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A Primer on Probability and Mendelian Genetics
This document, which contains explanations of the basic rules of probability and Mendelian Genetics, provides useful background for many high school and undergraduate biology and genetics courses. The materials were originally developed for a Smith College Summer Science and Engineering Program course called “Your Genes, Your Chromosomes: A Laboratory in Human Genetics.” Noting that students need a thorough understanding of probability to master both subject matter and problem solving in the areas of transmission and population genetics, the document explains the basic rules of probability and offers examples and sample problems relevant to genetics. The section on Mendelian Genetics clearly explains how Gregor Mendel derived his two laws, the Law of Segregation and the Law of Independent Assortment, from his monohybrid and dihybrid crosses of peas. The publication also explains how to test a hypothesis using the chi-square test and provides extensions of Mendelian Genetics to topics such as blood group, sex determination and sex linkage, and gene interaction.
Program Director: Thomas S. Litwin, Ph.D.
Award Years: 1988, 1993, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008
Summary: Smith College is a private baccalaureate institution in Northampton, Massachusetts. Its HHMI-funded initiatives include:
- Major changes in science curricula, leading to a curriculum-wide adoption of experiential learning pedagogies;
- A Center for the Molecular Biosciences to provide centralized resources for interdisciplinary teaching and research;
- Expanded programs for middle and high school girls and teachers, including the Summer Science and Engineering Program and an Institute for Educators, emphasizing adolescent girls’ health and curricular resources;
- A summer student research fellows program, with an emphasis on the molecular biosciences;
- A major project to assess the outcomes for Smith students participating in the summer student research fellows program from 1967 through 2006; and
- An annual Five College student research symposium in the molecular biosciences.