Middlebury

 

Helen Young

Professor of Biology

Email: 
Phone: work802.443.2556
Office Hours: Wed and Thurs 10:30-12:00 and by appointment
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I am a field biologist interested in plant reproductive biology, pollination biology, and the conservation of native bee pollinators.

My studies of plant-pollinator interactions examine how floral traits affect pollinator behavior, which, in turn, influence plant reproductive success. In Vermont, I have worked extensively with jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) and its pollinators. This system is also characterized by nectar-robbers (bees that remove nectar from flowers without pollinating them), which has led to my investigating the causes and consequences of robbing. In addition, I am examining the effect of habitat fragmentation on bumblebee pollinators in Addison County. In this project, I am examining what features of the landscape are associated with bumblebee abundance with an eye toward conservation of these landscape features to maintain healthy and diverse pollinator communities.

My recent thesis students have examined the effects of mycorrhizal diversity on oak seedlings, why bees forage in the upward direction on inflorescences, and details of the different genetic models of captive breeding programs.

 

Courses

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

BIOL 0140 - Ecology and Evolution      

Ecology and Evolution
In this introduction to ecology and evolutionary biology we will cover the topics of interspecific interactions (competition, predation, mutualism), demography and life-history patterns, succession and disturbance in natural communities, species diversity, stability and complexity, causes of evolutionary change, speciation, phylogenetic reconstruction, and population genetics. The laboratory component will examine lecture topics in detail (such as measuring the evolutionary response of bacteria, adaptations of stream invertebrates to life in moving water, invasive species and their patterns of spread). We will emphasize experimental design, data collection in the field and in the laboratory, data analysis, and writing skills. This course is not open to seniors and second semester juniors in the Fall. 3 hrs. lect./disc./3 hrs. lab

DED SCI

Spring 2012, Spring 2014

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BIOL 0203 - Biology of Plants      

Biology of Plants
An introduction to plants, their life cycles, and their relationships to each other, as well as to the animals that pollinate them, disperse their fruits, and eat them. We will discuss morphology, physiology, evolution, and natural history of plants (mosses, ferns, gymnosperms, angiosperms). The laboratory will emphasize plant identification, various aspects of plant ecology and physiology, plant morphology, and plant use by humans. Students will complete a Community Service component, such as completing a forest inventory for a local forest, assisting with the campus tree map, or help with seed-saving measures at the College Organic Garden. Field trips will be the norm early in the semester. (BIOL 0140 and BIOL 0145) 3 hrs. lect./3 hrs. lab

SCI

Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014

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BIOL 0240 - Tropical Ecology      

Tropical Ecology
Tropical regions possess the majority of the planet's biota. In this course we will explore the diversity, natural history, and ecology of organisms in the New World tropics (mostly Costa Rica) and Old World tropics (mostly South Africa). Students will explore the details of the ecology of plants and animals in these areas as well as the many explanations for the high species diversity in these areas. This course will prepare students for a semester of study in Costa Rica or South Africa through the Organization for Tropical Studies, should they decide to attend. (BIOL 0140). 3 hrs lect/disc

SCI

Fall 2011

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BIOL 0395 - Advanced Evolution      

Advanced Evolution
This course will examine in depth many special topics in evolutionary biology: genetic variation in natural populations, field and laboratory investigations of natural selection, special problems of small populations, evolution at the molecular level, sexual selection, evolution of senescence, and population genetics. Current theories will be explored through readings of primary literature and the textbook. Each student will conduct an independent research project on a topic of their choosing. (BIOL 0140 and BIOL 0145) 3 hrs. lect./disc.

