Associate Professor Christine L. Weingart, Chair
Professors Eric C. Liebl, Tom D. Schultz, Geoffrey R. Smith; Associate Professors Warren D. Hauk, Rebecca N. Homan, Clare C. Jen, Andrew C. McCall, Jessica E. Rettig, Heather J. Rhodes, Laura A. Romano, Jeffrey S. Thompson, Christine L. Weingart, Lina I. Yoo; Assistant Professors Cristina Caldari, Ayana Hinton; Visiting Assistant Professors Pedro Torres, Qiongqiong Zhou (Angela) Zhou; Academic Administrative Assistant Jenny Etz; Lab Manager/Bioreserve Manager Whitney Stocker; Laboratory Specialist Hannah Roodhouse
Departmental Guidelines and Goals
The Department of Biology endeavors to provide a comprehensive foundation in concepts and skills across the breadth of biology. This is achieved in part through an introductory core of three courses that prepare students for a deep exploration of sub-disciplines and research methods through subsequent advanced courses. The core covers the major concepts of biology, encompassing an exploration of the natural history of life on Earth, coupled with the basic skills of acquiring and processing information, solving problems, and analyzing data. Our program then allows students the flexibility to explore specific areas of biology in depth through a suite of advanced courses in which they can expand and apply their knowledge and skills.
The major prepares students for careers in science and related fields, as well as graduate and professional schools (including pre-medical, pre-dental and pre-veterinary studies), while allowing students the flexibility to design the program that best suits their specific interests and career goals. In addition, biology majors are offered the opportunity to collaborate with faculty in research and laboratory instruction, to present exceptional work at professional meetings, and to assist in the maintenance of the 350-acre Biological Reserve and other departmental facilities. Information on studies in Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Science, and Environmental Management and Forestry is provided in the Pre-Professional Programs section of the catalog.
Writing is an integral component of science, and as such, the Biology Department understands that the development of writing skills is essential for all students who pursue the study of biology. The goal for our students is that they emerge as strong writers, able to construct cohesive bodies of written work in which they express clear, concise and logical arguments, supported by empirical evidence and/or information from appropriate sources. A developmental model of writing skills is tightly woven into the biology curriculum to achieve this goal. Our major core curriculum establishes the foundation of good writing practices. Basic grammatical expression is addressed in BIOL210, while BIOL220 focuses on understanding the format of biological literature, culminating in BIOL230, where students write multiple full-length papers. Taken sequentially, BIOL220 and BIOL230 serve as one of the W requirements for general education. In our advanced curriculum, students continue to explore more sophisticated levels of writing, including employing distinct disciplinary conventions and engaging with different genres applicable to biological writing. Students who undertake a senior research project write a comprehensive thesis of their work (counting as an additional W requirement), putting into practice the many writing skills that they have developed throughout the curriculum.
Requirements for Biology Majors Students can pursue either a B.A. or B.S. degree in Biology (distinctions between the two degrees are outlined below). For either degree, students should aim to complete the three Biology core courses by the end of their second year: Molecular Biology and Unicellular Life (210), Multicellular Life (220), and Ecology and Evolution (230). Students who have completed comparable course work at other accredited institutions may petition to have such courses transferred to Denison and credited toward the major, at the discretion of the department. In contrast, students with credit-earning scores on Advanced Placement (4 or 5) or International Baccalaureate (6 or 7) tests in Biology will be granted academic credit for BIOL100, but typically will be required to complete all three major core courses.
Majors must achieve a grade point average of 2.0 or higher across the three core courses (BIOL 210, 220, 230) upon completion of the core sequence before proceeding to 300-level elective courses. Students who do not meet the GPA requirement must repeat one or more core courses to achieve the standard; the highest grade awarded for any repeated core course will be exclusively used in calculating the “biology core GPA”, but all biology grades will be used to calculate the overall major GPA for graduation, as per university policy. This policy applies only to students pursuing a biology major; it does not apply to students pursuing the biology minor or other non-biology degrees.
The major additionally requires two semesters of introductory level chemistry (CHEM 131 and 132; grades of C or better are strongly recommended). CHEM 131 must be completed before undertaking 300-level electives, but CHEM132 can be taken concurrently.
Biology majors subsequently complete five 300-level advanced courses. Any combination of advanced courses may be taken, but one of these electives must be designated a “biological diversity” course (see description below). Advanced Senior Research (BIOL 452) is credited as a 300-level course, but Directed Study (BIOL 361, 362), Independent Study (BIOL 363, 364), and Senior Research (BIOL 451) are not counted as 300-level advanced courses toward the requirements for the major. Students are encouraged to consult with an advisor in the Biology Department in order to select the most appropriate suite of advanced courses.
Biology majors preparing for medical school or most graduate programs are additionally advised to take Intermediate Organic Chemistry (CHEM 251), and Biochemistry (CHEM 258), General Physics (PHYS 121-122), and two semesters of college-level math (e.g., Calculus (MATH 121,123,or 124) or Statistics (MATH 102)). These courses can count toward the “science cognate” requirement that is part of the B.S. degree (see requirements below).
Lastly, students majoring in Biology must satisfactorily complete Biology Assessment I (BIOL 300: core curriculum assessment exam taken during the term immediately following completion of the biology core) and Biology Assessment II (BIOL 301: senior interview; taken during the final semester prior to graduating) in order to fulfill the requirements for the degree.
