Courses

For the college’s course catalog, please visit the Courses section. For courses currently offered, please visit the Schedule of Classes.

Modern Topics in Biology (BIOL-100)
This course for non-majors is intended to promote scientific literacy. Topics will vary with the instructor, but each edition of the course will focus on a specific topic as a vehicle for exploring the essentials of biology and the scientific method. This course satisfies the G.E. lab science requirement. Biology 100 may not be counted toward the major in biology. Three class periods and one laboratory weekly.
Modern Topics in Biology (BIOL-103)
This course for non-majors is intended to promote scientific literacy and quantitative reasoning. Topics vary with the instructor, but each edition of the course will focus on a specific topic as a vehicle for exploring the essentials of biology and the scientific method. This course satisfies the G.E. lab science requirement as well as the quantitative reasoning requirement. Biology 103 may not be counted toward the major in biology. Three class periods and one laboratory weekly.
Modern Topics in Biology (BIOL-104)
This course for non-majors is intended to promote scientific literacy and oral communication. Topics will vary with the instructor, but each edition of the course will focus on a specific topic as a vehicle for exploring the essentials of biology and the scientific method. This course satisfies the General Education lab science requirement as well as the oral communication requirement. Biology 104 may not be counted toward the major in biology. Class meets for two (80 minute) or three (50 minute) periods per week plus a three-hour laboratory.
Biology and Politics of Women's Health (BIOL-110)
This course examines critical conversations in the biology, politics, culture, and history of women's health. The nation's greatest health issues include, but are not limited to, unmanaged chronic conditions (including cardiovascular health), environmental health risks and cancer, racial and ethnic health disparities, women's reproductive and sexual health, and the epidemic of obesity. Evaluating the complexities of these "women's health" issues involves both scientific literacy and socio-cultural literacy. This course provides a fundamental understanding of how biological system structures and functions are related, specific to the female human body. The laboratory component of this course familiarizes students with the scientific method, feminist theory in science, and methods in women's health research. This course promotes proficiency in oral communication through practice in a variety of formats that typically occur in biology and women's studies. Cross-listed with WMST 110.
Introduction to the Science of Biology (BIOL-150)
This course is the first biology course biology majors take and is not recommended for non-majors. It is a course that introduces students to core concepts of modern biology through active participation in biological investigations. Topics include reproduction, Darwinian evolution, energetics, organisms' response to stimuli, and organismal structure and function. Imbedded throughout the course are many of the skills expected of practicing biologists including the ability to develop hypotheses and analyze and interpret data, the ability to present scientific data, scientific writing, and a familiarity with the scientific literature. This course satisfies the Quantitative Reasoning requirement. Three class periods and one laboratory weekly. Offered Fall and Spring semesters.
Introductory Topics in Biology (BIOL-199)
A general category used only in the evaluation of transfer credit.
Cell and Molecular Biology (BIOL-201)
The study of cellular structure and function from a molecular perspective. The organization and molecular composition of cells is examined, with a particular emphasis on distinctions between the prokaryotic and eukaryotic domains. Major cell functions studied include membrane transport, signal transduction, and eukaryotic cell cycle regulation. The molecular basis of genetic expression is addressed, including topics such as DNA replication, transcription, translation, and associated regulatory processes. Evolution is also explored from the perspective of cellular and molecular biology. Prerequisites: BIOL 150 or consent of instructor. Chemistry 131 pre- or co-requisite. Three class periods and one laboratory weekly. Offered Fall and Spring semesters.
Ecology and Evolution (BIOL-202)
This course explores the fundamental biological concepts of ecology and evolution and integrates them in a study of the interactions between organisms and their environment and how those interactions shape the history of life on Earth. With a thorough understanding of population genetics and natural selection, this course addresses ecological questions at the level of the individual, population, community and ecosystem. A common thread that binds the course is the role of deterministic and stochastic processes in shaping ecological systems and macroevolutionary patterns. Prerequisite: BIOL 150 or consent of instructor. Three class periods and one laboratory weekly. Offered Fall and Spring semesters.
Minor Problems (BIOL-250)
A research problem (library or laboratory) of limited scope which provides the opportunity for the qualified student to extend his or her interest beyond the limits of particular course offerings. Does not count toward minimal department requirements.
Intermediate Topics in Biology (BIOL-299)
A general category used only in the evaluation of transfer credit.
