Tor Jørgen Almaas
Background and activities
What I do
For some time I have mostly been occupied with my teaching responsibilities. My teaching activity is kind of diverse as I am giving lectures and laboratory practical’s at both bachelor and master level courses. The topics taught by myself are within human and comparative physiology, anatomy and histology. Dissection and microscoping are favorite tools representing valuable skills for our students. I also apply these tools in various public outreach activity like when receiving visiting student groups from high schools. Furthermore I am involved as a lecturer in a national project for increasing the natural science competence in Norwegian middle- and high school teachers. For a number of years I have been representing the Department of Biology in the NTNU program board for teacher education (LUR). I find it very interesting to contribute to the annual “welcoming week” for new LUR students. For many years now I have been coordinating the annual one week “Introductory course for M.Sc in Biology”, aiming to prepare for the task ahead.
Starting in 2015 the department was organized in groups. Currently I am acting appointed leader of the Physiology group. This has added a certain amount of administrative responsibilities to the work load.
Whenever possible I try to spend some time in my neurophysiology laboratory.
Trondheim is one of the larger Norwegian cities for education – and being born and raised here made the University of Trondheim a natural choice. Setting out on an university education I always pictured myself in some sort of teaching career. Hence, I finished the mandatory training program for teachers even before the final M. Sc dissertation. The skills I gathered from my master work (especially histological- and microscopy techniques) became an important asset when I started on my Ph.D project. However, my thesis was mainly an electrophysiological study of the pheromone communication system in Heliothine moths (Noctuida).
After a short interlude as a high school teacher (still in Trondheim) I got a temporary position as an associate professor in neurobiology at the Department of Zoology, University of Trondheim.
After a few years the position was made permanent. The aspect of functional organization of neural networks was brought into focus by the development of new techniques. Over a number of years it was my priority to introduce such methods into the neurophysiological laboratory. During this process I have collaborated with several foreign laboratories and becoming a part of the international research society.
The course is based on BI 1001, and covers the connection between structure and function on organ- and organism level. In the plant physiology part importance is given to the processes essential for plants as primary producers. The animal physiology part provides an introduction to animal adaptation to different environments. The course is part of the 1-year module in biology. Admission is restricted. A small number of places are available for students that want only this course.
Emnet gir en innføring i generell anatomi og fysiologi hos menneske. Kurset vektlegger forståelse av organers oppbygning og virkemåte. Viktige organsystem som behandles omfatter; fordøyelse, osmoregulering og ekskresjon, stoffskifte, temperaturregulering, sirkulasjon, endokrinologi, nevrologi og sanser.
Emnet gir en innføring i fysiologiske mekanismer hos ryggradsdyr (vertebrater). Kurset legger særlig vekt på undervisning som omfatter : endokrinologi, fordøyelse, respirasjon, sirkulasjon, metabolisme og sansefysiologi. Undervisningen vil beskrive hvorledes dyrs fysiologi er tilpasset deres livsmiljø. Studentene vil i begynnelsen av kurset gjennomføre èn ukes opphold ved universitetets forsknings stasjon Sletvik i Agdenes. Her gjennomføres undervisning/øvelser som omfatter riktig håndtering av dyr, betydning av stress akse, stoffskifte, metamorfose, samt anatomi og histologi hos utvalgte evertebrater og vertebrater.
The course focuses on the physiological processes in fish and their adaptations to environmental parameters. Lectures will cover general anatomy, respiration, circulation, osmoregulation and acid-base balance, smoltification, regulation of boyancy, movement, sensory physiology, stress, gastrointestinal system and sexual maturation. Introductions will also be given to basal immunology.
Practical lab studies include comparative anatomy and physiology of Atlantic salmon and at least one marine species available. Studies also include evaluation of organ histology and stress experiments.
The course topics will include stress theory, the origin and concepts of stress, acute and chronic stress, the neuroanatomy and neurochemistry of stress including regulation of catecholamines and glucocorticoids. The biological consequences of chronic stress will be given a special focus. Topics include immune responses, metabolism, coping, appraisal, learning, memory and development. The course will focus on fish, but mammalian models will also be used.
The students shall choose (and follow) the teaching in one of the following subjects (teacher in Parentheses): Respiration a and thermoregulation (Claus Bech and Randi Eidsmo Reinertsen), Osmoregulation (N.N.), Neurophysiology (Tor Jørgen Almaas), Comparative Stress Physiology (Kjell Nilssen), Environmental physiology (N.N.) , Exercise physiology (Randi Eidsmo Reinertsen) or Plant physiology (Richard Strimbeck). The teaching will be organized as intensive seminars. Students should take contact with the appropriate teacher(s) for the chosen subject in order to get information about the detailed teaching schedules.
The course provides an introduction to physiological processes and the relation between structure and function. Students will present current research literature in discussion groups, and write scientific reports. BI 3021 includes a methodical course that will familiarize the students with basic equipment, techniques and methods in zoological science. On completion of the methodical course students will also be familiar with scientific literature, literature sources and methods for handling of biological data.
A one week intensive course giving the master students an introduction to various topics relevant for conducting a master project: How to do science – in theory and practice, How to be a master student, Plagiarism, Theories-hypothesis-predictions, Ethical concerns, How to write a master thesis, Animal experimentation in research, Library services, Quality and Grades.