New School Year Promises Science Upheaval

The science department hopes to take advantage of IMSA's lab resources for the upcoming year of SIR.

As course selection for the 2019-2020 school year promises developments across all subjects, the largest revisions are expected to occur among science opportunities. The changes reflect the department’s efforts to expand beyond staple biology, chemistry, physics courses and match students with on-campus SIR projects.

Among the seven new science electives, Dr. Don Dosch, Curriculum and Assessment Leader of the Science Department, identifies geology as the standout addition. By synthesizing various scientific disciplines, the course aims to answer increasingly relevant questions about how to sustain the planet. He compares its integrative focus to past courses in astrophysics and hopes that it will catalyze the development of a more diverse science curriculum.

Medicinal Chemistry, taught by Dr. John Thurmond, will focus on pharmaceutical development. As a former industry professional, Dr. Thurmond will draw from his career experiences to provide his unique perspective to students.

The science department will also replace Molecular and Cellular Biology with Cancer Biology and Physiology and Disease with Pathophysiology. Dr. Dosch calls Cancer Biology an “outgrowth” of Advanced Biological Systems, as the year-old core biology class also focuses on the cell cycle and cancer research units. Similarly, Pathophysiology will be “systems-oriented,” offering students a “broad” overview of the subject that differs from traditional anatomy and physiology courses. Students who took MCB and PAD in the past will not be able to take the new courses due to significant overlap.

Science Communications (Rhetoric) will be a joint course with the English team that develops upon information in Dr. Crystal Randall and Mr. Michael Dean’s Zombology intersession. The course aims to explore the means of communicating scientific information through proposals, podcasts, news, and journals.

Students may also take advantage of courses in psychology and neuroscience. “Psychology: Theory and Research” is the result a partnership between science and student life. In “Biology of Behavior,” students will study the physical structure of the body in relation to human behavior.

Dr. Dosch is particularly excited about connecting students with IMSA faculty for SIR. Six science teachers and two social science teachers have developed proposals for research courses. About 15 students are estimated to join each. Projects include surveying viruses in water sources, human cell culturing in cancer treatment, protein engineering, drug design, and a Fermilab collaboration. In the social sciences department, Mr. Patrick Kearney and Dr. Eric Smith are spearheading projects.

Other notable developments include Wellness’s “Stress Management in Life,” Social Science’s “Modern Economics” and “A History of the Environment,” and Computer Science’s multiple Computer Seminar courses. Computer science teacher Ms. Namrata Pandya explains that students will study Computer Seminar subjects in greater depth through individual branch-off courses in ethical machine learning, Unix/Linux systems and cybersecurity, and Android app development.

As the science department works to rebuild the SIR program and revise introductory courses, students will soon select from a wider variety of course opportunities. Expect more interdisciplinary courses, business, and computer science developments as interest increases.

About the Author

Jodie Meng
Jodie was a three-year resident in 1506B who served as the Co-Editor-In-Chief along with Eva Tuecke for the 2019-2020 school year! Outside of The Acronym, she was active in LEAD, SIR, and other extracurriculars. She will be attending Stanford University for her undergraduate education.

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