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.