Dr. Barbara Thakor

Teaching Interests:

Many years ago I began my professional teaching career in Zoology then entered the fascinating realm of Plant Biology about 12 years ago – my second career. I received my PhD from UNC, Chapel Hill in 1998. In spring of 2000, I began my association with the Plant Biology Department of NCSU where I am currently employed as a Teaching Assistant Professor of Plant Biology. Since joining the NCSU faculty, I have taught various courses: PB 403 and PB 403L Plant Systematics, PB400 and PB400L Plant Diversity, PB200H and PB200HL Honors Plant Life and for the past 3 years I have been teaching PB250 and PB250L Plant Biology. My major interest lies in providing students with a firm foundation in the basics of Plant Biology so they are well prepared to undertake more advanced courses in Plant Sciences.

Highlights of PB 250 and PB 250L

The sample syllabus included on this web site presents the details of the PB 250 and PB 250L course contents and the amount of time devoted to each topic.  It states course assignments, textbooks required, grade determination method, and expectations regarding attendance. Included in the syllabus is a list of course objectives and a questionnaire which enrolled students must complete.

In PB 250 I attempt, in so far as the calendar permits, to coordinate lecture and laboratory topics.  I consider the lecture and lab to comprise an integral, interdependent entity.  PB250 is an introductory course where the basic terms and concepts of the science are presented and as such is quite structured.  Lectures are Power Point presentations. There is a WEB site for PB 250 (vista.ncsu.edu), available to students enrolled in the course, on which my lecture Power Point files are available.

The PB250L has been technologically updated recently and possesses much state of the art equipment enabling students to have meaningful modernized lab experiences. You will be exposed to the basics of Tissue Culture made possible by our recent acquisition of a Laminar Flow Unit (Fig 1). Fig 2 shows tissue cultures developing.
Fig. 1 Working at Laminar Flow Unit

Fig. 2. Developing Tissue Culture
Fig. 3 Nitrogen Fixation lab

Photosynthesis and Nitrogen Fixation will be investigated using our newly acquired Qubit Systems equipment that enables real time experimental data collection and analysis in conjunction with our laptop computers (Fig. 3).

The lab room has a teaching demonstration microscope/camera/computer setup so live and preserved specimens can be viewed by all students simultaneously on the 2 overhead monitors in the lab room (Fig. 4a, b). Students are encouraged to bring their especially good specimens to this setup in order to share them with the entire class.
Fig. 4a Demonstration Scopes

PB 250 has a collection of fantastic plant videos to provide you with exposure to Botanical materials that you might otherwise never witness on your own in nature. The shorter videos of our collection (10-20 min. each) are shown during lab sessions (Fig. 5). You are also required for credit to view 10 of the longer plant videos (50 min. each) in the D. H. Hill Library Media Center. Students of prior semesters have rated these videos as one of the highlights of the course.

Fig. 5   Some of the videos in PB 250’s video collection viewed during lab sessionsimage012
During Spring and Fall semesters we take a ‘Campus Flora’ tour and also go to the NCSU Conservatory for a ‘Global Plant Diversity’ lab that includes a modified plant scavenger hunt (Fig. 6 ).
Fig. 6 NCSU Conservatory Field Trip
Where appropriate, I like to share with my students the botanical excursions I have personally experienced. In this regard, for our Plant Ecology lecture slot, I take the students through various NC ecosystems including those of ocean/sand dunes (Fig. 7), maritime forest, salt water estuary, Green Swamp, and Long Leaf Pine Savannah ecosystems. (We experience these NC ecosystems via a Power Point presentation made possible from photos I took when I accompanied Dr. Wentworth and his PB565 students through these ecosystems.)

Fig. 7 Sand Dunes/Ocean Ecosystem

During one part of our Evolution Lab, students are taken to the Galapagos Islands via Power Point to see how Darwin’s journey there was ultimately pivotal to the development of his Theory of Evolution. We view some of the unusual plants and ecosystems of these islands (and also some of the unusual animals for which these islands are famous) made possible from photos taken during a trip I recently made to these islands. (Fig. 8)
Fig. 8 Red Mangroves – low tide at sunset –Galapagos Islands

I have compiled a Course Pac for PB250 that contains laboratory exercises, worksheets for the Plant Diversity section of the course, video worksheets to accompany your video viewing in the D. H. Hill Library Media Center, and several items in an APPENDIX. This Course Pac is printed by Tailored Text and is updated yearly (Fig. 9). The textbook for the course is entitled Biology of Plants and is authored by Peter Raven, Ray Evert, and Susan Eichorn (7th ed., W.H. Freeman and Company Publishers)
(Fig. 10)
Fig 9. PB 250 Course Pac —————– – Fig. 10. PB 250 TextBook