Biology Assessment I (BIOL-300)
A pass/fail course used to track all biology majors' completion of the required assessment exam covering the Biology core. Earning the required S (pass) in this course entails attending an information session explaining the exam and taking the assessment exam in good faith. Offered Fall and Spring semesters.
Biology Assessment II (BIOL-301)
A pass/fail course used to track all biology major's completion of the required senior interview. Earning the required S (pass) in this course entails attending an information session explaining the biology department's senior interview and completing the senior interview in good faith. Seniors enroll in BIOL 301 in their last semester at Denison.
Biodiversity Through Time (BIOL-308)
An introduction to the study of fossil invertebrates with emphasis on preservation, taphonomy, diversity trajectories through geologic time, evolutionary mechanisms, extinction, paleobiology and paleoecology. Special emphasis will be placed on using fossils to interpret ancient depositional environments. Labs will introduce the student to the major invertebrate phyla commonly preserved in the geologic rock record. Prerequisite: GEOS 210 or BIOL 202. (Normally offered Fall Semester in alternate years)
Computational Biology (BIOL-309)
As large and complex data sets have become more prevalent in biology, computer algorithms for analyzing the data have become critical, driving the need for scientists with expertise in both fields. This interdisciplinary course will explore this intersection, examining the biology and the computational methods behind a variety of interesting and important problems. Students will initially work with a single instructor to build a background outside of their own discipline (Biology students with a Computer Science instructor, CS students with a Biology instructor), followed by a merging of the two groups into a single team-taught class, which will investigate a series of biological problems with a computational focus. The laboratory portion of the course will involve students working together in multidisciplinary groups to design algorithms to investigate these problems, as well as undertaking a self-designed "capstone" project at the end of the term. Prerequisites: Biology core and one of CS 109 or CS 110 or CS 111 or consent.
Wetland Ecology (BIOL-310)
This course is a comprehensive study of wetland ecology, management, and policy. The main emphasis is on biological, chemical, and physical aspects of major wetland ecosystems found in North America. The course also deals with valuation, classification, and delineation of wetlands. A significant portion of the course focuses on local and regional wetland ecosystems: their history, ecology, and current status. Labs will be field-based explorations of the biology, chemistry, and ecology of these regional wetlands. Prerequisite: BIOL 202 or consent.
Herpetology (BIOL-312)
Herpetology is the study of amphibians and reptiles, two diverse taxonomic groups that share the characteristic of being ectothermic vertebrates. This course will examine three main areas of herpetology: 1) the evolutionary relationships and biogeographical histories of these taxonomic groups, 2) comparative physiology, and adaptations of amphibians and reptiles to their natural environments, and 3) the ecology of the herpetofauna, as well as conservation issues, with a focus on amphibians. Emphasis will be placed on the critical reading of primary literature on both historical and current issues in herpetology, as well as on gaining hands-on experiences with amphibians and reptiles. Laboratories will include comparative studies of physiology and field studies of native Ohio amphibians and reptiles, making extensive use of the Denison University Biological Reserve. Prerequisites: Biology core or consent. Herpetology qualifies as a "biological diversity" course for the major.
Vertebrate Zoology (BIOL-313)
In this course we investigate the biology of vertebrates. In particular, we will be considering the many ways in which vertebrates interact with and respond to their environment, and thus this course will emphasize the evolution, ecology, and physiology of vertebrates. Laboratories will focus on the biology of local vertebrates, and will consist of field and laboratory exercises, as well as field research projects. We will make extensive use of the Denison University Biological Reserve. Prerequisite: Biology core or consent. Vertebrate Zoology qualifies as a "biological diversity" course for the major. This course satisfies the Oral Communication requirement.
General Microbiology (BIOL-315)
This is an introductory course in microbiology emphasizing the general structure, occurrence, habitats, and types of bacteria, viruses, and eukaryotic microbes. Mechanisms of pathogenicity and host defense strategies also are discussed. The course structure includes small group activities, student presentations, traditional lectures, and discussions of scientific literature. Laboratory emphasis is placed on the fundamental techniques of microbiology (i.e., staining, microscopy, and streak plating) and self-designed investigative labs. Students may either take General Microbiology (BIOL 315) or Diversity of Microorganisms (BIOL 317) during their academic career, but not both courses. Prerequisite: Biology core or consent.
