Final Project Pointers

I hope everybody enjoys Thanksgiving!  For myself, I have a lot to be grateful for, including the privilege of teaching this class.

So, after you have digested your turkey and pie, and spent time with your families, it will be time to focus on your final presentations.

By the way, here is the lecture handout from this week: milk

Be sure to click on the links above that describe the grading rubric and give another example of a final project presentation.

Here is what I will be looking for: Try to spend at least 50%, preferably more, of your time talking about ultimate causation, evolutionary considerations, or natural selection. In past years students have started their presentations with a lot of detail about proximate causes and leave their discussion of an evolutionary hypothesis until the last slide or two. That is not good. While I am listening to your presentation, I am waiting for the evolutionary hypothesis and evidence that you understand how to consider diseases in terms of evolution and natural selection  (otherwise I would not be teaching this course!). So make sure that evolution appears in your presentation before the halfway point in your presentation.

Read the section on evolutionary categories of disease (link above). One part of your grade is correctly identifying the category of evolutionary hypothesis, e.g. genetic conflict in pregnancy, evolution of virulence, host-pathogen arms race, balancing selection, gene-environment mismatch, etc.) If you can identify one or more concept from class, you will be rewarded! I am happy to answer questions by email this weekend.

It is good to include at least one alternative hypothesis. However, you do not need to include 3 alternatives as I did during my fatty acid presentation. We will want to hear about alternative evolutionary hypotheses, but sometimes there might not be such an alternative. In that case the alternative, or null hypothesis, might be a non-evolutionary hypothesis. I will write more about this in a future post this weekend.

Finally, practice your presentation, preferably with a timer. You all did well during your Journal Club presentations, but I understand the temptation to talk longer than you anticipated when you are excited about a topic. We will be under a pretty strict time constraint. I want you to aim for 12 – 15 minutes per presentation.

Good luck,

Joe

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