Biology

Chair: Timothy H. Parker
Susanne M. Altermann
Sara Belchik
Arielle M. Cooley (on Sabbatical, Spring 2015)
Matthew Crook
Heidi E. M. Dobson
Nancy Forsthoefel
Delbert W. Hutchison
Kate Jackson (on Sabbatical, Spring 2015)
Leena S. Knight
Thomas A. Knight
Hilary Lease
Daniel M. Vernon
Christopher S. Wallace
Ginger S. Withers
Paul H. Yancey (on Sabbatical, Spring 2015)

Biology Department Website »

Biology courses deal with the science of living organisms in their various forms. The curriculum emphasizes the integration of all levels from molecular to ecological, with evolution as a unifying theme, and requires all seniors to complete a research thesis. The department serves students who expect to work in a biological field or related profession such as medicine, as well as those who elect biology as part of a general education (see www.whitman.edu/biology).

A student who enters Whitman without any prior college-level preparation in biology will have to complete 50 credits, including courses in chemistry, mathematics, and biology, to fulfill the requirements for the biology major.

Distribution: Courses completed in biology apply to the science and quantitative analysis (selected courses) distribution areas.

Learning Goals: Upon graduation, a student will be able to:

  • Major-Specific Areas of Knowledge
    • Master foundational material that spans the diverse biological sub-disciplines, from molecular to ecological. Develop an integrative perspective that draws connections between sub-disciplines.
  • Accessing Academic Community/Resources
    • Develop science literacy.     
  • Communication
    • Develop the ability to communicate science orally and in writing.
  • Critical Thinking
    • Apply the scientific method to think critically about the world.
  • Research Experience
    • Engage in the practice of biology via research-based thesis.

The Biology major: A minimum of 33 credits in biology, including Biology 111, 112, 205, 206; four credits from each of the three categories of upper-level courses (Molecular/Cell Biology, Organismal Biology, Ecology/Evolution); 489; 490 or 498; 499; and additional courses in biology and/or BBMB courses numbered 200 or above to earn a minimum total of 33 credits in biology and/or BBMB. Chemistry 125, 126, 135, 136, or 140; 245; and demonstrated mastery of either two semesters of college calculus (Mathematics 125 and 126) or one semester each of college calculus and statistics (Mathematics 128 or 247, Biology 228, Economics 227, Psychology 210, Sociology 208) is required. Departmental policy does not allow a P-D-F grade option for biology or BBMB courses that count toward the major.

The senior assessment consists of oral and written components: a one-hour oral exam administered by a committee of biology faculty and students must take the biology subject GRE and score in the 30th percentile or above.

The department recommends that students considering a major in biology consult with an adviser and begin with Chemistry 125, 126, 135, 136; or 140; Mathematics 125 and 126 or statistics; and Biology 111 or 112. For those planning to pursue most graduate programs in biology, a year of physics (with labs), a full year in organic chemistry, a year of foreign language, as well as statistics and competency with computers are highly recommended.

The Biology minor: Biology 111, 112, and a minimum of eight additional credits in biology and/or BBMB courses numbered 200 or above. Departmental policy does not allow a P-D-F grade option for biology courses that count toward the minor.

The Biology-Geology combined major: Biology 111, 112, 205; four credits each from the Organismal Biology and Ecology/Evolution categories, and at least four additional credits in biology and/or BBMB courses numbered 200 or above; either Geology 110, 120, or 210; and 227; either Geology 312 or 368; Geology 343 and 350; either Geology 301, 321, or 346; and Geology 470 and a minimum of one credit in 358; either three credits of Geology 480, 490, or 498 or three credits of Biology 489, 490, or 498; Chemistry 125, 126, 135, 136 or Chemistry 140; 245; Mathematics 125; 126 or statistics (Mathematics 128 or 247, Biology 228, Economics 227, Psychology 210, Sociology 208). Two semesters of physics and field experience are strongly recommended.

The Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Molecular Biology (BBMB) major: See BBMB under the Courses and Programs section in the catalog for a description of the courses and major offered at the interface of biology, chemistry, and physics.

The Biology-Environmental Studies combined major: The requirements are fully described in the Environmental Studies section of the catalog.

