Prof. Poccia's Home Page
(est. 1/95) is a substitute for a FAQ-OM (Frequently Asked Questions Of Me,
such as "What are you teaching this year?", "ARE you teaching this year?", "Do
we have lab this week?", "Why do you work with sea urchins, anyway?", "Aren't
they poisonous?", "What diseases are you trying to cure?", "Do you still play
in a band?", "Where?", "Where are the bathrooms located in the Mcguire Life Sciences
building?"). This document contains information about things for which I am
responsible, some pictures, a few sites on the Internet that I like, and answers
to some but not all of these questions. It is currently being sporadically revised. At the end of
this page, you will find various ways of contacting me. Don't be shy, unless
you are trying to sell something. Then you will find that I don't make pledges
over the phone and besides I'm not home.
Amherst College Courses
are some courses I teach with the syllabi from the last or current offerings.
All non-seminar biology courses are with laboratories. Click on the course number for more
- Cell Structure and Function: Spring
2012 BIOL. 291.
- An analysis of the structure and function of cells in plants, animals,
and bacteria. Topics to be discussed include the cell surface and membranes,
cytoskeletal elements and motility, cytoplasmic organelles and bioenergetics,
the interphase nucleus and chromosomes, mitosis, meiosis, and cell cycle
regulation. Three classroom hours and three hours of laboratory per
week. Requisite: Biology 191 and completion of, or concurrent registration
in, Chemistry 161.
- Developmental Biology: Fall 2011 BIOL. 220.
- A study of the development of animals, leading to the formulation of
the principles of development, and including an introduction to
experimental embryology and developmental physiology. Four classroom hours
and four hours of laboratory per week. Requisite: Biology 191.
- Molecules, Genes and Cells: Fall
2010 with Profs. Springer and Emerson BIOL. 191.
- An introduction to the molecular and cellular processes common to
life. A central theme is the genetic basis of cellular function. Four
classroom hours and four laboratory hours per week. Prior completion of
Chemistry 161 is strongly recommended.
- Chemical Basis of Biological Processes: Fall 2012 with Prof. Hebda BIOL. 131.
- Open to first-semester students. This course uses examples from biology such as human physiology or cellular signaling to illustrate the interplay between fundamental chemical principles and biological function. Emphasis is on using mathematics and physical sciences to understand biological functions.With permission of instructor.
- First-Year Seminar: Thinking Through Improvisation: Fall 2012 FYS 111.
- Open to first-semester students. We will explore improvisation as a
way of thinking in diverse fields. Click above for more details. Students
will be asked to read articles and books on improvisation, listen to
performances, write several evaluations of in-class performances, and
prepare a term paper on one improvisational activity in depth. Students
will have opportunities to improvise.
- Seminar in Developmental Biology: Fall 2005 BIOL 57.
- Topic: Cloning and Assisted Reproduction. Considerable popular interest in cloning of mammalian embryos and in various forms of assisted reproduction has developed recently, in particular from press releases or political pronouncements, often accompanied by much misunderstanding and sensationalism. We will examine several topics such as stem cell research, therapeutic and reproductive cloning, nuclear reprogramming, successes and failures of current technology, ethical issues, and techniques to increase human fertility such as in vitro fertilization and hormonal therapy. Emphasis is on readings from current literature and student presentations. Three classroom hours per week. Requisite: Biology 22, 24, 25 or 29.
research concerns nuclear transformations of the sea urchin sperm during spermatogenesis
(when the male germ line nucleus is globally silenced to form the sperm nucleus)
and following fertilization (when the egg reactivates the sperm nucleus to form
the male pronucleus which contributes one half of the new zygote's genome). Current work focusses on membrane fusion and the formation of the nuclear envelope using a cell-free system.
- To find out more about work in my lab, some recent publications,
pictures of our scientists and related links, click on POCCIA LAB.
I am not in the office, in the lab or at home, you might find me playing baritone
or alto sax, clarinet or bass clarinet. Click GIGS below for upcoming performances and a few recorded samples.
Come and enjoy some jazz and support live music everywhere!
- In general sea urchins are not poisonous, although the genus with which
most vacationing New Englanders are familiar (Diadema, the black
urchin with long, sharp spines from the Caribbean) is irritating when
stepped upon (and irritated to be stepped upon). One of the urchins with
which we usually work (Strongylocentrotus
purpuratus) is considered a delicacy in Japan.
- Other species, such as this one in Rapa Nui (Easter
Island) or these from the Greek
Islands, are more fun to visit.
- Sea urchins are full of gonads (five each) and thus one individual can
produce several million eggs or several billion sperm, which it will yield
with pleasure upon injection of a small amount of 0.5M KCl. Thus they are
convenient for reproductive studies.
- There are two sets of bathrooms in the McGuire Life Sciences building.
Ladies rooms are actually new. Men must use the old bathrooms of Merrill
Science Center. We are constantly monitoring the building for signs of
brown-banded cockroaches (Supella longipalpa) brought over from the
old building (Webster) since they are no longer held in check by the Department's
free-living and wide-ranging geckos. The only vermin sighted so far are these.
Voice-mail Office (413) 542-2198
Voice-mail Lab (413) 542-8183
Amherst College Biology Department (413) 541-2314