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Course Catalog

Biology

Biology is the scientific study of living things. Therefore the major and minor in biology are designed to introduce students to the methodology of science while providing a broad exposure to the diversity of life at all levels. Students may also, through their choice of upper-level classes, explore specific areas of interest, such as cell and molecular biology, organismal biology, or ecology and evolutionary biology. In addition to its standard course offerings, the department offers numerous opportunities for collaborative research and learning with faculty. For example, internships and other research opportunities, both on and off-campus, are available during the January Winter Term and in the summer. Many students also spend a semester away from campus, either in an off-campus study program, such as the School for Field Studies, Denmark International Study, the School for International Training, or as an intern at such institutions as Oak Ridge or Argonne National Laboratories, Harvard Medical School, or the Mayo Clinic.


Requirements for a major

Biology (for students entering Fall 2014 and after)

Total courses required 9.5 BIO + CHEM 120 + 1.0 allied course credit
Core courses BIO 101, BIO 102, BIO 450
Other required courses Seven upper level Biology courses. At least one course from each upper level cluster (Cellular/Molecular Biology, Organismal Biology, Ecology/Evolution). The remaining four Biology courses can be selected from any of the approved courses for the major. CHEM 120 and an additional allied course are also required.

Cellular/Molecular Biology: Courses in this cluster emphasize processes of cells and/or unicellular organisms including cellular processes such as metabolism/bioenergetics and the maintenance and expression of DNA, RNA and/or proteins. Courses that fulfill this cluster are BIO 250, BIO 314, BIO 315, Bio 325, BIO 385.

Organismal Biology: Courses in this cluster emphasize biological diversity and adaptive characteristics of multicellular organisms such as physiology, anatomy, development, and reproduction. Courses that fulfill this cluster are BIO 230, Bio 235, BIO 285, BIO 334, BIO 335.

Evolution/Ecology: Courses in this cluster emphasize the consequences of interactions of organisms with each other and their (abiotic and biotic) environment and the processes which shape these interactions at the population, community and ecosystem levels. Courses that fulfill this cluster are BIO 342, BIO344, BIO 345, BIO346, BIO348.

Students will take one course from the following list of allied courses: CHEM 240, CHEM 260, CSC 121, GEOS 110, PHYS 120

Number 300 and 400 level courses Three
Senior requirement and capstone experience The senior requirement consists of the completion of BIO 450 with a grade of C- or better.
Additional information No more than two courses from off-campus programs can count toward the major. It is recommended that biology majors take a minimum of two courses in chemistry, a year of physics and a semester of calculus or statistics. Course work in computer science is also desirable.
Recent changes in major In this Fall 2014 version of the major, the introductory sequence, BIO 101 and BIO 102, replaces the former introductory sequence, BIO 135, BIO 145 and BIO 215.
Writing in the Major Biologists must write clear, compelling prose to describe and explain complex patterns and processes. They must also present data graphically and verbally to inform and engage other scientists and the public. Good writing in biology is usually concise and precise, conveying information effectively without relying heavily on emotion. Biological inquiry and writing are both collaborative endeavors. Writing collaboratively requires practice, so in many of our courses, students work together to produce co-authored reports describing their experimental results. Drafts, revisions, and peer reviews are important steps in the process of writing polished prose in biology.

Although the Biology Department does not require a specific course that emphasizes writing in biology, almost all upper-level classes in biology require one or more types of writing. Students in upper-level biology courses will write many of the following:

  • Project proposals
  • Lab reports
  • Response papers
  • Review papers
  • Research posters

As part of the senior seminar capstone experience, the department may ask students to organize a portfolio of their previous written work.

