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Plan II Honors

Ruth E Buskirk

Senior Lecturer

Distinguished Senior Lecturer



Behavior and web structure of orb-weaving spiders. How undergraduates learn to read scientific papers. Undergraduate biology teaching and curriculum issues.


Ruth Buskirk earned her A.B. at Earlham College, M.A. at Harvard University, and Ph.D. at the University of California at Davis. Her research on behavior and physiology includes work of orb-weaving spiders, dragonflies, baboons, and unusual animal behavior before earthquakes. She has taught biology courses at the University of Texas at Austin for over 25 years. She especially enjoys her family, music, and being outdoors in different places.


T C 357 • Rainforest Conservation-Cri

43465 • Spring 2011
(also listed as BIO 337)


This is a course offered by the Plan II Program in the College of Liberal Arts that is open to students with some background in biology. The course will be offered in May/June 2010. ?Exploring land use in Costa Rica is a study of the 'other side' of conservation. Many conservation studies involve the biology of an ecologically important region, but this course is dedicated to examining the other aspects of conservation-- the more 'real world' considerations. These include socio-economic, political, and anthropological factors.


Students in the Plan II Program and the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Texas bring the perfect spectrum of capabilities to bear on the wide range of issues that Costa Rica faces in its efforts towards sustainable conservation.



Our experiences in Costa Rica will range from field studies in a remote Pacific rain forest, to mountain cloud forests, to the lowlands on both dry and wet sides of the central mountain ranges. We will tour locations around the country, each with a distinct look and feel of life in a tropical community. We will stay in field station dormitories or in hostels while on the road. This course will involve a great deal of walking, sometimes over moderately rough, muddy terrain.  Students should be prepared to experience all four seasons in a matter of weeks. Temperatures will range from hot lowlands on both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts to fairly cold nights up in the mountains.  It is likely to rain frequently, but be prepared for extreme sun while living so close to the equator.



- Program dates: late May through June 2010

- Total program cost estimate (including air fare): $4200

- Prerequisites: completion of BIO301E or BIO311D with a C or better by the end of Spring 2010

- Program includes course credit for either TC 357 or BIO 337

- Required Spring 2010 enrollment in: UGS 119 International Learning Seminar which meets for 8 sessions, January 20 through March 10 Wednesdays 4:30-6:30 pm.


To Apply:


- You must sign the Maymester application form or call the Study Abroad Office in order to log on to the application portal


Additional Information:

- Plan II Costa Rica Site:

- TC 357CR Site:


About the Professors:

Professor Buskirk is senior lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences and Assistant Director of the College of Natural Sciences Special Projects Offie. Her current research concentrates on spiders and dragonflies, and she is writing a biology textbook for Prentice-Hall. An award-winning teacher, Professor Buskirk has taught Plan II biology for the last several years. She received her doctorate in zoology from the University of California at Davis.


After attending a plethora of universities on different continents, Moon graduated with several degrees including Biology. He pursued his interests in California for more than a decade before arriving in Texas to study molecular neurobiology in the Atkinson labs. Prior to graduate studies, he was an avid traveler, climber and sailor. While preparing for doctoral candidacy, Moon devoted much of his energy to teaching biology- a focus that has led to him join the teaching faculty at UT.  Dr. Draper’s main interest is the genetic control of the suite of ion channels that populate a neuron. To this end, we are mapping the promoter elements that control the transcription of potassium channels in several species of Drosophila. This research has led to the separation of phenotypic behavior specific to transcription from a particular promoter. We are currently pursuing the study of transcriptional control of five different channel genes across a menagerie of 8 Drosophilid species. Distinct elements that direct the expression of genes in either the CNS or PNS have been identified. A combination of bioinformatics, sequence analysis, and transgenic lines may tease out discrete elements that regulate the electro-physiological state of a neuron.

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    University of Texas at Austin
    305 East 23rd St
    CLA 2.102
    Austin, Texas, 78712-1250