Bachelor of Arts in Biology The requirements for the Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology include a total of ten courses: three biology core courses (BIOL 210, 220, 230), five 300-level biology courses (one of which must be a designated as a “biological diversity” course), and one year of introductory level chemistry (CHEM 131 and 132).
Bachelor of Science in Biology The requirements for the Bachelor of Science degree in Biology include a total of fourteen courses: three biology core courses (BIOL 210, 220, 230), five 300-level biology courses (one of which must be designated a “biological diversity” course), one year of introductory level chemistry (CHEM 131 and 132), and four “science cognate” courses. The science cognate requirement is the lone distinction between the B.A. and B.S. degrees, serving as a means for B.S. majors to become more broadly trained in the sciences. Any non-biology course within the science division will count toward this requirement, as will any environmental studies (ENVS) science course, or Applied Anatomy (PHED 204). Students are encouraged to select courses that “do” science, such as classes that include laboratory sections. No more than two courses within a single department or program can be used to fulfill this requirement (note that CHEM 131 and 132 do not count toward the cognate requirement, nor do they count toward the “two courses per department” stipulation).
The requirements for the Biology Minor include a total of seven courses: three biology core courses (BIOL 210, 220, 230), three 300-level biology courses (one of which is a “biological diversity” course), and one semester of chemistry (CHEM 131). CHEM 131 must be completed prior to undertaking 300-level electives. Advanced Senior Research (BIOL 452) is credited as a 300-level course, but Directed Study (BIOL 361, 362), Independent Study (BIOL 363, 364), and Senior Research (BIOL 451) are not counted as 300-level advanced courses toward the requirements for the minor.
Additional Points of Interest
Biological Diversity Courses Courses that fulfill the biological diversity requirement emphasize the importance of scientific studies at the level of the whole organism. In these courses students gain a holistic perspective on the study of organisms, explore a variety of living forms through a broad survey of taxa, and evaluate the role of phylogenetic history in taxonomy. Students also use careful observation to learn morphology and diagnostic traits, identify organisms into meaningful taxonomic units, and learn the principles of scientific nomenclature. The biological diversity courses that are regularly offered include: Biodiversity Through Time (BIOL 308), Herpetology (BIOL 312), Vertebrate Zoology (BIOL 313), Diversity of Microorganisms (BIOL 317), Plant Systematics (BIOL 320), Plant Evolution & Reproduction (BIOL 326), Biology of Insects (BIOL 327), and Invertebrate Zoology (BIOL 336).
Off-Campus Study Students may complement their major in biology through off-campus study. Denison University is a member of several consortia that offer course credit through off-campus programs. Those with course offerings relevant to Biology students include: the School for Field Studies, the Organization of Tropical Studies, the Duke University Marine Laboratory, the Semester in Environmental Science, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Institute for Study Abroad, Denmark’s International Study Program, and the Associated Colleges of the Midwest Wilderness Field Station. The Department of Biology is committed to awarding credit for courses offered through these programs that provide a sufficient focus on biological concepts and methods (lecture and laboratory). With prior approval from the department, a maximum of two off-campus courses may be counted toward the requirements of the major. The Richard C. and Linda G. Seale Scholarship provides support to qualified Denison students for participation in summer courses at the Duke University Marine Laboratory. Financial aid may be available for other off-campus programs.
General Education Credit in Biology Students receive a lab science general education requirement by completing nearly any course offered by the Biology Department. While the 200-level courses are generally recommended for Biology and related majors, non-majors are welcome to take the initial biology major core course (BIOL210), and they can also consider taking one of our non-majors courses. The various versions of Modern Topics in Biology (BIOL 100: lab science GE; BIOL 103: lab science and quantitative reasoning GEs; and BIOL 104: lab science and oral communication GEs), and Biology and Politics of Women’s Health (BIOL 110: lab science and oral communication GEs) are designed for students to explore scientific inquiry and biological concepts through specific topics in the instructor’s area of expertise. In addition, students who have had extensive biology training in secondary school may petition the Biology department for BIOL 100 credit without General Education credit. However, such petitions must be made before the completion of the student’s third year at Denison.
Advanced Placement Students with credit-earning scores on Advanced Placement (4 or 5) or International Baccalaureate (6 or 7) tests in Biology will be granted academic credit for BIOL 100. However, as noted above, students granted such AP/IB credit typically will be required to complete all three major core courses for the major.
Biology and Computational Science Students with an interest in both Biology and Computational Science may pursue a major in Biology with a concentration in Computational Science. Students interested in this option should refer to the description of the Computational Science concentration in the Computer Science section of the catalog, and should consult with a faculty member early in planning their Denison curriculum.
Biology and Environmental Studies Students with an interest in both Biology and Environmental Studies may pursue a major in Biology with a minor in Environmental Studies, or a major in Environmental Studies with a concentration in biology. Students are advised to choose the program path that best suits their post-graduate goals, and to seek early consultation with faculty in Biology and/or Environmental Studies. Specifics regarding these options can be found in the Environmental Studies section of the catalog.
Biology and Neuroscience Students with an interest in both Biology and Neuroscience may pursue a major in Biology with a concentration in Neuroscience. Students interested in this option should consult with a Neuroscience faculty member early in their career. Specifics regarding this concentration can be found in the Neuroscience section of the catalog.