Biology

The biological sciences are undergoing a quiet revolution of discovery that is having a profound influence on the way we live and think. Whether discovery is molecular or ecological in scope, the transcendent qualities to be cultivated in all biology students are logical thought, clarity of expression, precision of statement, employment of analytical skills, and common sense. The Biology program captures these qualities by focusing on three curricular patterns.

First, the department offers contemporary course work that mirrors the rapid changes in biology and defines the mechanistic forces operating at the cellular and molecular levels of organization. Second, courses are offered that emphasize phylogenetic relationships, evolutionary concepts and functional qualities of living things. Third, the historical, social and ethical dimensions of biology are interwoven in the fabric of all courses to provide a sense of perspective and to impart the impact biological discovery has had on our understanding of what it is to be human in a complex world of differing views and expectations.

The Biology program emphasizes active participation and investigative learning in classroom, laboratory and field settings. Students have the opportunity to use the latest technologies including transmission and scanning electron microscopy, x-ray microanalysis, ultracentrifugation, scintillation counting, protein electrophoresis, video image analysis, and DNA manipulations in the Olin Science Center. Students who major in Biology may do collaborative research with the faculty or independent research in spacious and superbly equipped laboratories. The department maintains a reference collection of local flora and fauna for student use. A departmental computer lab provides student access to personal computers for classroom instruction and independent projects. Furthermore, field-oriented courses take advantage of the tremendous biodiversity in proximity to Salem. Nature preserves, wildlife refuges, coastal tide pools, sand dunes, grasslands, and montane forests are all within an hour's drive of campus and serve as field laboratories. The University also is a charter member of the Malheur Field Station consortium and maintains an active relationship with the station located on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in the high desert country of southeast Oregon.

Career opportunities extend to the biomedical sciences, resource management, teaching, and environmental science. It is not uncommon for graduates to enter nonrelated fields (i.e., law, news media, commercial travel, insurance) and apply their understandings of biology to problems they encounter. Analytical and problem-solving skills in their biology studies and research to problems encountered outside the field.

Requirements for the Biology Major (13.5 Credits)

10.5 credits in Biology, 2 credits in Chemistry, and 1 additional credit in a defined elective course outside of Biology

Core Courses (7)

Required of all majors

Elective Courses (4.5)

Two credits in Biology at the 300-level (2)

  • Any BIOL 3XX course

One and a half additional elective credits (1.5)

These may include:

  • additional 300-level BIOL courses or
  • any other BIOL course or
  • courses from the following list:

One course in building cultural competencies in understanding systems of Power, Difference, and Equity (1)

  • AES 144 Topics in American Ethnic Studies (1)
  • ANTH 150 Controversies and Issues in Cultural Anthropology (1)
  • ANTH 231 Native North American Cultures (1)
  • ANTH 351 Indigenous People, Human Rights, and the Environment (1)
  • CCM 220W Analyzing Public Discourse (1)
  • CCM 260W Media and the Environment (1)
  • CCM 265 Rhetorics of Sex and Gender (1)
  • CCM 343 Controversies in Northwest Public Discourse (1)
  • CCM 344 Asian Americans and the Media (1)
  • CCM 345 Latina/o/x Communication Studies (1)
  • CCM 346 African American Public Discourse (1)
  • CCM 361 Citizenship and the Public Sphere (1)
  • HIST 131W Historical Inquiry: Slavery & Abolition, US (topic dependent) (1)
  • HIST 262 American Women's History (1)
  • IDS 205 Chemawa Indian School Partner Program (.5)
  • SOC 114 Racism and White Supremacy in the U.S. (1)
  • SOC 121 Gender in Society (1)
  • SOC 131 Sociological Inquiry: Food Justice (topic dependent) (1)
  • WGS 134 Thinking Sex (1)
  • WGS 245 Feminism, Gender, and Society (1)

Capstone (2)

One research course from the following (1.5)

