The Biology Program
Biology encompasses the study of all living things and their interaction with the environment. The Department faculty is dedicated to providing students with a strong undergraduate education in the fundamental principles of biology, while encouraging and offering opportunities for students to pursue specialized areas of interest.
The biology major prepares students for future careers in basic life sciences research, teaching, medicine, dentistry, and allied health professions. Many graduates pursue advanced degrees in specialized areas such as biochemistry, physiology, immunology, entomology, microbiology, ecology, and environmental engineering.
The biology curriculum is designed to ensure that majors have a balanced background in cell and molecular biology, organismal biology, and population biology. The wide variety of courses offered provides laboratory and field experiences to reinforce the student’s grasp of basic concepts, to develop an appreciation and working knowledge of the scientific method, to teach basic experimental techniques, and to promote further development of quantitative and analytical skills.
These goals are incorporated into laboratory-based courses beginning with the freshman experience in biological concepts and extending to more advanced courses in specialized areas.
All of the equipment and facilities in the department are available for student use. Collections of microscope slides, vertebrate and invertebrate specimens and an herbarium are available to enhance learning.
Outstanding junior and senior biology majors have the opportunity to participate in the undergraduate research program. Working with a faculty mentor, the student explores the literature, defines an original research problem, and utilizes the appropriate research and analytical techniques to investigate the problem. On many occasions this work results in presentations at scientific meetings. Research students who meet minimum requirements (3.0 overall GPA and a 3.25 average in biology) may pursue Honors in Biology by writing and defending a thesis on their research project. Financial support for student research is available.
The internship program also offers students an opportunity to gain valuable career related experience. Internship credits do not count towards the biology major, but many biology majors have taken advantage of this program to gain experience and to confirm their career objectives.
In addition to the “Experiential Learning” requirement course list, the department has established another mechanism by which biology majors may satisfy the experiential learning general education requirement. The Biology service learning option requires students to apply knowledge and skills acquired in their formal courses and to reflect upon how such application has augmented their education. Students will complete a service-learning contract in which they will 1) identify the agencies for which they will conduct their service, 2) indicate the biology faculty members who will evaluate the academic component of their activities, and 3) describe the duties that they will carry out for these agencies. Students must complete 40 hours of service within 12 months of submitting their contracts. Students completing their community service during their last semester must complete all requirements by March 1 (November 1 for those finishing in December). Contact the biology department chair for additional details.
Requirements for the Biology Major
Thirty-six credits (36) in Biology. These must include, 210, 340, 341, and 451; one course dealing specifically with plants (231, 311, or 312); and one course designated as Field Experience (231, 311, 321, 322, 323, 424, 425, 426, 427, and certain 471 courses).
BIOL 121, 122, or BIOL 125, 126, and CHEM 111, 112 are prerequisites to BIOL 210, 340 and 341 and most upper-level courses and should be taken in the student’s first year. The core courses of BIOL 210, 340, and 341 are also prerequisites for various upper-level courses and should be completed during the second year of study. BIOL 210, 340, and 341 must be completed before students register for BIOL 451, which can be taken only during the senior year. All graduating students must participate in the assessment of the major.
Biology Course Offerings
Biology course offerings will be found under the 4 letter code of BIOL in the course listings.
121, 122 – Biological Concepts I, II (4, 4)
An introduction to biological principles and a survey of organisms. Includes discussions of current topics including environmental and ethical issues. Laboratory. Does not count toward biology major. Credit for only one introductory biology sequence (121-122 or 125-126) can be counted toward degree requirements.
125, 126 –Phage Hunters I, II (4,4)
This research course sequence is designed for freshmen using a “learning by doing” approach to introductory biology. It is a hands-on, discovery type of course with an emphasis on critical thinking and communication skills. Themes covered will be similar to Biological Concepts 121, 122 with an emphasis on microbiology, molecular biology, genomics, and bioinformatics. Students will isolate and characterize their own unique viruses and prepare their data for presentation. Laboratory. Does not count towards biology major. Credit for only one introductory biology sequence (121-122 or 125-126) can count toward degree requirements.
127 – Human Biology (3)
Prerequisites: BIOL 121. This course will examine the structure and function of the human body, human genetics and the influence of humans on their environment. It will also examine ethical issues that affect humans in these different areas. Students may not count credit for both 122 and 127 toward degree requirements. Does not count towards biology major.
203 – Science in Perspective (3)
Prerequisites: Restricted to students accepted into the M.S in Elementary Education program and who have completed one of the following two semester sequences in science: Biol 121-122; Biol 125-126; Biol 121-127; Biol 121-204, Chem 105-106; Chem 105-107; Chem 111-112; Eesc 110-Geol 112; Geol 111-112; Geol 111-Env 210; Geol 111-221; Phys 101-102; Phys 101-108; Phys 105-106; Phys 105-110. Designed to fulfill the need for non-science majors to have a clear understanding and appreciation of natural and scientific phenomenon. Topics will be presented in a manner that will challenge students to reason, make appropriate connections between various science disciplines and to effectively communicate and apply scientific principles. The course will consist of lecture/discussions and student presentations. In addition, emphasis will be placed on reading and understanding current scientific literature. Does not count toward biology major
204 – Nutrition (3)
Prerequisites: BIOL 121 or 126. A survey of current information related to human nutritional needs in health and disease, demographic factors, food additives and special diets. Does not count toward biology major.
