Review Comment

[EEEB W3030] Biology, Systematics and Evolutionary History of Apes

October 15, 2014

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB W3030] Biology, Systematics and Evolutionary History of Apes

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

God bless Jill Shapiro. She is everything a professor should be, and she genuinely cares about her students and about the subjects she teaches. I've found that her advanced courses require a lot of dedication and interest on the part of the student, but if you put time into learning the facts then you will be just fine.

Explorations in Primate Anatomy is a wonderful course which focuses mainly on the skeletal system of extant primates. It is structured like a guided bone lab with intermittent lectures throughout, which I found was the perfect mix of hands-on and theoretical learning needed for an anatomy course. I actually found this to be the most challenging class I had taken with Professor Shapiro due to the amount of memorization required, but by the end we had all learned an immense amount about comparative primate anatomy, and had an awesome time doing it.

The Biology, Systematics, and Evolutionary History of the Apes (or Apes, Apes, Apes as everyone calls it) is a mix between a small seminar and a lecture. While it requires a thorough breadth of knowledge, I found it a bit easier to handle in terms of studying than Primate Anatomy. Of course, Professor Shapiro's passion for the subject (and particularly Orangutans!) shines bright in this course, making the learning experience that much more worth it. The workload was completely manageable, but be aware that you can not get away with not doing the reading in such a small class! The best part: Professor Shapiro brought snacks to class every week.

Workload:

I thought it was a bit heavier for Primate Anatomy:
-Weekly readings that could sometimes be dense
-A midterm that requires a very thorough/exact answers to each question, particularly in the short and long answer form.
-A short but well-researched write-up where we do an anatomical examination of a chosen primate.
-8-10 page term paper on any topic of interest relating to primate anatomy
-Hard final with the same sort of thoroughness required for the midterm.

For Apes:
-Readings for each class which range drastically in subject, density, and even era!
-A fun short review on a pop-sci primate book (she gives you a list of books to choose from) that is generously graded.
-An 8-10 page term paper which you have to spend a lot of time on. The good thing is that you can basically choose any topic you want as long as it pertains to the Apes.
-An essay based final which required a thorough knowledge of everything learned in class and in the readings. Seriously. It's hard but if you keep up in class and take the time to use the study guides and advice she gives you, then you'll be just fine. I got an A and so can you. :)

September 10, 2009

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB W3030] Biology, Systematics and Evolutionary History of Apes

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Go ahead, ask me whatever you've been itching to know about the systematics, morphology, behavior, dentition, and taxonomy of apes. There isn't much I don't know. After taking Biology, Systematics and Evolutionary History of Apes --or, as it is fondly known, Apes, Apes, Apes-- Professor Shapiro told the class we were as well-informed and up to date as the leading researchers in the field. She wasn't kidding. It was fascinating, and it was intense, as is anything Jill Shapiro teaches. I amazed myself by signing up for the class after having taken Human Species to fulfill a science requirement the previous term, and getting the worst grade of my college career in the course after failing both the midterm and the final. I had never failed a quiz, much less an exam, but I'd also never had as much stuff to commit to memory. I was astonished to see people crying like babies --at Columbia!-- during the final, but Professor Shapiro had seen the weepers before and was armed with a giant box of kleenex. I failed without shedding a tear, and she gave me the chance to redeem myself, and I did, and I'm proud of how hard I worked for that blasted C that destroyed my GPA. Prof. Shapiro is an extraordinary teacher and a wonderful human being. She is also a quintessential New Yorker: brilliant, funny as hell, well-informed on a host of topics, and referencing all of them while lecturing at the speed of light and simultaneously covering every blackboard in multi-colored chalk. She wears sandals and Indian skirts even in February, is extremely sensitive to people's feelings and the political correctness of things, and enjoys feeding students cookies and strawberries whenever the opportunity arises. She also teaches you the arm signals needed to get her to slow down, stop, or repeat. It is for the opportunity of learning from professors like Jill Shapiro that one goes to Columbia. I'm feeling bereft not having her this term.

Workload:

Lots of reading for both classes, including scientific literature, which can be very hard and time consuming and which in Apes you write précis about. The Apes class requires a good deal of writing. If you don't stay on top of things, you'll have a hard time.

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section
EEEB / EEEB EEEB EEEB W3030: Biology, Systematics and Evolutionary History of the Apes: Biol, Systmtcs & Evol History-Apes Jill Shapiro 2009 Spring MW / 4:10- 6:00 PM 1
EEEB / EEEB EEEB EEEB W3030: Biol, Systmtcs & Evol History-Apes Jill Shapiro 2006 Fall MW / 4:10- 5:25 PM 1
EEEB / EEEB EEEB EEEB W3030: Biol, Systmtcs & Evol History-Apes Jill Shapiro 2005 Spring TR / 11:00-12:15 PM 1