Upper-Level Course Categories

Molecular/Cell Biology: Biology 303 Cell Biology, 304 Cell Biology Laboratory, 305 Cellular Physiology and Signaling, 306 Cellular Physiology and Signaling Lab, 319 Developmental Biology Seminar, 320 Neurobiology, 329 Developmental Biology, 339 Microbiology and Immunology, 342 Gene Discovery & Genomics, BBMB 325 Biochemistry, 326 Molecular Biology, 335 Biochemistry Laboratory, and 336 Molecular Biology Laboratory.

Organismal Biology: Biology 259 Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy, 323 Neurophysiology, 310 Physiology, 328 Evolutionary Developmental Biology, 330 Pathophysiology, 338 Evolutionary Developmental Biology Lab, and 353 Plant Physiology.

Ecology/Evolution: Biology 212 Natural History of the Inland Northwest, 215 Plant Ecology, 229 Plant Identification Lab, 256 Regional Biology, 277 Ecology, 278 Marine Biology, 279 Marine Biology Lab, 287 Ecology Lab, 288 Plants and Peoples, 327 Biology of Amphibians and Reptiles, and 350 Evolutionary Biology.

Some Special Topics courses may be applied to the above categories. Any Special Topics courses applied to the above will be noted in the course descriptions.

111 Biological Principles
4, 4 Fall: L. Knight; Spring: Wallace; Labs: L. Knight

The general principles common to all life. Topics are: chemical basis of life and cellular metabolism, cell and tissue structure and function, mitosis and meiosis, information storage and retrieval, and life support mechanisms. Although designed as an introduction to the major, non-major students are welcome. Laboratories will consist of exercises illustrating the principles covered in lecture. Three lectures and one three-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisites: Chemistry 125 and 135; or 140. Corequisites: Chemistry 126 and 136 (unless Chemistry 140 previously completed). Lab fee: maximum $20.

112 The Biological World
4, 4 Fall: H. Dobson and K. Jackson; Spring: Altermann and H. Dobson

A survey of the major groups of prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms. The evolutionary history of living organisms is traced from the most simple prokaryotes to the highly complex plants and animals. Parallel trends and adaptations are discussed in addition to the unique features of each group. Laboratories consist of the examination of the structure and characteristics of the major groups. It is recommended that students take Biology 111 or an equivalent course prior to this course. Three lectures and one three-hour laboratory per week. Lab fee: maximum $20.

115 Natural History and Ecology
x, 4 Parker

This course emphasizes applying basic ecological and evolutionary principles to inferring processes responsible for biological patterns students observe in the field. The core of the class is weekly trips in the region between the Columbia River and the Blue Mountains. On these trips students gain familiarity with common plants and animals of the region as part of the process of developing and applying skills observing biological patterns. Students learn to interpret these patterns in light of biological concepts learned in class. Two one-hour lectures and one five-hour field trip per week. Designed for non-science majors with special applicability for environmental studies majors. Field trips begin at 11 a.m. and extend through the lunch hour and into the afternoon. Offered in alternate years.

120 Human Anatomy and Physiology
4; not offered 2014-15

Designed for the non-biology major. Lectures will focus on the structures and functions of organ systems responsible for maintenance, reproduction and regulation of the human body, including their evolutionary origins and their major malfunctions such as caused by diseases. Laboratories will parallel the lectures to reinforce processes introduced in lecture, will include students as test subject (e.g., measuring temperature, respiration, electrocardiograms, etc.), and may include dissection of preserved animals. Three lecture or discussion hours and one three-hour laboratory per week. May not be taken for credit by those who have completed Biology 310. Lab fee: maximum $20.

121 History and Ethnobiology of the Silk Roads
2; not offered 2014-15

This interdisciplinary and interdivisional course will provide an integrative exploration into the history and ethnobiology of peoples along various branches of the trading routes across Asia known as the silk roads, with an emphasis on China prior to 1400. Topics will include why certain goods and technologies were traded; agricultural, social, and religious impacts of trading; biological features of items traded or moved along the silk roads, such as foods, beverages, fibers, animals, and diseases. See Asian Studies 221 for an optional, supplemental field course that will be offered when funding permits. Corequisite: History 121.

122 Plant Biology
x, 2 H. Dobson

This course provides a basic introduction to the biology of plants, and is designed for non-biology majors. It examines plant structure, physiology, reproduction, and ecology, including evolutionary adaptations to different environments. Two lectures per week. Optional corequisite: Biology 129.

125 Genes and Genetic Engineering
2; not offered 2014-15

Designed for non-science majors. An introduction to principles of genetics related to medicine, agriculture and biotechnology. The class will focus on selected genetics-related topics of current social, environmental or economic importance, and will include student-led investigations into benefits and controversies of those topics and related applications.