  • BIOL 383W Research in Geomicrobiology (1)
  • BIOL 450W Research in Molecular Genetics (1.5)
  • BIOL 451W Research in Neuroethology (1.5)
  • BIOL 453W Research in Behavioral Ecology (1.5)
  • BIOL 454W Research in Bacteriology (1.5)
  • BIOL 456W Research in Genomics (1.5)
  • BIOL 458W Research in Cell and Developmental Biology (1.5)
  • BIOL 459W Research in Molecular Ecology (1.5)

Biology Colloquium (.5)

Note

Those students planning to apply for admission to graduate or professional schools in science are strongly urged to complete the following courses:

Requirements for the Biology Minor (5 Credits)

  • Five (5) credits in Biology (any 5 credits in BIOL)

Indicators of Achievement

The Biology Department has identified the following learning outcomes that students should attain following completion of the Bachelor of Arts degree:

Student Learning Outcomes for the Biology Major

  1. Understanding of the basic concepts and principles relevant to the levels of biological organization from molecules to ecosystems, and the forces of evolution that shape them.
  2. Advanced knowledge in a specialized area of biology through study and hands-on laboratory/field-based research.
  3. Knowledge of the chemical, physical, mathematical, and statistical concepts underpinning many biological concepts.
  4. Investigative research skills to comprehend natural phenomena and solve contemporary biology-related problems.
  5. Communication skills to effectively explain scientific data and ideas orally and in writing to specialists and the general public.
  6. Experience in and understanding the value of collaborative research in the sciences.
  7. Knowledge and appreciation of the diverse social, ethical and historical impacts of biology.

Faculty


Course Listings

BIOL 120 Introduction to Biological Inquiry (1)

Through immersive integrated lab and lecture experiences, this course introduces students to the scientific process and production of biological knowledge. Students will use the process of science to generate and answer questions about a current topic in biology. Specific topics are determined by the professor's expertise and may include the abundance and diversity of microbial life, the safety of genetically engineered foods, the action of neurotransmitters in brain cells, or the coevolution of plants and pollinators. With faculty guidance, students work together to acquire the biological information and the necessary lab or field skills to generate a well-posed hypothesis, and collect and analyze data to test it. Finally, students produce a scientific presentation, poster, or paper that articulates their question and hypothesis, summarizes their data, and synthesizes what they have learned.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Natural Sciences
  • Offering: Every Semester
  • Instructor: Staff

BIOL 125 Ecology, Evolution and Diversity (1)

An intensive, one-semester introduction to the field of biology, stressing concepts and theories that underlie our understanding of evolution, ecology, and diversity. The course is primarily designed for students majoring in scientific disciplines and uses quantitative and observational approaches. Topics include the origins of diversity, evolutionary change, phylogeny and classification, diversity in form and function, and the adaptations and interactions of organisms within communities and populations. As part of the required lab and field exercises, students learn to design and conduct an original research project analyzing data statistically and summarizing their findings in an oral presentation and scientific paper. Must be taken at the same time as BIOL 125Y Lab: Ecology, Evolution and Diversity.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Natural Sciences
  • Prerequisite: Freshman or sophomore status
  • Offering: Infrequently; Phasing out
  • Instructor: Craig, Smith

BIOL 130 Cell Biology and Genetics (1)

An integrated study of cellular biology including the role of biomolecules; enzyme action; energy transformations; cellular organelles with special emphasis on the nucleus and its role in the storage and expression of genetic information at the molecular level; Mendelian genetics; multiple alleles; gene interactions; gene mapping; extra-chromosomal inheritance; and population genetics. Laboratory.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Natural Sciences
  • Prerequisite: CHEM 115 or consent of instructor
  • Offering: Infrequently; Phasing out
  • Instructor: Duncan, Marks

BIOL 199 Topics in Biology (.25-1)

A semester-long study of topics in Biology. Topics and emphases will vary according to the instructor. This course may be repeated for credit with different topics.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Topic dependent
  • Prerequisite: Topic dependent
  • Offering: Occasionally
  • Professor: Staff

BIOL 213 Disease Epidemics (1)

