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Courses

Course descriptions listed on this page for the Department of Biology are from the 2017-2018 College Catalog. For more information on the courses offered during the fall and spring semesters, please log in to the course schedule through STAR

 

Biology 114 - Biological Principles
Fall, spring
These courses introduce non-science majors to principles and modes of inquiry underlying the study of living things. Each course examines a subset of subject matter, which may range from biological molecules and cells to the structure and function of organisms to interactions of organisms with their environments. All courses in this series share the common goal of providing a rigorous introduction both to the methods of scientific inquiry and to the content of the discipline. Recently taught subjects include evolution, microbiology, cancer, environmental biology, the molecular biology of the HIV pandemic, toxicants and radiation, biology of the brain, biology of aging, human anatomy and physiology, the unseen world, and conservation biology. One unit.

Biology 117 - Environmental Science
Annually
The goal of this course is to provide an understanding of major environmental problems by studying their biological bases.  Applied and basic material will be integrated in most sections.  Basic topics include ecosystem structure, energy flow, biogeochemical cycles, population growth and regulation and environmental policy.  Applied topics include human population growth, agriculture and food production, pest control, conservation of forests and wildlife, preservation of biological diversity, energy use, water and air pollution and atmospheric climate change.  One unit.

Biology 161 - Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Biology
Fall, spring
Fundamental principles of biology studied at the molecular and cellular levels of organization. Intended for all potential biology majors and health professions students regardless of major. Includes laboratory. One and one-quarter units.

Biology 162 - Introduction to Mechanisms of Multicellular Life
Fall, spring
Fundamental principles of mechanistic biology at the organ and system levels. Emphasis on vertebrates with some material on higher plants. Intended for all potential biology majors and health professions students regardless of major. Includes laboratory. Prerequisite: Biology 161. One and one-quarter units.

Biology 163 - Introduction to Biological Diversity and Ecology
Spring
An introduction to evolution, ecology and the diversity of life: plants, animals, fungi, protists and prokaryotes. Intended for all biology and environmental studies majors.  One and one-quarter units.

Biology 171 - Anatomy and Physiology 1
Fall
This course studies the functional systems of the human body. It focuses heavily on their integrative nature and maintenance of homeostasis. Topics covered include cell and tissue structure, the nervous, skeletomuscular, cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, urinary, endocrine and reproductive systems. Prerequisites: Students should have completed or be currently enrolled in Biology 161 or 162. Permission for enrollment is controlled by the Health Professions Advisor and that office may waive the introductory biology requirement in some cases. This course is reserved for students planning to attend physician’s assistant, nursing, physical therapy or other allied health programs after graduation. It may not be used as credit toward the biology major. One and one quarter-units.

Biology 172 - Anatomy and Physiology 2
Spring
This course is a continuation of Anatomy and Physiology 1. Prerequisite: Biology 171. It may not be used as credit toward the biology major. One and one quarter units.

Biology 199 - Introductory Problems in Biology
Annually
A first-time course offering in various sub-disciplinary topics of biology.

Biology 210 - Microbiology for Allied Health
Annually, spring
A comprehensive introduction to microbiology. This course provides an overview of microorganisms, including their structure and function, growth, ecology, genetics, taxonomy, and evolution. Emphasis is placed on prokaryotes and viruses of medical significance. The laboratory emphasizes pure culture methods, diagnostic microbiology, and physiology.  Includes laboratory.  Prerequisites:  Biology 161;  Chemistry 181. One and one-quarter units.

Biology 213 - Comparative Vertebrate Morphology
Fall
The structure, function, development and evolution of the skeletal, muscular, nervous, respiratory, circulatory, digestive and urogenital systems of the chordates, with special emphasis on vertebrates. Includes laboratory. Mechanistic organismal biology. Prerequisite: BIOL 162. One and one-quarter units.

Biology 220 - Entomology
Fall
An introduction to insects covering diversity, morphology, physiology, ecology and behavior, as well as considerations of the economic and medical importance of insects. Includes laboratory. Organismal Diversity. Prerequisite: Biology 161 and 163. One and one-quarter units.

Biology 223 - Microbiology
Fall
A comprehensive introduction to microbiology.  This course provides an overview of microorganisms, including their structure and function, growth, physiology, ecology, genetics, taxonomy, and evolution. Emphasis is placed on prokaryotes (Bacteria and Archaea) and viruses. The laboratory emphasizes enrichment and pure culture methods, diagnostic microbiology, and physiology. Molecular and cellular biology. Prerequisites: Biology 161; Prerequisite or Corequisite: Chemistry 222. One and one-quarter units.