127 Nutrition
2; not offered 2014-15

The required nutrients and their food sources, their metabolism, and eventual functions and fates in the body will be discussed. Principles applied to specific life stages and circumstances. Current topics in nutrition will be addressed, including eating disorders, global nutrition issues, world hunger, food additives, supplements, pesticide use, factors leading to chronic disease, etc. Students will read current articles and develop analytical skills which enable them to make informed decisions regarding food choices. Designed for non-biology majors. Three lectures.

129 Plant Identification Lab
x, 1 H. Dobson

In this field oriented laboratory, students will explore aspects of body form and growth that characterize different plant groups, acquire basic skills for plant identification, and learn to recognize on sight the most common plant families in the western United States. At least one lab will be substituted by a field trip, and all students will be required to make a plant collection. This lab course is designed for non-majors, and meets concurrently with Biology 229. One three-hour laboratory per week. Corequisite: Biology 122. Lab fee: maximum $20.

130 Conservation Biology
4; not offered 2014-15

An introduction to the dynamic and interdisciplinary world of biological conservation. Fundamental principles from genetics, evolution, and ecology will be discussed and then applied to problems including extinction, species preservation, habitat restoration, refuge design and management, and human population growth and its myriad impacts on our environment. Three one-hour lectures and one three-hour laboratory per week. Designed for non-science majors with special applicability for environmental studies majors. Lab fee: maximum $20.

171, 172 Special Topics in Biology for Non-science Majors
1-4

Lectures (possibly with laboratories) on topics in biology not generally covered by other non-major courses in the department. Examples of topics include field biology and evolution. The topic and course credit will be designated prior to registration for the semester in which a special topic for non-science majors is offered. Any current offerings follow.

177 Ecology of the American West
4, x Brick

This course will explore the adaptations and relationships of organisms to their abiotic and biotic environments, with focus on the varied ecosystems of the Hells Canyon region of northeastern Oregon and the high desert ecosystems of northern New Mexico. Students will come to understand the forces impacting, and the impact of, individual organisms as they exist over time and space, as parts of higher levels of ecological constructs including the population, community, and ecosystem. A significant proportion of the class will be spent in the field quantifying vegetative associations and a selection of the fauna inhabiting those associations. The course is team-taught sequentially over two intensive, two-week periods. Laboratory sessions consist primarily of fauna and flora identification, ecological monitoring techniques including vegetative plot monitoring, dry pitfall monitoring, and avian transect monitoring. Environmental studies majors may substitute this course for Biology 130 or 115, as a foundation course in the sciences, with a lab, to satisfy environmental studies major requirements. Prerequisites: required of, and open only to, students accepted to Semester in the West.

178 Fundamentals of Marine Biology
3; not offered 2014-15

An examination of life in the oceans, from the intertidal to the deep sea, with emphases on adaptations of organisms to major habitat factors and current environmental crises. Three lecture and/or discussion periods per week. Designed for non-biology majors and may not be taken for credit by those who have completed Biology 278. May be taken concurrently with Biology 179. Prerequisite: consent of instructor. Offered in alternate years.

179 Fundamentals of Marine Biology Field Trip
1; not offered 2014-15

A week-long trip to a coastal location during spring break. Normally the trip will be to the University of Washington Friday Harbor Laboratories on San Juan Island, where we will trawl subtidal habitats on a research ship, investigate intertidal communities at various sites on the island, and conduct observations and experiments in a laboratory. There is a $200 fee for food and lodging on the San Juan trip. However, in some years, other locations may be used, with a higher fee. Designed for non-biology majors and may not be taken for credit by those who have completed Biology 279. May be taken concurrently with Biology 178. Prerequisite: consent of instructor. Offered in alternate years. Fee: maximum $350.

205 Genetics
3, 3 Fall: Crook; Spring: Hutchison and Vernon

The principles which underlie the hereditary processes observed in microbes, plants, and animals. Selected topics include structure, organization, function, regulation, and duplication of the genetic material; protein synthesis and its control; mechanisms and patterns of inheritance; population genetics. Prerequisites: Biology 111; Chemistry 125 and 126, or Chemistry 140; sophomore status.

