Biological Sciences 300/301, Smith College | Neurophysiology

Administrative Information

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UPDATED: January 12, 2017


Neuroscience, Fifth Edition, 2012. Edited by Dale Purves, George J. Augustine, David Fitzpatrick, William C. Hall, Anthony-Samuel LaMantia, and Leonard E. White. (Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates.)

Highly recommended: the looseleaf edition, which is available directly from the publisher at an advantageous price. To order from Sinauer Associates, go to their website:

and then select the preferred format from the choices at the right edge of the page:

ISBN: 978-0-87893-646-5
Suggested List Price: $86.42  |  Price for Individuals: $73.46
Free standard ground shipping to all U.S. addresses
Orders usually ship in 1-4 business days.

The textbook is also on reserve in Neilson Library (QP355.2.N487 2012). It is not for sale in the Smith Bookstore.


Five major components will contribute (roughly equally) to your final grade:

An examination in class early in the semester, covering membrane potentials. The purpose of the exam is to make sure everyone is up to speed on the important initial topics in the course. A copy of a recent exam is available on our Moodle site.

A paper in preparation for the laboratory project, due in Lab 8. Although the paper will be discussed in lab, it will be graded as part of the work on motor control for the lecture course. Since the paper's purpose is partly to prepare everyone for the class discussion, if you or your paper are not present for the discussion, the paper will receive a neutral P/F grade (which is usually disadvantageous to your final grade).

A final examination administered by the Registrar during the self-scheduled exam period. An example of a recent final exam is available on our Moodle site.

Lab work, based on the overall quality of your experimental work, your project abstract, and your presentation. Although the lab is a separate course for administrative purposes, you will receive the same grade in the lecture and lab courses, as if they were a single 5-credit course. Your lab work will contribute 20% to that combined grade.

Your team's chapters for our class's Collaborative Writing Project. The intention of this project is to create a set of high-quality captioned illustrations that could potentially serve to review the course. Students will work in teams of four to write a series of chapters with figures and captions that summarize sections of the course. Your team's work will be graded in four categories: exceptional, very good (the usual grade), satisfactory, poor. Further details about this project are provided on the Collaborative Writing page.

Two minor components will contribute slightly to your grade:

Weekly quizzes, at the start of class on most Tuesdays. These five-minute quizzes will ask you to explain one figure or topic from the textbook related to the previous week's readings. A space at the edge of the quiz will allow you to make corrections when we go over the quiz before handing it in. Quizzes are intended to be diagnostic, and will not affect your final grade unless you do poorly week after week.

Several special assignments associated with the lecture or lab course. These are graded P/F.


meet Tu and Th at 10:30 in McConnell 104.
meets Tu or W at 1:10 in Sabin-Reed 408. Laboratory begins in the first full week of classes.

Richard F. Olivo,
Professor of Biological Sciences and Neuroscience
   From 1996-2009, Professor Olivo was also an Associate Director of the Derek Bok Center
for Teaching and Learning at Harvard University, where his special interest was educational
technology. He also managed annual teaching workshops and the Educational Resources (ERIN)
project for the Society for Neuroscience, for which he received the Society's Award for
Education in 2014.

Office: 454 Sabin-Reed
Mailing address: Clark Science Center, Smith College
                            44 College Lane, Northampton MA 01063
Phone: 413 585-3822.
Office hours: Tuesdays 4:30-5:30, or by appointment Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Richard Olivo, Susan Mishiyev '17 (Tuesdays)

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