Scientists have traced the migrations of humans out of Africa and across the Middle East, Europe and Asia, and beyond. Contained in the DNA of people around the world are clues to these patterns of migration. Even today, in the DNA of each one of our cells, is evidence of our place in this story of human origin and migration. Variation in the sequences of our DNA reveals these ancient patterns. Genetic variation is also the raw material for many other types of scientific research: e.g., studies of human disease, and the genetic structure of populations of rare and endangered species. This course is designed as an introduction to the concept of genetic variation and to the tools used by scientists to study this phenomenon. We will explore examples of these studies from research on human origins, human disease, and species conservation. The course will involve readings and classroom discussions, laboratory work, and fieldwork.
Prerequisites: One semester of college-level chemistry or biology