Current Topics and Methods Courses

Current Topics and Methods Courses

Spring 2019

HCS 7806

Scientific Writing: publishing in peer-reviewed journals

Instructor: Michelle Jones,

2 credit hours

Class numbers: 32837 (Columbus) and 32838 (Wooster)

Meeting time: MW 10:05 AM - 10:55 AM 

Location: 202F Kottman Hall video-linked to 102 Gourley (Wooster)

This methods course will provide graduate students with an opportunity to improve their scientific writing skills.  Students will also receive insight, and develop necessary skills that will assist them in navigating the scientific publishing process from start to finish. Students will have completed a manuscript final draft using their own research data by the end of the semester. 

Course will be open to graduate students in Wooster and Columbus who have data that is ready to publish.  Enrollment will be limited to 10 students.  Students should contact the instructor to indicate interest and get permission to enroll.

Course objectives

  • Students will learn how to better organize the results of their experiments and communicate them to the scientific community through publication in peer-reviewed journals.
  • Students will improve their writing skills so that manuscript preparation becomes more efficient and productive. 
  • Students will learn how to successfully navigate a manuscript through the submission, peer-review, and publication process.
  • Students will become more proficient at identifying the strengths and weaknesses of papers published in diverse scientific journals. 
  • Students will learn to become effective reviewers.


HCS 8830

Crop Mythbusters: What Works and What Doesn't

Instructor: Laura Lindsey,

7-week 2 

Mondays 12:30 - 2:30 PM

The purpose of this current topics course is to introduce students to non-traditional farming practices they may encounter and to determine if these non-traditional practices are supported by the current literature.


Summer 2019

HCS 8830 

Current research topics on controlled environment plant physiology and technology 

Instructor: Chieri Kubota,

1 credit

Class numbers: 20831, 21101

Meeting time: Tuesdays 9:10 - 10:10 AM 

Location: Howlett 139 and 123 Williams (Wooster) 

This room will be used for our first introduction meeting. After that, the usage will be minimum (only during the time we need to meet in person).

Online - Zoom connection (Zoom meeting will be up to two hours every other week: a total of 6 Zoom meetings will be scheduled for the course)

Students will review recent research publications in the areas of controlled environment crop production, with focus on plant physiology and controlled environment technology. Students will take turns and select papers with the intent to understand and evaluate the contents analytically. Then students will synthesize the information to present to other peer students in the course and also develop a corresponding impact statement of the finding to better communicate with the relevant industry stakeholders. The goal of this course is to get the most up-to-date understanding of the controlled environment crop physiology research and communicate the impact effectively in a public space.

Course learning outcomes

• Become familiar with the current research status of applied plant physiology under controlled environment

• Become familiar with the current and potential technological applications of applied plant physiology under controlled environment

• Develop skills of analytical thinking through evaluating methods and results reported in peer-reviewed journal papers

• Learn how to translate scientific findings and potential impacts in layman’s language.


Autumn 2019

HCS 7806

Code Clues: Deciphering SAS Output

Instructor: Alex Lindsey,

14 weeks, 1 credit

Meeting Time: Wednesdays 12:40 -1:35 PM 

Location: Kottman 112 

Class numbers: 35586

Description: Students will gain experience looking through SAS code and output to discern where possible errors can be seen, as well as what measures can be done to address some of these issues. Emphasis will be placed on model development and output discernment for common field experimental designs, such as randomized complete block and split-plot RCBD. Students will be expected to build models for the class related to their experimental data and design, and gain experience in examining output tables to troubleshoot common issues with code construction and placement of terms in the model.


