COVID-19 Updates: Fall Semester

Mark Spritzer

Associate Professor of Biology

 
 work(802) 443-5676
 Tuesdays 8:15-10:15; Fridays 1:30-2:30
 McCardell Bicentennial Hall 344

I am broadly interested in both how selective pressures have shaped behavioral traits and the underlying physiological mechanisms that lead to individual differences in behavior.

My research is in the area of behavioral neuroendocrinology, which means that I study how hormones influence brain function and behavior.  In collaborative experiments with students, we test the effects of hormones and growth factors on spatial cognition and adult neurogenesis using rodent species as model systems.  The main applied component of my research involves developing therapies to treat age-related memory loss.  We have shown that testosterone can enhance adult neurogenesis within the hippocampus region of the brain among adult male rats, and we are currently exploring which metabolites of testosterone are involved in this effect.  We have also shown that specific doses of testosterone can improve spatial memory, and we are currently testing the physiological mechanism underlying these dose-dependent effects.  We have been particularly interested in the role of testosterone in regulating growth factors and cell death pathways.  In another line of research, we are testing the effects of a growth factor mimetic using a transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease.  Finally, we are also examining levels of hippocampal neurogenesis and cell death in wild populations of meadow voles.  The goal of this work is to develop insights regarding the functioning of cell turn-over within hippocampus of free-ranging animals.  Students working in my laboratory gain practical experience conducting research projects involving a wide range of techniques: behavioral testing, surgical techniques, immunohistochemistry, hormone assays, and microscopy. The courses that I teach involve hands-on laboratory exercises and a variety of discussion and lecture approaches to explore the biological complexity of animals: Animal Physiology, Comparative Vertebrate Biology, Endocrinology, and Animal Behavior.

Website

Google Scholar profile

 

Courses

Course List: 

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

BIOL 0145 - Cell Biology and Genetics      

Cell Biology and Genetics
In this introduction to modern cellular, genetic, and molecular biology we will explore life science concepts with an emphasis on their integral nature and evolutionary relationships. Topics covered will include cell membrane structure and function, metabolism, cell motility and division, genome structure and replication, the regulation of gene expression and protein production, genotype to phenotype relationship, and basic principles of inheritance. Major concepts will be illustrated using a broad range of examples from plants, animals, and microorganisms. Current topics in biology will be integrated into the course as they arise. (For students matriculating in Fall 2019 or later: CHEM 0103 or equivalent) 3 hrs. lect./3 hrs. lab DED SCI

Fall 2020

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BIOL 0202 - Comparative Vertebrate Biology      

Comparative Vertebrate Biology
This course will explore the evolution of the vertebrate classes and the adaptations that allow them to live in almost every habitat on Earth. We will study the phylogeny, anatomy, physiology, and ecology of the major extinct and extant taxa of vertebrates and discuss how each group solves the problems of finding food, finding mates, and avoiding predators. Laboratory exercises will focus on the comparative anatomy of a cartilaginous fish (the dogfish shark) and a mammal (the cat). Students will learn to identify some anatomical structures of the vertebrate body and learn basic functions and the evolutionary homologies for these structures. Occasional field trips will introduce the local vertebrate fauna in their natural habitat. (BIOL 0140 or BIOL 0145) 3 hrs. lect./3 hrs. lab SCI

Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020

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BIOL 0216 - Animal Behavior      

Animal Behavior
The behavior of animals primarily from an ethological perspective, with respect to genetics, physiology, evolution, and other biological factors. The course follows the history and methods of studying individual and social behaviors like feeding, courtship, mating, parental care, defense, predation, and migration. We examine live animals in the field and lab to illustrate such processes as instinct, learning, and communication. Discussion topics address recent research, and students design their own research projects. Oral, and written reports are required. (BIOL 0140 or BIOL 0145) 2.5 hrs. lect./1 hr. video screen./3 hrs. lab SCI

