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Academic Bulletin Department of Biology - 2013-14

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Department of Biology

Faculty in the Department of Biology: Amanda Ingram (chair), Anne Bost, Patrick Burton ***, Jennifer Ison, L. David Polley, Francis Raycroft, and Eric Wetzel.   *** sabbatical leave, full year


The curriculum of the Biology Department is designed to introduce the student to the breadth of the discipline of biology and to provide the foundation for further study in biology. A core sequence of courses introduces the student to genetics, cell biology, organismal biology, and ecology. The student may then choose elective courses in areas relevant to his career interests. The biology major is designed to prepare the student for graduate or professional work in biology, as well as other careers such as law or business.


We emphasize the process of biological science through course content, laboratory and field work, independent study, and summer research with faculty. The capstone course, BIO 401, introduces the student to the primary literature in biology and the skills needed to analyze critically new information in biology.


For the non-major, we offer a number of opportunities to study biology. For the student looking for a laboratory course for distribution, BIO 101 introduces the basic concepts of biology by examining the biology of humans. This course can also be used as an entry point for additional work in biology since it is a prerequisite for several courses in the department. BIO 102, 151, and irregularly offered special topics courses at the 100 level (BIO 177 or 178) are also designed for non-majors.


Requirements for the Major: Students majoring in biology must complete: (1) a core of 7 course credits; (2) 2 additional course credits in biology; (3) PHY 111; (4) CHE 111 and 221; and (5) comprehensive exam in biology.


The Biology Core Curriculum: BIO 111, 112, 211, 212, 213, 401, and one of the following: 221, 222, 224, 225, or 226.

Introductory Courses (two course credits): Students will begin their major in biology by taking BIO 111 and 112. These courses should be completed during the freshman year. 

Genetics and Cell Biology (one course credit each): BIO 211 and 212 should be completed during the sophomore year.

Ecology (one course credit): BIO 213 should be completed during the first semester of either the junior or senior year.

Organismal Biology (one course credit) — one of the following courses:

BIO 221 (Comparative Anatomy and Embryology of the Vertebrates)

BIO 222 (Biology of the Invertebrates)

BIO 224 (Biology of the Vascular Plants)

BIO 225 (Microbiology)

BIO 226 (Parasitology)

This requirement must be completed after the Introductory Courses and before the beginning of the second semester of the senior year.


Senior Seminar (one course credit): Usually, BIO 401 is taken during the first semester of the senior year. Students who will be off-campus during the first semester of their senior year should take BIO 401 during the first semester of their junior year. 


Supporting the Biology Curriculum: Biology majors must complete 2 additional course credits for a total of nine course credits in biology. These credits may be compiled from the following: BIO 221, 222, 224, 225, 226, 311, 313, 314, 315, 316, 351, 387, and 388. Because most of these courses (BIO 221, 222, 224, 225, 226, 311, 313, 314, 315, 316, 351) are offered in alternate years, students must carefully plan their curriculum (in consultation with a Biology Department faculty member). In some years, one or more special topics courses (BIO 371) may be offered and may be used to complete the major. Descriptions of these courses will be provided to students and advisors before advance registration.


Students interested in biological research are encouraged to undertake Independent Study (BIO 387, 388) during their junior or senior year. Well-prepared students may begin Biology Independent Study before their junior year.


Beyond the nine course credits required for the biology major, students may include two additional biology course credits to satisfy graduation requirements. Students interested in graduate school in biology are encouraged to consider this option.


Supporting the Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics/Computer Science Curricula: PHY 111 and CHE 111 and 221 are required. Students intending to proceed to a professional or a graduate school should plan to include MAT110 or 111, PHY 112 or 113, and CHE 321 and 331 in their curriculum. Usually CHE 111 and 211 are taken during the sophomore year; PHY 111 and 112 and CHE 221 and 321 are taken during the junior year. MAT 112, CSC 111, and a statistics course (MAT 254 or DV3 252) may be important support courses for some biology majors.


Comprehensive Exam in Biology: Students must pass a two-day written comprehensive exam in biology. On the first day, students write on a series of recent papers from the primary literature, drawing upon the breadth and depth of their knowledge of biology. On the second day, they answer a series of questions on specific courses. Students must complete BIO 211, 212, 213 and their organismal biology course before the spring of their senior year.


Off-Campus Study: Students who wish to take biology courses at other institutions to be credited towards graduation should first discuss their options with their advisor and then obtain permission from the Biology department chair.


Summer Field Study: Scholarship funds are available through the Lucy B. Graves Fund as scholarships for students to study at marine biological laboratories. The Robert O. Petty Fund and the E.W. Olive Fund support interns in field biology. Interested students should talk with the department chair.


Requirements for the Minor: BIO 111, 112, and three other course credits in the department. At least one of the courses beyond BIO 111, 112 must be a course in organismal biology (BIO 221, 222, 224, 225, or 226). Students who wish to initiate a biology minor via the BIO 101 course will complete four additional courses, including an organismal course.


Secondary Licensure Program: The Department of Education Studies offers a minor in Education Studies, and an additional licensure preparation program for students interested in becoming licensed to teach at the secondary level (middle and high school grades 5-12). With a major in this department and a minor in Education Studies, students may also choose to complete the licensure preparation program by applying in the spring of the junior year. For more information about the licensure program, students are advised to meet with faculty in the Department of Education Studies. Requirements for the minor and licensure preparation program are outlined in the Department of Education Studies section of the Academic Bulletin.

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