Virology (BIOL-316)
Virology is a course that will examine the diversity of plant, animal, and bacterial viruses. Emphasis will be placed on topics such as molecular interactions between the host and virus, the genetics and chemical nature of viruses, and the replication strategies of viruses. This course also will examine how viruses cause disease, how they are used in biotechnology, and their overall impact on society. The structure of the course will provide peer learning activities, class discussions of primary literature, and traditional lectures. The structure of the laboratory will allow students to develop and test their own hypotheses while learning bacteriophage and tissue culture techniques. Prerequisite: Biology core or consent.
Diversity of Microorganisms (BIOL-317)
This course examines the remarkable environmental, physiological, and metabolic diversity of prokaryotic and eukaryotic microorganisms (i.e., bacteria, protists, algae, & fungi). More specifically, diversity will be studied in terms of taxonomy and phylogeny, the ability of species to live in various environments, and the application and value of genomics in diversity. Emphasis will be placed on the reading of primary literature, and on using that information to make connections with class lectures and generate hypotheses that will be tested in the laboratory. The structure of the course includes traditional lectures, class activities, and student presentations. Prerequisite: BIOL 150, 201, & 202, or consent. Diversity of Microorganisms qualifies as a "biological diversity" course for the major and minor. Students may either take General Microbiology (BIOL 315) or Diversity of Microorganisms (BIOL 317) during their academic career, but not both courses.
Plant Systematics (BIOL-320)
In Plant Systematics students learn how major groups of vascular plants are classified, named, and identified. We study approximately 50 plant families concentrating on native representatives (using living plant material whenever possible), learn how to use keys and floras to identify local species, and learn how to find information about plants in traditional and electronic sources. Understanding evolutionary relationships among the families studied is a central theme. This course provides important background for students planning to do fieldwork in ecology, plant-animal interactions, environmental education, and related subjects. Prerequisite: Biology core or consent. Plant Systematics qualifies as "biological diversity" course for the major.
Plant Ecology (BIOL-321)
In this course we will explore how plants interact with their environments and with other organisms, including man. We will begin at the individual level, learning how plants obtain resources from abiotic sources and through mutualistic interactions with bacteria and fungi. We will also consider how the theories of plant community ecology developed in the early 20th century and why they are pertinent today. Students will also have the opportunity to read and critique primary literature from leading journals in the field. Finally, we will develop several projects to be completed at the Denison Biological Reserve during the term for lab projects. These projects will be student-inspired and driven, with the hopes that they will contribute to our understanding of our immediate surroundings at Denison. Prerequisite: Biology core or consent.
Developmental Biology (BIOL-324)
Every multicellular organism begins its life as a single cell. Developmental biology is the study of the progression from this single cell to a complex, multicellular organism. Recently the powerful tools of molecular biology have linked the fields of embryology and genetics to reveal how cells, tissues, organs, and organisms develop. Especially striking is the conservation of molecules and mechanisms that underlie developmental processes in different organisms. This course provides an overview of the major features of early embryonic development in animals, and the mechanisms (molecular mechanism when known) that underlie them. We focus on two major aspects of developmental biology: (1) How is the basic body plan established? How does the basic organization of the embryo arise from the fertilized egg? What are the cellular mechanisms underlying morphogenesis and the appearance of pattered structures in the embryo? (2) How do parts become different in the embryo? Prerequisite: Biology core or consent.
Genetics (BIOL-325)
This course provides a detailed and up-to-date understanding of genetics, an appreciation of how genetics affects our lives everyday from the supermarket to the doctor's office, and a realization of the applications of genetics to virtually every discipline of biology. We focus on three major areas of genetics: (1) Molecular genetics: Thinking about genetics on the DNA level - everything from DNA sequencing to mutagen testing. (2) Mendelian genetics: Thinking about genetics on the gene level-everything from inheritance to recombinational mapping. (3) The application of both molecular and Mendelian genetics to study biological processes. We start by seeing how genetic techniques can be used to dissect almost any biological process and end up answering questions such as: How does genetic disease screening work? How are genes cloned from complex organisms such as mice or even humans? How does gene therapy work? In the laboratory we carry out both molecular experiments and classical genetic experiments. Prerequisite: Biology core or consent.
