Through Twitter and email, I run across some fabulous resources for learning various topics or fields of biology. I will list and link them here, organized by discipline. If you know of a resource that isn’t listed here, or would like to add your experience with these resources, please comment! I will continually update this page.
Last updated: November 9, 2013
Agriculture and Plant Biology
http://archaeology.about.com/od/domestications/a/plant_domestic.htm A table of when and where plants were domesticated, with dates and links to more information.
A Warming Planet Struggles to Feed Itself A NY Times article by Justin Gillis on the looming crisis in agriculture, caused by increasing population, changing diet, and global climate disruption, while research and development funds have declined. Links to follow-up related articles.
How do we feed the world w/o destroying it? Video by UMN Inst. Environment http://bit.ly/90yJFZ
Biochemistry & Bioenergetics
Online Macromolecular Museum A rich and extensive gallery of molecular 3-D visualizations of biomolecules, from simple amino acids to nucleic acids and macromolecular assemblies such as photosystem II and the ribosome. Requires JMol or Chime plugins.
Where do trees come from? YouTube video by 1veritasium exploring common misconceptions and the Van Helmont experiment.
Trees come “from out of the air,” said Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman. Krulwich blog posts YouTube videos of Richard Feynman musing about and explaining carbon, oxygen, and where trees come from. Also includes the veritasium video above.
Are you lightest in the morning? YouTube video by 1veritasium exploring common misconceptions about matter/energy
http://www.sigmaaldrich.com/life-science/metabolomics/learning-center/metabolic-pathways.html – The IUBMB-Nicholson metabolic pathways animations of glycolysis, pyruvate dehydrogenase complex, citric acid cycle, the electron transport chain, and ATP synthase. For advanced level undergraduate/graduate students – more mechanistic detail than required for intro biology students. The ATP synthase animation may be suitable for some intro students who want more detail on stoichiometry.
Photosynthesis Light Reactions – NDSU Virtual Cell animation
Proteorhodopsin in marine surface bacteria Science Daily news summary of a PLoS paper characterizing the role of proteorhodopsin in light-dependent enhancement of survival and growth of some marine Vibrio. Accompanying commentary in PLoS.
Cell size and scale Interactive animation at Learn Genetics on cell size and scale
Biovisions Harvard University multimedia page, including Biovisions Inner Life of the Cell and Mitochondria
Cell Picture Show “A place to showcase striking images in cell, developmental, and molecular biology; a place to learn about cutting-edge research with beautiful images.”
Clathrin-mediated endocytosis molecular animation a Janet Iwasa (Harvard Medical School) molecular animation on YouTube, with introductory narration and set to “Flight of the Bumblebee.”
Dengue virus escape from the endosome a Janet Iwasa (Harvard Medical School) molecular animation on YouTube, with audio narration.
Fatty acid micelles and vesicles a Janet Iwasa (Harvard Medical School) molecular animation on YouTube, with audio narration.
Hamamatsu Digital Video Gallery Videos of fluorescently labeled live cells. See mitosis, microtubules, Golgi, ER, mitochondria in spectacular color and motion.
Hidden life of the cell A 1-hour film by BBC Two with animations and contributions from the likes of Nick Lane and Bonnie Bassler. A virus infects the cell.
How cells divide Step-wise animation by PBS NOVA shows mitosis and meiosis side by side
Mitosis in Real Time Video of synchronous mitosis in Drosophila syncytial stage embryo; only 19 secs!
Meiosis tutorial U. Arizona Cell Biology Project has a click-through animation of meiosis, with 10 thought-provoking problem questions.
Molecularmovies.com Fabulous cell & molecular animations organized by topic.
DNA and RNA structural comparison A 5:20 video with animation and clear explanation of structure of nucleic acids. Video hosted on DNA Tube, unclear who owns the copyright.
Protein Synthesis The original 1971 Stanford U. film of protein synthesis, played out by people in a campus lawn, with words adapted from Jabberwocky, and introduced by Paul Berg (1980 Chemistry Nobel laureate)
Genetics of Harry Potter at the National Library of Medicine (thanks to Charlie Warden for reporting this discovery). Two lessons for middle and high school students; first is very basic Mendelian inheritance, second goes into multiple alleles, modifiers and complex traits.
