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Biology

Professors: Grogan, King Smith, McCann, McRobert, Snetselaar (Chair), Tudor, Watrous

Associate Professors: Fingerut, Tefft,

Assistant Professors: Arango, Braverman, S.J. Lee-Soety, Li, Springer

Core Lab Coordinator: Ratterman

Program Overview

The undergraduate Biology curriculum begins with a core of courses that presents the fundamentals of the life sciences, both in concept and methodology. After completing the core, students take a distribution of upper division courses with at least one course in each of the three major areas of biology. This distribution strategy insures that all students have broad exposure to an extensive range of topics including cell and molecular biology, microbiology, genetics, plant biology, evolution, physiology, ecology, environmental biology, and animal behavior. The curriculum provides appropriate training for students seeking admission to professional and graduate schools and those who wish to enter the job market directly following graduation.

The faculty of the Biology Department view teaching as the primary mission of both the Department and the University. In addition, Biology faculty are involved in high caliber scientific research. The interplay between teaching and research, and the involvement of students in faculty research strengthens the Biology curriculum. One of the most important qualities of the Department is the opportunity for undergraduates to participate in faculty research. This mentor-student relationship involves the design and execution of experiments, and is a very enriching learning experience. Students can work with faculty as volunteers, for academic credit, or for pay during the summer months. The research done by students often leads to publications and presentations at national and regional conferences. Whatever the career plans, students are encouraged to seriously consider participating in undergraduate research. Up to two semesters of research may be counted as biology electives.

The Biology Department also has a small but strong graduate program that leads to either a MS or a MA degree in biology. The MA degree is primarily designed for post-graduates who are working or wishing to improve their credentials for professional school. The MS degree requires the development and presentation of a thesis based on original research. This degree is more appropriate for full-time students wishing to engage in research as part of a career or as a prelude to graduate training at the doctoral level. Students in the MS program may be eligible for a teaching assistantship that provides a tuition scholarship and stipend. The presence of diverse and engaged graduate students enhances both faculty research and the academic experience for undergraduate students.

Program Mission

The Biology program has as its aim the education of broadly trained biologists who are well grounded in chemistry, physics, and mathematics, and have command of the written and spoken word. Emphasis is placed on understanding basic principles and concepts in biology, and the application of those principles through analysis of data and synthesis of information learned in the classroom and the research laboratory. The Biology program has always been known as a training ground for individuals pursuing professional careers in the life sciences. Many graduates from the Biology program have gone on to professional schools, pursued graduate studies, or entered the work force directly in academic, government, and industrial labs. This requires that our students be prepared to face the challenges of a competitive world. To help them meet these challenges the Biology Department has established a strong advising program. Faculty commitment to academic advising and accessibility of faculty advisors to students exemplifies the institutional mission of cura personalis.

Goals

  1. Students will gain an appreciation and understanding of cell structure and function, the organization of biological systems, and the evolution of biological diversity..
  2. Students will develop skills in experimental design, surveying of scientific literature, data collection, and the interpretation of results, including statistical analysis. Students will also have the opportunity to become involved in faculty research.
  3. Students will develop skills in presenting scientific information both orally and in writing.

Objectives

After completing the Biology curriculum students should be able to accomplish the following:

  1. Describe evolution and the basic mechanisms of evolutionary change.
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of the major domains of life on earth and the distinctive characteristics of major groups.
  3. Demonstrate knowledge of anabolic and catabolic pathways used by living organisms to provide energy and macromolecules for synthesis.
  4. Describe the components of the major trophic levels and diagram the flow of nutrients through food webs in the environment.
  5. Describe how organisms respond to physiological, environmental and physical challenges.
  6. Describe the role of genetics at both cellular and organismal levels.
  7. Demonstrate an understanding of the importance of protein structure and function.
  8. Demonstrate competency in operating basic laboratory equipment.
  9. Demonstrate competency in data reduction and presentation, including choosing and interpreting the appropriate statistical tests.
  10. Develop cogent, well structured, and researched written and oral presentations of scientific content.