Fall 2018

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BIOL 0350 - Endocrinology      

Endocrinology
Endocrinology is a branch of animal physiology devoted to the study of hormones and the endocrine glands that produce them. Hormones are essential for maintaining homeostasis and coordinating biological functions such as growth, reproduction, metabolism, and reaction to stress. This course will cover the diverse mechanisms through which hormones influence physiology and behavior. The endocrine system will provide a window into understanding animal physiology more broadly, with a focus on clinical applications. Lectures will describe the cellular and molecular basis of endocrine regulation and consider the function of each of the major hormone groups produced by the body, such as hypothalamic, pituitary, adrenal, and sex steroids. Weekly journal article discussions will cover current topics in endocrinology, and written work allows students to research endocrine topics of their own interest. . (BIOL 0140 and BIOL 0145) 3 hrs. lect. SCI

Spring 2019, Spring 2020

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BIOL 0370 - Animal Physiology      

Animal Physiology
This course examines the body functions of animals and humans using general physiological principles and a comparative approach. Lectures will cover the function of each of the major physiological systems (nervous, endocrine, muscular, etc.) and will describe how animal physiology has been shaped by evolution to allow animals to survive in a wide range of environmental conditions. Lectures will focus mainly on physiological processes occurring at the molecular, cellular, and organismal levels. Occasional journal article discussions will provide case studies of current topics in animal physiology. Laboratory exercises, reports and oral presentations emphasize experimental design, analysis and independent study using various methodological approaches including electrophysiology, neurotransmitter manipulations, nutritional analysis, and exercise physiology. (BIOL 0140 or BIOL 0216 and BIOL 0145). 3 hrs. lect/disc., 3 hrs. lab. SCI

Fall 2019

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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 attendance at all Biology Department seminars and participation in any scheduled meetings with disciplinary sub-groups and lab groups. This course is not open to seniors; seniors should enroll in BIOL 0700, Senior Independent Study. (BIOL 0211. Approval required) 3 hrs. disc.

Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021

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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 attendance at all Biology Department seminars and participation in any scheduled meetings with disciplinary sub-groups and lab groups. (BIOL 0211. Approval required; open only to seniors) 3 hrs. disc.

Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021

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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 attendance at all Biology Department seminars and participation in any scheduled meetings with disciplinary sub-groups and lab groups. Open to Biology and joint Biology/Environmental Studies majors. (BIOL 0211 and BIOL 0500 or BIOL 0700 or waiver; instructor approval required for all students) 3 hrs. disc

Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021

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FYSE 1433 - Biology of Attraction      

Biology of Attraction
Why is one person attracted to another? We will explore both the evolutionary origins of mate choice and the physiological mechanisms that underlie attraction. The process of sexual selection, first proposed by Charles Darwin, shapes the mating decisions and courtship displays in all animal species, and we will consider how the same process shapes human preferences and potentially human intelligence more broadly. Based on recent research with rodents, we will also consider how neural connections and hormone levels influence feelings of love and lust. The Evolution of Beauty and The Chemistry Between Us will be our primary texts, supplemented by journal articles. 3 hrs sem CW SCI

Fall 2020

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MBBC 0700 - Senior Research      

Senior Thesis
Seniors conducting independent study in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry should register for MBBC 0700 unless they are completing a thesis project in which case they should register for MBBC 0701. (Approval required).

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021

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MBBC 0701 - Senior Thesis      

Senior Thesis
Students conducting independent thesis research in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry must register for MBBC 0701 while completing research projects initiated in BIOL 0500, MBBC 0700, or CHEM 0400. Students will organize and lead regular discussions of their research and research methods, and attend weekly meetings with their designated laboratory group to foster understanding of their special area, and practice the stylistic and technical aspects of scientific writing needed to write their thesis. (CHEM 0400 or BIOL 0500 or MBBC 0700) (Approval required).

Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Spring 2021

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NSCI 0251 - Cellular/MolecularNeuroscience      

Fundamentals of Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
Neurons are the building blocks of complex circuits that underlie perception and behavior. In this course we will examine the molecular and cellular basis of neuron structure and function. The topics include the molecular and cellular basis of action potential propagation, the molecular biology of synaptic transmission, the molecular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity, and the molecular mechanisms of sensory transduction. Laboratory exercises will train students in commonly used neurobiology techniques and engage students in novel investigations. (BIOL 0145 (Note: AP credit in biology cannot be used to satisfy this requirement) Open to neuroscience majors, nonmajors by waiver; Not open to seniors). 3 hrs. lect./3 hrs. lab. SCI

Fall 2017

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NSCI 0500 - Independent Research      

Independent Research
Students enrolled in NSCI 0500 complete individual research projects involving laboratory or extensive library study on a topic chosen by the student and approved in advance by a NSCI faculty advisor. This course is not open to seniors; seniors should enroll in NSCI 0700. (Approval required)

Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021

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NSCI 0700 - Senior Research      

Senior Research
This course is for senior NSCI majors who plan to conduct one or more semesters of independent research, or who plan to complete preparatory work toward a senior thesis, such as researching and writing a thesis proposal as well as, if appropriate, collecting data that will form the basis for a senior thesis. Senior NSCI majors who plan to complete a senior thesis should register initially for NSCI 0700. Additional requirements may include participation in weekly meetings with advisors and/or lab groups and attending neuroscience seminars. (Approval required, open to seniors only)

Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021

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NSCI 0701 - Senior Thesis      

Senior Thesis
Senior NSCI majors who have completed one or more terms of NSCI 0700, who have a GPA of 3.3 in their major courses, and who plan to complete a senior thesis should register for NSCI 0701 for the final semester of the senior thesis process. Students enrolled in NSCI 0701 write a thesis, give a public presentation of their research, and present an oral defense of the thesis before a committee of at least two Neuroscience faculty members. Faculty may recommend High honors in Neuroscience after considering the quality of these components of a student’s thesis and the student’s GPA in major courses. Additional requirements may include participation in weekly meetings with advisors and/or lab groups and attending neuroscience seminars. (NSCI 0700, Approval required)

Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021

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Selected Publications

 *denotes student members of Spritzer lab

Wagner, B.A.*, V.C. Braddick*, C.G. Batson*, B.H. Cullen*, L.E. Miller*, M.D. Spritzer. 2018. Effects of testosterone dose on spatial memory among castrated adult male rats. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 89: 120–130, doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2017.12.025.

Spritzer, M.D., A.W. Panning*, S.M. Engelman*, W.T. Prince*, A.E. Casler*, J.E. Georgakas*, E.C.B. Jaeger*, L.R. Nelson*, E.A. Roy*, and B.A. Wagner*. 2017. Seasonal and sex differences in cell proliferation, neurogenesis, and cell death within the dentate gyrus of adult wild-caught meadow voles. Neuroscience, 360: 155-165, doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2017.07.046

Spritzer, M.D., M.G. Curtis*, J.P. DeLoach*, J. Maher*, and L.M. Shulman*. 2016. Sexual interactions with unfamiliar females reduce hippocampal neurogenesis among adult male rats. Neuroscience, 318: 143-156, doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2016.01.015.

Shulman, L.M.*, M.D. Spritzer. 2014. Changes in the sexual behavior and testosterone levels of male rats in response to daily interactions with estrus females. Physiology and Behavior, 133: 8-13, doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2014.05.001.

Spritzer, M.D., E.D. Fox*, G.E Larson*, C. Batson*, B. Wagner*, J.E. Maher*. 2013. Testosterone influences spatial strategy preferences among adult male rats. Hormones and Behavior, 63: 800-812, doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2013.03.018.

Spritzer, M.D., E. Ibler*, W. Inglis*, and M.G. Curtis*. 2011. Testosterone and social isolation influence adult neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus of male rats. Neuroscience, 195: 180-190, doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2011.08.034.

Spritzer, M.D., E.D. Daviau*, M.K. Coneeny*, S.M. Engelman*, W.T. Prince*, and K.N. Rodriguez-Wisdom*. 2011. Effects of testosterone on spatial learning and memory in adult male rats. Hormones and Behavior, 59: 484-496, doi: 10:1016/j.yhbeh.2011.01.009.

Program in Neuroscience

McCardell Bicentennial Hall
276 Bicentennial Way
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753