Focuses on the biology and social effects of infectious disease epidemics, at a level appropriate for non-majors or as an introduction for biology majors. Covers basics of virus, bacterium and protist biology and of the biology of the human immune system, including vaccines. Uses a small number of case studies of important disease epidemics, which could include smallpox in the Americas in 1782, malaria in African and the US, tuberculosis, or contemporary Ebola outbreaks. Examines these disease epidemics in their social context, exploring how the diseases had different impacts on indigenous people, colonizers, wealthy people and poor people.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Natural Sciences
  • Offering: Fall semester
  • Instructor: Lindh

BIOL 215 Human Evolution (1)

Intended for both majors and non-majors, this lecture-based course will review key concepts and in human evolutionary biology. Topics include human paleoanthropology, fundamentals of human population genetics, insights from the human genome and ancient DNA, and the genetic bases of human behavior and human diversity.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Natural Sciences
  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Smith

BIOL 225 Biodiversity & Climate Change (1)

Climate change poses a principle threat to the biodiversity of the planet, and is projected to become an increasingly important driver of change in the coming decades. This has major implications not just for the variety of life on our planet, but also for human health. Students interested in public health, environment justice, science research, or just curious about what lives around them will be introduced to methods of documenting, measuring, and monitoring biodiversity with an emphasis on using archival data and protocols coordinated by international leaders in programs such as iNaturalist, eMammal, and eBird. There will be opportunities to do specialized projects focused on birds, mammals, fish, insects, fungus, and trees. Each member of the class will create a digital natural and cultural history guide focused on how the place we call campus today came to have the species that it does. Background in science is not required, but an interest in nature and readiness to do field based surveys on and near campus in many types of weather during class time and for homework is essential.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Natural Sciences
  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Craig

BIOL 231 Biological Concepts I (1)

Through investigation and analysis of scientifically and societally important problems, students in this course will tap into their curiosity and undertake an integrated study of biology with a focus on five unifying concepts in biology: Structure and Function, Transformations of Energy and Matter, Information Flow and Storage, Evolution, and Systems. With faculty guidance, students will work together to acquire the biological information necessary to understand and examine each problem at multiple scales of biological organization, from molecules through ecosystems.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Natural Sciences
  • Prerequisite: BIOL 120
  • Offering: Spring semester
  • Instructor: Staff

BIOL 235 Experimental Methods in Biology (.5)

Through a series of interactive, hands-on experiences and assignments, students will gain exposure to a variety of model systems and methods of biological observation at multiple scales of organization (biological molecules, cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, etc.). Students will practice and develop sophistication with the collection of data using a variety of techniques, approaches, and instrumentation. The specific techniques and approaches will vary from semester to semester, but may include techniques in Microscopy, Molecular Biology, Physiology, Field Studies, Biochemistry, Bioinformatics, Statistical Analysis, etc. Emphasis is placed on gaining proficiency in the safe and appropriate use of biological equipment and experimental techniques, keeping detailed laboratory notebooks, and communication of data in informative, accessible, and visually appealing ways.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Natural Sciences
  • Prerequisite: BIOL 231 (or concurrent enrollment)
  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Staff

BIOL 241 Biological Concepts II (1)

Through continued investigation and analysis of scientifically and societally important problems, students in this course will undertake an increasingly sophisticated and interdisciplinary study of biology that will continue to emphasize the five unifying concepts in biology: Structure and Function, Transformations of Energy and Matter, Information Flow and Storage, Evolution, and Systems. With faculty guidance, students will work together to acquire the biological information necessary to investigate each problem at multiple scales of biological organization, from molecules through ecosystems. Emphasis will be placed on analysis and interpretation of primary scientific literature and communication of scientific information to diverse audiences.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Natural Sciences
  • Prerequisite: BIOL 231 and CHEM 115 (or concurrent enrollment in CHEM 115)
  • Offering: Spring semester
  • Instructor: Staff

BIOL 244 Physiological Dynamics in Animals and Plants (1)

