Biology

Q: What courses should be taken during the first year?
Students considering majoring in Biology should enroll in Introductory Biology in the Fall ( BIOL 101 or 103) and Spring (BIOL 102) of their first year. These courses provide a foundation in biological sciences and are prerequisites for most upper-division courses. They also fulfill the Science Perspective (SP). Four laboratory sections of Biology 101/103 have been designated as First Year Intensive sections. Click here to see Biology course availability.
In addition to having ten courses in Biology, majors are required to complete one year each of chemistry and math (one year of calculus, or one semester of calculus and one semester of statistics). First-year students who are strongly leaning towards a major in Biology or Biochemistry and Molecular Biology are also encouraged to enroll in Chemistry 101/102 (or Chemistry 103) during their first year. Students with strong high school backgrounds in Chemistry, Biology, and Calculus can enroll in these three courses plus an elective during their first year. Students who are exploring the biology major may wish to take Introductory Biology during their first year and begin chemistry and calculus during their sophomore year. View requirements for the major and example curricular outlines. Click here to see Chemistry course availability and here to see Calculus course availability.
Students who received a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Biology Exam have been given credit for Biology 102, which is a spring course. By participating in the fall semester of Introductory Biology, students are given the opportunity to experience college level biology classes, evaluate their level of preparation, and meet members of the Biology department. Students who have received AP credit and feel that Biology 102 would be a more appropriate course for them should contact Professor Susan Foster to discuss the possibility of exchanging credit for 101 and 102.
Professor Heather Wiatroski's course called Annotation of a Microbial Genome in the spring is also an excellent option, particularly for students who are opting out of BIOLL 102 due to AP credits.
 
Q: What is the difference between BIOL 101 & BIOL 103?
Biology 101 is intended for those interested in the Biology major whereas 103 is intended for those interested in the Environmental Science major, and is a core requirement for that major.  These two classes meet together for lectures during the first 2/3 of the semester, and then split for the last third of the semester, allowing students to cover different topics in lecture.  The laboratory curriculum is the same for both courses.
 
Q: What if I am not sure whether to take BIOL 101 or BIOL 103?
You should register for the course you think you are most likely to prefer, but you will have the chance to change your mind at the time the classes separate for the last set of lectures.
 
Q: If key introductory courses are filled, are there recommended alternatives?
Not really. Students have always been able to enroll in BIOL 101/103 in their first year.  If however, the course is at capacity when you try to register please contact Professor Justin Thackeray.
 
Q: What courses should first year students avoid?
There are few Biology courses beyond Introductory Biology that do not have 101/102 as a pre-requisite, so this is not likely to be a problem.  As you move through the curriculum, courses at the 100 level tend to be suited towards sophomores and juniors, while 200-level courses are more appropriate for juniors and seniors.
Prospective Biology majors should realize that Biodiversity (BIOL 84) will not count towards the major and is intended for non-majors wishing to satisfy the Science Perspective.
 
Q: I am not a Biology major.  Is there a course I can take in Biology to fulfill my Science Perspective?
For those students who are not science majors we recommend Biodiversity (BIOL 084) to satisfy the SP requirement in the sophomore year or later.  BIOL 101/102/103 carry the SP designation but these classes are intended for science majors.
 
Q: If I do not take BIOL 101 or 103 in the Fall can I still major in Biology?
Yes.  You may enroll in BIOL 102 in the Spring and then BIOL 101/103 the following Fall.  However, it is important to take these courses as early as possible.
 
Q: I am interested in many different subjects.  Is it possible to double major as a Biology student?
Yes.  However planning is of the utmost importance and we encourage students considering additional majors to speak with a faculty member in the Biology department early in their career.
 
Q: Where should students or faculty go for more information?
Contact Susan Foster, Department Chair, Professor John Baker, Professor Deborah Robertson or Professor Justin Thackeray.