Biology (for students who entered prior to Fall 2014)

Total courses required Ten and one-half (including CHEM 120)
Core courses BIO 135, BIO 145, BIO 215, BIO 450.
Other required courses CHEM 120, required as a prerequisite for BIO 215. The remaining six Biology courses can be selected from any of the approved courses for the major, with a minimum of three courses at the 300 or 400 level.
Number 300 and 400 level courses Three
Senior requirement and capstone experience The senior requirement consists of the completion of BIO 450 with a grade of C- or better.
Additional information No more than two courses from off-campus programs can count toward the major. It is recommended that biology majors take a minimum of two courses in chemistry, a year of physics and a semester of calculus or statistics. Course work in computer science is also desirable.
Writing in the Major

Biologists must write clear, compelling prose to describe and explain complex patterns and processes. They must also present data graphically and verbally to inform and engage other scientists and the public. Good writing in biology is usually concise and precise, conveying information effectively without relying heavily on emotion.

Biological inquiry and writing are both collaborative endeavors. Writing collaboratively requires practice, so in many of our courses, students work together to produce co-authored reports describing their experimental results. Drafts, revisions, and peer reviews are important steps in the process of writing polished prose in biology.

Although the Biology Department does not require a specific course that emphasizes writing in biology, almost all upper-level classes in biology require one or more types of writing. Students in upper-level biology courses will write many of the following:

  • Project proposals
  • Lab reports
  • Response papers
  • Review papers
  • Research posters

As part of the senior seminar capstone experience, the department may ask students to organize a portfolio of their previous written work.


Requirements for a minor

Biology

Total courses required Seven
Core courses BIO 135, BIO 145, BIO 215
Other required courses CHEM 120, required as a prerequisite for BIO 215. The remaining three Biology courses must be at the 200 level or above with a minimum of one course at the 300 or 400 level.
Number 300 and 400 level courses One

Courses in Biology

BIO 101

Molecules, Genes and Cells

Includes laboratory. An introduction to genetics, cell biology and molecular biology. Students will examine topics in biological chemistry, cellular structure and function, metabolism and energy flow in cellular systems, Mendelian genetics, and the cell cycle. Not open to students with credit in BIO 215: Cells and Genes.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Science and Mathematics 1 course

BIO 102

Evolution, Organisms and Ecology

Includes laboratory. An introduction to the principles and practice of evolutionary biology, population genetics, and ecology. Students will examine topics in natural selection, the modern synthesis, speciation, phylogeny, primary productivity and ecological efficiency. Not open to students with credit in BIO 145, Ecology and Evolution.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Science and Mathematics 1 course

BIO 104

Human Biology

Includes laboratory. An entry level course that examines biological principles as they relate to the functioning of human body systems, and to advances in medical science (or just health) and biotechnology. May not be counted toward a major in biology.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Science and Mathematics 1 course

BIO 105

Human Genetics

Includes laboratory. An entry level course examining basic principles of genetics, emphasizing human genetics, various disorders and their ethical and economic impact on society. May not be counted toward a major in biology.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Science and Mathematics 1 course

BIO 130

Plants in Human Cultures

Includes laboratory. In this course, students will address the many ways that humans interact with the botanical world. Topics covered include, but are not limited to: the history and evolution of agricultural practices and crop plants, the botanical and chemical aspects of food and spice crops, genetic engineering of crops, traditional uses of medicinal plants in human cultures, modern searches for cures for human diseases using plant-derived chemicals, the effects of humans on the distribution of plant species and the evolutionary origins of such plant products as wood, cotton, oils, etc. May not be counted toward a major in biology.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Science and Mathematics 1 course

BIO 145

Ecology and Evolution

This course examines the principles and practice of evolutionary biology, Mendelian and population genetics, and ecology at the individual, population, community, and ecosystem levels.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Science and Mathematics 1 course

BIO 156

Advanced Placement in Biology

Credit for students earning advanced placement in biology. Does not count toward the major in Biology.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

BIO 183

Off-Campus Extended Studies Course

Winter or May Term off-campus study project related to a biological theme.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
variable

BIO 190

Topics

Selected topics in biology. May include laboratory depending on subject. May not be counted toward major in biology.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Science and Mathematics 1 course

BIO 197

First-Year Seminar

A seminar focused on a theme related to the study of biology. Open only to first-year students.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

