This "group tutorial" is a prototype run for a new course intended to assist second-year undergraduates in finding research labs that they might join. To register, contact Kevin Karplus karplus@soe.ucsc.edu for the class number.

This syllabus is a work in progress—expect changes as the course develops.

Kevin Karplus karplus@soe.ucsc.edu
Meeting times:
Fridays 2:40–3:45 p.m.
Office hours:
Zoom only this quarter: Wed 12:30–1:30, Th 2:30–3:30.
Email for an appointment if you can't make regular office hours: karplus@soe.ucsc.edu
This course is a prototype run of a new 2-unit course to try to get students to affiliate with research labs before their third year. In it, students will sit in on weekly lab group meetings, read papers relevant for that research lab, and report on the research to other students in the course.

The course is split into two 5-week periods, each of which will be spent in a different lab group. To help students find lab groups to join, the first meeting of the quarter is the BME Lab Fair, in which researchers from interested lab groups will give lightning talks about what their group is doing. Any BMEB major or proposed major can attend the Lab Fair.

There will be a sign-up sheet at the fair for students in the course to meet with the faculty in the next few days for further discussion about sitting in on a lab group. This signup will only be available to students in the BME 94F course.

Target audience:
The primary audience are second-year BMEB majors and proposed majors.
This is intended for second-year students, and there are no prerequisites.
Requirements satisfied:
This course does not satisfy any graduation requirements, nor is it a prerequisite for any further courses. Take this course because you want to do it, not because you have to.
Expect to average about 6 hours/week on the course: 1 hour in class, 1–2 hours in lab-group meetings, 2–3 hours reading papers for the lab group, and 1 hour writing summaries and preparing presentations.
There are no required textbooks for the course—students will be assigned papers to read by their lab-group mentors. For advice on writing, I refer students to the free resource https://leanpub.com/design_report_guidelines
Students will be evaluated on the written (60%) and oral (40%) summaries they make of what is happening in the lab group they attend. Attendance is required for both the lab-group meetings and the weekly class meetings. Missing more than two meetings during the quarter is grounds for failure. Students are encouraged to register for the course on a pass/no-pass basis.
Students completing this course will be able to
  • describe the research of two research lab groups in detail, in a way comprehensible to BMEB students not familiar with the lab group's topics,
  • describe the general areas of research of several other lab groups, and
  • write clearly about the current status of several research projects.

Names and pronouns

The pronouns "he, him, his" are best when referring to me in the third person. It is acceptable to address me as "Kevin", "Professor", "Professor Karplus", but not as "Dr. Karplus" (I have a Ph.D., not an M.D., and prefer not to use "Doctor" as a title) or "Mr. Karplus".

Although I will attempt to learn student names and pronouns, I have much lower than average ability at remembering names and faces. On Zoom, with poor lighting and web cameras, I'm lucky if I recognize people whom I already know well. It will be surprising if I manage to learn and retain more than one name a week. Please do not be offended if I get your name or preferred pronoun wrong—my disability with names and faces is to blame, not any intention to insult.


Weekly, starting with second week, each student will write a 200–300-word report on the lab group being visited. This report is due at noon on Fridays (with a 2½ hour grace period for late submission). All reports must be submitted as single, readable PDF files on Canvas. Reports will not be accepted in other formats, nor will they be accepted by e-mail.


Date Meeting Topic(s) Due
Fri 2021 Apr 2 BME Lab Fair
Wed 2021 Apr 7 NA show permission
Fri 2021 Apr 9 Brief verbal reports on what labs are being attended and what the main topics of the lab are. 200–300-word description of lab 1
Fri 2021 Apr 16 First half of class give 8-minute presentations with slides written report on lab group meetings
Fri 2021 Apr 23 Second half of class give 8-minute presentations with slides written report on lab group meetings
Thurs 2021 Apr 29 NA Permission to join second lab group
Fri 2021 Apr 30 3-minute elevator talks on first lab written report on lab group meetings
Fri 2021 May 7 3-minute elevator talks on 2nd lab 200–300-word description of lab 2
Fri 2021 May 14 8-minute presentations (first half) written report on lab group meetings
Fri 2021 May 21 8-minute presentations (second half) written report on lab group meetings
Thurs 2021 May 22 5-minute video (submit link to video through Canvas—be sure to share the video with karplus@soe.ucsc.edu, so that I can access it). Videos can be on YuJa, Google Drive, or other places I can download from.
Fri 2021 May 28 5-minute videos presented written report on lab group meetings
Fri 2021 Jun 4 Discussion about BMEB curriculum, career advice, … written report on lab group meetings
Tuesday 2021 June 8 4–7 p.m. Final exam slot (no meeting planned) 500-word reflection on whole course and future plans.

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Biomolecular Engineering Department
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Biomolecular Engineering
University of California, Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz, CA 95064
318 Physical Sciences Building