Biology

Associate Professor Archer, Chair; Thomas S. Johnson Distinguished Professor of Biology Blackburn∙∙, Professors Dunlap, Fleming, and Morrison∙∙, Charles A. Dana Professor of Biology Schneider; Associate Professors Foster, Guardiola-Diaz, and Smedley; Principal Lecturer and Laboratory Coordinator O’Donnell; Lecturer and Laboratory Coordinator Fournier

Biology is the study of the unity and diversity of life. Modern biology is a field of great breadth that includes such disciplines as molecular biology, genetics, development, physiology, zoology, botany, ecology, and evolutionary biology. As an interdisciplinary field, biology draws upon chemistry, mathematics, and physics, while intersecting with such other fields as neuroscience, psychology, anthropology, philosophy, and paleontology.

The biology major is constructed to provide students with a broad background in the field while offering opportunities for concentration in particular areas. The department has excellent facilities, and majors are strongly encouraged to conduct independent research with a faculty member. A major in biology can lead to a career in research, teaching, or the health professions, as well as in law, government, business, or management. The major also prepares students for further study in such interdisciplinary fields as biochemistry, nutrition, neuroscience, oceanography, and environmental science.

Students who are considering a major in biology should consult a member of the Biology Department as early in their undergraduate career as possible. The faculty member will help plan a sequence of courses appropriate for the student’s particular interests and needs. If the biology major is to be used as preparation for one of the health-related professions, the student should consult with a member of the Health Professions Advising Committee (see the advising section in the Bulletin).

The biology major—Students have two options for majoring in biology, leading respectively to the bachelor of science degree and the bachelor of arts degree. Both degrees offer students breadth and depth in the field. The bachelor of science degree is recommended to undergraduates who want the strongest background in the discipline and to students who are interested in pursuing a graduate degree in the biological sciences. The bachelor of arts degree offers a level of flexibility and is appropriate for students with plans that do not necessarily include graduate school. Either the B.S. or B.A. degree is appropriate for students aspiring to health professions schools.

General requirements for the B.S. and B.A.

Course requirements for a major in biology include nine courses from the Department of Biology, plus at least three cognate courses in chemistry and mathematics. No course with a grade less than C- may be counted toward the major.

The core sequence of biology courses is as follows:

Required cognate courses include CHEM 111L and 112L. Introductory Chemistry I and II and one of the following courses in quantitative methods:

Incoming students with interests in the life sciences ideally should enroll in BIOL 182L and CHEM 111L in the fall semester, followed by BIOL 183L and CHEM 112L in the spring semester. If necessary, students who have taken CHEM 111L may enter BIOL 183L in the spring semester and take BIOL 182L the following fall semester.

BIOL 182L and 183L are required for most upper-level courses in the biological sciences.

Bachelor of science in biology

Beyond the general requirements outlined above, candidates for the bachelor of science degree are expected to take seven biology courses (at least four with labs), plus one additional cognate course in the physical sciences as described.

The seven additional biology courses include BIOL 224. Genetics, plus one course each from Groups I, II, and IV, plus three other biology courses chosen from any of the groups. Students who wish to use Research in Biology as one of their nine majors courses must either take two semesters of BIOL 419 or 425, or one semester of either with concurrent enrollment in BIOL 403 or 404. Research Seminar.

Group I: Biodiversity—Group I offerings provide exposure to the biology of organisms other than vertebrates, groups that comprise the vast majority of all life. These courses employ an integrative approach with an emphasis on biodiversity.

Group II: Cellular/molecular basis of life—Group II offerings will ensure that students gain competence in the cellular and molecular processes that are fundamental to life.

Group III: Electives in biology—Group III courses are intended to allow students the opportunity to explore other areas of biology in detail.

Group IV: Capstone courses—Group IV courses provide students with a culminating experience in the major, and satisfy the senior exercise requirement. These courses also satisfy the Writing Intensive Part II requirement for the major.

Required cognate course—In addition to biology and cognate courses listed above, students must take at least one course in organic chemistry (CHEM 211L) or introductory physics (PHYS 101L or PHYS 141L or PHYS 131L).

Students are strongly recommended to take two semesters in organic chemistry and two semesters in introductory physics. While not required for the major, these are considered to be essential for students who are interested in the health professions or in continuing their education at the graduate level.

Bachelor of arts in biology

Beyond the “general requirements” (BIOL 182 and 183, CHEM 111 and 112, and a course in quantitative methods, as listed above), candidates for the bachelor of arts degree are expected to take seven biology courses (at least four with labs). These seven courses should include at least one course each from Groups I, II, and IV, as listed above.

