Biology

Requirements & Courses

  • Major Requirements

    Thirty-six credits which must include:

    1. Core (20 cr): BIO-121, 122, 123, 204, 290 and 490.
    2. Electives in either General Studies or one of the following areas of concentration:
      1. General Studies:
        • Eight credits of the following electives: BIO-302, 307, 308, 315, 361, 385, or 430.
        • Eight credits of additional upper level BIO electives which may include Spring Term and/or independent study credits.
      2. Pre-Medicine/Health: BIO-205, 226 or 307, 301, 308, and 330.
      3. Pre-Veterinary Medicine: BIO-301, 305, 307, 308, and 361.
      4. Cell and Molecular: BIO-226 or 307, 301, 308, 330, and 430.
      5. Ecology and Evolution: BIO-302, 305, 306, 360, and 361.
    3. Completion of the MFAT examination.
  • Teaching Major

    Thirty-six credits which must include:

    1. Core (24 cr): BIO-121, 122, 123, 204, 290, 302, and 490.

    2. Twelve credits of upper level BIO electives.

    3. Completion of MFAT examination.

  • Program Considerations

    Potential Biology majors should note that many career opportunities for biologists, including graduate and professional programs, require two terms each of Inorganic and Organic Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics. Therefore, Biology majors are encouraged to complete CHM-115, 223, 224 and 230; PHY-112 and 113 or PHY-121 and 122; and MTH-112 and 113, 116, or 121 and 122. Additional courses may be required for specific graduate/professional schools; majors should check prospective program websites for specific admission requirements.

    Students are also encouraged to complete a primary research experience either through independent study or a summer internship at Alma College or another institution. For those students considering graduate school and/or a career in research, multiple experiences are highly recommended.

  • Minor Requirements

    Twenty-four credits which must include:

    1. BIO-121, 122, 123

    2. 12 credits of upper level BIO electives.

  • Teaching Minor Requirements

    Twenty-four credits which must include: BIO-121, 122, 123, 204, 290, 302, and 490.

  • Four credits from BIO, with the exception of practicum or independent study courses, count towards the Distributive Requirements in the Natural Sciences — Life Sciences.

