• Paul Callo, department head
    Kadrin Anderson, Paul Deeble, Mary Jane Epps, Eileen Hinks, Barbara Merk

    In the Biology Department we believe that the best way to learn science is by doing it — by involvement in thoughtfully designed laboratory work which includes self-designed experiments and by exposure to current methods and questions in the field. We believe that this is important even for non-biology majors, because of both the understanding of science that comes from it and the teamwork and analytical skills which are developed — skills which are valuable in any setting.

    Students who major in Biology integrate technique and theory. Whether they are contributing to faculty research or working on a self-designed project, Biology majors have access to equipment and the opportunity to conduct hypothesis-driven research at a high level intended to make an impression in graduate school and beyond. It is expected that this research will incorporate sophisticated techniques and instrumentation and skill in using the primary research literature; this culminates in an original and substantial senior research project and the presentation and defense of a thesis.

    Biology is available as a major (BS or BA) and minor. Within the Biology major, there are optional emphases in Biomedical Science or Science Education.

  • Requirements for Bachelor of Arts in Biology

    39 semester hours in Biology plus 8 semester hours in supporting courses

    The Basic Biology Core: Required of all Majors

    Credit Hours
    BIOL 111 Principles of Biology 4
    BIOL 112 Diversity of Life 4
    BIOL 222 Genetics 4
    BIOL 224 Cell Biology 4
    BIOL 245 Ecology 4
    BIOL 253 Zoology or BIOL 257 Botany 4
    BIOL 381 Junior Seminar 3
    BIOL 400 Senior Seminar 1
    BIOL 401 Senior Research or BIOL 402 Senior Colloquium 2
    BIOL elective 2–4
    BIOL elective 2–4
    BIOL elective at the 300 level 2–4
    TOTAL   Minimum of 39

    Note: If BIOL 148 is used as an elective, BIOL 149 must accompany it, though they need not be taken concurrently.

    Supporting Courses: Required of all Biology majors
    8 credit hours in Chemistry
    CHEM 121 General Chemistry I with lab
    CHEM 122 General Chemistry II with lab

    Requirements for Bachelor of Science in Biology

    39 semester hours in Biology plus 19 semester hours in supporting courses
    The Basic Biology Core (listed above) with two BIOL electives at the 300 level instead of one and BIOL 401.

    Supporting Courses:
    8 credit hours in Chemistry:
    CHEM 121 General Chemistry I with lab
    CHEM 122 General Chemistry II with lab
    11 credit hours in Mathematics/Statistics:
    MATH 211* Calculus I
    MATH 212* Calculus II
    Any Statistics course

    Biomedical Science Emphasis

    The biomedical science emphasis is an interdisciplinary program designed to prepare students for admission to professional schools in the medical sciences, graduate study in fields related to basic science research, or employment in the rapidly growing biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.

    Requirements for the Biomedical Science Emphasis

    Minimum 42 semester hours
    The requirements for the BA or BS in biology
    Four of the following: CHEM 221, CHEM 222, PHYS 201, PHYS 202, BIOL 255, BIOL 261, BIOL 264, BIOL 265, BIOL 327, BIOL 328, BIOL 329, BIOL 352, BIOL 354, or BIOL 355
    One of the following: ANTH 208, HCA 101, HCA 125, HCA 225, HCA/PHIL 230, HCA 245, HCA 250, PSYC 203, PSYC 210, PSYC 211, PSYC 305, PSYC 307, or SOC 260

    Note: Students are encouraged to pursue internships in the biomedical sciences (BIOL 387).

    Science Education Emphasis

    The science education emphasis, added to a minor in education, prepares students for careers as science educators.

    Requirements for the Science Education Emphasis

    48 semester hours
    The requirements for the BA in Biology, including both BIOL 253 and BIOL 257
    One of the following: BIOL 141, BIOL 142, BIOL 145 or BIOL 148 and BIOL 149, BIOL 150
    One of the following: BIOL 264 or BIOL 265
    BIOL 380: serve as a teaching assistant in a lab science

    Note: Students also should refer to the requirements for an education minor and for teacher licensure. For more information, see College of Education.