206 Genetics Laboratory
x, 1 Forsthoefel

Laboratory exercises in molecular and Mendelian genetics. Labs will include DNA isolation, amplification, and characterization, introductions to computer DNA analysis and genomics, and an extended project in Mendelian genetics, involving phenotypic observation and segregation analysis. One three-hour laboratory per week. Prior completion of Biology 205 is recommended, but not required. Biology 206 is not recommended for BBMB majors. Pre- or corequisite: Biology 205. Lab fee: maximum $20.

212 Natural History of the Inland Northwest
4, x Hutchison

This course will engage biology majors with the plants, animals, and topography of a specific biotic province of our region (e.g., Blue Mountains or Walla Walla Valley) within the larger context of its geology and paleoecological history. The class will emphasize field experiences and interpretation of ecological and evolutionary processes shaping our surroundings with discussion of current environmental issues facing the area. One three-hour class per week, eight six-hour labs, some overnight. Applies to the Ecology/Evolution major requirement. Prerequisites: Biology 112; Biology 215 or 277 recommended (or concurrent). Lab fee: maximum $75.

215 Plant Ecology
4; not offered 2014-15

The diverse adaptations of plants to their abiotic and biotic environments from ecological and evolutionary perspectives. Lectures will address effects of climatic factors (water, light, temperature) and soils on plant morphology, physiology, growth, and reproduction, and the complex relationships of plants with other forms of life, especially insects. The laboratory will include several research projects and field trips. Three lectures and one three-hour laboratory per week. Applies to the Ecology/Evolution major requirement. Prerequisites: Biology 111, 112. Offered in alternate years. Lab fee: maximum $20.

228 Biostatistics
3; not offered 2014-15

This course will place a strong emphasis on conceptual understanding of statistical methods and their proper application to research questions in biology. We will cover descriptive, inferential, and comparative statistics while highlighting hypothesis testing and appropriate experimental design. Topics will include parametric (normal) and non-parametric analyses of continuous and categorical variables to include t-tests, chi-square tests, correlation analysis, simple linear regression, and analyses of variance. Student achievement will be assessed through case studies, homework problems, and exams. Prerequisite: junior or senior standing in BBMB, biology or biology-combined majors. May not be offered every year.

229 Plant Identification Lab
x, 1 H. Dobson

In this field-oriented laboratory, students will explore aspects of body form and growth that characterize different plant groups, acquire basic skills for plant identification, and learn to recognize on sight the most common plant families in the western United States. At least one lab will be substituted by a field trip, and all students will be required to make a plant collection. This lab course is designed for biology majors, and meets concurrently with Biology 129. One three-hour laboratory per week. Applies to the Ecology/Evolution major requirement. Prerequisite: Biology 112. Lab fee: maximum $20.

256 Regional Biology
1, x Hutchison and Parker

Field biology of a region with emphasis on ecology and evolution in a natural history context. Students will prepare for the trip by researching and developing a presentation that they will give to the group at the field site on a relevant aspect of the site’s biology. Students also will keep field notebooks, which will be turned in at the end of the trip and will be graded. Trips will usually be taken over long weekends (typically Thursday to Sunday). May be repeated for credit for different areas, but no more than two credits may apply toward required biology major (or biology-environmental studies or biology minor) electives. Applies to the Ecology/Evolution major requirement. Prerequisites: Biology 111, 112, and declared biology or biology-environmental studies major or biology minor. Fee: maximum $75.

259 Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy
4; not offered 2014-15

The structure and function of vertebrates within an evolutionary context. By the end of the course students should have gained a familiarity with the structural diversity of the 60,000 or so living vertebrates and some of their extinct ancestors, a detailed knowledge of the anatomy of a few “representative” vertebrates studied in lab, and an understanding of the major structural trends and innovations in the history of vertebrates. Three lectures and one three-hour laboratory per week. This course is especially recommended for students planning careers in medicine or veterinary medicine or with an interest in evolutionary biology. Applies to the Organismal Biology major requirement. Prerequisites: Biology 111, 112. Lab fee: maximum $20.

277 Ecology
3, x Parker

The relationships of organisms to one another and to the abiotic environment. We will learn ecological concepts and principles important to populations, evolution, inter-specific interactions, communities, landscapes, energy flow, nutrient cycles, and conservation. Three one-hour lectures per week. Applies to the Ecology/Evolution major requirement. Prerequisites: Biology 111, 112. Optional corequisite: Biology 287.