SCI

Spring 2011

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BIOL 0460 - Plant-Animal Interactions      

Plant-Animal Interactions
The mutualisms and antagonisms between plants and animals will form the focus of this seminar. We will discuss pollination, seed dispersal, insect defense of plants, and herbivory from both perspectives (the plant's and the animal's) and the evolutionary responses of these intense co-evolving entities. The format for the course will be both classroom and field based. Students will lead discussions of papers from the primary literature, perform individual or group research projects, and present results in both oral and written form. (BIOL 0140 and one other 0200- or 0300-level biology course). 3 hrs seminar/lab

SCI

Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2014

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BIOL 0500 - Independent Study      

Independent Study
In this course students complete individual projects involving laboratory and/or field research or extensive library study on a topic chosen by the student and a faculty advisor. Prior to registering for BIOL 0500, a student must have discussed and agreed upon a project topic with a member of the Biology Department faculty. Additional requirements include participation in weekly meetings with disciplinary sub-groups and attending all Biology Department seminars. This course is not open to seniors; seniors should enroll in BIOL 0700, Senior Independent Study. (Approval required) 3 hrs. disc.

Fall 2010, Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015

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BIOL 0700 - Senior Independent Study      

Senior Independent Study
In this course students complete individual projects involving laboratory and/or field research or extensive library study on a topic chosen by the student and a faculty advisor. Prior to registering for BIOL 0700, a student must have discussed and agreed upon a project topic with a member of the Biology Department faculty. Additional requirements include participation in weekly meetings with disciplinary sub-groups and attending all Biology Department seminars. (Approval required; open only to seniors) 3 hrs. disc.

Fall 2010, Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015

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BIOL 0701 - Senior Thesis      

Senior Thesis
Seniors majoring in Biology who have completed one or more semesters of BIOL 0500 or BIOL 0700 and who plan to complete a thesis should register for BIOL 0701. In this course students will produce a written thesis, deliver a public presentation of the research on which it is based, and present an oral defense of the thesis before a committee of at least three faculty members. Additional requirements include participation in weekly meetings with disciplinary sub-groups and attending all Biology Department seminars. Open to Biology and joint Biology/Environmental Studies majors. (BIOL 0500 or BIOL 0700 or waiver; instructor approval required for all students) 3 hrs. disc

Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015

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FYSE 1198 - Darwinian Medicine      

Darwinian Medicine
Is it better to fight a fever or let it run its course? Why do pregnant women get morning sickness? In this course, we will look at modern humans and their health from the perspective of evolutionary biology. Students will be introduced to the basics of evolution by natural selection and will learn to interpret morphological, biochemical and behavioral aspects of humans and their pathogens in this context (such as how and why the level of virulence of a disease changes when human habits change). Readings will include Why We Get Sick, Evolving Health, and numerous papers from the primary literature. 3 hrs. sem./disc.

CW SCI

Spring 2011, Spring 2014

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INDE 0800 - Ind Scholar Thesis      
INTD 1092 - On Food and Cooking      

On Food and Cooking
Most people eat because they are hungry; few people evaluate what they are eating and think about precisely what it is (“broccoli is a stalk of flower buds?”) or what it evolved from (“corn is derived from this puny little grass?”). Working with Bo Cleveland, Executive Chef at Middlebury College, we will explore the history of food, starting with the first people who planted seeds and figured out how to “make” plants better (domestication), we will learn why different varieties are good for different purposes (boiling potatoes vs. baking potatoes, for instance), and how to make nutritious meals from simple fresh ingredients.

SCI WTR

Winter 2012

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Selected Publications

*Indicates a Middlebury College student

Young, H.J. 2008. Selection on spur shape in Impatiens capensis. Oecologia 156:535-543.

Young, H.J., D.W. Dunning*, K.W. von Hasseln*. 2007. Foraging behavior affects pollen removal and deposition in Impatiens capensis (Balsaminacaeae). American Journal of Botany 94(7):1267-1271

Young, H.J. and T.P. Young. 2003. A hands-on exercise to demonstrate evolution by natural selection and genetic drift.  American Biology Teacher 65(2): 458-462.

Young, H.J. and L. Gravitz. 2002. The effects of stigmatic age on receptivity in Silene latifolia (Caryophyllaceae).  American Journal of Botany 89(8): 1237-1241.

Young, H.J. 2002. Diurnal and nocturnal pollination of Silene latifolia (Caryophyllaceae).  American Journal of Botany 89(3): 433-440.