210 – Introduction to Ecology and Evolution (3)
Prerequisites: BIOL 121, 122 or BIOL 125, 126; and CHEM 111. Introduction to ecological principles and the study of interactions of plants, animals, and microbes with each other and with their environment.
231 – Botany (4)
Prerequisites: BIOL 121, 122 or BIOL 125, 126. Survey of the organisms traditionally placed in the plant kingdom emphasizing morpho-genetic descriptions, life histories, and evolutionary relationships. Laboratory.
250 – Bioethics (3)
Prerequisites: BIOL 121, 122 or BIOL 125, 126. Selected topics considered from the stand- point of their biological consequences and ethical implications for man. Does not count toward biology major.
251 – History of Biology (3)
Prerequisites: BIOL 121, 122 or BIOL 125, 126. Chronological development of selected biological theories and their impact on contemporary biology.
260 – The Research Process (3)
Prerequisites: BIOL 121, 122, or BIOL 125, 126. The course will prepare students for writing a research proposal, as well as data collection methods, design of experiments, statistical methods for describing and presenting data and the components of good experimental design.
271 – Special Topics (2-4)
Prerequisites: Will be determined for each specific course. Courses on particular topics in biology that are of current interest to students and faculty. Depending on the topic, the specific course may or may not count toward the biology major.
301 – Anatomy of the Chordates (4)
Prerequisites: BIOL 121, 122 or BIOL 125, 126. The anatomy of selected Chordates with special emphasis on the Vertebrates. Lecture also examines the evolution of the organ systems of vertebrates. Laboratory. Students may not count both 301 and 384 toward the major.
302 – Developmental Biology (4)
Prerequisite: BIOL 340 and 341. An examination of the cellular and genetic mechanisms which control the formation of multicellular organisms during reproduction. Experimental laboratory exercises are combined with examination of developmental anatomy. Laboratory.
311 – Plant Ecology (4)
Prerequisite: BIOL 210. Ecological principles as applied to plants, including global plant distributions, physiological adaptations, population dynamics, and biodiversity. Laboratory focuses on hypothesis testing and experimental design. Laboratory.
312 – Plant Physiology (4)
Prerequisite: BIOL 340 and 341. Experimental and theoretical treatment of the functional mechanisms in plants. Laboratory.
321 – Invertebrate Zoology (4)
Prerequisite: BIOL 210. Survey of invertebrate phyla emphasizing structural characteristics, life histories, and evolutionary relationships. Laboratory.
322 – Animal Ecology (4)
Prerequisite: BIOL 210. Introduction to sample design, population demographics, regulatory mechanisms, and survival strategies of animals. Exercises in data collection, analysis and communication of results. Laboratory.
323 – Entomology (4)
Prerequisite: BIOL 121, 122 or BIOL 125, 126; and CHEM 111, 112. Introduction to structure, function and ecology of insects. Students prepare insect collections. Laboratory.
331 – Histology (4)
Prerequisite: BIOL 340. The anatomy and physiology of vertebrate tissues, with an emphasis on human tissues. Laboratory.
334 – Exercise Physiology (3)
Prerequisite: BIOL 340. A study of the physiologic responses of the metabolic, cardiovascular, respiratory, muscular, and skeletal systems to acute and chronic exercise in the human.
340 – Cellular Biology (4)
Prerequisites: BIOL 121, 122 or BIOL 125, 126; and CHEM 111, 112. Study of cell structure and function. Laboratory.
341 – General Genetics (4)
Prerequisite: BIOL 121, 122 or BIOL 125, 126; and CHEM 111, 112. Structure, function, and transmission of genetic material using examples from viruses, bacteria, and eukaryotic organisms. Application of these principles to human inheritance. Laboratory.
351 – Laboratory Techniques (4)
Prerequisite: BIOL 341. Introduction to instrumentation used in biological research. The scientific method and experimental design are discussed and used. Laboratory.
363 – Environmental Physiology (4)
Prerequisites: BIOL 121, 122 or BIOL 125, 126; and CHEM 111, 112. Experimental and theoretical treatment of environmental factors in the physiology of organisms. Laboratory.
364 – Animal Physiology (4)
Prerequisite: BIOL 340. A comparative study of physiological systems in animals. Laboratory.
371 – Microbiology (4)
Prerequisites: BIOL 121, 122 or BIOL 125, 126; and CHEM 111, 112. Emphasis is placed on bacteria, their morphology, physiology, nutrition, and ecology. Laboratory.
372 – Parasitology (4)
Prerequisite: BIOL 121, 122 or BIOL 125, 126. The structure, life histories, and host relationships of invertebrate parasitic forms. Laboratory.