Plant Evolution and Reproduction (BIOL-326)
In this course we will explore the evolutionary relationships and histories among the major groups of plants, both terrestrial and aquatic. We will pay particular attention to their modes of reproduction and the structures that facilitate gamete production and dispersal. We will learn how plant physiology and developmental mechanisms have allowed taxa to persist or make major transitions among different environments over time. Class reading material will consist of the primary literature and will be presented by students every week. For the laboratory component we will have one overnight trip to Hocking Hills on a weekend in September to examine and identify plants in their natural habitat, as well as shorter trips to Blackhand Gorge and the Dawes Arboretum. We will also plan together and complete a semester-long project on the effects of environment on the development of reproductive structures in the model plant, Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Evolution and Reproduction qualifies as a "biological diversity" course for the major. Prerequisite: Biology core or consent.
Biology of Insects (BIOL-327)
In this course we will explore the world of insects and their interactions with other species. Our central focus will be to survey insect diversity and explore how various orders, families, and species are adapted through evolution to their specific environment. But we will also use that diversity as a lens through which we will examine major concepts in biology. Topics of discussion will include the following: plant-insect coevolution, mating systems, anti-predator defenses, eusocial behavior, parasitism, disease transmittance, insect conservation, and control of agricultural pests. Laboratory will involve collecting insects in the field (including at times outside of class hours), identification, and preparing a collection. Biology of Insects qualifies as a "biological diversity" course for the major. Prerequisite: Biology core or consent.
Comparative Physiology: Human and Non-Human Animals (BIOL-334)
This course is a comparative study of how humans and other animals perform their life-sustaining functions. We will explore the physiology of the cardiovascular, nervous, muscular, and endocrine systems, as well as examining key homeostatic functions such as thermoregulation, osmoregulation, and energy utilization. This course will examine the adaptive significance of physiological traits at the molecular, tissue, organ and whole organism level in humans and a variety of non-human animals. Students will participate in course labs and design their own physiology experiments. Prerequisite: Biology core or consent.
Invertebrate Zoology (BIOL-336)
Invertebrates constitute more than 97% of all animal species on Earth. They are an incredibly diverse group of organisms that have been classified into more than 30 phyla, each with unique anatomical, physiological, and behavioral traits. In this course, we explore the evolutionary history of invertebrates, and how these traits evolved as adaptions for specific terrestrial, aquatic, and/or marine environments. We examine certain taxa in greater detail to address major concepts in biology; this is done in conjunction with article discussions and laboratory exercises that involve a variety of approaches in both the lab and field. Students have the opportunity to complete at least one self-designed experiment by the end of the semester. Invertebrate Zoology qualifies as a "biological diversity" course for the major. Prerequisites: Biology core or consent.
Animal Behavior (BIOL-340)
In this course we study the proximate and ultimate causes of animal behavior from an evolutionary perspective. Topics include the genetic, developmental and neural bases of behavior as well as behavioral strategies of habitat choice, foraging, defense, courtship, parental care and sociality. The laboratory will include several multi-week experiments designed to test hypotheses concerning behaviors observed in the field and lab. There will be a strong emphasis on data analysis and interpretation, and use of the primary literature. Prerequisite: Biology core or consent.
Immunology (BIOL-341)
This course is a study of concepts in immunology, focusing on the cellular and molecular aspects of the immune system in humans and other animal models. We will delve into subjects allowing students to understand the fascinating and complex mechanisms with which our immune systems defend our bodies against a constant barrage of infectious microorganisms. Topics covered include immune cell development and function, specific and non-specific immune responses to infection, immunogenetics, vaccination, and clinical disorders of the immune system such as allergies, immunodeficiency diseases, and autoimmunity. Laboratory exercises will utilize immunological techniques to address questions pertaining to the molecular function and specificity of the immune system. Prerequisite: Biology core or consent.
Eukaryotic Cell Biology (BIOL-345)
This course will be an in-depth examination of fundamental cellular functions, with an emphasis on how disturbances in these functions lead to disease. Areas covered in the course include intracellular trafficking, cytoskeleton and cell motility, adhesion, signal transduction, cell cycle, and apoptosis. Laboratories will involve learning current methods to analyze biological processes in cells. Prerequisite: Biology core or consent.