278 Marine Biology
3; not offered 2014-15

Life in the oceans from the intertidal to the deep sea, with emphasis on anatomical, physiological, and biochemical adaptions of organisms to major environmental factors. Three lectures per week. Fulfills the Ecology/Evolution major requirement. Prerequisites: Biology 111, 112 and consent of instructor.

279 Marine Biology Lab
1; not offered 2014-15

A field trip to a coastal location for one week during spring break. Normally, the trip will be to the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor marine laboratory on San Juan Island, where we will trawl subtidal habitats on a research ship, investigate intertidal communities at various sites on the island, and conduct observations and experiments in a laboratory. There is a $200 fee for food and housing on the San Juan trip. However, in some years, other locations for the trip may be used, with a higher fee. Fulfills the Ecology/Evolution major requirement. Prerequisites: Biology 111, 112 and consent of instructor. Fee: maximum $350.

287 Ecology Lab
1, x Parker

Field research designed to expose students to ecological processes in the field and to give students experience in all stages of ecological science, including observing patterns to develop questions, searching primary literature as part of a process of developing hypotheses, identifying testable predictions, initiating experiments and gathering data in the field, processing data, statistical analysis of data, and presenting results in written and graphical form. Field work will involve various physical demands such as hiking and working off-trail on steep slopes. One three or four hour lab per week. Approximately six times during the semester we will depart at noon rather than 1 pm. Applies to the Ecology/Evolution major requirement. Pre- or corequisite: Biology 277. Optional corequisite: Biology 277. Lab fee: maximum $20.

288 Plants and Peoples
3, x H. Dobson

The relationship between plants and human societies, drawing examples from different geographical regions and placing emphasis on plants used for food, medicine, clothing, and shelter. Topics will explore the various uses of plants, implications of altering natural habitats and cultural traditions, origins and histories of cultivated plants, development of agriculture and ecological aspects of its practices, including soil management, pest control, plant breeding, and preservation of genetic diversity. Three lectures per week, plus one optional weekend field trip. Applies to the Ecology/Evolution major requirement. Prerequisites: Biology 111 and 112; or consent of instructor. Offered in alternate years.

303 Cell Biology
x, 3 Belchik

The ultrastructure and function of cells. This course will examine in detail the major molecular processes in eukaryotic cells to include biological molecules, membranes and cell surfaces, cell signaling, cellular energetics and metabolism, motility, protein processing and transport, cell cycle regulation, etc. Principles will be illustrated by examining various scenarios that occur when cellular processes are disrupted, as in the case of cell-based diseases, including but not limited to cancer development. Three lectures per week. Applies to the Molecular/Cell Biology major requirement. Prerequisites: Biology 111 and Chemistry 245. Biology 112 is recommended.

304 Cell Biology Laboratory
x, 1 Belchik

The laboratory extension of Biology 303, the exercises will illustrate principles of eukaryotic cellular biology, with emphasis on modern instrumentation techniques, particularly protein isolation and cell culture techniques. One three-hour laboratory session per week. Applies to the Molecular/Cell Biology major requirement. Prerequisites: Biology 111 and Chemistry 245. Biology 112 is recommended. Lab fee: maximum $20.

305 Cellular Physiology and Signaling
3; not offered 2014-15

This class will cover the essentials of cell biology and can be used in place of Biology 303 to fulfill the cell biology requirement for biology majors (when taken concurrently with Biology 306) and is suitable as an elective for BBMB majors. In particular, this class will emphasize the role of cellular membranes and signaling machinery in regulating proper cell function. Diversity in cellular signaling will be illustrated through investigation of various strategies used to mediate changes in the physiology of single cells and potentially, the organism. Cell communication is critical to cell survival and adaptation. It is an area of biological study that incorporates biochemistry, cell biology/physiology and membrane biophysics — all of which will be specifically highlighted through literature review and discussion sessions. Three lectures per week. Applies to the Molecular/Cell Biology major requirement. Prerequisites: Biology 111; Chemistry 245; or consent of instructor. Corequisites (to fulfill biology major requirements): Biology 306. Chemistry 246 is recommended.

306 Cellular Physiology and Signaling Lab
1; not offered 2014-15

Laboratory exercises in cellular biology will incorporate cell labeling, microscopy, biochemical analysis, and pharmacological manipulation to assess cell physiology (e.g., motility, metabolism, development, and signaling). One three-hour laboratory per week. Applies to the Molecular/Cell Biology major requirement. Pre- or corequisite: Biology 305. Lab fee: maximum $20.

