Kathie Towler, Regents Science 260

From the molecules that are the building blocks of life to the complex interactions between living organisms and their environments, biology continues to fascinate the human mind. The Biology Department offers a diverse array of courses and experiences that present fundamental biological principles and processes within the context of being informed, responsible, and compassionate citizens. It provides a broad range of learning opportunities through its course offerings, laboratories, independent study/research, internships, and study abroad and away programs at sites including South India, The Bahamas, Central and South America, and Australia. Woven into all learning opportunities are hands-on experiences with modern equipment that stimulate critical and independent thinking.

For science majors, the Biology Department offers an exciting slate of challenging and rewarding courses. For the less science-oriented student, it seeks to stimulate natural curiosity about how our bodies work and how humans interact with their surroundings by providing several courses designed primarily for non-science majors. These courses, which satisfy the Natural Science requirement of the OLE Core curriculum, focus on current biological issues and general interest topics in biology.

Overview of the Major

The ever-broadening nature of biology requires diversely trained and inquisitive biologists. The biology major has the dual mission of introducing students to the information and technological tools of various disciplines of biology while instilling the confidence to critically assess a biological phenomenon and to design and carry out an appropriate research program. To that end, the biology major provides the necessary content and instrument training while students practice the art of scientific inquiry. Opportunities for interdisciplinary work abound. Biology majors are encouraged to participate in research with faculty, study abroad and away programs in biology, departmental seminars, and social activities.

Intended Learning Outcomes for the Major

Special Programs

Research opportunities and other independent study are central to the teaching mission of the Biology Department. Full-credit course opportunities include independent study (BIO 298), independent research (BIO 297 or BIO 398), and directed undergraduate research (BIO 396). BIO 291 is a 0.25 credit opportunity for a journal club or other exploratory course offered at student request and the professor's discretion. BIO 375 is a 0.25 credit course option for students completing a research project or piloting a new project. BIO 297 is independent research that can be taken for 0.25, 0.5 or 1 credit. Each summer, many biology faculty participate in CURI summer research in which paid ten-week positions offer excellent opportunities for students in lab, field, and computer-based research.

The Biology Department offers many opportunities for study abroad and away. Two semester-long programs, Biology in South India (offered every fall semester) and Environmental Science in Australia (usually offered alternating spring semesters), are of particular interest to biology students. Other semester/summer programs are available through affiliated institutions or programs (e.g., ACM Oak Ridge Science Semester, ACM Tropical Field Research, Coe College Wilderness Field Station, Denmark’s International Studies Program). In addition, each January term several study abroad or away biology courses are offered; see courses marked "study away" or "study abroad" in the course list below. Students interested in study abroad or away biology courses should consult biology faculty or the Smith Center for Global Engagement.

Several concentrations are offered that closely relate to the Biology Department: biomolecular science, environmental studies, mathematical biology, neuroscience, and statistics. Students interested in these concentrations should consult the descriptions in this catalog or the program director.