Courses

  • BIO
    101
    .
    Biology for Non-Majors
    4 credits
    Study of living organisms, biological processes and classification. Current topics in biology are emphasized. For the non-major. Laboratory. Course fee.
  • BIO
    121
    .
    Introduction to Cell Biology
    4 credits
    Study of basic biological processes, mostly at the cellular level, including the chemical basis of life, cellular structure and function, heredity, reproduction and the genetic basis of evolution. Required for BIO, BCM, BTC, and IPHS majors. Laboratory. Course fee.
  • BIO
    122
    .
    Introduction to Plant Biology
    4 credits
    An introductory course emphasizing plants as the model organism for learning about basic biological principles including plant development, anatomy, physiology, behavior, evolution, and ecology. Studio format course, in which lectures and labs are combined for a student-focused, active-learning experience. Students work throughout the semester as members of collaborative groups to answer and develop questions, solve problems, perform experiments, and conduct research that is intended to help them learn. Laboratory. Course fee. (Formerly offered as BIO-202).
  • BIO
    123
    .
    Introduction to Animal Biology
    4 credits
    This course examines the diversity of the animal kingdom. Animals will be studied in an evolutionary context, emphasizing morphology, life history, ecology and behavior. The laboratory will include dissections and demonstrations that allow students to appreciate the physical differences across the major phyla. Laboratory. Course fee. (Formerly offered as BIO-203).
  • BIO
    125M
    .
    Protein Expression Techniques
    4 credits
    This hands-on course focuses on various protein expression models in today’s molecular research laboratory. Expression of recombinant proteins in bacterial and animal cell culture has become a critical skill set for work in modern academic and applies industrial research settings. Instrumentation experience will include but not be limited to: Biosafety Level-2 in vitro cell culture, fluorescence microscopy, UV-VIS Spectrophotometry, SDS-PAGE, and affinity chromatography. Brief morning planning sessions coordinated by the instructor and upper level students will be followed by a full day in the laboratory.
  • BIO
    180
    .
    Biological Topics
    4 credits
    Lecture, laboratory and/or field experiences of special relevance to biology. Recent topics have included animal behavior, recombinant gene techniques, microbial ecology and cell culture. May be taken more than once for credit. May include a course fee.
  • BIO
    204
    .
    Genetics
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: BIO-121 and Sophomore Standing
    The mechanics of inheritance at the molecular and cellular levels and the relationship of this phenomenon to gene action, organismal development, population changes and evolution. Laboratory. Course fee.
  • BIO
    205
    .
    Human Embryology
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: BIO-121
    Development of the organism from its beginning to the establishment of the basic body plan and organ systems. Live embryos and developmental morphology of vertebrates. Laboratory. Course fee.
  • BIO
    206
    .
    Forest Vegetation
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: BIO-122 or Permission
    Students will learn morphological features that characterize woody plant species, the use of those features for recognition and identification of woody plants, scientific and standard common names of those species, and the diversity of woody plants and their associated communities across North America. Laboratory. Course fee.
  • BIO
    207
    .
    General Physiology
    4 credits
    Study of the function of various animal organ systems, especially the ways in which they interact to maintain homeostasis of the individual. Most examples are from mammalian systems. Laboratory. Course fee.
  • BIO
    226
    .
    Human Physiology II
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: BIO-121 and IPH-225
    Study of physiological functions of the human body and the relationship of systems to the maintenance of homeostatic balance. Includes applications of physiological principles to practical issues in medicine and physical performance. Laboratory. Course fee. (Cross-listed with IPH-226)
  • BIO
    280
    .
    Topics in Biology
    2 credits
    Prerequisite: BIO-121 or Permission
    Biological topics selected by the instructor. May be taken more than once for credit.
  • BIO
    290
    .
    Sophomore Seminar
    2 credits
    Prerequisite: BIO-121, BIO-122, or BIO-123 or Permission
    Designed to show students how to plan and prepare a portfolio for their senior capstone presentation. Library skills, basic statistics and experimental design will be emphasized. Course fee.
  • BIO
    299
    .
    Biology Independent Study
    1 credit
    Prerequisite: Permission
    An opportunity for exceptional freshmen and sophomores to work directly with faculty on a research project. Typically, students help gather data and participate in the analysis of data. Introduction to the research process. Course fee.
  • BIO
    301
    .
    Cell Biology
    4 credits
    Study of the fine structure of eucaryotic and procaryotic cells, the chemical composition and organization of cells, and the particular organization and function of cell organelles and structural components. Laboratory. Course fee.
  • BIO
    302
    .
    Ecology
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: Sophomore Standing or Permission
    Investigation of population, community and ecosystem structure, dynamics and energetics. Laboratory and field studies. Course fee.
  • BIO
    305
    .
    Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: BIO-203
    Explores the use of homology and cladistics to recover phylogenies and to understand the evolution of anatomical features of vertebrates. The function, form, and biodiversity of chordates with emphasis on vertebrates are discussed. Laboratory. Course fee.
  • BIO
    306
    .
    Forest Ecology
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: BIO-122 or Permission
    Ecological interactions crucial to understanding forest ecosystems. This class will be taught by using the flipped classroom teaching method which will involve active learning techniques. Students will be responsible for a significant amount of preparation outside of class and active learning projects during class. Laboratory and field studies, with one Saturday field trip with a focus on acquiring field techniques and mastering quantitative skills. Laboratory. Course fee.
  • BIO
    307
    .
    General Physiology
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: Sophomore Standing or Permission
    Study of the function of various animal organ systems, especially the ways in which they interact to maintain homeostasis of the individual. Most examples are from mammalian systems. Laboratory. Course fee.
