CHEM 731/7310-02 - Toxicology

Semester: Winter 2023

Professor: W. Gabryelski | Discipline: Biochemistry | Campus: Guelph


Topics in toxicology will consist of oral and written presentations by students, faculty members, and guest lecturers. The emphasis will be on the broad integrative aspects of toxicology with particular reference to mechanistic, molecular and reproductive toxicology.

Topics in Toxicology is designed to give students the opportunity to hear about research that is being conducted by professors, research scientists, consults and graduates students in the field of toxicology. Student will also be given the opportunity to critical evaluate the strength of a scientific manuscript in the field of toxicology. The course allows students to gain a deeper understanding of various controversial issues in toxicology and also challenges the students to present information in oral and written from that either supports or refutes a particular argument related to a controversial issue in toxicology. Students will also gain first-hand experience in evaluating the ability of a presenter to effectively present data that supports or refutes an argument in toxicology. Students will also gain experience presenting toxicological information in the form of a scientific poster.

By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • Critically evaluate the strength of a scientific manuscript in the field of
  • Critically evaluate the evidence for and against a controversial issue in
  • Clearly and concisely explain in written and oral form the evidence in support or not in support of a particular issue in
  • Design a scientific poster to communicate important information about a chosen topic in
  • Evaluate the strength of a speaker’s presentation in support or against a particular issue in


No required textbook for this course


The grade determination for this course is indicated in the following table. A brief description of each assessment is provided below. In Courselink, select Content on the navbar to locate Assessments in the table of contents panel to review further details of each assessment. Due dates can be found under the Schedule heading of this outline. There is no final or midterm exam in this course.

Course Assessment 

Assessment Item Weight
1 Critique 20%
Debate 25%
Term Paper 30%
Group Poster 20%
Peer Review Contributions 5%
Total 100%



Students are required to write 1 critique for papers that are assigned by guest lecturers/Graduate Students. Each critique should be no more than 2 pages single spaced in length, not including references. Submit your critique to the dropbox in Courselink two weeks after the guest lecture/graduate seminar. Guest lectures/ graduate seminars will run from Jan. 11 (1st guest lecture) to Feb. 17th (last guest lecture).  Critiques should be handed into the Dropbox from Jan. 26th-March 4th. Please make sure that your final critique contains continuous line numbering. This makes it easier to provide comments when evaluating the critique. For continuous line numbering, in Word, go to the Layout tab and choose the Line Numbers drop-down menu, and choose Continuous.

Your Critiques will be evaluated using three criteria:

  • Did the student demonstrate a clear understanding of the paper (objectives, methods, conclusions, )? This should be reflected in some form of review of the salient points and methods used in the critique.
  • Did the student offer some level of critical thinking (critique)? The focus of critical comments could be editorial (writing, format and organization), methodological, breadth, and depth of subject coverage, etc. Note: a critique may offer both positive and negative comments on a
  • Was the critique well written, organized, and did it possess logical flow (organization)?
  • The maximum critique length is 2 pages single spaced (not including references), 12 pt font, ~ 5 cm boarders. Number pages and separate the critique using headings: i.e. Summary, Introduction, Critique, Conclusions, References.


Many areas of toxicology are controversial and are ideally suited for a debate. Debates will be presented to the entire class and all students are expected to attend. The objective of the exercise is to gain experience in presentation skills and use of graphics to present a logical argument.  Debates are scheduled from February 13th-April 10th.

Two students will participate in a debate, 1 student will be for a particular topic, while the other student will be opposed. Each student will present a 20 min Powerpoint presentation on the topic, followed by a 5 min question period. Topic selection deadline is Friday, January 20th. 

Submit an electronic copy of your presentation (either power point or PDF) to the dropbox on Courselink by 5 pm prior to the day of your presentation so the PDF can be posted on courselink before class starts. The day of your presentation bring an electronic copy of your Powerpoint presentation to class on a data-stick to load into the computer for presentation.


The information covered in your poster must be different from that of any of the term papers. These presentations are in the form of a poster to be presented during a toxicology conference and related to the topic of the Toxicology Symposium (Date and topic to be determined).

You will work in groups of two. This grouping will be done at random and will be listed on Courselink. Groups must select a toxicological subject of general interest to toxicologists and the lay public alike and the topic must be related to the theme of the Toxicology Symposium. Groups must submit a poster topic by Friday, Jan 20 to W. Gabryelski.

Topics will be reviewed and finalized by Friday, January 27. Approval is given on a first come basis and appropriateness of the topic. It is expected that all students in the group will participate equally in the preparation of the poster. An example poster will been upload to Courselink.

The final poster is due Monday March 6, submitted to CourseLink via Dropbox as a Powerpoint poster.

