BIO 256 - Computer Applications in Biology

General Information

I am no longer an instructor for BIO 256. These web pages remain here as a historical record. If you would like to know when the course will be taught next, please contact Dr. Jill Adler-Moore (
Computer technology is constantly changing, but the tasks that biologists use computers to accomplish change more slowly. No matter what kind of computer you are using now, it is a safe bet that you won't be using the same computer ten years from now. Learning to use specific software on specific computers is not as valuable as learning what kinds of biological problems can be solved with computers, and the general methods for solving them.

You'll need to do some preparation in order to complete your assignments for this course:

  1. You will need to have access to email and the internet. The university will provide these services, and this course will assume that you are using university facilities. If you have these services available to you from an off-campus source (e.g. AOL or Earthlink at your home), and you are allowed to use them for this purpose, you are welcome to use those services. However, instruction will be provided only for university-provided services - you are on your own if you use other services, especially AOL. You will not be able to carry out the assignments in the course without access to email and the internet.
  2. You will need an electronic mail (email) account. You may use any email account you have, but you must use the same account for this course for the rest of the quarter. All students receive a Cal Poly Pomona email account; your user name is usually your first two initials followed by your last name, followed by, and your automatically generated password is your date of birth, in the format yymmdd. If you need help with your account, go to the Help Desk, in the CLA Building (bldg. 98), room B1-208 (across from the Information Center). They are open Monday through Friday, 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. You will need to have your current quarter class list (or fees paid receipt), as well as a photo ID (Student ID or driver's license). Be sure to read about Electronic Mail, especially if you've never used email before.
  3. Access to the internet and email is available to you on campus at two locations:
    • Campus Center (97-121) located under Carl's Jr. This lab is open 24 hrs/day, 7 days/week.
    • Computing Commons (in the CLA building: 98C 5-12, 13, 14). This lab is open Monday-Thursday 8:00am-10:00pm, Friday 8:00am-5:00pm Sunday 10:00am-4:00pm.
    This course will assume you are using the PC machines (computers using the Intel microprocessor and running Windows NT), and that you use Eudora or WebMail for email, Internet Explorer or Netscape for the World Wide Web, and WS_FTP for ftp (file transfer protocol). If you decide to use a Macintosh, you are on your own. To see more information about these labs, see the ITAC Technology Access, Support, & Training page.
  4. There are no paper handouts for this course. You'll need to be able to make basic use of Netscape or some other web browser in order to obtain the information you need to complete the assignments. If you have never used Netscape before, plan to learn it, either during the designated lab time or by appointment with Dr. Clark, as soon as possible.
  5. You will be submitting all of you assignments by email. Before emailing your assignment to your instructor, email it to yourself. Check to see that the assignment came through correctly - if it didn't, then fix it before sending it to your instructor. When you do send the email to your instructor, put your email address in the Cc: field. This will send a copy of the message to you. If you got the message correctly, then there is a pretty good probability that the instructor also received it.

This page and the pages linked above are all copyright © 2001 by Curtis Clark and David J. Moriarty, and are intended for the exclusive use of students enrolled in BIO 256 or considering taking it. Derivative works are allowed only by permission.

This is the official syllabus of BIO 256 as taught by Curtis Clark. It is subject to change without notice to anyone but students currently enrolled in the class.

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