Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

Evolution student work

Note: The current version of this course requires the completion of a creative Term Project. None of the projects below represent the kind of work now required in this course.

Term Paper
In the past I have asked my students to research and write a semester-long term paper centered around understanding the adaptive nature of a particular trait in a particular species. Students have full freedom to choose any trait that they believe can meet the requirements of the paper. Students identify hypothetical adaptive explanations of their chosen trait, consider what contrasting predictions those hypotheses make, and then either report on how these predictions have been tested or explain how these predictions could be tested. The guidelines for this assignment can be found here. Below are some of the best student Term Papers that I have received, downloadable as PDF’s:

“Is CPL Vision in the Peacock Mantis Shrimp an Adaptive Trait?” © Lilian Tomás (Fall 2014)

Research Project
One of the most difficult concepts for students to grasp is how the process of evolution actually unfolds. Abstract ideas about “the survival of the fittest” or “selection for a trait” rarely serve to provide students with an adequate understanding of the evolutionary process, so I in the past I have asked students in my Evolution course to formulate their own questions about how evolution works and then test their answers using an evolutionary simulator. The guidelines for this assignment can be found here. Below are some of the best student Research Projects that I have received, downloadable as PDF’s:

Research Project © Andrew Krainer (Spring 2011)
Research Project © Elysia Berman (Spring 2010)
Research Project © Francesca LaManna (Spring 2010)
Research Project © Marzena Marzouk (Spring 2010)
Research Project © Anya Mizani (Spring 2010)

Currently, I no longer ask students to do research projects. Instead, we do labs using the SimUText “How the Guppy Got Its Spots” and “Flowers and Trees” modules.