Biology Major

Department of Biological Sciences

Department Faculty

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 offering opportunities and encouraging students to pursue specialized areas of interest.

The biology major prepares students for diverse careers in fields such as life sciences research, teaching, biotechnology, conservation biology, medicine, dentistry, and allied health professions. Many graduates pursue advanced degrees in specialized areas such as cellular and molecular biology, bioinformatics, physiology, immunology, entomology, microbiology, ecology, and environmental engineering.

The biology core curriculum is designed to ensure thorough command of the scientific method and access to inquiry-based learning experiences, while providing a balanced background in cell and molecular biology, organismal biology, and ecology. Elective courses cover a wide variety of specialized topics to meet students’ particular interests in biology. An array of laboratory and field experiences further develop working knowledge of the scientific method, teach specific experimental techniques, and promote ongoing development of quantitative and analytical skills.

All of the equipment and facilities in the department are available for undergraduate student use. Collections of microscope slides, vertebrate and invertebrate specimens and an herbarium are available to enhance learning. Advanced laboratory instrumentation such as spectrophotometers, thermalcyclers, ultracentrifuges, and two electron microscopes allow students to engage in sophisticated research.

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 state, regional, and national 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. Additionally, biology faculty offer research opportunities through the university’s undergraduate research (URES 197) program.

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

Forty credits (40) in Biology. These must include, 132 or 126,  210, 260, 340, 341, and 451; 2 laboratory courses, one designated Research Intensive (BIOL 302, 311, 412, 427, 430, 432, 491 and certain 471 courses); and 14 credits in other BIOL major courses.

BIOL 121, 132, or BIOL 125, 126, and CHEM 111, 112 are prerequisites for the biology major’s core curriculum and should be taken in the student’s first year. The core courses of BIOL 210, 260, 340, and 341 are also prerequisites for various upper-level courses. and should be completed during the second year. All graduating students must participate in the assessment of the major.

Students must earn a C- or better in each BIOL major required course that serves as a prerequisite for any other BIOL course. See also the Department of Chemistry’s minimum grade requirements for CHEM 111, 112.

Biology Course Offerings

Biology course offerings will be found under the 4 letter code of BIOL in the course listings.

121Biological Concepts (4)

An introduction to biological concepts common to all organisms. Includes discussions of current topics in cellular biology, genetics, ecology, and evolution. Laboratory. Does not count toward the biology major. Credit for only one introductory biology course (121 or 125) 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, 132 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. 125 does not count towards biology major. Credit for only one introductory biology sequence (121-132 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 132 and 127 toward degree requirements. Does not count towards biology major.

128 – Current Topics in Biology (3)

Prerequisites: BIOL 121 or 125. Courses will cover topics in biology that are current interest to non-major students.  Topics will be specifically developed to build upon basic biological concepts and will satisfy the second semester of the natural science general education requirement.  Does not count toward the biology major.

132 –  Organism Function and Diversity (4)

Prerequisite: BIOL 121 (C- or better). Survey of organisms, focusing on structure, physiology, and diversity. Plant and animal form and function are emphasized. Laboratory. This course counts toward the biology major and is a prerequisite for all other required courses in the 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 121-132; Biol 125-126; Biol 121-127; Biol 121-128, 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

210 – Introduction to Ecology and Evolution (3)

Prerequisites: BIOL 132 or 126 and CHEM 111 (C- or better in each course). 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 132 or 126 ( C- or better in each course).  Survey of the organisms traditionally placed in the plant kingdom emphasizing morpho-genetic descriptions, life histories, and evolutionary relationships. Laboratory.

251 – History of Biology (3)

Prerequisites: BIOL 126 or 132 ( C- or better in each course). Chronological development of selected biological theories and their impact on contemporary biology.

260 – The Research Process (3)

Prerequisites:  BIOL 126 or 132 ( C- or better in each course). 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 126 or 132 ( C- or better in each course). 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 (C- or better in each course).  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 (C- or better). 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 (C- or better in each course). Experimental and theoretical treatment of the functional mechanisms in plants. Laboratory.

321 – Invertebrate Zoology (4)

Prerequisite: BIOL 210 (C- or better).  Survey of invertebrate phyla emphasizing structural characteristics, life histories, and evolutionary relationships. Laboratory.

322 – Animal Ecology (4)

Prerequisite: BIOL 210 (C- or better). 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 121,132 or 125,126 and CHEM 111,112 (C- or better in each course). Introduction to structure, function and ecology of insects. Students prepare insect collections. Laboratory.

331 – Histology (4)

Prerequisite: BIOL 340 (C- or better). The anatomy and physiology of vertebrate tissues, with an emphasis on human tissues. Laboratory.

334 – Exercise Physiology (3)

Prerequisite: BIOL 340 (C- or better). 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 132 or 126 and CHEM 112 (C- or in each course). Study of cell structure and function. Laboratory.

341 – General Genetics (4)

Prerequisite:  BIOL 132 or 126 and CHEM 112 (C- or better in each course). Structure, function, and transmission of genetic material using examples from viruses, bacteria, and eukaryotic organisms. Application of these principles to human inheritance. Laboratory.

342– Nutrition and Metabolism (3)

Prerequisite:  BIOL 340 (C- or better).  A study of the scientific basis for the current recommendations for a healthy diet.  Course topics include metabolic pathways, macro and micro nutrients, diet and health, and controversial topics in nutrition.

363 – Environmental Physiology (4)

Prerequisites:  BIOL 132 or 126 and CHEM 112 (C- or better in each course). Experimental and theoretical treatment of environmental factors in the physiology of organisms. Laboratory.

364 – Animal Physiology (4)

Prerequisite: BIOL 340 (C- or better). A comparative study of physiological systems in animals. Laboratory.

371 – Microbiology (4)

Prerequisites:  BIOL 132 or 126 and CHEM 112 (C- or better in each course). Emphasis is placed on bacteria, their morphology, physiology, nutrition, and ecology. Laboratory.

372 – Parasitology (4)

Prerequisite:  BIOL 132 or 126 (C- or better in each course). The structure, life histories, and host relationships of invertebrate parasitic forms. Laboratory.

384 – Human Anatomy (4)

Prerequisites:  BIOL 132 or 126 (C- or better in each course). 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 (C- or better) 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 (C- or better). 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 (C- or better). Integrative survey of the biology of animal behavior. Includes observations of animal behavior in laboratory and field settings.

410 – Neurobiology (4)

Prerequisite: BIOL 340 (C- or better). 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 (C- or better). 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 (C- or better). 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 (C- or better). 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 (C- or better). 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 (C- or better). 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 (C- or better). 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 (C- or better).  An examination of the principles and techniques used in the molecular study of genes. Laboratory.

432 – Virology (4)

Prerequisite: BIOL 341 (C- or better).  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 (C- or better in each course).  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 (C- or better). 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 (C- or better).  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 (C- or better) 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 (C- or better in each course). 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, 260, 340, and 341 (C- or better in each course).  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 126 or 132 (C- or better in each course); 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; C- or better in all BIOL courses. 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.