Martha Cook

Phone: (309) 438-8549
Email Me

Web Site for Martha Cook


Principles of Botany

BSC 212 spans the major areas of plant biology, from growth and form to reproduction and symbiosis. Applications to food production, gardening, conservation, bioenergy, and climate change are discussed.

Plant Diversity

BSC 333 considers the evolutionary origin of land plants from an algal ancestor and the subsequent diversification of plants on land. Major adaptations of form and reproduction that allowed plants to thrive on land are discussed. The evolutionary history of plants is generally one of adaptation to a progressively drier environment, a topic of current interest as scientists attempt to predict the effects of changing climate on modern organisms, including crop plants.

Biology of Algae

BSC 330 is about the organisms commonly known as algae, including diverse eukaryotes and the cyanobacteria. Freshwater, terrestrial, and marine taxa are studied, with an emphasis on freshwater genera. The significance of symbiosis in understanding the systematics and evolution of algae is a prominent theme of the course. The cell biology and physiology of representative taxa are explored. Biotic associations of algae, the role of algae in global nutrient cycling, and ways in which algae have been employed in biotechnology are included. Students learn to identify and culture algae.

Biological Microscopy

BSC 418 includes theory and practice of advanced light microscopy (optics, contrast methods, epi-fluorescence), as well as both scanning and transmission electron microscopy (electron optics, specimen preparation and observation). Light microscope contrast methods include differential interference contrast, phase contrast, darkfield, and polarized light. The emphasis is on producing publishable images of student specimens using each of the techniques learned.

Biological Evolution

BSC 305 includes mechanisms leading to evolutionary changes, speciation, adaptation, and aspects of the history of life such as the origin of life, evidence from the fossil record, and human evolution. Application of evolutionary approaches to current problems, including health and conservation are discussed.


Biological Investigations

BSC 204 students learn about the scientific research process and develop skills at reading, analyzing, and communicating scientific information. Readings of current scientific information from the advanced secondary literature and from the primary literature as well as from other sources are included.