This course explores the commonalities in animal and plant physiology ranging from the roles of hormones and solute transport to exchange of respiratory gases. Lecture and laboratory activities focus attention on the integration of functional qualities from the molecular to the organ-system levels of organization. Closed to freshmen.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Natural Sciences
  • Prerequisite: CHEM 115 and BIOL 125 or BIOL 130
  • Offering: Infrequently; Phasing out
  • Instructor: Coddington

BIOL 245W Biological Inquiry (1)

Through a collaborative research project, students will develop sophistication with the scientific process and production of biological knowledge. Students will be introduced to additional model systems and methods of biological observation at multiple scales of organization (biological molecules, cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, etc.). Students will work together to integrate their existing understanding of biological systems and acquire new biological knowledge to generate a novel and testable question exploring the complex and dynamic living world. With faculty guidance, students will practice working within constraints (time, model system, budget, etc.) to design a feasible experiment, collect, analyze, and interpret data. Students will produce a formal scientific paper and ‘press release’ paper that articulates their question and hypothesis, summarizes their data, synthesizes what they have learned for different audiences.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing-centered; Natural Sciences
  • Prerequisite: BIOL 241 (or concurrent enrollment)
  • Offering: Fall semester
  • Instructor: Staff

BIOL 246 Human Anatomy (1)

Introduction to the structural characteristics of the human body and the interrelationships among its systems. Clinical terminology and applications are stressed. Laboratory. Closed to first-semester freshmen.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Natural Sciences
  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Staff

BIOL 257 Plant Ecology and Conservation (1)

A natural history-based, investigative approach to plant ecology and conservation, emphasizing the dynamic interactions of plants in relation to biotic and abiotic environments. Explores the life histories and interrelationships of plant populations within ecological communities. Includes case studies of plant adaptations and interactions within grassland, savanna, and forest habitats. Covers ecological sampling techniques and tree identification. Lecture, discussion, field, and laboratory experiences.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Natural Sciences
  • Prerequisite: BIOL 125 or consent of instructor
  • Offering: Infrequently; Phasing out
  • Instructor: Staff

BIOL 260 Human Physiology (1)

Course focuses on cellular mechanisms and body systems and the relationship between them that dictates the physiological functions of the human body. Emphasis is placed on the homeostatic control of the human body. The required laboratory component examines the specific details of each physiological system, and prepares students for independent research. Writing skills and familiarization with digital data acquisition techniques are also emphasized.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Natural Sciences
  • Prerequisite: BIOL 246
  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Lockard, Stavrianeas

BIOL 297 Research Exploration in Biology (.25 - 1)

Course allows individualized exploration of a research interest in the area of expertise of a member of the biology faculty. Nature of participation varies from learning new techniques to collaborative research with the faculty mentor and advanced students. Course provides hands-on experience in literature search, data collection, data management, data analysis, and data presentation. May be repeated for credit.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Natural Sciences
  • Prerequisite: BIOL 245W or BIOL 120, BIOL 231 and junior standing
  • Offering: Alternate springs
  • Instructor: Staff

BIOL 298 Introductory Biology Colloquium (0.5)

Introductory Biology Colloquium is a fundamental stepping stone course designed to empower biology students to successfully navigate their learning while at Willamette and beyond. Upon successful completion of this course, students will be growth-minded learners, be aware of, and prepared for, the breadth of careers open to them, and feel a sense of place and belonging in the department. Students will develop metacognition skills, including cultivating a growth mindset, and be trained to recognize and overcome imposter syndrome and stereotype threat. In addition, students will grow their cultural competence to help them build a cohesive community of learners at Willamette University and thrive in future workplace environments. Students will learn how to successfully navigate the biology major and how to enrich their major by finding and successfully applying for experiential learning opportunities, including internships and clinical or research experiences. Finally, students will explore and begin preparing for an array of biology-related careers, including those in research, allied health services, conservation biology, and education.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Natural Sciences
  • Prerequisite: Completion of One Course in Biology
  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Staff

BIOL 299 Topics in Biology (.25-1)

A semester-long study of topics in Biology. Topics and emphases will vary according to the instructor. This course may be repeated for credit with different topics.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Topic dependent
  • Prerequisite: Topic dependent
  • Offering: Occasionally
  • Professor: Staff