Doodle animation of DNA packaging at a very basic level, with lovely music: http://www.lastwordonnothing.com/2012/02/24/fitting-in/
Biorad’s PCR song – can’t teach PCR without it! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zxr-52KwKo&feature=youtu.be
http://www.dnalc.org/ The Dolan DNA Learning Center, gateway to some great animations. The Animation library has the best animation explaining PCR (interactive version here) and cycle sequencing. The 3-D Animation library contains truly excellent molecular animations of DNA packaging in chromatin, DNA replication, transcription, RNA splicing, and translation. Basic cloning into plasmids, too.
DNA from the Beginning – An animated primer of the 75 experiments that made modern genetics. An offshoot of the Dolan DNA Learning Center, affiliated with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories.
The Central Dogma – a Nature Video animation of the central dogma with Tron-like effects. Just under 11 min.
How Genes Are Regulated: Transcription Factors – a short molecular animation of transcription factor binding to DNA. 2:56
RNA interference – a Nature Reviews Genetics video animation of RNAi 5:07
This July 2011 Tedx Boston talk (11 min) by Richard Resnick is accessible for lay audiences and intro biology students, and powerfully makes the point about how genome sequencing will be as disruptive as computing and the internet:
DNA Turning Human Story Into a Tell-All Alanna Mitchell’s NY Times science news story about DNA of Denisovans and interbreeding of humans with Neanderthals and Denisovans, Jan 30, 2012
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IXamRS85hXU YouTube video on “Whole genome sequencing and you” explains very basic information about genome sequencing, benefits and risks.
The One that Got Away YouTube video by Minute Earth on the effect of fishing regulations that result in harvesting only larger fish. Result is selection for fish that reproduce earlier, and grow more slowly, with dramatic effects.
The Habitable Planet by Annenberg Learner. On-line textbook downloadable as pdf, videos, and good interactive simulations (interactive labs) spanning the range of ecology topics.
Graphics of the Earth’s water and air Images of the planet Earth, and the planet’s water, fresh water, and air as spheres. Provides one perspective on the relative quantities.
A-conversation-with-mark-hay-aboard-the-aquarius-habitat Way cool. 20-minute video of Mark Hay talking about life underwater, and an accessible synopsis of his 4-year research on coral reef ecology. Another short video clip shows their work site, and follows a foraging sea turtle.
“How many Species Are There on Earth and in the Ocean?” PLoS Biol 9(8): e1001127 – 2011 paper by Camila Mora et al. estimating the number of species on Earth: Jonathan Eisen writes “Bacteria and Archaea don’t get no respect…” and Carl Zimmer summarizes for the NY Times: How Many Species on Earth? It’s Tricky.
What is nature (ecosystem) worth? Video by UMN Inst Environment: http://bit.ly/ja0KAg
Minute Earth a new (as of March 2013) YouTube channel like Minute Physics, but about the history of our planet
How did feathers evolve? Carl Zimmer’s TED-Ed video, 3 1/2 minutes.
Evolution animation by Tyler Rhodes, produced from drawings made by children copying a drawing of a salamander-like animal with successive generations of variation, mass extinction and selection. The process is described in this Scientific American blog post http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/psi-vid/2012/02/29/an-evolution-animation-unlike-any-youve-seen-before/ and Tyler Rhodes blog http://evolutionanimation.wordpress.com/ describes both the drawing “game” and his animation process. His “wheel of life” is an amazing phylogenetic tree of the drawings.
Dating rocks and fossils using geologic methods excellent explainer, part of Nature Education series at SciTable.
Newly found: the world’s oldest fossils A post in the Why Evolution Is True blog by Jerry Coyne, explaining the paper by Wacey, D.,M. R. Kilburn, M. Saudners, J. Cliff, and M. D. Brasier. 2011. Microfossils of sulphur-metabolizing cells in 3.4-billion-year-old rocks of Western Australia. Nature Geoscience online: doi:10.1038/ngeo1238
Darryl Cunningham Investigates: Evolution A lucid, inviting comic-strip presentation of basic evolutionary theory and evidence. Aimed at beginning learners.