Biology 230 - Developmental Biology
Spring
This course provides a comparative exploration of development from fertilization to adulthood using both organismal and molecular/cellular approaches. We will discuss and compare basic aspects of patterning and morphogenesis using the major model systems of nematodes, fruit flies, frogs, chicks and mice. Throughout the course, we will also examine how developmental processes affect aging, cancer, and regeneration/repair after disease. This course includes a laboratory component, during which we will explore developmental processes using nematodes, fruit flies, chicks and flat worms. Mechanistic organismal biology. Prerequisite: Biology 161. One and one-quarter units.

Biology 232 - Developmental Biology Lecture
Fall
This course provides a comparative exploration of development from fertilization to adulthood using both organismal and molecular/cellular approaches. We will discuss and compare basic aspects of patterning and morphogenesis using the major model systems of nematodes, fruit flies, frogs, chicks and mice. Throughout the course, we will also examine how developmental processes affect aging, cancer, and regeneration/repair after disease. Mechanistic organismal biology. Prerequisite: Biology 161. Students who have taken Biology 230 may not enroll in Biology 232. One unit.

Biology 233 - Freshwater Ecology
Fall
A comprehensive introduction to the hydrology, chemistry, and ecology of freshwater ecosystems. The laboratory component includes field work in several ecosystems (lake, stream, reservoir, river and wetland) and laboratory work characterizing the chemistry and biology of these diverse ecosystems. Includes laboratory and field work. Ecological and evolutionary biology. Prerequisite: Biology 163. One and one-quarter units.

Biology 235 - Marine Biology
Fall
This course presents a survey of the organisms that live in the sea and their adaptations to the marine environment. The course covers the major divisions of marine life and their diversity of form, as well as common ecological patterns, physiological processes and evolutionary strategies. The function and role of coastal, open-ocean, and deep sea ecosystems are also considered, as is the relevance of marine biology to current scientific, social, health, and economic affairs. Includes laboratory. Ecological and evolutionary biology. Prerequisite: Biology 163. One and one-quarter units.

Biology 241 - Virology
Fall
This course is a general introduction to virology. Its primary focus is on human viruses that contribute to disease. We will explore different strategies viruses have adopted to replicate in the host cell, the battles viruses wage to outmaneuver the host immune system and the disease states that result from a viral infection. Molecular and cellular biology. Prerequisite: Biology 161. One unit.

Biology 250 - Field Botany
Alternate years, fall
An introduction to the local vascular flora, emphasizing identification of ferns, woody plants and plants flowering in the fall. The course will include training in use of field guides and technical keys and preparation of herbarium specimens. Includes field and laboratory work. Organismal Diversity. Prerequisite: Biology 163 or permission. One unit.

Biology 255 - Vertebrate History
Spring
A survey of vertebrate history, with emphasis on the anatomical and physiological transformations that occurred at the evolutionary originations of the major vertebrate groups. Structure and function of both extant and extinct taxa are explored, as documented by modern fauna and the fossil record. Includes laboratory. Organismal Diversity. Prerequisite: Biology 162. One and one-quarter units.

Biology 261 - Genetics
Fall
An introduction to genetics that explores the molecular and cellular basis of heredity and physical traits.  Topics include the central dogma, cell division, Mendelian inheritance, genetic analysis, chromosome structure and replication, gene expression, molecular biology techniques, genetic linkage, disease gene identification, and population genetics.  Genomic approaches are interwoven throughout.  The accompanying lab emphasizes model organism and human genetics and involves both genetic screens and molecular techniques.  Molecular and cellular biology.  Prerequisites: Biology 161 and 162, or Biology 161 and permission of the instructor.  One and one-quarter units.

Biology 262 - Genetic Analysis
Spring
An introduction to genetics that explores the molecular and cellular basis of heredity and physical traits. Topics include the central dogma, cell division, Mendelian inheritance, genetic analysis, chromosome structure and replication, gene expression, molecular biology techniques, genetic linkage and mapping, disease gene identification, and population genetics. Genomic approaches are interwoven throughout. This course is the non-lab equivalent of Bio 261, but common lab techniques will be incorporated through discussion of primary literature articles. Molecular and cellular biology. Prerequisites: Biology 161 and 162, or Biology 161 and permission of the instructor. One unit.

Biology 266 - Cell Biology
Spring
The course explores the structure and function of eukaryotic cells and considers how cellular structure allows for biological activity. A range of topics will be discussed including membrane structure and function, homeostasis and metabolism, intracellular compartments and protein trafficking, signal transduction, the cytoskeleton, and the cell cycle. The cell biology of human disease will be considered throughout the course. The laboratory (Biology 268) is optional but recommended. Molecular and cellular biology. Prerequisite: Biology 161; Recommended: Chemistry 221. One unit.

