Welcome to NATS 104 - Life on Earth! In this course, you will learn about biological systems, from molecular to global. Our aim is provide you with a basic understanding of biological systems, how biological systems are studied, and how to evaluate future work on the changes that biological systems undergo on small and large scales.



LEARN! Attend all lectures and workshops on time, and do all the readings.

DON'T CHEAT! Read the University of Arizona Code of Academic Conduct (link) and the University Code of Academic Integrity link. Cheating includes copying another person's homework, even if you worked out the problems together. Although we encourage you to study and work together, you must complete the work on your own. Cheating will result in a grade of zero for the assignment, a failing grade in the course, and/or referral to the Dean of Students for possible suspension or expulsion from the University.



This course has a web page: On this web page are IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENTS, lecture notes, supplemental material for the lectures, the schedule of classes, policies (including this document), and a lot of other information that you will find useful for this class. It is YOUR responsibility to check this web page frequently for any new information.

Although we will not take attendance formally, it is very much to your benefit to attend every class. We provide lecture notes on the class web page, and the readings cover the material presented in lecture, but neither gives the emphasis and explanation provided by the professor. You can be tested on anything in the lectures, including material that might not be in the online lecture notes or readings. You will also miss out on discussion and questions are that likely to benefit your learning. And there are no makeup quizzes if you miss an lecture quiz.

It is YOUR responsibility to keep us informed of your status. If you will miss a lecture - for any reason - you MUST notify us BEFORE class by email or phone message. If you fail to notify us before class, and your absence becomes an issue for any reason, we will not consider any course of action that would resolve that issue. To protect your privacy and to help us keep track of your homework in case of questions about grades, you must pick up your own work. Unless you notify us ahead of time that you will miss lecture, we will take off 1 point for every day you do not pick up your work.

You may communicate with any of us at any time by email and we will get back to you as soon as possible. We strongly encourage you to use this avenue, in addition to office hours, to ask questions about the course material, set up appointments, or for any other reason. If your questions are not of a personal nature, and the answers will benefit other people in class, consider asking the question on the listserv. However, please be aware that we might not be able to answer immediately because of other commitments. From time to time, we may communicate with you by email. As with the web page, it is important that you check your email at least once or twice a week for any messages we might send.

The assigned readings should be done BEFORE each lecture, to prepare you for class. Most of the readings from our Textbook ( Miller 12th), but other supplementary readings will be made available through the internet. Just click on each assigned reading and follow the instructions. For example, click on P.U.S. p. 87-100
    D.P. = Dott, R.H., Jr. & Prothero, D.R. "Evolution of the Earth" 5th ed., McGraw-Hill (2001)
    P.U.S. = Pruitt, N.L., Underwood, L.S. & Surver, W. "BioInquiry" 1st ed., Wiley (1999)
    V.R. = Volpe, E.P. and Rosenbaum P.A., "Undertanding Evolution" 6th ed., McGraw-Hill (2000)



Your grade will be based on the following elements:
Exams (100 pts. ea.) 300 pts.
Workshop Reports (20 - 50 pts. ea.) 270 pts.
Student Paper 50 pts.
Lecture Pop Quizzes (10 pts. best 8 of 10) 80 pts.
Field Trip Report (50 pts.)   50 pts.
TOTAL 750 pts.

A=100-90% B=89-80% C=79-70% D=69-60%

There will be no curve, but "extra credit" points will be awarded for extra work during the course. This is not offered as a replacement or substitute for clas or workshop material, but to reward those who go beyond the amount of material required, or who need to supplement poor performance through an opportunity to learn the material better. Please note that a total of only 75 extra credit points will be possible, but that is (75/750=10% of the class) enough to raise your grade one level. Most of the extra credit assignments will come before the second 100 point exam. The maximum possible extra credit points you may receive is 75 points, but your actual number may be lower. If we offer more than a total of 75 points, and you do all of the extra credit assignments, we will use your highest scores. For example:

1 25 24
2 25 10
3 25 20
4 25 15
Total 75
-amount of credit
you receive

Deadlines: extra-credit material must be turned in on time. Late material will be assigned a penalty of 2 points per day after the due date & time. Also, see the statements on cheating elsewhere in this syllabus. Copying material from any other source is cheating.


The lecture exams will include 20 - 50 questions on each exam, for a total of 100 points on each. Each exam covers readings, lectures, and workshops. The final is not a comprehensive exam and covers the material in the last third of the course.

Note that there are policies with implications for your grade in other sections in this syllabus.


Quizzes will be given during lecture. They will not be announced ahead of time. There will be a total of 10 quizzes, and your grade will be based on the 8 highest scores. There are NO make-up quizzes. If you miss a quiz FOR ANY REASON, including illness, sporting events, family emergencies, etc., your grade will be based on the remaining quizzes. Thus, it is very much to your benefit to come to lecture, not only so that you don't miss a single scintillating minute, but so that you don't miss any quizzes, either.


The workshops are designed to take the concepts you learn in lecture and expand on them. The workshops use a variety of approaches to address different types of information and scientific research methods, including analysis and compilation of data, library research, and scientific debates. You will be graded on your workshop reports (20-50 points each, depending on workshop).

This course is planned on lectures and workshops. All students will attend the lecture on TTh 11-12:30. The workshop sections and TAs are:


LEC 16 (28333) Th 9:-9:50 GLD-S 209 TA: Dee Robinson
LEC 17 (28335) Th 10:-10:50 GLD-S 209 TA: Dee Robinson
LEC 18 (28337) Th 12:-12:50 GLD-S 209 TA: Brant Wilson
LEC 19 (28339) Th 1:-1:50 GLD-S 209 TA: Melissa Trout

The schedule of classes outlines the topics that we will cover in lecture and in the workshops, and provides the reading assignments from your textbook, Life in the Environment, by Miller. Here we explain procedures and policies for this class. Please read the following material carefully.


There will be one REQUIRED field trip. The purpose of the field trip is to study the Santa Catalina Mountains Vegetation Zones. All trips depart at 8:00 AM sharp, from the north side of Gould-Simpson, and return before 5:00 PM. Sign-up sheets will be posted in the workshops, and will be first come-first served. The limit on each trip is 60 persons per day (4 15-passenger vans). You will complete a report that will be handed in at the end of the field trip. Attendance on the field trip and the report are worth 50 points.

Field trip dates:

        Sat. Oct. 13
        Sun. Oct. 14
        Sat. Oct. 20
        Sun. Oct. 21