BIOL 40500 / 50500
Lecture:  TR 10:50 - 12:05, CNS 1AB (CNS 117-118)
Lab: M 1-3:50, CNS 212

INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Bruce P. Smith
Center for Natural Sciences
Office 166
Lab  171
(607) 274-3971

Office Hours: Thursday. 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm, or by appointment

Limnoporus dissortis water strider parasitized by Neolimnochares johnston

Bush, A.O., Fernández, J.C., Esch, G.W., and Seed, J.R. 2001. [T] Parasitism: the diversity and ecology of animal parasites. 1st Edition.  Cambridge Univ. Press.
Lab Book:

Sullivan, J.T. 2006 A Color Atlas of Parasitology, 7th edition (CD version 3.0)
(NOTE: only works on PCs, not MACs)
Required reading
Desowitz, R.S. 1987 (paperback edit.). [D] New Guinea Tapeworms and Jewish Grandmothers - Tales of Parasites and People.

Lecture Schedule
Lab Schedule
Useful Parasitological

The field of Parasitology cuts across the widely accepted classification of Biology into cellular and molecular, within organism, and among organisms. This course covers the general biological principles of host/parasite interactions from the cellular level (e.g. immunology) through to the ecological (i.e. population and community) level. While intended as a general survey of parasitism through the animal kingdom, special attention will be given to parasites important in human and veterinary medicine. Classical aspects of Parasitology will be covered during this course, namely systematics, morphology, and life-cycles, but non-traditional topics would include coevolution of hosts and their parasites, the use of parasites and parasitoids as biological control agents of pest species, and the influence of parasites on hosts in regards to population biology and community structure.

Goals and Assessment:

The mission statement of our Department  makes specific reference to providing fundamental knowledge in biology spanning from molecular biology to ecology, and also, to foster the ability to draw connections between different areas of biology and between biology and the liberal arts.  Both this course and the field of Parasitology cuts across various levels of biological organization, promoting integration and synthesis across various subdisciplines, through a focus on a single biological relationship - the one between hosts and parasites.   Many human parasites and vectored diseases continue as major sources of illness, disfigurement, and death on a worldwide level, but primarily centered in Third World and underdeveloped nations - largely because of economics, politics, and social conditions.  Hence, Parasitology has obvious links to the Humanities, including Economics, Politics, Anthropology, and Sociology, and  requires a global perspective.  Historically, parasitic and vectored diseases regularly had profound effects on the outcome of wars, and various plagues have had dramatic impact on human societies.


Specific Departmental Goals and Assessment:

1.  Demonstrate an understanding of the fundamental concepts and principles in biology (organismal biology, population and evolutionary biology, ecology). [Assessed by selected questions on the three term tests and final exam]

6.  Effectively communicate scientific works in both oral and written form. [Assessed by the Internet Project, Oral Presentation]

GRADING SCHEME                                 

Lecture Test 1 13% 11%

Lecture Test 2 13% 

Lecture Test 3

Lab Test 1 13% 12%

Lab Test 2 8% 7%

Final Exam 20% 20%

Internet Project
13% 12%

Oral Presentation 7%

Teaching Assignment 
n/a 10
NOTE: There is no extra credit.

Grade scale:  Letter grades correspond to the following percentages:

A   = 93.3 – 100% A- = 90 – 93.2%
B+ = 86.6 – 89.5% B   = 83.3 – 86.5% B- = 80 – 83.2%

C+ = 76.6 – 79.5% C  = 73.3 – 76.5% C-  = 70 – 73.2%

D+ = 66.6 – 69.5% D = 63.3 – 66.5% D- = 60 – 63.2%

F = below 60%


Lectures are traditional in format, with a strong emphasis on audiovisual presentation.  The main goal is to establish fundamental knowledge in the field, and to develop the ‘big picture’, integrating across subdisciplines of biology and forming connections with other fields within the liberal arts.  Assigned readings from Desowitz (1987) are intended to help students extend their view beyond the science.  Tests and the final exam are in traditional format and will be based on lectures and assigned readings.  The three term tests are not cumulative, while the final exam includes all material in the course.  Questions include short answer (typically 8 at 3 points each), fill in the blank (typically 7 at 1 point per blank), and an essay question designed to be answered in 1-2 pages (typically 1 essay at 8 points).  I give a choice of questions on each section of all lecture tests and the final exam.