Autumn 2018

HCS 7194

Genome Analytics 

Instructor: Jonathan Fresnedo,

14 weeks, 3 credits

Meeting Time: Tuesday 1:50 PM – 2:45 PM and Thursday 1:50 PM - 4:35 PM 

Location: Williams 117A and Selby 203, Wooster campus

Class Numbers: 35346-35347

55 minutes lecture on Tuesday, 55 minutes lecture and 1:5 hr Lab on Thursday 

The Genome Analytics course is to facilitate a hands-on analytical and quantitative approach for graduate students to learn about the basic pipelines for the data analysis of genomic sequences, focusing on incorporating these bioinformatics pipelines into their research. This course provides students with the basic concepts for the subsequent broad survey of the latest advances and applications on topics related to genomic sciences and bioinformatics and their implementation in biological sciences, particularly ag-related disciplines. Students will have access to computing resources from the Ohio Supercomputer Center and GitHub repositories.

The main topics that will be approached are:

  • Command line
  • Introduction to the analysis of sequencing data
  • Genome assembly
  • Gene expression
  • Variant calling
  • Metagenomics and microbiomes
  • Epigenetics


HCS 8830

Current Topics in Metabolomics

Instructor: Jessica Cooperstone,

First 7-week session; 1 credit 

Meeting time: Mondays 1:50 - 2:45 PM

Location: Parker 120 video-linked to 123 Williams 

This journal club will focus on critically reviewing and evaluating recent publications in metabolomics, with a focus on applications in plants, foods and human health. The goals of this course are to increase student familiarity with reading and interpreting the metabolomics literature, and to understand ways in which metabolomics may be a useful approach to students’ research.  

HCS 7806

Using Multimedia to Communicate Science to the Public

Instructor: Leah McHale,

Second 7-week session; 1 credit

Meeting time: TBA

Class #: TBA

This course is aimed at graduate students seeking to further their science communication abilities. Primarily, students will work collaboratively to create multi-media content aimed at the general public and communicating a topic related to plant science or food production. There will be the opportunity to host these media on HCS websites including the departmental website and Ohio State’s Plant Breeding website.


Summer 2018

HCS 8830 

Senescence of Plant Organs

Instructor: Joe Scheerens,

Second 8 week session  

Class #: 20665 (Columbus) and 20666 (Wooster)


Spring 2018

HCS 8830 

Plant hormone signal transduction mechanism

Instructor: JC Jang,

7 Weeks 

Topics of presentation: Abscisic Acid (ABA), Auxin, Brassinosteroids (BRs), Cytokinins (CKs), Ethylene, Gibberellins, Methyl Jasmonates, Peptide hormones, Salicylic Acid (SA), and Stringolactones.


Autumn 2017 

HCS 7806 

Introduction to concepts of Bayesian Statistics 

Instructor: Jonathan Fresnedo,
First 7-week session 
Meeting Time: Tuesday and Thursday 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM Williams 117A
Class Number: 35457
2 hr lecture on Tuesday and 2 hr Lab on Thursday 

This course will provide an overview about methods of Bayesian statistical inference. The class has a humble objective: that students learn (or are at least become aware) of the vocabulary, terminology and concepts regarding this type of statistical inference, which has increasingly grown in popularity in scientific literature. Explanations to the terms and concepts, as well as some hands-on data processing will be included. Calculations would not be the core of the course; however, the analysis of datasets using R, JAGS and Stan are going to be covered during the labs.  The evaluation will be based on quizzes.
It is recommended that students interested in the class have already taken a course of basic statistical methods (experimental design is not necessarily but a course on descriptive statistics is required) and have some experience with the Statistical Language R.

The main topics that will be approached are:

  • Refresh of probabilistic distributions
  • Bayesian inference,
    • Linear models
    • Model comparison
  • Application and introduction to Markov chain monte Carlo (MCMC)
  • Introduction to categorical/count models
  • Introduction to hierarchical models


HCS 7806

Small Plot Research Methods and Equipment

Instructor: Laura Lindsey,
Autumn 2017 Second 7-week session 
Meeting time: TBA
Class #: TBA

(Since we will be using equipment, the course will be Columbus only located off-campus at the Agronomy Shop)
Description: The purpose of this methods course is to discuss small plot research methods for agronomic crops. Students will learn about basic equipment maintenance, how the research equipment works, and have the opportunity to harvest soybeans and plant wheat.