Biology 267 - Neurobiology
Spring
A study of the nervous system at multiple levels, from molecular to the systems level. Major topics include: structure of the nervous system and neurons, generation of electric signals, function of synapses, structure and function of sensory and motor circuits, and a discussion of higher order processing. Includes laboratory. Molecular and cellular biology. Prerequisite: Biology 161.  Biology 266 is recommended. One and one-quarter units.

Biology 268 - Cell Biology Laboratory
Spring
This laboratory accompanies Biology 266. Students will learn the tools for solving problems in cell and molecular biology, as well as the appropriate approaches, controls, and analysis for experiments. The lab uses three model systems (the yeast S. cerevisiae, nematode C. elegans, and mammalian cell culture) to introduce students to a range of techniques including microscopy and staining, gel electrophoresis, genome databases and in silico analysis. Students will also design and carry out independent experiments. This laboratory is taken as a fifth course; while figured into the GPA, it does not count as one of the 32 courses required for graduation. Biology 266 prerequisite or corequisite for the laboratory. One-half unit.

Biology 275 - Biological Statistics
Annually
An introduction to the handling, analysis, and interpretation of biological data. Topics include descriptive statistics, probability distributions, goodness of fit tests, hypothesis testing, analysis of variance, regression, and correlation. Prerequisite: Biology 161 or 162 or 163.  Students who have taken ECON 249, MATH 220, PSYC 200, or SOCL 226 may not enroll in the class. One unit.

Biology 280 - General Ecology
Fall
A broad introduction to the study of relationships between organisms and their environments, with coverage of individual organisms, populations, communities and ecosystems, as well as natural history of New England. Includes laboratory and field work. Ecological and evolutionary biology. Prerequisite: Biology 163. One and one-quarter units.

Biology 283 - Evolution
Annually
An inquiry-based approach to the study of evolutionary processes, including those that are adaptive and neutral with respect to natural selection.  Evolution will be examined at a variety of scales, from molecular to ecological, and from changes in populations over a few generations to patterns over millennia. Most attention will be devoted to empirical work that addresses conceptual issues in evolutionary biology, including natural selection and fitness, speciation, population genetics, phylogenetics, and molecular evolution. Ecological and evolutionary biology. Prerequisites: Biology 161 and 163. Biology 261 or 262 is recommended. One unit.

Biology 287 - Ethology and Behavioral Ecology
Alternate years
A comparative look at animal behavior and the evolutionary forces that shape it. Topics include the history and approaches to studying animal behavior, behavioral genetics and heritability, development of behavior, communication, foraging, competition and cooperation, mating and parenting systems, and social behavior. The importance of good experimental design and the proper role of modeling in behavioral studies are emphasized. Field projects are included. Ecological and evolutionary biology. Prerequisite Biology 163 or permission. One unit.

Biology 299 - Intermediate Problems in Biology
Annually
A first-time course offering in various sub-disciplinary topics of biology.

Biology 301 - Biochemistry 1
Fall, spring
A detailed study of the chemistry of biological molecules. Topics include the structural chemistry of the major classes of biological compounds, enzyme catalysis, bioenergetics, metabolic regulation, glycolysis, gluconeogenesis, beta-oxidation of fatty acids, tricarboxylic acid cycle, electron transport chain and oxidative phosphorylation. Molecular and cellular biology. Equivalent to Chemistry 301. Prerequisite: Chemistry 222. One unit.

Biology 302 - Biochemistry 2
Spring
A continuation of Biology 301. Topics include the chemistry, enzymology and regulation of lipid, protein and carbohydrate metabolism, photosynthesis, DNA replication, transcription, and translation. Molecular and cellular biology. Prerequisite: Biology 301 or Chemistry 301. One unit.

Biology 303 - Biochemistry 1 Laboratory
Fall
This optional laboratory course accompanies Biology 301 and introduces students to experimental methods used for the purification and characterization of biological molecules through a multi-week, full-semester procedure. While conducting the steps of this overall procedure, students gain experience with a wide range of biochemistry lab techniques including column chromatography, gel electrophoresis, Western blotting, and enzyme activity assays. This laboratory is taken as a fifth course; while figured into the GPA, it does not count as one of the 32 courses required for graduation. Prerequisite or corequisite: Biology 301. One-half unit.

