Astrobiology (3) In depth treatment of principles/concepts of biochemical evolution, the origin/evolution of life; evaluation of distribution of life in the universe.
GEOSC 474 GEOSC (BIOL) 474 Astrobiology (3)
Astrobiology is the study of life in the universe. Astrobiology has become a major focus of scientific research in the United States and a topic often discussed in popular science literature. The recent interest in astrobiology has resulted in the formation of an Astrobiology Institute at Penn State University. This advanced undergraduate course in astrobiology will cover many topics in the field including, biochemical evolution, the origin and evolution of life on Earth, microbial diversity, protein evolution, and the distribution of life in the universe. This course is intended to provide students of the natural sciences with the opportunity to prepare for a research career in the rapidly expanding field of astrobiology. The course will also present astrobiology as a cross-disciplinary framework that ties together the diverse courses the students have already taken. The students will learn new concepts while having, to draw on their previous knowledge of chemistry, biology, and the geosciences. In summary, this course has the following objectives: (1) to develop the student's literacy in astrobiology so that they can critically evaluate claims that they encounter well after the course has ended; (2) to present a scientific question that requires the sum of the student's previous education to solve; (3) to provide a deep background to some of the astrobiological concepts that are often only briefly mentioned in other classes or in the media; (4) to develop research and communication skills required for a young scientist through a class term paper and short oral presentation; and (5) to prepare the students for graduate research in astrobiology by giving them a broad background of the field and by demonstrating many of the outstanding problems yet to be solved.
Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.