By Iris Lee
I never imagined myself taking histology, which is the microscopic study of cells and tissues. Looking back after completing the course, I can definitely say I am glad I decided to take the class and have gained a better understanding of a subject in biology that is not visible to the naked eye.
In the beginning of the quarter, we focused on the four basic tissue types: epithelial, nervous, connective, and muscle tissue. We then expanded to various body systems, such as the respiratory and the lymphatic systems, as well as pinpointing the specific cells which make them up. One of the most interesting parts of this class was studying the eye under the microscope and being able to differentiate the tissues of the eye, such as the retina from the choroid layer and the cornea from the sclera.
A large portion of the class was spent in the laboratory, and we spent our time there twice a week. Lecture was spent mostly previewing the tissues we would look at during lab and learning a little bit of their physiological and clinical aspects. Much of what I enjoyed about histology was becoming more comfortable with light microscopes. Although there was not a lot to do in terms of preparing slides and staining, it was fascinating to take images from the textbook and see what they look like in real life. For example, we were able to see neurons with their axons and dendrites (as well as the myelin sheaths and individual nodes of Ranvier!) in various nervous tissues. One takeaway I got from working with microscopes is pictures in textbooks do not reflect reality, and it takes patience and specific attention to detail to identify the correct tissues and cells. Thankfully, under the guidance of Dr. Robin Vance and his microscope camera, it was much easier to find the various tissues and cells.
As a biology major, I found histology complements systems physiology, and it helps to take these two classes together. Furthermore, for pre-medicine or pre-dental students, these classes are on the list of recommended courses that will come in handy for professional school. Histology deepened my appreciation for the microscopic world, and it was fascinating to learn extensively about how these cells and tissues have specific functions that contribute to the functioning of a body as a whole. I highly recommend this class to anyone interested in learning about the various tissues and cells vital to the human body and hope it is just as enjoyable to them as it was for me.
To learn more about biology at PUC, visit the department of biology website.