In the laboratory, the focus is on developing diagnostic skills.  This includes learning technique (e.g., proper use of stereoscopic [“dissecting”] and compound [bright-field and phase contrast] microscopes, critical observation skills for finding organisms on diagnostic slides and in infected hosts),  as well as fundamental knowledge in Parasitology (how to recognize and identify various stages of parasitic organisms, important internal and external anatomy of parasitic organisms).  Inherent to these labs is to learn basic histology of animal tissues, including both healthy and infected material, and to be able to visualize orientation of structures and parasites in the 3-dimensional host based upon 2-dimensional microscopic sections.   Laboratory tests are in two parts: 1) a traditional section testing fundamental knowledge; 2) a problem-solving application section, in which students need to find and identify unknown parasites and pathologies on slides of biological samples.  I will frequently provide background information from the host’s case history in questions from the latter section, to assist students in forming a diagnosis. The application section of laboratory tests is open book, in which you are allowed to use the textbook and hand-outs from your laboratories.  The Color Atlas of Parasitology and various image libraries on the internet should be very useful for practicing your diagnostic skills and preparing for the laboratory tests.  Any information presented in the laboratory handouts, or presented in demonstrations, will be testable material.


COMMUNICATION SKILLS (Written, Oral, Electronic)

The written and oral assignments are intended to be independent, self-directed scientific inquiry.  Students must locate sources of information, both in the traditional scientific literature (journals, books) as well as electronic media - webpages maintained by the World Health Organization [WHO], Center for Disease Control [CDC], various organizations and  governmental agencies, academic institutions, and faculty.  Students evaluate information, interpreting relevance and reliability, hence practicing critical thinking skills.


1) Written Project

This project involves writing skills, as a student must summarize and organize information into a cohesive synthesis. The written project will be a status report on an important parasite or parasite / micropredator-vectored disease, based primarily on electronic media (i.e., web-based resources).  Students can choose their topic from either human or veterinary medicine.  The project will include an expanded literature cited section in which you will reference the websites on which you based your report, including a brief description of each website.  The first regular laboratory period is scheduled as an introduction to the internet and searching for parasitological information, to get you started.

DEADLINE FOR HAND-IN: March 4th , 1:00 p.m. - NO EXTENSIONS!


2) Oral Presentation

This assignment emphasizes organization and clarity, and practice in oral communication.  Each student will summarize a recent primary research article, through preparing and delivering a powerpoint presentation.  You can choose a paper that interests you, and I will check whether it is suitable (i.e., not a review article, and neither too simple nor too complex), from current research articles found in relevant scientific journals (e.g., Parasitology, Journal of Parasitology, International Journal for Parasitology, Medical Entomology, or the Parasitology Section of Canadian Journal of Zoology, etc.). The presentation is to be 12-15 min. in length, and will be presented during the April 15th  laboratory period.  NOTE: DEADLINE FOR APPROVAL OF PAPER: April 8th,  4:00 p.m.


GRADUATE STUDIES (MA-Teaching – Biol-50500)

For MAT students there is an additional assignment, distinguishing it from the undergraduate course.  MAT students will research a topic that we provide, produce and deliver a powerpoint presentation, teaching this topic to the class.  This presentation should be approximately 30 min. in length.



1. Attendance:

The Undergraduate Announcements state the general policy that students are expected to attend classes and that they are responsible for all material even when absent.  Conspicuous unexplained absence (i.e., more than 10% of the classes) may result in lower grade, or dismissal from class.  Acceptable reasons for absence include 1) student illness, requiring the student to be bed-ridden; 2) death or serious illness in the immediate family; 3) appearance in court; 4) religious holidays.  Note that you MUST have written documentation for your reason for absence (e.g., note from doctor, religious leader, etc.)

An exam missed during an unexcused absence (i.e. oversleeping or not being prepared) will result in a zero grade for that exam.  If you miss a exam, you MUST inform me before the test if at all possible, but if not physically capable, then notify me as soon as possible afterwards.  You can send me e-mail, phone my number (above) or the Biology Department (607-274-3161) to leave a message, and if you do not have the number with you, phone directory assistance and get the number for the main switchboard of the College (they will either transfer your call, or provide the correct number).  Such notification does not guarantee my accepting your reason for absence, but failing to notify me guarantees that you will not be excused.

2. Readings:

You are expected to read the assigned readings BEFORE coming to class, as a background to that day's lecture.  If you have any questions regarding material in the reading, please ask during class.


3. Questions:

Please feel free to ask questions in class.  Chances are that if there is something that you don't understand, then others in the class are also confused - don’t hesitate to ask your question. 

4. Accommodation for Students with Disabilities:

In compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, reasonable accommodation will be provided to students with documented disabilities on a case by case basis.  Students must register with the Office of Academic Support Services (607-274-1005, TDD 607-274-7319, and schedule an appointment with their instructors as soon as possible to discuss their needs.  If tests or exams are to be written under supervision of Academic Support Services, appointments have to be made with their office at least 1 week prior to the test, and I also need to be notified at that time.

5. Students with Apparent Psychological / Emotional Problems:
Diminished mental health, including significant stress, mood changes, excessive worry, or problems with eating and/or sleeping can interfere with optimal academic performance. The source of symptoms might be related to your course work; if so, please speak with me.  However, problems with relationships, family worries, loss, or a personal struggle or crisis can also contribute to decreased academic performance.  In the event I suspect you need additional support, expect that I will express to you my concerns and the reasons for them.  It is not my intent to know the details of what might be troubling you, but simply to let you know I am concerned and that help (e.g., Counseling and Psychological Services, Health Center, Chaplains, etc.), if needed, is available.