BIO 203

Human Anatomy

Includes laboratory. Examination of human structure as it relates to organ and body function and human adaptation to the environment. Laboratory: dissection of a mammal with reference to its comparison with the human.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

BIO 215

Cell and Genes

An introduction to cell biology and molecular biology. Topics covered include macromolecules, membrane and organelle structure and function, cellular metabolism and cell cycle, molecular genetics of prokaryotes and eukaryotes, DNA structure and function, gene expression and genetic engineering, and genomics. Prerequisites: CHEM 120.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Science and Mathematics CHEM 120 1 course

BIO 230

Plant Biology

Includes laboratory. An introduction to the principles of plant biology. Topics covered include plant development and reproduction, responses to environmental variables, and applied uses. Prerequisites:BIO 135 (or BIO 101) and BIO 145 (or BIO 102), or permission of instructor..

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
BIO 135 (or BIO 101) and BIO 145 (or BIO 102), or permission of instructor. 1 course

BIO 250

Microbiology

Includes laboratory. A general overview of microbiology. Topics covered include microbial genetics, physiology, evolution and ecology, microbial techniques and the interplay between microbial life and the human environment. Prerequisites: BIO 215 (BIO 145 also recommended) or permission of instructor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
BIO 215 (BIO 145 also recommended) or permission of instructor 1 course

BIO 275

Biostatistics

(Formerly BIO 375) A detailed survey of the techniques involved in the collection and analysis of biological data, with a focus on the design of biological experiments. This course prepares students for research experiences in biology by using examples from ecology, evolutionary biology, physiology and biomedical science. Prerequisites: BIO 135 (or BIO 101) and BIO 145 (or BIO 102), or permission of instructor. Not open to students with credit in ECON 350, Math 341 or PSY 214.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
BIO 135 (or BIO 101) and BIO 145 (or BIO 102), or permission of instructor. Not open to students with credit in ECON 350, MATH 341 or PSY 214. 1 course

BIO 285

Biodiversity

Includes laboratory. A diagnostic overview of major taxa within both prokaryotes and eukaryotes which includes phylogeny, systematics, defining attributes, and comparative life cycles. Prerequisites:BIO 135 (or BIO 101) and BIO 145 (or BIO 102), or permission of instructor..

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
BIO 135 (or BIO 101) and BIO 145 (or BIO 102), or permission of instructor. 1 course

BIO 290

Topics

Selected topics in Biology. May or may not include a laboratory, depending on the subject. Prerequisite: one year of biology or permission of instructor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
One year of biology or permission of instructor 1/2-1 course

BIO 314

Biochemistry and Cellular Biology

Includes laboratory. A study of the dynamic aspects of the structure, function and regulation of eukaryotic cells. The molecular nature of the gene and gene expression are examined. The intercellular functions that maintain cell viability and the coordination between cell in multicellular organisms are examined. Prerequisites:(BIO 135, BIO 145 and BIO 215) or (BIO 101 and BIO 102), or permission of instructor

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
(BIO 135, BIO 145 and BIO 215) or (BIO 101 and BIO 102), or permission of instructor 1 course

BIO 315

Molecular Biology

Includes three hour laboratory. This course presents advanced concepts of molecular biology with the experimental evidence and practice of genetic engineering and recombinant DNA technology. Lectures focus on explaining biological phenomena in molecular and biochemical terms, including DNA-Protein interactions in gene regulation, and provide conceptual support for the laboratory experiments. Laboratory work focuses on a semester-long project using biochemical and molecular techniques. Prerequisites: BIO 215 and CHEM 120.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
BIO 215 and CHEM 120 1 course

BIO 320

Genetics

Normally includes laboratory. The study of gene transmission, structure and function. Topics include patterns of inheritance, microbial and molecular genetics, quantitative and population genetics. Prerequisite:(BIO 135, BIO 145 and BIO 215) or (BIO 101 and BIO 102), or permission of instructor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
(BIO 135, BIO 145 and BIO 215) or (BIO 101 and BIO 102), or permission of instructor 1 course

BIO 325

Bioinformatics

Normally includes a 2 hour laboratory session per week. An introduction to the molecular theory and computational tools for analyzing gene and protein sequences. A major activity is the use of computer programs and algorithms to find and align gene and protein sequences, to predict protein structure and function, and to create network maps and phylogenetic histories from molecular sequences. Prerequisites: BIO 215 or permission of instructor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
BIO 215 or permission of instructor 1 course

BIO 334

Developmental Biology

Includes laboratory. A comparative investigation of embryonic development, including cell differentiation, tissue organization and mechanisms of organ development. Prerequisites: (BIO 135, BIO 145 and BIO 215) or (BIO 101 and BIO 102), or permission of instructor

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
(BIO 135, BIO 145 and BIO 215) or (BIO 101 and BIO 102), or permission of instructor 1 course

BIO 335

Animal Physiology

In Animal Physiology we use an integrative approach to study the mechanisms by which animals maintain interal environments that are compatible to life. The basis of organ systems function, homeostatic responses to environmental stresses, evolutionary and developmental adaptations and normal body functions are explored at the cellular and organismic level. Selected physiological topics including osmoregulation, metabolism, nerve function, cardiac and respiratory physiology are investigated in the accompanying laboratory sessions. Prerequisites: BIO 135 and 215, or permission of instructor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
BIO 135 and BIO 215, or permission of instructor 1 course

BIO 342

Ecology

Includes laboratory. The study of interrelationships between organisms and their environment, emphasizing fundamental concepts in ecology, natural history of local habitats and organisms, the process of ecological research, and current issues of interest in ecology. Prerequisites: BIO 135 (or BIO 101) and BIO 145 (or BIO 102), or permission of instructor..

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
BIO 135 (or BIO 101) and BIO 145 (or BIO 102), or permission of instructor. 1 course

BIO 344

Ecological and Evolutionary Genetics

This course examines how interactions among organisms and their biotic and abiotic environments influence the quantitative and molecular genetics of natural populations. Following a brief introduction to theoretical population and quantitative genetics, students make extensive use of the primary literature to examine current research in this area. Prerequisites: (BIO 135, BIO 145 and BIO 215) or (BIO 101 and BIO 102), or permission of instructor. Not open to students with credit in BIO 444.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
(BIO 135, BIO 145 and BIO 215) or (BIO 101 and BIO 102), or permission of instructor 1 course

BIO 345

Conservation Biology

Includes laboratory. This course will address the impacts of humans on Earth's biodiversity, and strategies taken to conserve and protect global natural resources. Topics covered may include global patterns of biodiversity, ecological community structure, habitat exploitation and restoration by humans, genetics of small populations, design of nature reserves, problems associated with invasive species. Prerequisites: BIO 135 (or BIO 101) and BIO 145 (or BIO 102), or permission of instructor..

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
BIO 135 (or BIO 101) and BIO 145 (or BIO 102), or permission of instructor. 1 course

BIO 346

Plant-Animal Interactions

Includes laboratory. An examination of plants and animals from a holistic, interactive perspective, focusing on the ongoing coevolution between plants and animals. Both positive and negative interactions for both types of organisms are examined. Prerequisites: (BIO 135, BIO 145 and BIO 215) or (BIO 101 and BIO 102), or permission of instructor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
(BIO 135, BIO 145 and BIO 215) or (BIO 101 and BIO 102), or permission of instructor 1 course

BIO 348

Behavioral Ecology

Includes laboratory. This course is concerned with an evolutionarily based analysis of how the behaviors of animals contribute to survival and reproductive success. Prerequisites:BIO 135 (or BIO 101) and BIO 145 (or BIO 102), or permission of instructor..