Brief History of Life by David Knuffke on Prezi – cool Prezi (interactive slide animation).
Evolution Made Simple BBC Bang illustrates evolution beginning with a simple straight line, and replication with errors leads rapidly to diversification.
Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution Dobzhansky’s 1973 essay in The American Biology Teacher 35:125-129, just as relevant today as then, and I have yet to read a better explanation.
Microbial Evolution ASM Colloquium 2011 report: “What would Darwin have made of the microbial world?”
Exploring-the-invisible-universe-that-lives-on-us-and-in-us A summary of the state of human microbiome research as of Nov 2013, with a cute 5-min animated video, by NPR.
HIV Replication 3D Medical Animation The best animation of HIV replication I’ve seen, also shows how various anti-retroviral drugs interfere with HIV replication.
HHMI Virtual Bacterial ID lab – virtual lab that goes through the process of taking a bacterial sample from a patient and identifying it through 16S rDNA sequencing.
Microbes ‘R’ Us July 2009 blog post by Olivia Judson summarizing recent discoveries about the human microbiome.
Virology blog By Vincent Racaniello A virology Professor unravels viruses. Check out TWiV (This Week in Viruses podcasts), with links, as well as regular blog posts on recent virology research findings of interest. Be sure to visit his Virology 101 and Influenza 101 pages as well.
Nature Methods: Error Bars A useful description of 3 different types of error bars (standard deviation, standard error, confidence intervals), how they compare, and how readers commonly misinterpret them. 2nd in their Points of Significance series.
Huge list of interactive animations http://mrsebiology.visibli.com/share/eZ6jRC
Hank Green doesn’t forget to be awesome in his new series of YouTube videos called Crash Course Biology. These are snappy, entertaining, 10-15 minute talks on topics in Intro Biology. New videos are being added weekly as of March 2012.
TED-Ed Awesome Nature Playlist 5-10 minute talks tightly produced with slick videos and animations. Only 3 as of March 2012, but promise of more forthcoming. Videos on evolution in the city, neurobiology with a cockroach leg, and life in the deep ocean. Good for capturing student interest before introducing the actual science.
Gapminder: Unveiling the beauty of statistics for a fact based world view. – Gapminder.org Hans Rosling’s web site where nearly 500 statistical datasets, on world population, health, agriculture, carbon emissions, cancer rates, HIV/AIDS, etc. are brought to stunning life with amazing data visualizations. The data are interactive, so students can ask questions and explore relationships through the data.
HHMI’s Biointeractive Gateway to a wealth of animations, video clips, video lectures and virtual labs. You can order DVDs of the video lectures for free.
iBioSeminars: Free biology videos online A collection of longer video seminars (30-60 min) by HHMI Investigators for undergraduate audiences. Each speaker generally gives 2 or 3 seminars; the first discusses the overall topic and are usually suitable for freshmen. The later seminars are more specialized and more advanced.
http://www.johnkyrk.com/index.html John Kyrk’s web site has a growing list of animations, mostly of cell/molecular biology topics, although his evolution page presents a wonderful visual timeline from the Big Bang to modern day, with an accompanying chart of atmospheric oxygen, a globe showing continental movements, and animations of flora and fauna that emerged at each time period.
Khan Academy If you have not yet viewed any of these videos, you have been missing a huge trove of resources for students. Simple, but very well-presented chalk-talks that span numerous college-level subjects. The biology collection pretty much covers a freshman introductory biology course. The challenge for college faculty: what can you do in your classes that’s better than these videos? Students can view these videos to review, or learn basic concepts in advance of classes where they explore the concepts and their applications in greater depth.
Powers of 10 From 10 exp(23) meters 10 million light years from the Milky way to 10 exp(-16) meters a quark in a leaf cell.
Rediscovering Biology A collection of 13 units on various aspects of modern biology, with downloadable pdf text chapters, case studies, and a nice 35-min video-on-demand. Intended for teachers, but the texts and videos are just as good for students!
Sci-ence.org - “A Skeptical Comic and Blog”. Wonderfully illustrated comic strips about all areas of science. Unfortunately, no list of topics that I could find; just a very crude search tool that is not very useful.
A big caveat on videos: