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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

‘Biology of Sex’ succeeds with students


The “Biology of Sex” course has no empty seats.

The class takes students back to the basics and covers topics ranging from mutations in genes to why people want to get into each other’s jeans.

Christopher Ivey, plant population biology professor, developed the relatively new class. Ivey integrated his background in ecology and reproductive societies into his course proposal.

“I have a professional interest in sex,” Ivey said. “The College of Natural Sciences was looking for a new G.E. course and I drafted up a syllabus.”

The class is divided into three parts: the origins of sex as a reproductive strategy, the evolution of sex and animal reproduction.

The last part of the class compares human sexuality to animal mating, giving students a broader understanding of reproductive development.

Ivey’s professional interest in sexual societies excited students and faculty alike when it was developed into a course. Rebecca Brunelli, a biology professor, became immediately interested in the curriculum.

“I was really excited,” Brunelli said. “When Dr. Ivey went on sabbatical and they asked me to cover the course for him three semesters ago, I jumped at the chance.”

Though Ivey felt as if he had left Brunelli with what he called “rough materials,” the class has flourished and now involves “Sperm Fun Facts” and conversations about the komodo dragon’s varying sex chromosomes.

Brunelli kept students involved in a class session on Thursday by creating an activity in which students were either asexual or sexual reproducers. The activity featured a video of a bug that cloned itself through virgin birth.

Though she teaches the class, Brunelli finds herself learning a lot from her students.

“Each time I teach this course I learn from the students because they always ask me questions and if I don’t know the answer I’ll tell them I’ll get back to them after I research it,” Brunelli said. “That’s what I love about being a teacher.”

“Some students are amazed to find out how much they really like about biology,” Ivey said.

Eli Broussard, a senior geology major, enjoys the teaching style of the course.

“Sexual biology can be an awkward subject for a lot of people and she teaches it in a much more lighthearted way,” Broussard said. “So it sort of breaks the ice and relieves some of the tension so we learn better and share more.”

Prin Mayowa can be reached at [email protected] or @PrinSupreme on Twitter.

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