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Welcome to

A companion to Developmental Biology, Eighth Edition
by Scott F. Gilbert, published by Sinauer Associates

I. What the Website is Here For

The major function of this website is to provide material to supplement and enrich courses in developmental biology. It is not a textbook, it is more like a museum. While its chapter headings are similar to those of a textbook, the user is able to choose his or her own path through the different "exhibits." Welcome!

This website is open to any student or faculty member interested in developmental biology. It is not necessary for you to have a copy ofDevelopmental Biology, Seventh Edition, published by the wonderful people at Sinauer Associates, to play here. The material here is loosely based on the theme: "this is really interesting; it's too bad I can't put it into the textbook." The website thus contains:

  1. Material to update the Developmental Biology textbook.
  2. Studies deemed too medical or too specialized to put into the textbook
  3. Details of experiments that were not needed in a textbook designed for college juniors and seniors
  4. Philosophical, sociological, and historical studies in developmental biology. These include ethical issues raised by new technologies.
  5. Opinions (labeled as such) that can be used as a springboard for discussion.

The website is designed for inquisitive browsers.

II. How to Use the Website

The website has a simple nested structure. All the content is organized according to the chapter structure of Developmental Biology, Seventh Edition. Within the chapters are topics, many of which are referenced in the textbook (and listed on the textbook endpapers). Within topics there can be articles, essays, links and/or movies.

For more information on how to use the website, refer to the Help page.

[illustration, caption below]
Lily Meldrum, Frontispiece to O. W. Burt. 1937. Our Magic Growth. Caxton Printers, Caldwell, Idaho. In this children's story, the microscope is envisioned as a magic wand. The computer tries to perform similar roles.

III. Putting in Your Own Two Cents

As they say here in Philly, "Youse don't like something, youse better change it." If you want to add something, inform other users of new results, suggest an alternative interpretation to the one presented, etc., you can add your comments to the website. If you have your own lab website, put your material on it, and email us the location so we can link it. If you have a critical update or correction, we can use it as one of the articles or incorporate it into an existing one. If it is material that would add to what another user may have submitted, we can add it to the "other sites" list. In this way, the website can be used to expand the number of voices that users (both faculty and students) get to hear. (No advertising, please). Submit information by e-mailing Scott Gilbert

IV. The History of the Website

It is a universally acknowledged fact that I, Scott Gilbert, can barely open my email. However, Swarthmore College has been wonderful in providing me with remarkably talented students who think beyond the cutting edge of computer technology. This website was originally designed by students for students. It originated as a Gopher fileserver in 1994, and has been through several iterations since then. The idea for the Gopher website came about in conversations between myself and Barbara Ley, a sociology-anthropology major who was interested in the role of the Internet in education. The original website was posted on the Web by two biology majors, Brad Gabe (a former biology major, stand-up comedian and singer; now a creature animator at LucasÕ Industrial Light and Magic) and Dan Wells (a computer aficionado, biology major, and nature photographer who was shocked when I used a Quadra 950 as a door stop). This website was meant not so much for me to updateDevelopmental Biology as to have others update it. My sincere thanks, though, to the scientists who did send me abstracts and papers for the site, and to the teachers who assigned their students to send material to the website.

However, very few scientists put material into the Gopher files, so for the fifth edition of the textbook, the Gopher site was converted into a configuration that enabled me to put additions to the text on the web. This conversion was done largely through the work of Brad Gabe and two other students, Heather Bruemmer (then Heather Mateyak, a computer science and linguistics major) and Jason Bromer (a former biology student who had set up one of the nation's first webcams).

In the sixth edition of the book, Sinauer Associates began to manage the website, since the day-to-day operation of it became too much for the people at Swarthmore College. Indeed, the site became so widely used that it occasionally shut down because too many people were logging on. (Amazingly, peak use time was 2:00 AM!). In this current edition of the website, there is a new series of articles addressing bioethical issues in developmental biology, edited by myself and another student, Emily Zackin (a political science major and biology minor). These articles complement the new chapter (Chapter 21) on medical aspects of developmental biology.

V. Some Ground Rules

(1) If you wish to cite an article from this website in a report or publication, please provide its author (the authors' names are given if the material is not mine), the Internet address (URL), and the date. For example: Gilbert, S. F. 1997. April 18, 2003.

(2) If you wish to send us a document or a URL for linking, please understand that there are no guarantees as to when it will be linked. Also, the final decision as to where to put the link has to reside with me. The notion of a community-edited and updated website in developmental biology is an exciting one for us and we sincerely hope that you will have fun being part of it. Any particular comment you may have for Scott Gilbert can be sent to: Department of Biology, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA 19081; 610-328-8049; or

Best wishes,

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