Welcome to PoB!

Welcome to Principles of Biology! Let’s get started.

  1. Edit your profile by hovering over your username in the upper right-hand corner of the page (Profile > Edit).
  2. Take a look at the right-hand sidebar to find links to the Q&A Forums. You can ask your classmates questions and give and receive answers.
  3. Check out the news feed page (dr3biology.net/newsfeed) to see what others have done.
  4. Go to your blog and start reflecting on your learning (dr3biology.net/[yourusername]). There are no brackets in actual URL.


As always, there are many questions about citations. When publishing in scientific journals, there is never just one accepted format like APA or MLA. Each journal has it’s own style, but they are all generally variations on a theme:

In text:

“ … (Author Last Name(s) Year Published).”


“Author Last Name (Year Published) found that …”


Author 1 Last, First Initial, Author 2 Last, First Initial. Year Published. Article title. Journal title volume: start page – end page.

Here are some full citation examples that include different information depending on the publication type.

Journal Article:

Walker-Meikle, K. 2014. Toxicology and treatment: medical authorities and snake-bite in the Middle Ages. Korot 22: 85-104.

Here’s a link to the article online.

Note that the citation information might not be immediately obvious. There is a link to download the PDF. A PDF will show how the article looked when it was published and will include all the necessary citation information.

Also note: Although I found the article online, the original publication was the journal Korot, so the website, online repository (NCBI), and URL should not be included in the citation. Additionally, only the first word of article titles and proper nouns are capitalized.


Nature Publishing Group. 2016. Principles of Biology. MacMillan: online. 568-624.

This is the citation for our ebook. It is not published by Sapling – that’s a different Principles of Biology.

Note: this is somewhat unconventional for two reasons: For printed material you give the name of the publisher and city of publication (separated by a colon). However, since this book is published online, there isn’t any publication city mentioned in the book. Also, this book is written by such a large group of people that they prefer to be recognized as an organization rather than individuals.

Blog/News Site:

Mayor, A. 2012. Treating a snake bite in antiquity. Wonders & Marvels. Accessed Feb 23, 2017. http://www.wondersandmarvels.com/2012/08/treating-snake-bite-in-antiquity.html.

If you go to that webpage, you’ll find there isn’t a publication date on the page. However, if you look in the URL, you’ll find the publication date stamp. There may also be a “last updated” date toward the bottom of the article for other sites.

In the case of a web page the “article title” is the title of the page and the “journal title” is the name of the web site. If it’s a news site, the “journal title” is the (e)newspaper title.

Sometimes finding an author can be hard, and organizations may want to take credit.

Mayo Clinic Staff. 2014. Heart Disease Symptoms. Mayo Clinic. Accessed Feb 23, 2017. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/basics/symptoms/con-20034056.

This article gave the Mayo Clinic Staff credit in the byline, but you may have to search other websites for authorship information. Look for pages labeled “use”, “citations”, “copyright”, or something similar to find out how they prefer to be cited.

In text citations can be a little tricky too. Typically, you make a statement and include a parenthetical in-text citation with author(s) and year published at the end of the sentence:

Ancient Romans treated snakebites by sucking the venom from the wound (Walker-Meikle 2014).

If there are two or more sources that provide evidence to support your claim, then separate them with semicolons. You may cite as many sources of evidence as are necessary to support a claim.

Ancient Romans treated snakebites by sucking the venom from the wound (Walker-Meikle 2014; Mayor 2012).

You can rephrase a statement to include the author’s name to give credit a different way, but don’t forget the parenthetical citation!

According to the Mayo Clinic Staff (2014), heart disease symptoms include shortness of breath, pain or weakness in the arms, and angina.

If there are two authors for the same article, list them both in the in text citation. If there are more authors do the following:

Ancient Romans treated snakebites by sucking the venom from the wound (Walker-Meikle et al. 2014).

et al.” is an abbreviation of et alii (neuter pleural), meaning “and others” in Latin. It is abbreviated because form technically depends on gender of the authors.

I hope that clears most issues up!

What makes blood smell metallic?

Swedish researchers asked that exact same question. Odorants, molecules that dissolve in air and find their way into our nasal mucus membranes to interact with our olfactory receptors, must be volatile. So, first, they extracted volatile compounds from mammalian blood. Then they separated and analyzed them for their chemical composition using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.

(Guess Chem class is good for something!)

Next, to determine which chemical is responsible for “blood smell” they tested each extract with human subjects. Turns out just one compound smells like blood: trans-4, 5-epoxy-(E)-2-decenal. Say that five times fast!

Finally, to make sure this compound could attract large, dangerous predators (to answer questions about animal behavior and olfaction, not to weaponize it…I hope), they compared the responses of wild dogs and tigers to blood, blood odorant, a fruity odorant, and a control solvent by soaking wooden blocks in the substances. Turns out dogs and tigers love blood odorant as much as the real thing.

Tigers don’t know it’s not blood!

Reflective Blog

Why Reflective Writing?
Reflective writing might not be something you’re used to, especially in a science class, but many students who are willing to give it a try find it helpful. The primary purpose of reflective writing is to critically examine what you have taken away from an experience. This is important in the classroom context because it allows you to identify what you do and (just as importantly) do not understand.

Additionally, reflective writing builds critical thinking skills, writing proficiency, and improves retention of information — all useful skills for a life or health science professional!

What Makes Writing Reflective?
Reflective writing involves thinking about an experience, evaluating what happened, how it affected you, and then putting that learning experience into words. The process of reflective writing involves introspection and critical self-examination (things that do not come naturally to all of us).

Here are some guidelines to help you get started. The guidelines are not meant to be a check list, but rather a framework to guide your introspection and help you write a quality reflection (to gain the benefits listed above). You may expand upon my guidelines to personalize your reflection writing style.

Your blog post should be a reflection on your learning over the last week. A good reflection should summarize what happened and describe how it affected you, what you will take away from the experience, and what you’ll do next.

Start with outlining what you knew going into the week. Then describe what your reading covered. Did the information in the reading match or conflict with your prior understanding? What was difficult to understand? Were you confident in your discussion question answers? Did what you learn raise new questions?

Next, describe what was discussed in class. How did participating (actively or passively) affect your learning? Did class help improve your understanding? Why do you think that was? Did the discussion raise new questions?

Finally, how have your experiences in biology this week changed you? How do you think you’ll use this knowledge in class or in the future? What will you do to answer questions you might still have? How does what you learned this week relate to what you learned previously? How will you resolve conflicting ideas?

Introspection tends to come naturally to introverts, but for those of you who are more extroverted and find reflective writing challenging (or boring), you might try having a reflective discussion with another student in the class. “Interview” each other using the questions presented in the guidelines section above. Take notes, then write out what you discussed.

If you are having trouble getting started, try stream of consciousness writing. Start with a summary of the material discussed, then write whatever you feel next. Keep writing until you come up with answers to some of the questions above. Go back and review what you wrote. Then revise it to meet the guidelines above.