BIOL 320 Microbes, Infection, and Immunity (1)

All free-living organisms have ways to protect themselves from infection. From plants to pregnancy, organisms have evolved complex systems to help them survive in a world in where the risk of life-threatening infection lurks in every corner. This course explores how diverse organisms infect each other and protect themselves from these infections. Investigation of these topics will be centered around analysis of contemporary primary literature from the fields of Microbiology and Immunology. Students will have the opportunity to select some of the themes and readings each semester. Through this course you will grow your skills utilizing the primary literature to learn about new and unfamiliar topics, identifying what you do and do not know, seeking information to fill the gaps, asking interesting and relevant questions, designing experiments, interpreting data, and sharing your knowledge with the scientific and broader community.


BIOL 333 Gene Structure and Function (1)

Study of the principles of heredity in microbes, plants and animals. An integrated course in classical and contemporary molecular genetics dealing with topics that include the structure and function of DNA, RNA and proteins, Mendelian genetics, extra-Medelian genetics, non-Mendelian genetics, epigenetics, gene interactions, regulation of gene expression, variations in chromosome structure and number, mutagenesis, and recombinant DNA technology. Laboratory.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Natural Sciences
  • Prerequisite: BIOL 245W or BIOL 120, BIOL 231 and junior standing
  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Duncan, Marks

BIOL 342 Biostatistics (1)

Allows students with some previous statistics or data analysis background to gain experience in analyzing experimental designs, choosing the right statistical technique, analyzing real data sets, and reporting analyses using text and graphics. Builds on randomization tests as a basis for understanding statistical inference, exposing students to a theoretical basis for non-parametric statistical tests. Trains students to choose, apply and report a variety of techniques common in analysis of biological data, including t-tests, ANOVA, simple and multiple regression. Covers ordination as a technique in exploratory data analysis. Focuses on critique of experimental design as a path to choosing the right statistical use and correctly identifying the scope of inference, on graphical presentation of data, and on writing about experimental design and statistical results correctly for publication and for the public. The statistical software R will be used throughout the course to carry out data visualization and perform data analysis, focusing on datasets from biology and health sciences.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Natural Sciences
  • Prerequisite: BIOL 245W or BIOL 120, BIOL 231 and junior standing
  • Offering: Alternate falls
  • Instructor: Lindh

BIOL 345 Ecology (1)

Covers topics in ecology at an intermediate level, focusing on what determines an organism’s range, how populations grow, and how organisms interact with each other, including competition and predation. Centers on examples of how species respond to their environment at a variety of time and spatial scales with a particular focus on anthropogenic climate change. Readings from a standard text and from the current published literature. Laboratory and field trip.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Natural Sciences
  • Prerequisite: BIOL 245W or BIOL 120, BIOL 231 and junior standing
  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Craig, Lindh

BIOL 347 Bioinformatics (1)

Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary science that develops and utilizes computer software tools to answer biological questions using large datasets, such as genetic code. The availability of sequencing technology combined with the power of computational biology has provided the opportunity to explore microbial communities that until now had remained elusive. This course explores the utilization of computational tools to answer biologically centered questions. Through the class students will gain conceptual knowledge and hands-on experience that will include the following: understanding of marker genes and their use in taxonomical surveys, genomic and metagenomics exploration of metabolic/physiological potential in organisms, examination of gene expression and RNA sequencing technology, and consideration about the importance of proteomic and metabolomics analysis. Close examination of primary literature and hands-on use of bioinformatics tools are among the learning strategies which are used as part of the course.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Natural Sciences
  • Prerequisite: BIOL 245W or BIOL 120, BIOL 231 and junior standing
  • Offering: Alternate springs
  • Instructor: León-Zayas

BIOL 348 Microbiology (1)