6. Personal Conduct:

"A student's behavior must not interfere with the activities of the College or with other student's pursuit of educational objectives" (see General Information, Undergraduate Announcements).  Talking during lecture (except for questions or participating in class discussions) is disruptive and is disrespectful to other students and the instructor.  Cell phones, pagers, etc. must be kept turned off during classes.  Disruptions may result in the student being asked to leave the class and the student will be considered absent without excuse.  If asked to leave class on more than one occasion, the student will be withdrawn from the course.

7. Plagiarism:
Please be aware of plagiarism: if you take a sentence from someone else’s work and only change one or a couple of words, it is still plagiarism even if you cite the source.  You must rewrite it in your own words.  Plagiarism is a serious case of academic misconduct: check the course blackboard site, the student handbook, and the library website for details, but it can lead to judicial proceedings and even expulsion from the college.  I check carefully for plagiarism and will take appropriate action in any cases I encounter.  I will give you further guidance on how to properly reference sources when written work is assigned.

8. Course Evaluations:
Student input is highly valued and is important to maintain high quality instruction.  We do take these seriously: the input is used when making decisions as to whether a faculty member receives a promotion or merit pay.  Course evaluations must be completed by the last day of class.  The evaluation will be submitted to the Department Assistant. She will verify that you have submitted the form.  Once that has been checked, your identification will be removed and will not be printed with the comments. Further instructions will be given at the end of the semester.

Lecture Schedule

Tues./Thurs. 10:50 am - 12:05 pm, CNS 1AB



Readings T(pgs), D(chapters)

Jan. 22



Jan. 24

The Parasite's Environment; start Physiol. & Biochem.

D(1, 2)

Jan. 28

Physiol. and Biochem.; start Immunology [during Lab 1]


Jan. 29

Immunology; start Parasitic Protozoa

T(13-27, 42-49) D(10)

Jan. 31

Parasitic Protozoa: flagellates


Feb. 5

Parasitic Protozoa: amoebae, apicomplexans

T(58-69), D(6, 13)

Feb. 7

Parasitic Protozoa: apicomplexans, ciliates, myxozoans

T(69-100, 288-292), D(4, 5)

Feb. 12

Parasitic Flatworms: turbellarians, monogeneans, aspidobothrians

T(103-105, 128-134) D(11)

Feb. 14

Parasitic Flatworms: digeneans


Feb. 19

Parasitic Flatworms: digeneans; start Tapeworms

T(117-128, 134-139)

Feb. 21



Feb. 26


T (139-153), D(8)

Feb. 28

Parasitic Nematodes


March 5

Parasitic Nematodes

T(173-184), D(3)

March 7

Parasitic Nematodes

T(184-192), D(12)

March 12



March 14



March 19

Nematomorpha, Spiny-Headed Worms, Tongueworms

T(197-223, 296-298)

March 21

Parasitic Crustacea; Micropredators and Vectors

T(225-242, 257-263), D(7)

March 26

Micropredators and Vectors


March 28



April 2

Ectoparasitic Insects


April 4

Ectoparasitic Insects; start Protelean Parasites


April 9

Protelean Parasites and Insects as Parasitoids


April 11

Parasitic Mites (incl. Ticks)


April 16

Parasitic Mites; Miscellaneous Parasites

T(251-257, 299-308)

April 18

Population Biology and Ecology of Parasites

T (312-326, 357-359)



Topic (continued)

Readings T(pgs), D(chapters)

April 23

Ecology of Parasites

T(331-348, 363-368) D(9, 14)

April 25



April 30

Ecology of Parasites; Evolutionary Biology of Parasites

T(405-416,  459-463, 494-501)

May 2

Evolutionary Biology of Parasites

T(397-399, 501-509)


FINAL EXAM:  Monday MAY 13, 2013  1:30 pm 4 pm*



       *  Alternative possibilities for Final Exam: May 9 2013,  at either 7:30-10:00 am, 1:30-4:00 pm  


Laboratory Schedule

Mon. 1:00 - 3:50 pm, room CNS 212




Jan. 28

Lecture: Physiol. and Biochem.; start Immunology [also see lecture schedule, above]

Feb. 4

Parasites on the Internet

Feb. 11

Parasitic Protozoa I: flagellates and amoebae

Feb. 18

Parasitic Protozoa II: sporozoans and ciliates

Feb. 25

Parasitic Flatworms

March 4


March 11


March 18

Spiny-Headed Worms and Parasitic Nematodes

March 25


April 1

collection techniques

April 8

Parasitic Crustacea and Micropredatory Insects;


April 15


April 22

Ectoparasitic Insects and Parasitoids

April 29

Parasitic Mites (including Ticks)

May 6



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