384 – Human Anatomy (4)
Prerequisites: BIOL 121, 122 or BIOL 125, 126. The structure of the human body at the cell, tissue, organ, and system levels of organization. Laboratory. Students may not count both Biology 301 and Biology 384 toward the major.
385 – Human Physiology (4)
Prerequisites: BIOL 340 and 301 or 384. A systematic study of the physiology of the nervous system, circulation, respiration, digestion, kidney function, muscle function, integument system, homeostasis, hormonal control, and reproduction in the human body. Laboratory.
391 – Immunology (4)
Prerequisite: BIOL 341. Introduction to the principles and theories of host defense with emphasis on humoral and cell mediated responses. Laboratory.
401 – Animal Behavior (3)
Prerequisite: BIOL 210. Integrative survey of the biology of animal behavior. Includes observations of animal behavior in laboratory and field settings.
410 – Neurobiology (4)
Prerequisite: BIOL 340. Examines the structure and function of neurons, neural networks and nervous systems. The laboratory includes physiological experimentation and basic human neuroanatomy. Laboratory.
412 – Endocrinology (4)
Prerequisites: BIOL 340. A study of the Structure and function of mammalian hormone systems, including the cellular and molecular mechanisms mediating hormone action and control. Laboratory.
424 – Tropical Ecology (4)
Prerequisite: BIOL 210. Study of selected tropical ecosystems; exploration of these in a tropical setting; consideration of some problems, uses, and interesting facets of these ecosystems. Field Trip to Puerto Rico or other tropical locality.
425 – Vertebrate Zoology (4)
Prerequisite: BIOL 210. A survey of the vertebrates including their natural history, evolution and taxonomy. The student will become familiar with the biological species concept, speciation and nomenclature as they apply to the vertebrates. Laboratory.
426 – Biology of Fishes (4)
Prerequisite: BIOL 210. A survey of the fishes, including their anatomy, physiology, natural history, and systematics. The laboratory includes the collection and identification of local species. Each student will be required to develop and complete an independent project. Laboratory.
427 – Ornithology (4)
Prerequisite: BIOL 210. Comprehensive survey of the anatomy, physiology, behavior, ecology, and evolution of birds. Laboratory emphasizes field identification and taxonomy of local birds. Laboratory.
428 – Conservation Biology (4)
Prerequisite: BIOL 210. Study of social science and natural science approaches to the conservation of biological diversity. Course topics include conservation law, conservation values, population genetics, and population dynamics. Laboratory.
430 – Molecular Biology of the Gene (4)
Prerequisite: BIOL 341. An examination of the principles and techniques used in the molecular study of genes. Laboratory.
432 – Virology (4)
Prerequisite: BIOL 341. The study of viruses and their life cycles; the laboratory emphasizes techniques used specifically in the study of viruses. Laboratory.
434 – Physiological Adaptations (4)
Prerequisites: BIOL 210 and 340. A study of the adaptations of physiological systems in animals that have evolved in diverse environments. Laboratory emphasizes hypothesis-testing and experimental design. Laboratory.
440 – Biology of Cancer (3)
Prerequisite: BIOL 341. Lectures and discussions focused on various aspects of cancer including epidemiology, cellular and molecular characteristics of cancer cells, carcinogenesis, treatment and prevention.
442 – Evolution (3)
Prerequisite: BIOL 341. Lectures and discussion center around modern evolutionary theory and how evolutionary events are measured and documented.
443 – The Biology and Biochemistry of Proteins (3)
Prerequisites: BIOL 340 and CHEM 211; or CHEM 317. A study of protein science, with an emphasis on the structural biochemistry of proteins and the relationship between protein structure and the cellular function of proteins. Topics also include protein folding and protein bioinformatics.
444 – Bioinformatics (3)
Prerequisites: BIOL 340, and 341. An exploration of the rapidly growing genomics approach to biological problems. Areas of study include genome sequencing, comparative genomics, functional genomics, and diversity. Students complete three research projects based on primary literature and utilize bioinformatics approach to analyze original data. Class time is spent on discussions, on student presentations of research project results, and in collaborative work.
451 – Seminar (2)
Prerequisites: BIOL 210, 340, and 341. Preparation and presentation of an oral report on a topic in the biological sciences. Each seminar section will focus on a particular area of biology. Open only to senior biology majors.
471 – Topics in Biology (2–4)
Prerequisites: BIOL 121, 122 or BIOL 125, 126; additional prerequisites as appropriate to specific topic. Specialized topics not offered on a regular basis. Laboratory included with certain topics.
481 – Readings in the Biological Sciences (1)
Readings in biological literature selected by the student, who is guided by a staff member. Open to second semester sophomores, juniors, or seniors by permission of Department.
491 – Special Problems in Biology (1–3)
Prerequisite: BIOL 481. Individual laboratory or field investigation supervised by a staff member. Open to junior and senior majors by permission of Department.
499 – Internship (Credits variable)
Prerequisite: Junior or senior major in good academic standing. Supervised off-campus experience, developed in consultation with the Department. Does not count toward biology major.