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Majors & Minors

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