Semester 1, 2010
Following last Semester's concurrent six units, dropping back to four units was an amazing relief. This semester had the right balance between effortlessly fun (i.e. Entomology) and extremely challenging (i.e. Neuroscience) courses. It was also a time of firsts: I ramped up my involvement with extracurricular stuff, helping to form the student-run Biology Society and entering in the ANU Video Competition, and decided it was finally time to start drawing a large comic project.Feel free to join – everyone is welcome, and you get free BBQs and very cheap and fun evening events.
Notes from this semester weighed in at... 3.45kg
And now for some art inspired by doodles drawn between units. Click on the thumbnail to view the full image.
BIOL3101 - Cellular Neuroscience
I took this course purely out of interest. I hoped it would give some background to the more biologically-based theories my psychology degree has thus far touched on. In my capacity as class representative, I was surprised at how much I ended up discussing student-raised points with the convener and other staff. Several shortfalls in this course were swiftly addressed, and thanks to cooperation between staff and students I'm confident it will be a much improved experience for those taking it next year. Yes, there were problems, but it must be incredibly difficult to craft a course like this, given the number of guest lecturers and complexity of the material covered.
When reflecting on this course, the best analogy that comes to mind is scaling a mountain of ice – difficult, slippery, but you get the hang of it eventually, and adrenalin pushes you on. Then, you get to the top and look back at how far you've come, and it is amazing. The view is fantastic, and though you're exhausted, it is that satisfying exhaustion that comes of hard-earned achievement. It seems blind determination does count for something! More importantly, I have learned an unbelievable amount. The way I see the human brain has fundamentally changed. Many theories I have learned about in psychology finally make sense from a biological viewpoint. At last I understand the mechanisms behind the migraines I suffer from (now the near psychotic state and left-side numbness don't scare me! Yay!).
Don't take this course unless you're prepared for a challenge. If you're willing to work at it, you may find it one of the most intellectually rewarding courses of your undergraduate career.
A Neuron Naga (part man, part ridiculously oversized neuron), Sterne Hallgren walks his pet schwann cell daily and wraps up warm. He plays with electronic circuit design in his spare time, and can move surprisingly fast for a man without legs.
BIOL3115 - Entomology
I've wanted to study entomology for fifteen years, thanks to the magnificently maniacal Dr. Culex (from the children's programme Tomorrow People). At age 7, entomology was my first career aspiration (forget nursing or teaching, so boring!), and I insisted on being called 'Mozzie' for quite a large number of years. Though this has mellowed over the years with career aspirations turning toward psychology, I remain a stalwart bug lover.
This course lived up to expectations, no mean feat given how high my expectations were.
I would encourage everyone taking this course to read the recommended, but not obligatory, textbook – beautiful diagrams and clearly organised content make it a real page-turner. I read it cover-to-cover in the first few weeks of the semester, and I'm sure it helped later lectures to stick. This course had a good mix of guest lecturers, whose unfailing enthusiasm for the topic was infectious. The single large project and end-of-semester exam mixed well with other courses that have more ongoing assessment.
Alas, I didn't get the opportunity to rule the world by way of releasing genetically engineered, coma-inducing mosquitoes (sorry, Dr. Culex!). I did, however, get to indulge in entomological shenanigans in a remarkably friendly environment. I highly recommend this course to everyone in the history (and future) of the human race!
A gregarious fellow, Sam likes the finer things in life – good company, a nice microscope, and the fact his respiratory system confuses everyone. Sam dislikes being mistaken for an insect, pointing out that he obviously has too many limbs to be classified as such.
PSYC3023 - Special Topics in Psychology
This Special Topics course was a curious hybrid between the structured tutorials in most psychology courses, and the Special Topics in Evolution and Ecology I did last semester. There was significantly more freedom and responsibility than in psychology tutorials, but more structure than in my previous Special Topics course. I enjoyed working through a psychology research project, and I'm sure this experience will make the transition to Honors next year far easier. This course was less demanding on my time compared with my other three courses this semester. However the time spent on this course was by far the most productive. Careful management of due dates was the key – I was constantly aware that my other courses may distract me, and had to be mindful of not letting this one slip. My dispiriting lack of statistical skill bogged me down at several points, but Emina was available and very helpful and I eventually prevailed. If you have the opportunity to enrol in a Psychology special topics course, I'd thorougly recommend you do so – it is an eye-opening, if mentally demanding, experience.
Seeing the complexity that many miss, Morgan hopes to become an effective leader in his personal and professional life. He often doodles expansive, and complex diagrams that make perfect sense at the time but are impenetrable upon revisiting.
PSYC3026 - Personality and the assessment of Induvidual Differences
This is a great example of a well-run third year course. The assessment and personality sections did not feel particularly contiguous, but given the mid semester exam and break, they did not need to. As I have absolutely no talent for statistics whatsoever, I found the assessment section of the course less engaging than the personality section. This being said, the whole course was presented in a clear, easy-to-follow manner, and the organisation cannot be faulted. What really shone was the choice of textbook for the personality section. Whilst I didn't agree with some of its points, it was an excellent springboard for a closer scrutiny of the theories being developed. I am now officially an Arnold Lazarus fangirl.
A dynamic adventurer, Damien is a personable man who likes to approach problems with an eclectic toolset. Never one to confuse correlation with causation, Damien tries to understand the multiple interpretations of any given situation before acting.