310 Physiology
4, x Yancey

An advanced-level examination of the biological functions that allow self-maintenance, reproduction, and regulation in various environments. Animals in general will be covered, but with emphasis on mammals. An initial overview examines the principles of traditional organ-systems physiology and how these are increasingly being altered by evolutionary biology and Darwinian medicine, molecular and cellular physiology, and genomics. This overview will be integrated with organismal functions including hormonal and neural regulation, defense, support and movement, excretion and osmotic balance, circulation and transport, respiration, energy balance, and reproduction. Three lectures and one three-hour laboratory per week; the latter will parallel the lecture topics. Applies to the Organismal Biology major requirement. Given extensive overlap with Biology 330, students may not take both courses for credit. Prerequisites: Biology 111; Chemistry 245; or consent of instructor. Biology 112 and 303 and 304 or 305 and 306 are recommended. Lab fee: maximum $20.

319 Developmental Biology Seminar
2, x Withers

This upper level seminar course will focus on current topics in developmental biology (e.g. stem cells and cloning, evolutionary development, epigenetic modifications of the genome, and thinking in 4-D). Most readings will come from the primary literature, and the class will be a mix of presentations and discussion, with overviews and background material given by the instructor. Applies to the Molecular/Cell Biology major requirement. Prerequisites: Biology 111 and 205.

320 Neurobiology
4, x Wallace and Withers

This course emphasizes the cellular and molecular biology of neurons as a basis for understanding how the nervous system controls behavior. Topics include the structure and function of neurons and glia, synaptic transmission, brain development and regeneration, sensory and motor systems, brain mechanisms of learning and memory, clinical issues, and becoming a neuroscientist. The laboratories will emphasize hands-on experience with techniques used to study the brain in current research including neuroanatomy, neurocytology, neurophysiology, analysis of neuronal gene expression, and observation of living neurons in culture. Three lectures and one three-hour laboratory per week. Applies to the Molecular/Cell Biology major requirement. Prerequisites: Biology 111 and 205. Biology 112 and 303 and 304 or 305 and 306 are recommended. Lab fee: maximum $20.

323 Neurophysiology
x, 4 L. Knight and T. Knight

This course will introduce students to the multidisciplinary field of neurophysiology from cellular processes to integrated central and peripheral nervous systems functions. The course will examine core principles of neuroanatomy, membrane excitability, neuronal signaling, sensory and motor function, neuroendocrine regulation of integrated organismal physiology (e.g., cardiovascular), and abnormalities that give rise to neurological disorders. Laboratory exercises will emphasize core concepts and methodology, and will incorporate lectures/demonstrations by clinicians/patients and integrative case studies. Three lectures and one three-hour laboratory per week. Applies to the Organismal Biology major requirement. It is also a suitable elective for BBMB majors. Prerequisites: Biology 111; Chemistry 245; or consent of instructor. Biology 303 or 305 or BBMB 325 are highly recommended. Lab fee: maximum $20.

327 Biology of Amphibians and Reptiles
3, x K. Jackson

Herpetology is the study of amphibians and reptiles. In this course, taxonomy, life history, behavior, physiology, ecology, etc., of frogs, salamander, turtles, lizards, snakes, crocodiles, and others will be presented in the context of the evolutionary history of this diverse assemblage of vertebrates. In the course of the semester, students will prepare an essay on a herpetological topic of their choice. Three lectures per week. Applies to the Ecology/Evolution major requirement. Prerequisites: Biology 112, other organismic level courses desirable. Optional corequisite: Biology 337.

328 Evolutionary Developmental Biology
3; not offered 2014-15

Evolution and development are inexorably linked and genetics is the tie that binds them. This interdisciplinary class explores how genetic and developmental mechanisms have evolved to produce biological diversity. Through lectures, class discussions, and activities, and analysis of both classic and cutting-edge scientific papers, we will examine the contributions of all three research areas to the emerging field of “evo-devo”. Three lectures per week. Fulfills the Organismal major requirement. Prerequisite: Biology 111 and 205. Optional corequisite: Biology 338.

329 Developmental Biology
4; not offered 2014-15

This upper-level course addresses how a complex multicellular organism arises from a single cell, the fertilized egg. The course is framed by questions formulated using classic experiments in experimental embryology and current molecular and cellular approaches that yield new answers to these questions. Emphasis is on how specialized form and pattern develop in animals; ethical and social issues relevant to developmental biology also are discussed. Labs emphasize independent experimentation and current techniques including timelapse and digital microscopy of living cells and organisms. Three lectures and one three-hour laboratory per week. Applies to the Molecular/Cell Biology major requirement. Prerequisites: Biology 111, 205; Chemistry 245. Biology 112, and Biology 303 and 304 or 305 and 306 or BBMB 325 are recommended. Lab fee: maximum $20.