In this course we will investigate how microbes (prokaryotes, eukaryotes, archaea and viruses) profoundly influence Earth’s organisms, ecosystems, chemistry, and geology. Both a historically important and cutting edge discipline, microbiology endeavors to explain the relationships between microorganism and the world around us. You will also master the basic techniques required to handle, culture, and manipulate microbes. In addition, you will learn how to ask interesting and relevant questions, design and conduct appropriate experiments, collect, analyze and interpret the data, and share your findings with the scientific community. You will also practice your communication and writing skills.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Natural Sciences
  • Prerequisite: BIOL 245W or BIOL 120, BIOL 231 and junior standing
  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Marks, León-Zayas

BIOL 352 Plant Systematics (1)

Field and laboratory course using hands-on exercises to explore plant morphology, evolution and classification. Instruction will focus on Pacific Northwest native herbs, shrubs and trees and on the plants of the Willamette campus, Bush and Minto Brown Parks, and Zena. Students will learn botanical terminology, phylogenetic relationships and characteristics of plant families. Students will gain the ability to use a dichotomous key to identify unknown plants. Students will also observe phenology of spring plants and compare their observations to the long-term campus dataset.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Natural Sciences
  • Prerequisite: BIOL 245W or BIOL 120, BIOL 231 and junior standing
  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Lindh

BIOL 360 Cell Biology (1)

Study of the mechanisms governing major cell processes in prokaryotes and eukaryotes: cell survival, cell differentiation, cell division, and inter- and intracellular communication. Topics may include signal transduction, regulation of the cell cycle, tumor biology, hormonal signaling, motility and motor processes, intracellular transport, nerve impulse transmission, and pharmaceutical action. Examples and course materials will be drawn from a variety of sources including classic and contemporary primary literature, popular press articles, and textbook readings.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Natural Sciences
  • Prerequisite: BIOL 245W or BIOL 120, BIOL 231 and junior standing
  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Staff

BIOL 362 Developmental Biology (1)

Study of the molecular and cellular mechanisms of development in animals. Topics include gametogenesis, fertilization, cell type determination, germ layer formation, formation of the body plan, homeotic genes, morphogenesis, organogenesis (neurogenesis, cardiac and vascular morphogenesis, eye, limb, muscle, and gut development), sex determination, embryonic and adult stem cells, regeneration, aging, and medically relevant issues in human development. Concepts will be examined in relevant model organisms including the sea urchin (S, purpuratus), worm (C,. elegans), fruit fly (D. melanogaster), zebrafish (D. rerio), frog (X. laevis), mouse (M. musculus) and humans.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Natural Sciences
  • Prerequisite: BIOL 245W or BIOL 120, BIOL 231 and junior standing
  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Duncan

BIOL 370 Special Topics in Biology (.5 or 1)

This course is designed to allow in-depth study of topics of interest to students in biology. The flexibility of the seminar format permits a timely focus on one of a variety of newly emerging and/or significant areas relevant to biology.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Natural Sciences
  • Prerequisite: BIOL 245W or BIOL 120, BIOL 231 and junior standing
  • Offering: On demand
  • Instructor: Staff

BIOL 376 Evolutionary Biology (1)

Examination of the fundamental principles of modern evolutionary theory. Includes an overview of the development of Evolutionary Biology from the 18th century through today, in depth explorations of population genetic models describing evolutionary change, analysis of DNA sequence data to infer evolutionary processes, and the use of phylogenetic approaches to understand evolutionary theory. Applications of evolutionary theory to medicine and ecology, and human evolution will be discussed.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Natural Sciences
  • Prerequisite: BIOL 245W or BIOL 120, BIOL 231 and junior standing
  • Offering: Alternate springs
  • Instructor: Smith

BIOL 383W Research in Geomicrobiology (1)

This course focuses on the relationships and interactions between microbes and the environment. Students will practice geochemical and microbiological techniques in the field and laboratory. Topics will include: microbe-mineral interactions, microbial influence in global biogeochemical processes, extremophiles, microbial biogeography, and microbial imprints in the geologic record.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing-centered; Natural Science
  • Prerequisite: BIOL 245W
  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: León-Zayas

BIOL 390 Independent Study (.5 or 1)

