Environmental Biology

Jan 2014

He definitely has a lot of personality and passion for the subject, and it seemed like he was always leaving right after class to go speak in some other country about saving the world. He's a very high profile professor. I didn't enjoy the half of the class he taught. Although the things we went over in class were interesting, the bulk of his course is in the readings you have to do on your own. It's fine to make students do that, especially in a science class, but the tests only seemed to assess our knowledge of the most trivial things in the textbook. For instance, one time the entire first page of a test was a blank list of all the animal phyla in existence and the categories they belonged to, and you had to fill it all in. I don't mind doing hard memorization work for things like that, but I got fed up when I realized there was no reason at all for him to make us remember this stuff. I found myself frantically memorizing a billion different latin names, most of which had perhaps just one or two insignificant species (according to the textbook). If you've taken general chemistry here, you can expect the same kind of anonymous, sporadically entertaining teaching style from the chem lecturers. Overall, my experience with this class made me lose interest completely in the e3b department.

Nov 2010

Professor Naeem is a very engaging lecturer. His colorful slides, quirky sense of humor, and approach to the subject matter make it hard to be bored in class, especially if you are genuinely interested in a subject matter (most students are). Naeem is clearly very knowledgeable, and often goes on tangents to talk about things he finds interesting. This would be annoying, except that he usually ties it back nicely to the lecture. The only problem with this class isn't the professor, but the workload. Although the material is mostly mentioned in class, students will still have to read and memorize chapters upon chapters of terms and concepts that may seem random and too complex for independent study. Take this class if you're willing to put in 100%, don't if you're expecting an easy A or to fulfill your science requirement.

Dec 2004

There was so much information and detail to learn in such a short amount of time, I think there could have been twice as many lectures with the same amount of material and that would have been fine. He is a nice, smart guy who really wants to explain everything as clearly as possible to you. He just wants you to know an insane amount. I had taken advanced biology and chemistry before, and it was still a lot. There were a lot of lectures rescheduled for the optional recitation time, which sucked because since recitation wasn't required I hadn't known about it and I had a conflict and couldn't go. Definitely go to every lecture - that is your best bet. I felt impossibly lost whenever I missed a lecture because so much was covered. Go to lecture, sit down, shut up, and write notes as fast as you can. I ended up missing a lot because I was still writing the previous thing down. Having a legible shorthand will help you. GO to recitation to ask the questions you didn't get a chance to ask in class. He will pause occasionally to look for raised hands, but take that opportunity because he can go 30 minutes without looking at the class or pausing for breath. It was an OK class, but I am still reeling from the shock of so much information. An enzyme he mentions once in passing will probably be on the test. Write it down.

Feb 2004

A course of memorization. Unfortunately, it is not a course for the uninitiated in biology. If you know very little about environmental biology and are looking for some inspiration, this course is not for you. The prof says you need only listen to him and use the book as background, but the opposite is true. Study the book and then maybe you'll understand him and get some interesting perspective from the prof. A good survival strategy for those who have to take the class is to get a good biology text in advance and start memorizing the amino acids, DNA and basic genetics, photosynthesis, respiration, and read up on basic evolution and population science. Then you should do well. The prof likes written tests, so good advice would be to practise writing out a few definitions of basic concepts of the above, but beware, the multiple choice, when used, can ask for very detailed information about these processes. He also asks for drawings of the important molecules. The prof's lectures can be hard to follow and some people taped the class, but following the book first and then prof second probably saves time and works just as well. A lot of the grade, 20%, is decided by him as a "participation" grade. Students regularly corrected the prof as he sped through his molecules or genetics concepts on the blackboard, so that must contribute to the participation grade. Good luck.

Apr 2002

Definitely bring a tape recorder to class because Prof. Pollack talks really fast. Mostly because he has a ton of stuff he wants to cover in the alloted time period. The class itself wasn't impossible, as long as you kept up with the readings and went to class on a regular basis. I agree with the previous reviewer that some background knowledge in Chemistry and Biology helps but the Chemistry part isn't quite necessary as Prof. Pollack will go over it in class. The language of his tests can be a little confusing but if you've kept up with lecture and have done the reading you should be fine. Overall Prof. Pollack is one of the most through, organized, and receptive professors I've ever had. He's willing to go over the more difficult material a few times to make sure you understand it and is very receptive to questions both in class and during office hours. However, if you aren't a science major, you may want to try a different class as this one does require work, and is supposed to be similar to Intro to Molecular and Cellular Biology I. Other than that I would highly recommend Prof. Pollack and the class itself.