Welcome to Bioc 415

Course activities

On-line resources

Introductory lab manual (Bioc 211)
Bioc 311 resources

Bioc 415 manual (pdf)

Bioc 415 appendixes (pdf)


Please see the descriptions of course activities for specific due dates. Please see "policies" in the course syllabus regarding credit for late assignments and application of the Rice Honor Code.


Subsequent to the first meeting some sessions will be preceeded by a quiz, which will be passed out at the beginning of class and collected ten minutes after the scheduled start time. The questions are not intended to be difficult, as long as you prepare. You are expected to give intelligent answers, not necessarily the correct answers. Each quiz question will be worth 1 point, with half credit for answers that are close but not quite correct. The purposes of quizzes are to ensure (1) that you prepare sufficiently to participate in the discussions, (2) that you come to lab on time, and (3) that you will keep up with the data analysis.

Experimental designs and laboratory performance

Guidelines for designing experiments are presented in an appendix to the manual. When evaluating an experimental design the instructor will consider whether or not the design adequately and completely addresses the question(s), is clear and easy to follow, and describes practical ways in which to conduct the study. You will prepare six sets of plans for conducting your experiments. Experimental designs are due at the beginning of class on the day the work will be conducted.

  • Contribution of the electrogenic property of the sodium pump to the membrane potential
  • Influence of potassium and sodium ions on the resting potential
  • Recruiting nerve axons by varying stimulus intensity; determining the relationship between stimulus voltage and duration (strength-duration curve)
  • Measuring conduction velocity; measuring a relative refractory period; nerve block
  • Staircase phenomenon; recruiting motor units; incomplete and complete tetanus
  • Isotonic and isometric length-tension relationships

The basis for evaluating laboratory work includes preparation, participation, attitude, responsibility, cleaning up before leaving, and so on. For example, if you come in on time, know what you are doing, participate in the collection of data without breaking anything, and clean up when you are done, you're fine. Obviously you mustn't come in late, sit like a bump, destroy the only thing you touch, leave all the instruments on and a stinky preparation for the instructor to clean up.


The first paper on the membrane potential will be required of everyone. You have a choice of writing up either the nerve lab or the muscle lab for the second paper. Each paper will be graded on a 100 point scale. The abstract, introduction, materials and methods will be worth 10 points each, and the results and discussion worth 35 points each. General guidelines for writing a research paper can be found at the Bioc 211 and 311 course web sites. You are expected to relay on past experience in order to prepare quality papers in appropriate form and style. Papers are to be submitted electronically (Microsoft Word document or pdf) as an email attachment.

Created by David R. Caprette (caprette@rice.edu), Rice University Created 6 Jan 11
Updated 4 Mar 2014
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