Biology

Requirements & Courses

  • Major Requirements

    Thirty-six credits which must include:

    1. Core (20 cr): BIO-121, 221, 222, 223, 290, and 490.
    2. Electives (16 cr; Pre-approved spring term courses may be used to fulfill any of the four elective areas):
      1. Evolution and Genetics: 4 credits in either BIO- 204 or 360
      2. Ecology and Biodiversity: 4 credits from one of the following: BIO- 302, 306, 309, 319, 361, and 370.
      3. Form and Function: 4 credits from one of the following: BIO- 205, 206, 207 or 226, 305, and 387.
      4. Cell and Molecular Biology: 4 credits from one of the following: BIO- 125, 308, 325, 333, and 430.
    3. Completion of the MFT examination for biology.
  • 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
    .
    Foundations of Biology
    4 credits
    Foundational concepts of biology are introduced through a combination of activities, case studies, presentations and discussions, and hands-on laboratory experiences. Students explore the essentials of metabolism, basic cell membrane and organelle structure and function, biosynthesis, DNA replication, cell division, reproduction, and Mendelian genetics within broader biological contexts such as human ecology and health, environmental issues, and evolution. The laboratory component provides students with practical experiences that develop laboratory skills and that employ the scientific method and basic data analyses. Laboratory. Course fee.
  • BIO
    125M
    .
    Molecular Techniques
    4 credits
    The course is an introduction to basic molecular biology laboratory techniques and applications. Prepares students for upper level courses and summer research internships and independent studies in the molecular sciences. Course fee.
  • 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
    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
    221
    .
    Cell Biology
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: BIO-121
    The course focuses on the molecular structure of cells and how those structures permit and constrain cell functions. BIO 221 answers questions regarding how cells function from protein, lipid, and organellar trafficking, chromatin organization, and cytoskeletal function, to cell division mechanics. Course includes clinical correlates involving many common disease conditions including cancer, cystic fibrosis, lysosomal storage diseases, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, and muscular dystrophy. Laboratory includes in vitro cell culturing experience and basic molecular techniques. Laboratory. Course fee.
  • BIO
    222
    .
    Plant Biology
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: BIO-121
    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
    223
    .
    Animal Biology
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: BIO-121
    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
    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-122 or BIO-202 or Permission
    Biological topics selected by the instructor. May be taken more than once for credit.
  • BIO
    290
    .
    Experimental Design & Analysis in BIO
    2 credits
    Prerequisite: BIO-121 and sophomore standing
    Biology as a quantitative, experimental, and theoretical science is a central focus of the course. Foundational skills essential for conducting research in biology and for critical evaluation of research are established. Students learn the underlying principles and practical skills necessary for the exploration of questions and for testing hypotheses with special emphasis on research design and analysis and interpretation of data using statistical techniques. Sound experimental and statistical principles are demonstrated through the use of data from several diverse fields of biology. The course provides an essential foundation for undergraduate research in biology. Course fee.
  • BIO
    291
    .
    Scientific Writing and Methods
    2 credits
    Prerequisite: Sophomore standing
    Examination of the different types of scientific writing, literature, along with practice of effective science communication within multiple formats. Brief coverage of how science writing and communication is different from everyday writing and communication. Skill development in effectively representing and understanding basic statistical analyses, graphs, diagrams and illustrations and their role in effective communication.
  • 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
    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-222 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
    .
    Advanced Molecular Techniques
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: Junior or Senior standing
    The course is an extension of BIO125. Upper level course for Junior and Seniors includes additional independent assignments, presentations, and mentoring. Course fee.
  • 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
    Cancer biology is an interdisciplinary field spanning several disciplines that include genetics, cell biology, immunology, and microbiology. Basic principles of tumor biology are explored initially from a historical view of diagnosis and treatment paradigms and then through discussions of chemo- and immune-therapies, an introduction to oncogenes, tumor suppressor and DNA repair genes that are disrupted during carcinogenesis, and an in-depth look into several common types of malignancies.
  • BIO
    344
    .
    Human Dissection
    2 credits
    Prerequisite: BIO-226 or 307 or Permission
    This course will provide students with the opportunity to learn careful dissection techniques and to gain experience in identifying anatomical structures. Emphasis will be placed on anatomical concepts, structure-function relationships, and clinical applications. Instructors will encourage students to develop skills and the confidence to work independently during their dissections. Human Dissection is an alternative course offering to IPH 344 (Human Anatomy) and is intended for students in any pre-health professional track and other students with science backgrounds who are interested in learning about the human body.
  • 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 222 or 223 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
    370
    .
    Risk Assessment
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: BIO-291 or ENV-291 or sophomore standing
    Systematic approach to the prediction of risks to human health and the environment. Theoretical framework of basic risk assessments is paired with application of real-world examples of known and unknown chemical and biological agents. Students learn to prepare ecological risk assessments.
  • 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. Course fee.
  • 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
    A retrospective of each student’s experiences as a biology major that encourages students to make the connections among the various areas of biology, to reflect upon opportunities and personal pathways through the biology major, and to link their past experiences to future endeavors. Students complete reading and writing assignments and are required to complete the Mean Field Aptitude test. 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.