One of the following courses may be used as an elective toward the bachelor of arts degree if taken before completion of the introductory sequence of BIOL 182 and 183:

Optional courses of potential interest—Students also are encouraged to take courses in other departments and programs that have a relationship to the biological sciences. Examples of such courses are as follows:

Biology major concentrations

Depth option—Students may opt to fulfill a concentration in a particular area of biology by completing four electives within any one of the groups listed below. This concentration will be indicated in the student’s transcript (e.g., ”Biology: Biomedical Sciences Concentration”). Transfer courses may be applied toward a concentration as approved by the department chair. Four courses fulfill a concentration in one area; students are limited to selecting one concentration.

Biomedical Sciences concentration: Organismal and Evolutionary Biology concentration:
Cellular/Molecular Biology concentration: Field Biology and Ecology concentration:

The biology minor—The minor in biology is an option for students who are not majoring in the subject but who wish to enhance their biological background in conjunction with other academic interests. The minor offers students the opportunity to explore one or more aspects of biology or to sample broadly from across the departmental curriculum. A minor in the subject also may help prepare students for postgraduate careers in areas related to the life sciences, including environmental consulting, scientific publishing, environmental law, nutrition, science teaching, and allied health fields. In order to declare a minor in biology and to plan a course of study, a student should meet with the chair of the Biology Department.

The minor in biology consists of five courses in the biological sciences (including at least four with labs). These five courses include (a) BIOL 182L and 183L (which has a prerequisite of CHEM 111) and (b) three departmental electives (at least two with labs). Eligible departmental electives include all 200-, 300-, and 400-level biology courses, as well as NESC 201. Principles of Neuroscience and NESC 402. Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology. In addition, students may apply one 100-level course from the following list toward a biology minor:

Only one of the five biology courses can be a transfer credit except in circumstances approved by the department. No course with a grade less than C- may be counted toward the minor.

Advanced Placement—Students who receive a score of 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement examination in biology may receive one course credit toward graduation. This course credit may not be counted toward the biology major, nor does it exempt students from any of the courses required for the major.

Teaching assistantships—Each year, by invitation, certain students will be given the opportunity to function as teaching assistants. Those accepting will work closely with a faculty member in the presentation of a departmental course. The primary responsibilities of student assistants will be instructional. Students taking part in this program can receive course credit by registering in BIOL 466 (not creditable to the biology major).

Research in biology—Majors in biology are provided the opportunity to carry out research through direct laboratory work, fieldwork, or library research under the direction of an individual faculty member. Seniors and those students using a laboratory or library research course to satisfy the Group IV requirement must simultaneously enroll in the biology research seminar (BIOL 403 or 404). Because of the nature of laboratory work and fieldwork, students should be willing to devote at least two semesters to research. Library work is to be done on the semester basis and will involve the preparation of a paper dealing with a significant phenomenon or issue in the field. Those who wish to pursue this work should seek permission from the sponsoring faculty member no later than December 1 if the work is to be initiated in the spring term or no later than May 1 if the work is to be initiated in the fall term. Students are urged to make their arrangements as early as possible in the preceding semester. Ideally, students interested in summer research should contact faculty members in the preceding fall semester.

Non-majors—All students who wish to participate in departmental courses are welcome to enroll in any of these courses as long as they satisfy the listed prerequisites, or after obtaining permission from the faculty member teaching a course.

Courses at other institutions—Students who wish to receive major credit for course work at other institutions should submit to the department chair the name of the institution and the number, title, and catalogue description of the course. This information must be submitted in writing before the work is initiated and formal permission must be granted before the course can be credited toward the major at Trinity. Upon approval, up to three biology courses taken away from Trinity may be counted toward the biology major. Under special circumstances, students may petition the department for permission to transfer additional courses; transfer students wishing to transfer more than three courses should petition at the time of admission.

Study away—While there are many general programs of study abroad for Trinity students, biology majors interested in foreign study should be aware of programs designed particularly for serious biological study outside the College. Examples of suitable programs in which Trinity students participate regularly are listed below:

Honors—Students seeking honors must apply for the honors program in biology. This application must be in written form and should be submitted to the chair of biology before the sixth week of classes of a student’s sixth semester. The biology faculty will act upon each application. Students seeking honors must have completed five biology courses that count toward the major by the end of their fifth semester, and their grade point average in these courses must be at least 3.3 (B+). In addition, they must demonstrate in their work a scholarly intent. Students not qualifying for the honors program after five semesters may be invited by the faculty to enter the program at a later time.

After acceptance into the honors program, students must maintain a GPA of 3.3 in their biology courses. In addition, they must perform research in biology (BIOL 419 or BIOL 425) for two semesters, including participation in BIOL 403 and 404. The honors program for a student culminates in an honors thesis (BIOL 497), an oral presentation to the biology faculty, and a poster presentation at our annual science symposium. Upon completion of these requirements, the faculty of biology will vote to award honors to those candidates who are deemed qualified. Under exceptional circumstances, certain research students not enrolled in the honors program, may, by producing particularly distinguished work, be considered for honors by the faculty of biology.

Fall Term

Spring Term