Colgate University

First-Year Course Offerings — Fall 2022

FSEM 126   The Biology of Women: Sex, Gender, Reproduction and Disease
RestrictionsNo 2025 2024 2023
Core AreaScientific Perspectives

Faculty Profile for Professor VanWynsberghe

A basic understanding of the biological differences between males and females, and the implications of these findings is essential in today’s world that contains both modern technologies, a growing awareness of gender fluidities and, in some circles, steadfast gender-based stereotypes. Students investigate the historical and environmental construction of gender, the biological aspects of sex, the unique characteristics of female anatomy and reproduction, and the effect of sexually transmitted diseases and cancer on female health. Through laboratory activities and written, oral, and visual presentations students explore the scientific methods used to acquire our current understanding of hormonal signaling, genetic inheritance, microbial pathogenesis, and cell biology that underlie these topics. Social and ethical issues, and inequities that exist and are raised by the biological differences between males and females are also discussed, including hormonal therapy, in vitro fertilization, prenatal genetic testing, female genital mutilation, and the history of the pill. Students who successfully complete this seminar will receive credit for CORE 172S and satisfy the Scientific Perspective core requirement.

Priscilla Van Wynsberghe is an associate professor of biology with a background in molecular genetics, microbiology and RNA biology. Her research uses cutting-edge genetic techniques to investigate how small RNAs and proteins regulate development of the nematode C. elegans, in order to better understand the molecular underpinnings of human cancer and cellular development. Outside of the lab, Professor Van Wynsberghe enjoys hiking, camping and scuba diving.