    Requirements for the Minor in Biology

    24 semester hours
    BIOL 111 and BIOL 112
    Three of the following: BIOL 222, BIOL 224, BIOL 245, BIOL 253, or BIOL 257
    Additional courses in biology to total 24 semester hours.

  • Civic Engagement Opportunities

    • Civic engagement contracts with BIOL 151 and BIOL 264/265 by working in local clinics or health services.
    • BIOL 145 involves students working with the City of Staunton on the Lewis Creek Watershed Advisory Council to monitor an impaired local waterway.


  • 100 The Living World (3 s.h.) (N, R)
    This is a course recommended for non-majors. Students will seek answers to several questions: What should I eat? Why do we run? What do our genes do? Why do we need bacteria in our bodies? How does what we do impact other species? This course will examine these themes through readings, videos, discussions, and oral presentations.

    111 Principles of Biology (4 s.h.) (N, W)
    Lecture and lab. The biological sciences as a process of inquiry, with emphasis on general principles including the structure and function of major biological molecules such as DNA, RNA, protein, lipids, and carbohydrates. This course emphasizes basic cell biology, fundamental biochemical pathways, and introductory genetics. This course provides the foundation for all other biology courses and is the first course in a two part sequence with BIOL 112. Fall.

    112 Diversity of Life (4 s.h.) (N)
    Lecture and lab. This course is intended to give students an introduction to the great diversity of life on Earth, with emphasis on the body plans, ecology, and evolutionary relationships among organisms. This is the second course in the introductory biology sequence which began with BIOL 111. Spring.

    120 Nutrition for Health, Fitness, and Sport (3 s.h.) (N)
    For course description, see CHEM/BIOL 120 in the Chemistry listing.

    141 Field Biology (4 s.h.) (N)
    Field course. Focuses on the natural history and ecology of plants and animals in and around the Shenandoah Valley. Spring wildflowers, birds, and mammals are studied in the varied habitats found in the George Washington National Forest and St. Mary’s and Ramsey’s Draft wilderness areas. Students who take the course should like to hike. May Term.

    142 Botany in the Field (4 s.h.) (N)
    Field course. A detailed study of the plant species growing in local habitats, focusing on how elevation, soils, microclimate, and ecological succession affect vegetation patterns of the region. Students who take this course should like to hike. Offered Summer Week as needed.

    145 Freshwater Biology (4 s.h.) (N)
    Field and lab course. Two local streams will be studied as part of a long term project linking their chemistry with changes in their plant and animal communities. The emphasis will be on the collection and analysis of water quality data. May Term.

    148 Environmental Issues (3 s.h.) (N)
    The goals of this course are to introduce students to the basic principles of ecology that underlie the major environmental issues of today. This course is particularly appropriate for students interested in the environment that are majoring in business administration, communication, education, and the social sciences. Requires BIOL 149 in order to count toward a Biology major.

    149 Environmental Issues Lab (1 s.h.) (N)
    Lab course. Students work on a variety of projects dealing with population biology, community structure, and the monitoring of environmental pollution.

    150 Field Ornithology (4 s.h.) (N)
    Field course. Students study the biology, ecology, and behavior of wild birds, learn to identify birds (by sight and sound) and participate in a bird-banding research project. The plight of neotropical migratory birds is emphasized. Alternate years, May Term.

    151 Human Health and Disease (3 s.h.) (N)
    A study of the structure and function of the human body in order to understand how disease impacts the living world. The effects of disease on society are considered from the primary perspective of the biological sciences with context offered within health care management, the media, ethics, and economics.

    211 Evolution (3 s.h.)
    Evolution, the great unifying theory behind modern biology, is introduced with an emphasis on experimental evidence bearing on the modern synthesis of evolutionary theory and its bearing on topics such as disease, aging, and social behavior. *Prerequisite: BIOL 111. Alternate years.