Biology 304 - Biochemistry 2 Laboratory
Spring
This optional laboratory course accompanies Biology 302 and introduces students to the principles and methods of molecular biology as they relate to the modern practice of laboratory biochemistry. Through a multi-week, full-semester procedure, students are exposed to a wide-range of techniques including genomic DNA isolation, PCR, plasmid DNA construction, sequence analysis and recombinant protein expression. This laboratory is taken as a fifth course; while figured into the GPA, it does not count as one of the 32 courses required for graduation. Prerequisite or corequisite: Biology 302. One-half unit.

Biology 331 - Ecosystem Ecology
Alternate years, spring
The course covers the history of ecosystem ecology, biogeochemical cycles and budgets, ecosystem energetics and trophic structure, and the response of ecosystems to disturbance and human-accelerated environmental change. The latter part of the course emphasizes discussion of recent primary literature that contributes to the conceptual framework underlying the management and conservation of diverse ecosystems. Ecological and evolutionary biology. Prerequisite: Biology 163. One unit.

Biology 361 - Toxicology
Spring
The study of adverse effects of chemicals on biological systems. Topics include measurements of toxicity; dose-response relationships; the absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion of toxicants; targets of toxicity; genetic toxicology; carcinogenesis; developmental toxicity; clinical toxicology; environmental toxicology; and regulatory toxicology. Mechanistic organismal biology. Prerequisites: Biology 161 and 162, and Chemistry 221. One unit.

Biology 381 - Conservation Biology
Alternate years, spring
A study of the effects of human activity on biological diversity at the population and system levels. Topics include the underlying philosophical approaches to conservation, techniques for measuring biological diversity, for assessing and predicting changes, the principles of management and restoration and the use of mathematical models in management. Classes will be a mix of lecture on general principles plus student-led discussion of case studies and of the recent conservation literature. Ecological and evolutionary biology. Prerequisite: Biology 233 or 280 or 331; Biology 162 recommended. One unit.

Biology 383 - Applied Evolution
Alternate years
This seminar will explore in depth some examples of socially relevant evolutionary biology. Through text and primary literature readings we will examine how a strong understanding of evolutionary biology impacts medicine, human health and disease, conservation of biodiversity, agriculture, and biotechnology. Students will be able to describe and explain basic evolutionary principles and apply those principles to problems in our society. Students will interpret real-world data and results, construct experiments to test evolutionary hypotheses, and evaluate primary literature. Ecological and evolutionary biology. Prerequisites: Biology 283 or 261 or 262. One unit.

Biology 390 - Physiology
Fall
The functioning of cells, organs, and organisms with emphasis on mammals. Major themes are homeostasis, control mechanisms, and system integration. Topics include: excitable and contractile cell physiology, energy metabolism and temperature regulation, respiration and circulation, digestion, water balance, and coordination and control of these systems by neuroendocrine mechanisms. Includes laboratory. Mechanistic organismal biology. Prerequisites: Chemistry 231 and Biology 162. Physics 111 or 115 suggested. One and one-quarter units.

Biology 392 - Molecular Immunology
Annually
The course emphasizes the molecular aspects of the human immune system. It spans the incredible breadth of the immune defenses ranging from the power of innate immunity, to the sophistication of the development and function of adaptive immunity.  Integrative topics such as autoimmunity, immunodeficiency and transplantation are also covered. Molecular and cellular biology. Prerequisites: Biology 161 and 162 . Biology 241 or 266 is strongly recommended. One unit.

Biology 393 - Molecular Immunology Laboratory
Annually
This laboratory sequence focuses on exploring the molecular techniques employed to investigate an immunological question. The semester-long project is designed as two mini projects that explores a well characterized antiviral human protein.  Students construct expression plasmids, ectopically express proteins in both bacteria and tissue culture cells and perform functional assays. We will also discuss the primary literature as it relates to the project and explore how the work fits into the broader context of the field. These projects are built as discovery projects where students may actively participate in the direction of the work. This laboratory is taken as a fifth course; while figured into the GPA, it does not count as one of the 32 courses required for graduation. Prerequisite or corequisite: Biology 392. One-half unit.

Biology 399 - Advanced Problems in Biology
Annually
A first-time course offering in various sub-disciplinary topics of biology.

Biology 401 - Undergraduate Research
Annually
Individual experimental investigation and associated study of the scientific literature under the direct supervision of a member of the faculty. The number of positions is limited; students contemplating research should make inquiries early in the year preceding the term in which research is to be initiated. Prerequisite: permission of instructor. One semester may be counted toward the biology major; additional semesters may be taken for college credit. One and one-quarter units.

Biology 405 - Directed Reading
Annually
An in-depth literature study of a topic of interest to the student under the tutorial supervision of a member of the faculty. Prerequisite: permission of instructor. One unit.