330 Human Physiology
4; not offered 2014-15

A survey of the functions of the human body using disease states to illustrate key physiological processes. This course will cover in detail the endocrine, nervous, muscular, cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, renal, and immune systems and will offer an overview of integrative functions such as electrolyte and metabolic regulation. This course will examine a sample of pathological states as a springboard for understanding principles of physiology and use case studies to synthesize and apply knowledge from cellular/tissue processes to integrated organ-systems functions. Foundational principles of physiology will be investigated and emphasized through experimental laboratory work. Lab sessions will also incorporate lectures or demonstrations by clinicians/patients and/or tours of hospital clinics. Applies to the Organismal Biology major requirement and is suitable as an elective for BBMB majors. Given extensive overlap with Biology 310, students may not take both courses for credit. Three lectures and one three-hour laboratory session per week. Prerequisites: Biology 111; Chemistry 245; or consent of instructor. Lab fee: maximum $20.

337 Biology of Amphibians and Reptiles Lab
1, x K. Jackson

Labs will focus on study of preserved specimens, and identification of amphibian and reptile species from all over the world. Students also will learn to identify all local species. One three-hour lab per week. Applies to the Ecology/Evolution major requirement. Optional corequisite: Biology 327. Lab fee: maximum $20.

338 Evolutionary Developmental Biology Lab
1; not offered 2014-15

The Evolutionary Developmental Biology Lab is designed to accompany the associated lecture course (Biology 328). Students will gain hands-on experience in acquiring and analyzing data using a variety of techniques common in the field of “evo devo”, and will then work in small groups to apply these skills to develop and test hypotheses regarding a “mystery” developmental mutant of either the mustard plant Arabidopsis or the fruit fly Drosophila. Applies to the Organismal major requirement. Prerequisite: Biology 111 and 205. Optional corequisite: Biology 328. Lab fee: maximum $20.

339 Microbiology and Immunology
4, x Belchik

Bacteria, viruses, and eukaryotic microbes. Cell structure and chemistry, metabolism, evolution, and ecology will be themes emphasized throughout the course as other topics such as pathogenesis, disease, the immune system, cultivation, taxonomy, and practical applications for microorganisms are discussed. The laboratory will establish sterile techniques and stress the structure and biochemical differentiation of bacterial species. Three lectures and one three-hour laboratory per week. Applies to the Molecular/Cell Biology major requirement. Prerequisites: Biology 111 and a year of college chemistry. Biology 112 is recommended. Lab fee: maximum $20.

342 Gene Discovery and Genomics
x, 2 Vernon

An advanced course providing an introduction to the new and rapidly growing field of genomics, emphasizing functional genomics and the value of genome resources for diverse types of biological, biomedical, and biotech research. Aspects of structural genomics and genome evolution will be included. For context, we will also discuss classical strategies of gene discovery including forward genetics and protein- and RNA-based gene identification methods. Class will include student presentations on primary research literature, lectures to provide background information, and some hands-on work with genome databases, DNA/RNA isolation and analysis techniques. Applies to the Molecular/Cell requirement of the Biology major. Prerequisites: Biology 205 and Chemistry 246. Consent required for non-Biology majors.

350 Evolutionary Biology
x, 4 Hutchison

Designed for the upper-level biology major, this course emphasizes the importance of evolutionary theory to biology. Using modern examples in population biology, molecular evolution and phylogenetics, students will gain a firm foundation in the mechanisms of evolution, speciation, and extinction, and an appreciation of the applicability of evolutionary principles to current issues in areas such as conservation, medicine, and social behavior. Three lectures and one three-hour lab per week. Applies to the Ecology/Evolution major requirement. Prerequisites: Biology 111 and 205. Biology 112 and 277 or 215 are recommended. Lab fee: maximum $20.