Individual programs in which a student can pursue research or study a topic not normally available in the departmental curriculum. Each program of study must have the approval of the Biology faculty. For those who require the study of a topic not offered.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Natural Sciences
  • Prerequisite: BIOL 245W or BIOL 120, BIOL 231 and junior standing
  • Offering: On demand
  • Instructor: Staff

BIOL 399 Topics in Biology (.25-1)

A semester-long study of topics in Biology. Topics and emphases will vary according to the instructor. This course may be repeated for credit with different topics.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Topic dependent
  • Prerequisite: Topic dependent
  • Offering: Occasionally
  • Professor: Staff

BIOL 429 Topics in Biology (.25-1)

A semester-long study of topics in Biology. Topics and emphases will vary according to the instructor. This course may be repeated for credit with different topics.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Topic dependent
  • Prerequisite: Topic dependent
  • Offering: Occasionally
  • Professor: Staff

BIOL 450W Research in Molecular Genetics (1.5)

An investigative study of the structure, function and regulation of genetic material at the molecular level. Topics to be investigated include: DNA, RNA, proteins and their interrelationships through the Central Dogma of information transfer; genetic regulation; recombinant DNA and genetic engineering; genetic screening. Special emphasis will be on the primary literature and the practice of methods employed in this sub-discipline of biology. Laboratory.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing-centered; Natural Sciences
  • Prerequisite: BIOL 245W
  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Duncan

BIOL 451W Research in Neuroethology (1.5)

Neuroethology takes an evolutionary and comparative approach to the study of animal behavior and the underlying neural mechanisms that dictate and respond to physical movement. In this class, we will creatively use the process of science to explore the curious, complex and dynamic world of brains and behavior, from molecules and ion currents to networks and communities. Scientific research is really the maturation of what we all do naturally as children—explore our world with wonder and curiosity. Maturation can retain these playful attitudes while growing the capacity and accuracy of observations and inferences. In the lab we will practice separating observation from inference and develop methodologies—depending on the theme we might be developing ethology (a comparative biological approach to examining animal behavior), confocal microscopy, neurophysiology modeling, &/or electrophysiology. The narrative component of this course aims to grow a working understanding of neuroscience theory; examined through student-led use of literature, presentations, and discussions. As a class we will choose the mechanism of science communication: a) online blog that explores an aspect of neuroscience & society, or b) individual NSF pre-doctorial fellowship grants (GRSA) that define and solve a question at the interface of brains, neuroscience, and evolution.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing-centered; Natural Sciences
  • Prerequisite: BIOL 245W
  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Coddington

BIOL 453W Research in Behavioral Ecology (1.5)

This course engages in the principles and investigative techniques of behavioral ecology in which questions about the proximate causes, ontogeny, survival value, and phylogeny of behavior are pursued. The ecological influence and evolutionary implications of animal behavior will be investigated through field studies, laboratory exercises and computer simulations. Lectures, discussions and readings win the primary literature and research projects will engage the student to all stages of the investigative process. Topics to be examined vary between years but typically include foraging behavior, migration and movement, communication, reproductive success, neuroscience, ecophysiology, wildlife management, and conservation biology. The course compliments professional training in research, data analysis, and writing for students interested in careers in zoology, ecology, medicine, and public health.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing-centered; Natural Sciences
  • Prerequisite: BIOL 245W
  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Craig

BIOL 454W Research in Bacteriology (1.5)

This course focuses on elucidating how microbes survive, evolve, and thrive in their environments. Using a combination of classic and contemporary techniques in bacteriology, genetics, biochemistry, microscopy and molecular biology, students will conduct an original research project aimed at understanding physiology, ecology, and/or evolution in a bacterial model organism. Students will delve deeply into the published primary scientific literature and continue to develop scientific communication skills (oral, written, visual). The specific topics and techniques on which we focus will be molded by student interest and project selection, but may include methods in bacterial genetics: mutant screens, site directed mutagenesis, homologous recombination, gene expression analysis, DNA manipulation and cloning, etc.; methods in microbiology: survival analysis, microscopy, growth rate analysis, biochemical analysis, etc.; methods in genomics: using DNA databases, gene and genome sequencing, quantitative PCR, etc.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing-centered; Natural Sciences
  • Prerequisite: BIOL 245W
  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Marks