    222 Genetics (4 s.h.)
    Lecture and lab. The study of genetic principles, including Mendelian inheritance and gene regulation, in a variety of different organisms. The ethical and practical implications of genetic research and the genetic basis of disease are focal points of the course. Students develop problem-solving ability and conduct genetic experiments using classical and molecular methods. *Prerequisite: BIOL 111. Spring.

    224 Cell Biology (4 s.h.)
    Lecture and lab. Cell structure and function including cell physiology, cell-cell signaling and the role of cells in development and cancer are presented along with basic biochemical concepts. The laboratory introduces the main techniques of cytochemistry, histology, enzymology, and tissue culture. Alternate years. *Prerequisite: BIOL 111, Recommended: CHEM 121.

    230 Studies in Biology (3 s.h.)
    These colloquia will focus on topics not included in regularly scheduled biology courses. Interests of the students and faculty will determine the subject.

    245 Ecology (4 s.h.)
    Lecture, lab, and field course. Students study the interrelationships of living organisms with each other and their environments at the population, community, and ecosystem levels. The course includes a research weekend at the Duke University Marine Laboratory. *Prerequisite: BIOL 112. Fall.

    250 Neotropical Ornithology (4 s.h.) (I)
    Study abroad. Neotropical ornithology introduces the diversity of birds, their scientific study, and conservation in both tropical and temperate settings. We visit the tropics during spring break and study migratory species in Virginia during a week of May Term. Differences between resident and migratory tropical birds introduce the concept of bias in our perception. Students achieve a solid foundation in bird biology, ecology, and behavior. Alternate years, May Term.

    251 Exercise Testing and Training (3 s.h.)
    Anatomy and physiology as it applies to exercise, especially exercise testing and exercise program planning. The course includes techniques for assessing blood pressure, resting heart rate, body composition, and muscular strength and endurance. Cross listed as PHE 251.

    252 Biology of Women (3 s.h.) (G)
    This course examines female biology from the evolution of sex to reproduction to individual health. This course emphasizes female life stages and basic biological concepts relating to cells and heredity. Cross listed as WS/BIOL 252. Suggested background: BIOL 111 or 151.

    253 Zoology (4 s.h.)
    Lecture and lab. Introduction to the evolution of form and function of the major animal phyla with emphasis on observing ecological adaptations and unraveling evolutionary history through the use of contemporary taxonomic methods. The laboratory involves substantial dissection. *Prerequisite: BIOL 112. Alternate years, Spring.

    255 Microbiology (4 s.h.)
    Lecture and lab. The basic biology of bacteria and other microbes, with emphasis on metabolic diversity, the disease process, and microbial ecology. The laboratory introduces methods for microbial culture and identification through student-designed experiments. This course is required for students in the clinical laboratory science or master of science in nursing programs. *Prerequisite: BIOL 111, Recommended: CHEM 121. Alternate years.

    257 Botany (4 s.h.)
    Lecture and lab. A study of how different groups of plants have solved common environmental challenges including support, transport, defenses, reproductive strategies, and modes of speciation. Laboratory work includes plant physiology experiments, preserved material, and field identification of local species and families. *Prerequisite: BIOL 112. Alternate years.

    261 Epidemiology (3 s.h.)
    For course description, see HCA 261 in the Health Care Administration listing.

    264/265 Human Anatomy and Physiology I/II (4 s.h. each)
    Lecture and lab. The study of the relationships between anatomical structure and physiological function of the human body. All systems of the human body are investigated through classroom discussion, dissection, and physiological analyses. These courses are appropriate for students seeking careers in the allied health sciences and as teachers. *Prerequisite: BIOL 111. Alternate years.

    305 Physiological Psychology (3 s.h.)
    For course description, see PSYC 305 in the Psychology listing.

    324 Biochemistry I (3 s.h.)
    For course description, see CHEM 324 in the Chemistry listing.

    325 Biochemistry II (3 s.h.)
    For course description, see CHEM 325 in the Chemistry listing.

    326 Experimental Biochemistry (4 s.h.)
    For course description, see CHEM 326 in the Chemistry listing.

    327 Immunology (3 s.h.)
    The physiology, cell biology, genetics, and health implications of the immune system, with emphasis on the experimental evidence and reasoning behind our current understanding. This course is required of students seeking to enter the clinical laboratory science program. *Prerequisite: BIOL 224 or permission of instructor. Alternate years.