Posters should be composed using Powerpoint. Pictures of students must be on the poster at the top with the title. Posters should use the format similar to that used at a scientific meeting and does not have an abstract. Both students will present a Powerpoint and on-line oral summary of the poster . The time allocated for this is 3 min per poster and a maximum of 5 slides is recommended.

Term Paper

The student must submit a term paper on your debate topic two weeks following your debate.

Term Paper Format

This term paper should be written as a review of the debate topic chosen that includes your stance on the issue presented in the debate. The paper should demonstrate a critical review of the information and literature used while offering a concise argument for your stance on the debate topic. Students must demonstrate an up-to-date understanding of the topic using the most recent published articles as references. Please make sure that your term paper contains continuous line numbering. This makes it easier to provide comments when evaluating the critique. For continuous line numbering, in Word, go to the Layout tab and choose the Line Numbers drop-down menu, and choose Continuous (see screen shot on page 4).

Term papers should be organized according to the following format using numerical headings:

Term Paper Length

The paper should not be longer than 5 pages double spaced excluding Figures and Tables, typed in 12-point font. Cover page should include clear title and author information. File name of electronic submission should include student name, e.g., <Doe J TOX4200 2016 term paper>.

Term Paper Introduction

This section should clearly state the importance of the topic and introduce the reader to the subject by way of general background.

Term Paper Literature Review and Discussion

A review of past work is required in the area of presented paper. The references should be as current as possible and the review should contain constructive criticism of the methodology or hypotheses where such criticism is appropriate.

Term Paper Content

Your review section must be scientific; a popular approach with unsupported statements is not acceptable.

You are strongly encouraged to use Tables and Figures. Tables and Figures should be used to improve clarity and reduce excessive description in the text. They must always be referred to in the text but information in Figures and Tables need not be fully repeated in the text. They must be appropriately captioned, labeled, and referenced to original source.

Term Paper Sources of Reference

To find publications you may use books, review articles etc. available in the main library as well as the internet search engines, such as Google, and/or databases such as PubMed, CD ROMs (e.g., CCINFO Disk), Biological Abstracts, Chemical Abstracts, Weed Abstracts, Agricultural Abstracts, Pesticide Abstracts, Index Medicus, Science Citation Index, references in other papers, etc. Internet references should not be used a primary source of information unless they are a source of otherwise published papers or reports (e.g., US EPA WHO, or Health Canada reports). In addition, the ‘quality’ of your references will be considered in determining your final grade. Use of primary scientific articles would be preferable to review papers.

Term Paper References

All facts and data must be referenced either by number or author and date. The references should be typed on a separate page(s) and include the following: Author/s; Year of publication; Full title of article or book; Journal name in full; Volume number (underlined or in bold); Page numbers.

Example from text:

Peabody and Hollander (1997) showed that the half-life of polonium-210 in plaice was 37 hours, however, other workers have shown that the half-life is between 96 hours and 24 days (Djerassi 1998; Strangelove et al. 1994).

Example from bibliography:

Peabody WW, Hollander X. 1997. Polonium uptake in the plaice. American Journal of Freshwater Research 44:69-96.

Djerassi K. 1998. The fate of trans-uranium elements in the environment. Academic Press, Toronto, 1998, 193 p.

Strangelove A, Sellers P, Pickins S. 1994. Radioactive elements in the North Atlantic. In: Love

  1. (Ed.) Marine Ecotoxicology, Putrid Publications, Greenland Press, Gothab Greenland, 1994 pp 101-106.

Handing in Late

Papers are due 2 weeks after the date of your debate and must be submit via dropbox in Courselink. Papers may not be handed in late without appropriate medical or counselor certification. Penalty for handing in late is 5% of the paper grade per day.

Peer Review Contributions

Students are expected to evaluate their peers debates. This will involve completing an online evaluation in Courselink for each presenter. The presentation evaluations are available as surveys on Courselink. They can be found under the “Participation – Presentation Evaluations” tab of the Table of Contents. There is a survey link for each day of undergraduate debates. You can complete each survey twice, i.e., once for each presenter. The survey will only be open from midnight the night before the debate until 10 am the day following the debate.

Completion of these evaluations will constitute your class participation grade.


  • Mon: 9:30 am - 10:20 am in MINS 103
  • Wed: 9:30 am - 10:20 am in MINS 103
  • Fri: 9:30 am - 10:20 am in MINS 103

Office Hours

Email: [email protected] Telephone: (519) 824-4120 Ext. 53850 Office: Summerlee Science Complex (SSC), Room 1248 Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 2:00 - 3:30 p.m in SSC 1248. Please feel free to contact me for help at any time when you need it.