Summer 2017

HCS 7806

Extraction, Separation, Identification, and Quantification of Plant Compounds

Instructors: Joe Scheerens, and Josh Blakeslee,
Full Term Summer semester, 2 credits
Meeting time: TBA
Class #: TBA
*Due to the nature of the lab portion of this course, Columbus based students will enroll in the Wooster listing of the course and travel to Wooster for in-person lecture and lab. 
In this course, students will learn to apply specific techniques and equipment for extracting, identifying and quantifying plant compounds with an emphasis on secondary products.  Upon completion, they will
appreciate theoretical and practical aspects of chromatography (TLC, GC, HPLC, FPLC) and electrophoresis, as well as spectrophotometric assays designed to measure purity and activity of extracted compounds.  They will also understand how tissue, cell, organelle complexity affects extraction of desired compounds and recognize optimal choices to maximize yields and purity of desired compounds.  The importance of sampling error and how to minimize it; and the importance of both replication and the use of proper controls (e.g., internal and external standards) will also be emphasized.

HCS 8830

Instructor: Joe Scheerens,
Summer 2017 8-Week Session 2 
Meeting Time: TBA

HCS 8830 

Instrcutor: Doug Doohan,
Summer 2017 8-Week Session 2 
Class numbers: 23011 (Columbus), 23012  (Wooster)
Meeting Time: TBA
This course is designed to meet the needs of current graduate students interested in characterizing soil communities as they relate to soil health.  Goals for the course will include 1) increase student familiarity with the significant biological questions being addressed in the field as well as methods used and 2) improve student critical thinking skills and ability to critically evaluate published works.  

Spring 2017

HCS 7806

Using Multimedia to Communicate Science to the Public

Instructor: Leah McHale,
Spring 2017 Second 7-week session; 1 credit
Meeting time: TBA
Class #: 32260 (Columbus) or 32261 (Wooster)
This course is aimed at graduate students seeking to further their science communication abilities. Primarily, students will create visual content aimed at the general public and communicating a topic related to plant science or food production. These media will be hosted on Ohio State’s Plant Breeding website and students will work collaboratively to update the site content.
Learning Objectives and Outcomes:
  • Short videos communicating an aspect of plant science or food production
    • Learn how to properly plan, execute, and edit videos
    • Design an independent project and collaborate with other students’ projects
  • Development of Ohio State’s Plant Breeding website:
    • Invite relevant faculty
    • Learn how to edit web content using Drupal
  • Create web content for Ohio State’s Plant Breeding website
    • Videos and infographics
    • Educational pages about plant breeding/genetics


HCS 7806

Multivariate Methods using SAS and R

Instructor: Dave Barker,
Full term, Spring 2017 
Meeting time: Mondays 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM 
Class #s: 29580 (Columbus), 29994 (Wooster) 
1 hr lecture per week; 2 hr Lab

You should have taken a prior statistics class.

Meeting time and location:

  • Mon (lecture) 2-3pm; Mon (lab) 3-5pm, video-link to Wooster
  • Howlett 139; Gourley 102
Course will cover a brief survey of multivariate analysis of biological data. This will be a hands-on course using SAS & R and will be of greatest benefit for students with their own data [this will work best with a data matrix of 20-200 rows (individual plots/cases) and 5-20 columns (observations on the same plot/case) – no missing data].
Students will need a laptop with SAS and/or R for the recitation


HCS 8830

Principles and Applications of Plant Hormone Signal Transduction Mechanisms

Instructor: JC Jang,
Spring 2017 Second 7-week session 
Meeting time: TBA
Class #s: 30962, 30963 (Wooster)

HCS 8830

Crop Mythbusters- What Works and What Doesn't

Instrcutor: Laura Lindsey,
Spring 2017 Second 7-week session
Meeting time: TBA
Class #s:
We'll discuss non-traditional farming practices and determine if they are supported by the current literature.