30, 414 Pupin (Payal)
Thursday, 4:30-5:30, 800 Fairchild (Susan)


Fifth edition

The textbook for this course is Human Physiology:  From Cells to Systems, by Lauralee Sherwood, Brooks/Cole, 2003.   It's available at the Columbia University Bookstore for $114.

The latest edition is the 5th, but some of you bought the 4th edition last year for the intro course, so I'll post the appropriate pages from both editions.  

The book is, strictly speaking, recommended and not required.  That is, you will not be held responsible for material in the textbook unless it also covered in the lecture and readings.  However, experience shows that those students who read the book do better than those who do not.  It's always useful to read the same material described in a slightly different way by a different author.

Fourth edition


If you buy the book online or at another store, make sure that you do not get Fundamentals of Human Physiology, a shorter, less detailed book by the same author.  Also, if you see a paperback version offered for about $20, that is probably a Study Guide and not the textbook itself. 

Columbia students who want to sell used copies may post them on DogEars.

There are several copies of the book on reserve in the Biology Library, on the 6th floor of Fairchild.  

Library Hours:    Mon - Thurs: 9am-10pm     Fri: 9am-5pm     Sat: 12noon-7pm     Sun: 2pm-10pm    

Other reading

In addition to the textbook, you'll be expected to read a few articles related to physiology.   


I'll maintain an email list of all students registered in the course, and send announcements about the course, as well as answers to questions about the material.  If you haven't heard from me in the first week, make sure I have your address.  This generally averages about 3-4 messages a week, but they do cluster around exam time.


Handouts will be left in the boxes outside my office (744 Mudd) after class, so if you lose one,  you should be able to pick up a copy.  Let me know if there are no more left in the pile there.

Writing Assignments

There are 4 short writing assignments that will give you experience in finding and reading research articles (5 points each).  The writing final writing assignment is a 3 page paper in which you will summarize a critique a research article in physiology (20 points).    



There will be 5 mini-exams given during the semester, each taking less than half a lecture period (25 minutes).  The purpose of the frequent exams is to encourage you to study frequently!  Don't save all your studying for the night before an exam.  The mini-exams will require you to know both the facts of physiology that we study, as well as be able to apply those facts to solve new problems.  About 60% of the questions will be straightforward questions on the facts of physiology.  The remaining 40% will be more challenging thought questions that require you to use what you've learned to solve new problems.  Each mini-exam will cover the material since the previous one.  I'll drop the lowest of the 5 grades you get on these mini-exams.  If you miss one exam for any reason, you'll get a zero on that exam, and that will be the grade that I'll drop.  Do not skip an early exam unless you have to;  stuff happens, and you may have a serious reason for needing to skip a later exam.

Final exam.  
The final exam will be comprehensive.  If you did not fully master the material during the mini-exams, here's your chance to recover.  The questions will be entirely thought questions.  



Your grades will be based on exams and written assignments.  

40%  Mini-exams.  The lowest grade will be dropped, so each of the other 4 exams counts 10%.
20%  Final exam.  Cumulative.
40%  Written assignments.

The usual cut-offs will be used to determine letter grades at the end of the semester:

90-100     A-, A
80-89      B-, B, B+
70-79      C-, C, C+
60-69      D
< 59        F 

If the course mean is less than 80, then these cut-offs will be adjusted accordingly.