Fall Quarter, 2005

Students with Disabilities who may need accomodations, please see the instructor as soon as possible during office hours or make an appointment by calling x4719.


Russ Flegal


275 Jack Baskin Engineering Building (JBEB)


459-2093 (Office)


459-2088 (Lab)





Office hours:

Tues 1:00-2:00, Thurs 12:00-2:00




Evaluation Criteria

Midterm 1 20%
Midterm 2 20%
Oral Report 10%
Term Paper Draft 5%
Term Paper Final 15%
Final Exam 30%

Teaching Assistants:

Frank Black Office: JBE 285
Mary Langsner Office: JBE B12


459-2088 (WIGS lab)




Office hours:

Mary -M 9:30 -10:30, T 1-2 (B12)

Frank -W 12:30-2:00 PM - (285)

TA Mailbox:

J269 JBEB  



Understanding Environmental Pollution, M.K. Hill (1997), CambridgeUniversity Press

  Reading Assignments

Web Site:



Course Design: The course design is rapidly evolving for several reasons. First, my perspective on aquatic toxicology continues to change, (a) as I learn more in my research on the biogeochemical cycles of toxic trace elements and, more notably, (b) as I learn more about other areas of research in aquatic toxicology. Second, research in aquatic toxicology is now occurring at such an accelerated rate that it is becoming essentially impossible to keep up with recent advances in the field and that many of it's concepts are being modified or, in some cases, discredited. And third, the course design is changing to adapt to (a) the performance of students in the course and (b) the evolution of computer-based sources of information and alternative learning techniques.

Course Objectives: The objectives of the course reflect the evolving course design. With the incredible breadth and the phenomenal advances in the field, it is most important (at least to me) that students acquire (a) an appreciation of the current, fundamental concepts in toxicology (please note that I have already dropped the restrictive adjective, aquatic) and (b) an ability to acquire knowledge through independent research using credible, scientific publications. The preceding adjectives are especially important in this field, where there is a remarkable proliferation of pseudo-scientific hyperbole that is presented as factual. Consequently, much of the course focuses on basic concepts and the rest of the course focuses on the development of independent thinking and research skills.

Course Orientation: The teaching objectives also reflect my, highly biased, perspective on what is most important in a college education. First, I believe that the often overpowering fear of being incapable of learning something (e.g., nuclear physics for an English major or English for a physics major) has to be overcome. Second, I believe that true learning only occurs when someone recognizes the importance of the material and its application to their life. Third, I believe that you learn best by immersing yourself in the something and living it, rather than by passively listening to someone lecture at you about it (e.g., most farmers know much more about pesticide toxicity than college students learn in a couple of lectures in this course, especially if the students are sitting in the back of the class working on something else). Fourth, I believe a college education should involve higher level learning, rather than rote memorization, and the development of effective communication (oral and written) skills. Finally, I recognize that different people have different learning styles.

In an effort to provide students with those learning experiences, I attempt to do the following. Demystify scientific concepts by using simple analogies. Illustrate the importance of those concepts on individual, local, regional, and global scales. Use people actually working in the field (not other professors) to demonstrate applications of those concepts. Provide different opportunities for individual and group learning. Encourage students to develop their ability to learn, synthesize, evaluate and effectively present complex scientific information that they have obtained from a variety of reliable sources. Since these attempts are always evolving, constructive comments and criticisms on their effectiveness are welcomed.


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