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
BIO 135 (or BIO 101) and BIO 145 (or BIO 102), or permission of instructor. 1 course

BIO 361

Immunology

Includes laboratory. Investigation of the principles of immunology, including clinical principles of pathogen resistance, autoimmunity, immunodeficiency and cancer. Both basic science and clinical science will be addressed, as will comparative aspects of innate and acquired immunity. Laboratory consists of basic and investigative projects involving the use of live animals. Prerequisite:(BIO 135, BIO 145 and BIO 215) or (BIO 101 and BIO 102), or permission of instructor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
(BIO 135, BIO 145 and BIO 215) or (BIO 101 and BIO 102), or permission of instructor 1 course

BIO 381

Cell Signaling in Physiology

This class explores how cellular signaling coordinates physiological function. It focuses on the modes of operation of complex and dynamic molecular networks that are linked to the families of G-protein coupled receptors, receptor tyrosine kinases, cytokines receptors, second messengers, and small G proteins. The class explores the role of cell signaling in 1) cell growth, proliferation, differentiation, and cell death, and 2) their regulation of stress responses, inflammation, tissue remodeling, wound healing, regeneration and cancer. This class makes extensive use of primary literature. Weekly 3-hour labs include tissue culture, cell imaging, protein expression, protein isolation and detection by ELISA and Western, and a multi-weeks independent project (4 to 5 weeks) using various cell and molecular techniques, and in vitro cell culture models as well as in vivo research models. Prerequisite: BIO 215

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
BIO 215 1 course

BIO 382

Neurobiology

Includes laboratory. Examines the structure and function of individual neurons and glial cells, the formation of integrative circuits and the comparative organization and evolution of animal nervous systems of increasing complexity from nerve nets to humans. Prerequisite: (BIO 135, BIO 145 and BIO 215) or (BIO 101 and BIO 102), or permission of instructor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
(BIO 135, BIO 145 and BIO 215) or (BIO 101 and BIO 102), or permission of instructor 1 course

BIO 385

Molecular Neurobiology

This course is concerned with the regulation of neural gene expression and protein synthesis and is designed for advanced students. We approach neurobiological questions from the molecular (gene and protein) level with the aim to understand how patterns of gene expression and protein synthesis relate to brain function and dysfunction. Topics include neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer's, Huntington's and Parkinson's disease), addiction, mood disorders, neural development, neural regeneration, stem cells, and progress in neural therapies. Along these lines, current concepts of transcriptional and translational control of selected neural genes in normal, diseased and developing nervous systems are discussed. Molecular techniques such as protein isolation, Western Blotting, immunodetection, and tissue culture are explored in the laboratory. Prerequisites: BIO215

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
BIO 215 1 course

BIO 390

Topics

Selected topics in biology are offered. Prerequisite: one year of biology or permission of instructor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
One year of biology or permission of instructor 1/2-1 course

BIO 395

Practicum for Biology Tutors

Development of tutoring and problem-solving skills in biology through readings, direct experience, reflection and discussion. Experience in tutoring/assisting of a biology course under direct supervision. Prerequisites: one year of Biology and permission of instructor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
One year of biology and permission of instructor 1/2 course

BIO 415

Molecular Genetics & Genomics

This course focuses on the genes in the Human Genome that are responsible for causing simple monogenic deseases (see OMIM) and more complex polygenic diseases such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, Crohn's disease, asthma and autism. Both classical genetics (Mendelian, Quantitative, Population) and modern genetics (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms in Genome Wide Association Studies) are introduced for probing the discovery, transmission, and molecular functions of these genes. We also probe new ways of treating and testing for diseases along with the ethical implications. Prerequisite: BIO 101, CHEM 240 or BIO 215, or permission of instructor. Recommended: BIO 315, BIO 325 or BIO 320.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
BIO 101, CHEM 240 or BIO 215, or permission of instructor. Recommended: BIO 315, BIO 325 or BIO 320. 1 course

BIO 450

Senior Seminar

Students read, present and discuss research papers from a variety of areas in biology. Prerequisite: a major in biology and senior status. May not be taken pass/fail.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
A major in biology and senior status 1/2 course

BIO 490

Research Problems

Directed independent study. Prerequisite: two years of biology and permission of department. Usually taken for one-half credit. Maximum 1 credit total.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Two years of biology and permission of department 1/2-1 course