Stem Cell Biology, Politics, and Ethics: Teasing Apart Issues

Description: Lecture, three and one half hours; discussion, 90 minutes. Developmental biology of various types of human stem cells. Important functional differences between embryonic, hematopoietic, and adult stem cells, as well as differences in their biomedical potentials. Discussion of history of debate surrounding embryos, as well as various social, ethical, political, and economic aspects of stem cell research. P/NP or letter grading.

Units: 5.0
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Overall Rating 4.2
Easiness 3.6/ 5
Clarity 4.2/ 5
Workload 4.0/ 5
Helpfulness 3.8/ 5
Most Helpful Review
Fall 2020 - Strengths: Dr. Lee seems very knowledgeable and the lectures and discussions are very interesting conversations. Weaknesses: during discussions, it would be helpful for Dr. Lee to respond with positive affirmation after a student shares because it is really nerve wracking to speak in front of other students and it's hard to read other people's body language over zoom. In addition, I would advise Dr. Lee to be careful with her choice of words. During one particular discussion where we discussing an ethical situation that involved saving lives, I wanted to share my opinion and was sort of put on the spot by Dr. Lee. I don't usually mind being grilled but I was arguing for the unpopular opinion and Dr. Lee said "I understand what you're trying to say but you're not putting it in a very elegant way". I felt that comment was a little insensitive because it is hard to think on the spot and be grilled in front of the other students about a stance that most of them don't support. Therefore, she could have worded that better. Additionally, I feel that Dr. Lee could be more lenient with grading especially during this pandemic and MCDB 50 being a General Education class and not a Biology major class. It is pretty heavy on biology knowledge and the midterm free responses were graded pretty harshly. If you are interested in stem cells and need to satisfy a GE requirement, it would be okay to take this class. Just make sure to double and triple check your midterm exam because they are very harsh with grading. Your responses need to match everything that was said in lectures and they take off big chunks of points very freely. My TA was Natalie G. and she was a really friendly and nice TA but I'm not sure about the other TA (Salena).
Overall Rating 3.3
Easiness 1.5/ 5
Clarity 2.7/ 5
Workload 1.7/ 5
Helpfulness 3.5/ 5
Most Helpful Review
Ignore the class it says I took up there - I actually took LS4 with Merriam (LS4 wasn't a choice). Anyway, Merriam is a complicated professor to evaluate. He's simultaneously the most available, concerned, and wackiest professor I have ever had. HOWEVER - he is not an effective teacher for LS4. He dressed up as Mendel on the first day of class. It was funny, but contrary to what I expected, we never really moved on past randomness like that in the whole 10 weeks. Case and point: we spent the first 10 minutes of class every Monday singing pun-filled songs about genetics. He wore his pajamas and green track jacket to midterms, which at first was weird, but then it just seemed like Merriam after a while. Unfortunately, he tended to spend way more time on teaching concepts and experiments when the tests were almost completely numerical and probability based. He's a genuinely nice guy, though. So much so that the class started to feel like a self-help and empowerment therapy class. Here are some of the "mantras" he wrote on the board every single day before class started: "Everybody passes." (That's his main one) "Everyone matters." "Everyone counts." "Everyone matters. And, you don't have to be perfect." "Everyone can be trained." "Everyone's time is valuable." I got an A in this class, but throughout the whole quarter I worried about my grade due to his four midterms (weeks 3,5,7,9). They were all multiple choice, 100 points and 20 questions each. That's 5 points each, no partial credit. His final includes mostly past questions from midterms, but "tweaked," which really means it's a whole new problem since the math changes if he asks for a different probability. You would think this would increase the average, but all of the tests except midterm 1 (easier) had around 56-59% as the average. So yes, everybody probably passes. But with what grade? I would hold off on taking LS4 if you want to be on a level playing field and not constantly worry about your grade.
Overall Rating N/A
Easiness N/A/ 5
Clarity N/A/ 5
Workload N/A/ 5
Helpfulness N/A/ 5
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