Natural Sciences Major
Natural sciences provide the foundations for understanding the natural world and for using that knowledge to solve practical problems. Scientists and engineers use theories and findings of the physical and chemical sciences as well as the biological and biomedical sciences to develop new technologies, improving the lives of millions of people around the world.
Effective decision making in many technology-oriented organizations requires a deep understanding of the natural sciences; the Natural Sciences major gives students the practical knowledge to become leaders and innovators in science and technology-based organizations.
In their first year, Natural Sciences majors complete their Cornerstone Courses.
In their second year, Natural Sciences majors enroll in core courses that provide the foundation for the Natural Sciences concentrations. They also take electives from core courses offered in other majors.
NS110L / Physics of Life
We show how physics, ranging from mechanics through nuclear physics, ranging from mechanics through nuclear physics can be applied to the life sciences. Examples of applications are: fluid flow in biological organisms, electrostatics as applied to signals between neurons, and cell membrane dynamics. The course also emphasizes the development of the tools needed to describe the physical phenomena at hand.
NS110U / Physics of the Universe
We use gravitational and electromagnetic interactions as the poster children" for how physics takes experimental evidence and then encodes it into a theoretical framework that can be used to make predictions and draw inferences about new phenomena. The course emphasizes the development of the tools needed to describe the physical structure of nature and then uses these tools to infer the domain of validity of theories in physics and what might lie beyond them."
NS111 / Implications of Earth's Cycles
Explore the origin, chemistry and role of carbon, water, silicates and metals on earth. Discover in depth the interplay of living systems (including humans) and earth's systems and how expanding sensor technologies are changing the way we investigate our earth. This course provides the Foundations for, and is a prerequisite for, the Earth's Systems Concentration courses.
NS112 / Evolution Across Multiple Scales
Evolution is the unifying principle of all biological processes. Explore in detail how the fundamental processes within cells, individuals and ecological communities are explained by the basic mechanisms of evolutionary change, including mutation, natural selection, and genetic drift. Discover how the latest technologies are revealing the interconnectedness of all living systems. This course provides the Foundations for, and is a prerequisite for, the Cells and Organisms Concentration courses.
In their third year, Natural Sciences majors select a concentration, begin taking courses within it and begin work on their capstone courses. They also take electives chosen from other Minerva courses (other concentration courses in Natural Sciences, core and concentration courses in other colleges). Natural Sciences offers concentrations shown in the table below.
In the fourth year, Natural Sciences majors enroll in additional electives chosen from Minerva’s course offerings within or outside the major. Additionally, they take senior tutorials in the major, and finish their capstone courses.
|Theoretical Foundations of Natural Science||Research Analyses in Natural Science||Designing Solutions|
|Molecules and Atoms||NS142 / Quantum Nature of Matter: Theory and Applications||NS152 / Analyzing Matter and Molecules||NS162 / Statistical Mechanics: Theory and Applications|
|Cells and Organisms||NS144 / Genetic Blueprint to Organism||NS154 / Life's Chemistry||NS164 / Solutions From and For Life|
|Earth's Systems||NS146 / Geobiochemiphysics: Integrating Earth's Systems||NS156 / Monitoring and Modeling Earth's Systems||NS166 / Keeping Earth Habitable|
Each row and each column of the matrix represent a different concentration, as noted above.
NS142 / Quantum Nature of Matter: Theory and Applications
Study the nature of matter from a quantitative standpoint using the tools provided by quantum mechanics. This course focuses on electronic structures of particles, atoms, chemical bonds and molecules, in addition to examples of technological revolutions catalyzed by quantum mechanics. Zoom in on events at microscopic scales, where interactions of energy and matter can behave differently than as predicted by classical physics.
NS144 / Genetic Blueprint to Organism
Explore how genes and environment interact to determine a cell's or organism's properties. Investigate how cells and organisms function, including the regulation of gene expression in developmental contexts. Apply theories, approaches and concepts from molecular, cellular, developmental and computational biology to address questions of how networks across scales (molecules to organisms) contribute to the emergence of higher-level properties of complex cellular and organismal systems.
NS146 / Geobiochemiphysics: Integrating Earth's Systems
Explore the geology of earth and how minerals chemically interact with living organisms, the hydrosphere and the atmosphere. Consider the effects of volcanism, mountain-building, earthquakes, weathering and erosion on biotic and abiotic domains.
NS152 / Analyzing Matter and Molecules
Understanding what matter is, how matter and small molecules are studied, and how they can be manipulated is the gateway toward technological solutions to world challenges. Learn principles underlying optics, chemical identification, and chemical separation and employ analytical tools for molecular and elemental analyses, chemical separation, and molecular interactions and dynamics to tackle important interdisciplinary problems.
NS154 / Life's Chemistry
Investigate biological systems from the perspective of molecules. Learn how the physical and chemical properties of molecular interactions within and between cells give rise to the emergent properties of life. Explore key questions about cellular functions of diverse organisms ranging from plants and animals to microbes. Learn about experimental techniques that inform our understanding of cellular function and molecular interactions--including microscopy, x-ray diffraction, stable-isotope probing, mass spectrometry, transgenic organisms--and apply them to current research questions.
NS156 / Monitoring and Modeling Earth's Systems
Explore how researchers study and monitor earth systems, including the latest methods for atmospheric, ocean and ecosystem monitoring. Delve into how models are used to understand earth systems. Use this knowledge to understand the major challenges facing the Earth system, and to inform future solutions.
NS162 / Statistical Mechanics: Theory and Applications
Statistical Mechanics is the foundation for being able to understand an incredible amount of physics, ranging from condensed matter, through to black hole physics. It involves the statistical description of systems with large numbers of particles and is the underpinning behind the ideas of thermodynamics, such as the notion of temperature, the equation of the state of a gas or a fluid and more generally the bulk properties of materials. We will explore the various ensembles: micro canonical, canonical and grand canonical, delineating their regimes of utility and then applying these results to the description of phenomena such as magnetism, gases, various aspects of solid state physics among others.
NS164 / Solutions From and For Life
Design innovative, sustainable solutions for modern day challenges by analyzing and emulating nature's time-tested strategies. Investigate how the latest biotechnology and bioengineering approaches are being used to improve human, animal and plant health. Evaluate the regulatory processes underlying the appropriate use of biotechnology and bioengineering applications.
NS166 / Keeping Earth Habitable
Examine environmental and natural resource issues such as pollution, deforestation, agricultural impacts, marine degradation, and the potential impact of human population growth. Consider systems challenges and potential solutions including social, political, economic, and technological approaches to major environmental problems.
In their fourth year, Natural Sciences majors finish their Capstone Courses.