MSE: All in YOUR family

The biology of heredity and kinship

Who are you? What is your family history? How do you go about finding your roots? 

This new course in Villanova’s MSE program will tackle these exciting questions. It will provide an introduction to conceptual and factual foundations of genetics and associated areas of biology through focus on genealogy and human family trees.

Lectures will cover principles about the genetic basis of heredity, including DNA and its replication; meiosis and Mendelian genetics; and inheritance of genetic traits, including hereditary diseases. Lectures will additionally address broader applications of information about genetic variation and kinship within conservation biology and behavioral ecology.

Laboratory work will focus on students analyzing results of test of their own DNA and construction of their family tree through combined genealogical and genetic analysis. Other laboratory exercises will explore genetic principles; field trips will investigate the importance of genetics in Zoo management, and connections between human longevity and genealogy. Interdisciplinary links in the course will include consideration of historical events as well as sociological and other influences on each student’s ancestors and collateral relatives.