BIOL 456W Research in Genomics (1.5)

The availability of sequencing technology combined with the power of computational biology has provided the opportunity to explore microbial communities that until now had remained elusive. Among those are the human microbiomes, ultra-deep oceanic environments and highly bio diverse microbial communities in various environments such as coral reefs or soils. This course will provide students with a real research experience using bioinformatics tools to investigate questions relate to microbial ecology, microbial abundance and microbial metabolic potential. Students will be challenged to learn how to ask interesting and relevant questions, design and conduct appropriate experiments, collect, analyze and interpret data, and share your findings with the scientific community via scientific writing. Students will read, analyze and discuss articles from the primary literature and summarize these in short writing assignments, will keep a lab notebook (preferably electronically) recording the design and results of experiments related to their projects, and will present their results using formal and informal writing after undergoing a thorough and iterative process of peer review and revisions.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing-centered; Natural Sciences
  • Prerequisite: BIOL 245W
  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: León-Zayas

BIOL 458W Research in Cell and Developmental Biology (1.5)

An investigative study of the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate animal development. Topics include genetic and biochemical control of cell division and differentiation, cell-cell communication and cell movement. Focus on both classical experiments and modern molecular and genetic techniques will be undertaken in various animal model systems including the sea urchin (S. purpuratus), worm (C. elegans), fruit fly (D. melanogaster), and zebrafish (D. rerio) to highlight evolutionary conserved features of development. The course includes lectures, readings, and discussions of relevant primary literature, and independent research. Laboratory.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing-centered; Natural Sciences
  • Prerequisite: BIOL 245W
  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Staff

BIOL 459W Research in Molecular Ecology (1.5)

This course surveys applications of genetic data to empirical problems in Ecology, Animal Behavior, Evolution, and Conservation Biology. Topics include measuring relatedness, determining paternity, phylogenetic inference and the estimation of population genetic parameters. The course includes lectures, discussion of primary literature, laboratory exercises using tools in molecular biology and computer-aided methods in bioinformatics, and independent research.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing-centered; Natural Sciences
  • Prerequisite: BIOL 245W
  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Smith

BIOL 497 Research in Biology (.25 - 1)

Individualized program of investigative research in which student works directly with a biology faculty member in his or her area of research expertise. Nature of participation varies from collaborative research to the design and execution of an independent project equivalent to a thesis. For all students, course provides hands-on experience in literature search, data collection, data management, data analysis, and the synthesis of results in a formal paper and/or oral presentation. May be repeated for credit.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Natural Sciences
  • Prerequisite: BIOL 245W and consent of instructor; research course (BIOL 450W-459W) recommended
  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Staff

BIOL 498 Biology Colloquium (.5)

This class is designed to engage all of us in collaborative scholarly conversations about biology. We will practice translating and communicating science to people inside and outside of science. There will be invited speakers from other institutions and careers, and students will be invited to participate in listening and engaging in scientific conversation with these people. A certain number of these will become the seeds for creative communication pieces to non-science folks. The capstone project is a semester-long small-group effort to conceive, build, and publicize a communication piece that conveys one aspect about science or biology to the broader community. The medium of communication is by each group’s choice and part of the fun of the process. We will also spend some time developing life skills in service to you flying out of WU into your next life phase. These include growing your cultural competencies and practices working in teams, communicating across apparent barriers, and team work approaches.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Natural Sciences
  • Prerequisite: BIOL 245W
  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Staff

BIOL 499 Honors Research in Biology (.5 to 1)

Granted in lieu of BIOL 497 upon recommendation of two members of the biology faculty for outstanding achievement upon completion of a substantive independent research investigation. Student develops and completes a research project culminating in a thesis, prepares a written document in the form and style of a scientific publication, and presents the results orally in a formal symposium.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Natural Sciences
  • Prerequisite: Consent of biology faculty
  • Offering: On demand
  • Instructor: Staff

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