Introduction to Neurophysiology (BIOL-349)
We will use neurophysiology and neuroanatomy to understand the links between molecules, cells, systems, and ultimately behavior. The course will start with an exploration of neurons and signaling within and among cells. We will then examine some sensory and motor systems. The last portion of the course will examine the whole animal in a neurophysiological context. The classroom portion of the course consists of lectures, discussion of the text and of research articles, problem sets, analysis of case studies, and other activities. The laboratory component will involve a mixture of behavioral, anatomical, and physiological studies on vertebrate and invertebrate animals, electronic modeling of nerve circuits, and computer simulations of nerve activity. The labs are designed to introduce students to some fundamental neurophysiological techniques and to a variety of study organisms, and to strengthen experimental design and analysis skills. Prerequisite: Biology core or consent.
Genomics (BIOL-350)
Genomics is the study of genomes, the entire collection of genetic information found in a specific organism. This field of study attempts to understand how all of the genes in a given genome cooperatively function to orchestrate the biological activities within the organism. The genomic DNA sequences of thousands of species have been determined, including humans, providing a wealth of information about the genetic composition and evolutionary relatedness of species. This course will introduce students to the fundamental concepts in genomics, including how genome sequences are assembled, how potential genes within the genome are identified and characterized, how genomes are organized and regulated, and how genomes evolve. Contemporary papers from the field of genomics will be discussed to complement the concepts addressed in class. The laboratory component of this course will be computer-based, utilizing various online databases and "bioinformatic" programs to carry out a series of projects on genome assembly and compositional analysis as well as "wet-lab" experiments to explore genome regulation. This course satisfies the oral communication requirement. Prerequisites: Biology core or consent.
Special Topics (BIOL-356)
Directed Study (BIOL-361)
A research problem (library, field, or laboratory) that provides the opportunity for the qualified student to extend his or her interest beyond the limits of particular course offerings. Does not count toward minimal departmental requirements.
Directed Study (BIOL-362)
A research problem (library, field, or laboratory) that provides the opportunity for the qualified student to extend his or her interest beyond the limits of particular course offerings. Does not count toward minimal departmental requirements.
Independent Study (BIOL-363)
Independent Study (BIOL-364)
Conservation Biology (BIOL-370)
Conservation Biology requires the broad use of biological disciplines such as ecology, physiology, genetics, and animal behavior, as well as appreciation of policy issues, to understand and manage biodiversity. In this course, students will learn how to apply these biological tools for the purpose of defining and maintaining biodiversity at many scales. We will also cover human impacts on biodiversity, as well as the link between science and policy in protection efforts. This course will emphasize critical reading of primary literature as well as gaining hands-on experiences with population modeling, and measuring and monitoring local biodiversity. Prerequisites: Biology core or consent.
Population and Community Ecology (BIOL-375)
In this course, we will examine 1) how populations and communities are structured, 2) how populations and communities change over time, and 3) how populations and communities are influenced by their environment or ecological context. An emphasis will be placed on using primary literature and on doing ecology in the field and lab. Prerequisite: Biology core or consent. This course satisfies the Oral Communication requirement.
Evolutionary Biology (BIOL-380)
This course builds on BIOL 202 and completes an in-depth survey of evolutionary theory with emphasis on processes that drive organismal change. We examine how molecular technology has impacted the study of evolutionary processes, and how new methods of analysis are changing the study of population genetics, phylogeny construction, adaptive radiation, etc. Experimental design and reading of primary and secondary scientific literature are stressed. Through the course, emphasis is placed on integration of all biological disciplines under the paradigm of evolution. Prerequisite: Biology core.
Advanced Topics in Biology (BIOL-399)
A general category used only in the evaluation of transfer credit.
Senior Research (BIOL-451)
For seniors desiring to work on an advanced research problem. Biology 451 is to be taken if no previous work on the specific research project has been accomplished. Students with prior, substantial experience on their research project (such as a summer research experience with a Denison faculty member) may petition to move directly into Biology 452. Prior consent of the advising faculty is required for registration. The grade is determined by the advisor. Completion of Biology 451 does not fulfill an upper-level biology course requirement for the major.
Advanced Senior Research (BIOL-452)
For seniors working on an advanced research problem. Following the completion of a substantial research experience, such as Biology 451 or a summer research experience with a Denison faculty member, students may take Biology 452. Prior consent of the advising faculty is required for registration. The grade is determined by the advisor. Completion of Biology 452 fulfills one upper- level biology course requirement for the major. Students enrolled in BIOL 452 have the option of purusing senior research with Recognition. Interested students should speak with their research advisor or the Chair of Biology to learn more about the Recognition process and expectations.