353 Plant Physiology
4, x Altermann

Plant physiology is the study of how plants function, internally as well as in relation to their environment. We will investigate how plants use light, water, and minerals to grow and reproduce, at both whole-plant and molecular levels. How do plants cope with stressful environments? How do they adapt to strange or extreme environments? How can a better understanding of plant physiology improve our ability to deal with social issues such as famine, malnutrition, and the conservation of biodiversity? Through lecture, written exercises, discussions of research articles, and laboratories, we will consider these and other key aspects of plant physiology. Three lectures and one three-hour lab per week. Applies to the Organismal major requirement. Prerequisites: Biology 111 and 112. Lab fee: maximum $20.

401, 402 Seminar
1-3

Selected advanced topics in biology. Examples of recently offered topics include bioethics, evolution, and nutrition. Course topic and credit to be designated by instructor. Students will be expected to complete readings, make presentations, and participate in discussions about the selected topics. The topic and course credit will be designated prior to registration for the semester in which a seminar is offered; consult the chair of the department for information. Any current offerings follow.

405 Bioethics
2; not offered 2014-15

A reading, writing, and discussion course intended for biology majors. Topics will include the ethical implications of biological research involving genetic engineering, animal experimentation, medical experimentation, medical and reproductive technology, health care, environmental degradation, etc. Issues will be analyzed using bioethical principles and actual case studies. Readings will be taken from current science journals, news media, a textbook, and other recent sources. Students will lead most of the discussion sessions. One 90-minute evening meeting per week. Prerequisite: Biology 205.

471, 472 Special Topics
1-4

Lectures (possibly with laboratories) on advanced topics in biology not generally covered in other courses in the department. Examples of topics offered include plant systematics, invertebrate biology, biology of amphibians and reptiles, entomology, and immunology. The topic and course credit will be designated prior to registration for the semester in which a special topic is offered. Any current offerings follow.

472 ST: Symbiosis
x, 4 Altermann

From the origin of mitochondria to the phenomenon of zombie ants, symbiotic interactions are ubiquitous and important components of ecological communities. This course is a survey of topics in symbiotic biology involving multiple scales of interaction spanning the level of molecules to the level of ecosystems; all major taxonomic groups are a crucial part of the course. Topics will include the evolutionary history of the eukaryotic cell, horizontal gene transfer, acquisition of metabolic pathways, development of novel symbiotic structures, the mechanism of the transfer of nutrients, regulation of symbioses, and partnership specificity. The course includes lectures, discussions of the primary literature, and a laboratory in which students will design and carry out their own manipulative experiments on symbiotic partnerships. Three lectures and one three-hour lab per week. Applies to the Ecology/Evolution major requirement. Prerequisites: Biology 111 and 112.

481, 482 Special Projects
1-3, 1-3 Staff

Selected topics of an experimental or descriptive nature, arranged with individual students who are prepared to undertake semi-independent work. The students will consult with the faculty member most closely associated with the area of interest to determine if the topic is suitable and can be successfully accomplished with the available material and library facilities. This consultation should take place in the semester preceding the anticipated research project. Prerequisite: consent of the supervising instructor.

489 Thesis Research and Data Analysis
1, 1 Staff

Research or data analysis to be described in senior thesis and seminar (Biology 490). Projects may involve laboratory experiments, fieldwork, and/or data analysis, and can be carried out in the senior, junior, and/or sophomore year. Students must register with a research/thesis adviser from biology or BBMB, and the research itself must be carried out with guidance from that adviser, or (if done off-campus), a qualified research supervisor. Prerequisite: consent of research/thesis adviser, and senior standing as a biology major.

490 Senior Thesis
2, 2 Staff

Continuation of Biology 489. Each student will finish data collection and write a thesis on the research in accepted scientific style. One or more initial drafts of the thesis will be required before the final version is due in the last week of classes. Each student also is required to give a short seminar presentation of his/her results to the faculty and other biology majors. Prerequisite: Biology 489 (may be taken concurrently by students completing requirements in December) or consent of supervising professor.

498 Honors Thesis
2, 2 Staff

Continuation of Biology 489 and required of senior honors candidates, who will conduct more extensive research than students in Biology 490. Honors students will finish data collection and write a thesis on the research in accepted scientific style. One or more initial drafts of the thesis will be required before the final version is due in the library. Presentation of results to the staff and other biology majors is required. Credit cannot be earned simultaneously for Biology 498 and 490. Prerequisites: Biology 489, consent of supervising professor, and admission to honors candidacy.

499 Senior Seminar
x, 1 Staff

Each student will attend a weekly, one-hour seminar where students present the results of their senior theses. Course is graded credit/no credit. Open only to senior Biology majors.