    328 Biotechnology (3 s.h.)
    Techniques of molecular biology are used to study topics ranging from cell-cell signaling to evolution and ecology; this course is taught as a journal club in which students select, present, and discuss a variety of current research papers using these techniques. *Prerequisite: BIOL 222. Alternate years.

    329 Biological Imaging (4 s.h.)
    Laboratory course. The study of the theory and methodology of multiple types of imaging to include light and fluorescence microscopy, Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), and gel imaging for DNA and protein analysis . *Prerequisite: BIOL 111 or BIOL 112. Alternate years, May Term.

    248/348 Conservation Biology (3 s.h.) (T: 348 only)
    Conservation biology is the study of the diversity of life and its preservation. The course will cover biodiversity as an evolutionary result, a factor structuring ecological communities, and an environmental issue. The course will examine conservation biology in theory and in practice. *Prerequisite: BIOL 245 or permission of instructor. Alternate years.

    354 Comparative Physiology (4 s.h.) (W)
    Lecture and lab. An examination of the common cellular mechanisms underlying many physiological processes using a comparative approach emphasizing functional strategies for solving physiological problems. The laboratory allows students to perform self-directed experiments, based in the primary literature, on a variety of organisms. *Prerequisite: BIOL 111. Alternate years.

    361 Animal Behavior (4 s.h.)
    Lecture, project development, discussion, and lab. The comparative study of animal behavior from ecological and evolutionary points of view. Topics include innate and learned behavior as two poles of the entire spectrum of behavior, evolution of behavior patterns, social organization, sexual selection and female choice, and applications of ethology to human behavior. *Prerequisite: BIOL 112. Alternate years.

    381 Junior Seminar (3 s.h.)
    This seminar focuses on experimental design, scientific writing, data analysis, and development of a senior research topic. Students write a research proposal for review by midterm. Required of all junior year biology majors. *Prerequisites: at least two of the biology core courses (BIOL 222, 224, 245, and 253 or 257) completed with a grade of “C” or better and overall GPA in biology of 2.0 or higher OR permission of the department.

    383 Advanced Study in Biology (2–3 s.h.)
    Topics of mutual interest to a group of students and a professor are considered.

    387 Internship: Professional Experience in Biology (2–3 s.h.)
    Provides practical experience in a biology related career setting by working with professionals in a chosen career specialty area. Students work closely with a faculty member and negotiate the terms of internship with the on-site supervisor. Credit is awarded on the basis of one semester hour per 50 hours of internship. Must be taken P/NC, and does not count as a 300-level elective towards the major.

    400 Senior Seminar (1 s.h.) (O, M)
    Students complete planning for the project designed during BIOL 381. Students refine the research/review plan and then participate in journal article presentations on relevant papers. Students meet in small groups to report progress on experiments and data acquisition or on writing of a critical review of the research literature. *Prerequisite: BIOL 381.

    401 Senior Research (2 s.h.) (O, M)
    This research seminar includes the experimental portion of the senior research project developed during BIOL 381 and 400, combined with a lab meeting format in which to present results, including formal oral presentations of the project. The student prepares a written thesis and conducts an oral defense of it, and takes the Major Field Achievement Test in Biology. *Prerequisite: BIOL 400.

    402 Senior Colloquium (2 s.h.) (O, M)
    This colloquium includes the completion of a critical review of the research literature focused on the topic developed during BIOL 381 and 400, combined with small group meetings to discuss progress on a comprehensive critical review paper, including formal oral presentations of the topic. The student prepares a critical review paper and conducts a summary oral presentation of it, and takes the Major Field Achievement Test in Biology. *Prerequisite: BIOL 400.