“What Doesn’t Kill You: A Closer Look into the Black Plague”

Here is the latest winner of our “Student of Life” Award, bestowed on a student of BIOL 100 who writes a truly outstanding essay. The recipient for Spring 2018 is Katarina Milosevic, a talented junior with an interest in advertising and a self-declared “history buff.” Enjoy her thorough report on the Black Plague!

What Doesn’t Kill You: A Closer Look into the Black Plague

       The Black Plague, also known as Black Death, swept across Europe and the Mediterranean taking the lives of millions. First appearing in 1357, it lingered for centuries and ravaged through densely populated cities killing its host within the first few days of symptoms. Spreading like wildfire, it decimated entire families, villages, and towns leaving nothing behind but tragedy and shocking mortality. Killing one in every three Europeans, the pandemic petrified continents of people and nobody had an explanation for all the agony and suffering endured, until now. The following lays out the very framework that makes up the Black Plague: what it does, where it comes from, how it spread, of what it is made, and how its effects on the past directly explain important aspects of our current civilization. More importantly, it will prove how even only a few staggering genetic characteristics play an essential role in the makeup of all living things, including bacteria. Contine reading

“Why Are Our Brains Shrinking?”

As promised, here is the first post in our “The Student of Life” series. This essay, focusing on the fascinating subject of the shrinkage of our brain over the last 70,000 years, was masterfully penned by USF student Savannah Robison during the Fall 2017 semester of BIOL100. It is a wonderful example of student research, blending subjects Savannah learned in “The Science of Life” classroom with her own interest in cognition as a Psychology major. Congratulations Savannah!

Why Are Our Brains Shrinking?

Flashback to six million years ago: Since then, 19 species of hominids have roamed the earth, and Homo sapiens are just one of them. We first diverged from the other hominids 250,000 years ago, and for most of our existence, humans were no smarter or more significant than any other animal. We lived in harmony and equality with all the rest of earth’s inhabitants, but through a series of events over the course of millions of years, humans have arisen as the most powerful species on this planet. We harnessed the ability to use fire, we began to walk upright and we developed elaborate speech. We also have advanced cultures, and amazingly complex brains capable of planning for the future, processing the past, and navigating the present with astonishing grace. These are the things that now separate us as unique from the rest of the animal kingdom. We have been evolving, most would say for the better, for millions of years, but 70,000 years ago we see something start to switch.

Contine reading

“Student of Life” posts

Sometimes, a student writes an essay, assembles a presentation, or otherwise accomplishes a feat that is just too good for not sharing it with the world.

Introducing the “Student of Life” Posts.

Selected works by real-life students of BIOL100, curated and presented to a wider audience on these pages. Publication is not only a reward for exemplary accomplishment but a trigger for discussion and dissemination of ideas.

Stay tuned for exceptional work forthcoming!


Is BIOL100 the right science core course for you?

Students at the University of San Francisco are challenged to think outside the box. Case in point: the core curriculum. No matter what your unique passion and burning interest are, if you are an undergraduate student pursuing a bachelor’s degree, you are required to step outside your comfort zone and explore areas of knowledge where you would not venture alone at night – or with friends during the day, either.

One of these areas is Applied or Laboratory Science, worth 4 credits. This post is an introduction to BIOL100, or “The Science of Life“, a biology course offered to non-majors. Or rather, it’s a 5-question quiz to check whether you would enjoy this course or hate it. Contine reading