Biology 407, 408 - Honors Research
Annually
Open only to students in the College Honors Program. Individual experimental investigation and associated study of the scientific literature under the direct supervision of a faculty member. Students contemplating research should make inquiries early in the year preceding the term in which research is to be initiated. One semester may be counted towards the biology major; additional semesters may be taken for college credit. Two and one-half units credit, granted at end of second semester. One and one-quarter units each semester.

Geosciences 140 - Environmental Geology
Every third year
An introduction to the relationship between humans and the materials and processes of the Earth. This course focuses on three general topics: geological hazards, climate change, and natural resources. Students may not take both Biology 140 and Biology 150 (Introduction to Geology). One unit.

Geosciences 150 - Introduction to Geology
Fall
This course covers the physical processes and history of the Earth. Topics typically include the formation of the Earth, physical properties and identification of minerals and rocks, plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanoes, geologic time, surface processes, the geology of energy resources, and global climate change. Field trips to local geologic sites provide hands-on experience using classic and modern approaches to investigating the Earth and its history. Students who have completed Geosciences 140 (Environmental Geology) may not enroll in this course. Includes laboratory. One and one-quarter units.

Geosciences 210 - Geomorphology
Alternate years, spring
Geomorphology is an introduction to landforms and the geological processes that modify Earth’s surface. Topics include tectonic, wind, soil, hillslope, glacial, and river processes; modern quantitative methods of investigating landscapes, including numerical modeling and GIS; and the influences of humans, climate, and biologic activity on surface processes and the physical environment. Includes computer and field work in the weekly laboratory. One and one-quarter units.

Geosciences 270 - Watershed Hydrology
Alternate years, spring
Watershed Hydrology is an introduction to the movement and storage of atmospheric, surface, and ground water within a watershed. This class examines hydrologic processes and the geologic and topographic characteristics that control them, as well as how hydrologic data are collected and analyzed. Topics include the hydrologic cycle, water budgets, precipitation, evaporation, snow hydrology, infiltration, groundwater hydrology and contamination, runoff, stream flow, hydrographs, and flooding. Hydrology is a highly quantitative discipline and math at the pre-calculus level will be used extensively in this course. Prior college math or geoscience coursework is recommended but not required. Includes laboratory. One and one-quarter units.

Geosciences 299 - Intermediate Problems in Geoscience
Every third year
A first-time intermediate course offering in various sub-disciplines of geoscience.

Geosciences 310 - Paleoclimatology
Alternate years
This advanced-level lecture and discussion course examines the changes in Earth’s climate throughout geologic history from the Precambrian to the Anthropocene. Topics include an overview of Earth’s climate system, paleoclimate proxies and archives, distinctive intervals in Earth’s climate history, and how modern climate change is interpreted in a geological context. Paleoclimatology is highly interdisciplinary, drawing on methods and principles of geology, chemistry, physics, and biology. Students should have prior natural science coursework and be prepared to read and discuss primary scientific literature. Prerequisites: CHEM 181 (Atoms and Molecules) or equivalent and GEOS 150 (Introduction to Geology), or instructor permission. One unit.

Geosciences 399 - Advanced Problems in Geoscience
Every third year
A first-time advanced course offering in various sub-disciplines of geoscience.

Geosciences 401 - Undergraduate Research
Annually
Individual investigation and associated study of the scientific literature under the direct supervision of a member of the faculty. The number of positions is limited; students contemplating research should make inquiries early in the year preceding the term in which research is to be initiated. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. One and one-quarter units.

Geosciences 405 - Directed Reading
Annually
An in-depth literature study of a topic of interest to the student under the tutorial supervision of a member of the faculty.  Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor. One unit.

Geosciences 407,408 - Honors Research
Annually
Open only to students in the College Honors Program. Individual investigation and associated study of the scientific literature under the direct supervision of a faculty member. Students contemplating research should make inquiries early in the year preceding the term in which research is to be initiated. Honors thesis credit can be counted toward the Environmental Studies major or minor, and toward the Geosciences minor. Two and one-half units credit, granted at end of second semester. One and one-quarter unit each semester.

Geosciences GEOS 350 - Oceanography
Annually, spring
This course is an introduction to the inter-disciplinary study of the world’s oceans, and provides an overview of the main oceanographic sub-disciplines: biological, chemical, geological, and physical oceanography.  The course will cover topics related to the science underlying global climate change, ocean acidification, ocean warming, sea level rise, marine pollution, resource extraction, and meteorology.  A solid understanding of how the world ocean works and humanity’s association with it is fundamental to the appreciation, preservation, utilization, and protection of oceanic environments worldwide.  Prerequisite: Chemistry 231 or instructor approval. One unit.