  • BIO
    308
    .
    Microbiology
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: Junior or Senior Standing or Permission
    Survey of the bacteria, viruses and other protists emphasizing their structure, physiology, systematics, ecology and genetics. Focuses on microbes important to humans including disease and the immune response. Laboratory. Course fee.
  • BIO
    309
    .
    Aquatic Biology
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: BIO-121 or Permission
    The physical, chemical and biological factors that affect fresh water organisms. Comparison of streams, rivers and lake habitats of Michigan. Laboratory. Course fee.
  • BIO
    315M
    .
    Behavioral Ecology (Field Studies)
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: Permission
    Field studies of groups of organisms in habitats ordinarily not accessible during the Fall or Winter term. A recent topic has been marine invertebrates of Jamaica. May be elected more than once for credit. Course fee. Spring Term only.
  • BIO
    319
    .
    Toxicology
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: BIO-121 and CHM-115 (one course from CHM-223, BIO-203, or IPH-225 recommended)
    The study of toxic effects of chemicals on human and ecological populations. This includes the basic principles of toxicology and toxicity testing, fate and transport of materials in the environment and the body, key toxins and toxicants, and modes of toxic action among other topics. These subjects are supplemented with scientific literature on current topics in toxicology. Laboratory. Course fee.
  • BIO
    320
    .
    Medical Botany
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: BIO-121 and CHM-223
    Study of the contribution of plants to modern medicine. Topics include the botany, anthropology, chemistry, and pharmacology of plant derived drugs. Cross-listed with BTC-320. Laboratory. Course fee.
  • BIO
    325M
    .
    Protein Expression Techniques
    4 credits
    This hands-on course focuses on various protein expression models in today’s molecular research laboratory. Expression of recombinant proteins in bacterial and animal cell culture has become a critical skill set for work in modern academic and applies industrial research settings. Instrumentation experience will include but not be limited to: Biosafety Level-2 in vitro cell culture, fluorescence microscopy, UV-VIS Spectrophotometry, SDS-PAGE, and affinity chromatography. Brief morning planning sessions coordinated by the instructor and upper level students will be followed by a full day in the laboratory.
  • BIO
    330
    .
    Immunology
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: BIO-121 or permission
    The basic elements of the immune system that govern the innate and adaptive immune responses will be covered. Emphasis will be spent on B and T lymphocyte functions and the mechanisms of immune defense against pathogens. Course fee.
  • BIO
    333
    .
    Cancer Biology
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: BIO-121 or permission
    Basic concepts and principles of tumor evolution and behavior including an introduction to oncogenes, tumor-suppressors and genome-maintenance genes, carcinogens, and their roles in cancer initiation and progression, and a detailed look into several of the more common types of malignancies.
  • BIO
    344
    .
    Human Dissection
    2 credits
    Prerequisite: BIO-226 or 307 or Permission
    Gross anatomy and dissection of the human body. Laboratory. Course fee.
  • BIO
    360
    .
    Evolution
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: BIO-121
    Study of evolution as it applies to aspects of the biological sciences. Topics include history, mechanisms of evolution and population genetics. Laboratory. Course fee.
  • BIO
    361
    .
    Animal Behavior
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: BIO-120 or 203 or Permission
    Animal behavior is examined from an ecological and evolutionary perspective. Topics include reproduction, habitat selection, foraging and fighting behaviors. Laboratory. Course fee.
  • BIO
    380
    .
    Topics in Biology
    2-4 credits
    Prerequisite: BIO-121 (or equivalent) or Permission
    Lecture, laboratory and/or field experiences of special relevance to biology. Recent topics have included animal behavior, recombinant gene techniques, microbial ecology and cell culture. May be taken more than once for credit. Course fee.
  • BIO
    385
    .
    Biology Practicum
    2-4 credits
    Prerequisite: BIO-121 and Permission
    Biological knowledge is applied to an outside working situation. Pass/fail only.
  • BIO
    387M
    .
    Clinical Histopathology
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: Take BIO-121
    Normal cytologic structure of major tissue types in various species will be studied. Abnormal changes will be identified and studied, and pathophysiologic causes of these abnormalities discussed. Cytologic changes will be related to gross anatomical appearance and abnormalities that would be evident on diagnostic imaging modalities. Students will gain understanding of the symptoms created in the patient by the diseased tissue and which diseases/disorders must therefore be considered. Lab will develop skills utilized in histological preparation and examination of normal and diseased tissue.
  • BIO
    399
    .
    Biology Independent Study
    1 credit
    Prerequisite: Permission
    An opportunity for exceptional first-year and sophomore students to work directly with faculty on a research project. Typically, students help gather data and participate in the analysis of data. Introduction to the research process. Course fee.
  • BIO
    430
    .
    Molecular Genetics
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: BIO-204 and BCM-321, or Permission
    Study of the transmission of information at the molecular level and the techniques used in gene analysis. Topics include gene structure and function, gene expression, genetic mobility, genomics, transgenics and recombinant DNA methodology. Laboratory. Course fee. (Cross-listed with BCM 430.)
  • BIO
    490
    .
    Senior Capstone Seminar
    2 credits
    Prerequisite: Senior Standing
    Students choose a topic of interest, or one related to prior research experiences, and express their work in written form and present their work in a public forum. Completion of the Major Field Test for Biology is required for completion of the course. Course fee.
  • BIO
    499
    .
    Biology Independent Study
    1 credit
    Prerequisite: Permission
    Individual study of a particular subject in biology of an experimental or analytical nature. It may be a synthetic library analysis at the junior or senior level. Course fee.
  • BIO
    500
    .
    Senior Thesis
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: Permission
    Independent laboratory research of an original problem culminating in a thesis. Course fee.