Courses

The department offers introductory biology courses suitable for both majors and nonmajors. Some 100-level seminars, such as A Green World are small classes designed especially for first-year students.

Upper-level courses provide in-depth study of such topics as genetics, cell biology, evolution, protein biochemistry, microbiology, anatomy, ecology, plant diversity, and physiology.

In the fall semester, five different introductory biology courses will be offered. Any of these courses count for Distribution as a Laboratory Science. All are suitable for the major in Biological Sciences, Environmental Studies, Neuroscience and Behavior, and Biochemistry. Students should choose the one that most interests them.

“Diversity of Life” (Biology 145f-02) We will survey the great diversity of life on earth from the archaebacteria that live in hot sulfur springs to giant sequoia trees to singing birds. Labs will explore biological diversity via collecting trips around campus as well as laboratory experiments and will introduce students to data collection, manipulation, and analysis.
 
"A Green World”  (Biology 145f-03) This course examines the plant life in the woods and fields around us, the exotic plants in our greenhouses, and the plants we depend on for food. We will study plants living in surprising circumstances, settling into winter, escaping from gardens, reclaiming farmland, cooperating with fungi and insects, and fighting for their lives. We will find that plants challenge some conventional, animal-based assumptions about what matters to living things. In labs, students will seek to answer their questions about how plants grow in nature, by studying plant structure and function, ecology, and evolution.

"Can't Live With 'em, Can't Live Without 'em: An Introduction to the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology of Symbiotic Interactions”  (Biology 145f-04) From mutualism to parasitism, symbiosis is a universal feature of life. In this course we will study the mechanisms of symbiotic interactions and consider their significance for the ecology and evolution of organisms. We will explore some of the most spectacular and important examples of contemporary symbioses, from coral reefs to infectious diseases, and learn how symbiosis is responsible for major developments in the history of life, such as the origin of the eukaryotic cell and the evolution of sex. Along the way we will cover fundamental concepts in ecology, evolution, population genetics, and epidemiology.

In the spring semester, the department will offer courses that are equally suitable for potential majors and for those seeking distribution credit for laboratory science. 

"Biology in the Age of the Human Genome Project" (Biology 145s-01) The Human Genome Project is leading to great advances in our understanding of the human body and in our ability to manipulate our own genetic information. We will focus on the science behind the Human Genome Project, and the ways in which it affects our lives. This course will also serve as a general introductory biology course for biology majors as well as nonmajors. We will read articles and books, and make use of the World Wide Web.

"Organismal Biology" 
(Biology 145s-02) This course encompasses a broad range of concepts central to our understanding of how organisms function and evolve. We will investigate important biological processes, such as photosynthesis and metabolism, and systems, such as the cardiovascular and immune systems. We will also take a holistic view of biology and use our newly acquired knowledge to explore such diverse topics as: the evolution of infectious diseases, the consequences of development and design on the evolution of organisms, and how the physiology and behavior of animals might affect their responses to global climate change.

"Animal Bodies/Functions" (Biology 145s-03) How are animal bodies built to deal with living on earth? In this course we will study the function of cells, organs, and organ systems that have evolved to help animals make their way through the physical and chemical environment. In lecture and in lab, we will consider the common needs of animals -- needs such as feeding, breathing, and reproducing -- and the diverse solutions they have devised. A range of life, from unicellular organisms to animals with backbones (including mammals), will be considered. 

All 100-level courses in the department serve as an entry into Biology 200, offered only in the spring. A delay in taking this course limits one’s course selection choices later on, so first-year students who are contemplating a major in biology are best served by a 100-level course in the fall and then Biology 200 in the spring. It is possible to delay beginning the biology major until the sophomore year, but this requires careful planning and will probably restrict the options for study abroad in the junior year.

After Bio 200, the next course in the core sequence for biology majors is Biology 210, Genetics and Molecular Biology; it is offered only in the fall semester. This class requires that the student has taken, or is taking, Chemistry 101.

Students who know that they wish to major in Biological Sciences should consider taking the first year Biology sequence and the first year Chemistry sequence simultaneously. This is not required, but doing so will allow greater flexibility.

First-year students may consider enrolling in:

BIOL-145f-02  Introductory Biology: Diversity of Life
BIOL-145f-03  Introductory Biology: A Green World
BIOL-145f-04  Introductory Biology:  Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em:  An introduction to the ecology and evolutionary biology of symbiotic interactions
BIOL-145s-01 Introductory Biology: Biology in the Age of the Human Genome Project
BIOL-145s-02 Introductory Biology: Organismal Biology
BIOL-145s-03 Introductory Biology: Animal Bodies, Animal Functions 

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