The biology program provides a broad exposure to major principles in contemporary life sciences and a depth of offerings in concentrated areas. Ranging from the classic to the modern, the program is designed to serve both those students with professional interest in biology and those desiring an introductory contact with the field. Careers for biology majors include a wide range of opportunities such as biochemistry, physiology, ecology, evolutionary biology, animal behavior and biomedical fields.
Consult course descriptions for required or recommended prerequisites. All biology courses at the 100 level are open to nonmajors without prerequisite. BIOL 101, 102, 105, 115 and 195 are intended for nonmajors and do not count toward a biology major. Either BIOL 115 or 224 is required for the concentration in environmental studies.
Independent research projects conducted with biology faculty during the academic year may gain course credit if approved for registration as BIOL 200: Research Apprenticeship in Biology and BIOL 398/498: Independent Study in Biology
BIOL112Evolution and Genetics with Lab An introduction to principles of evolution and genetics. Includes a comprehensive overview of genetics from molecular, classical, and population perspectives, as well as in-depth treatment of evolutionary mechanisms, phylogenetic analysis, and the history of life on Earth. Laboratories include the purification and analysis of DNA, Drosophila and bacterial genetics, computer and class simulations of evolutionary processes, and bioinformatics.
BIOL123Form and Function with Lab Organism-level phylogeny, morphology, and physiology are the major subject areas of this course; organisms interacting with, and adapting or adjusting to, their environments is the underlying theme running through these subject areas. Through this course students will learn how the environment, biotic and abiotic, shapes the form (morphology) and function (physiology and behavior) of organisms over ecological and evolutionary time.
BIOL/ENVS195Special Topic: Science and Social Justic Why does anyone become a scientist? What problems do you want to solve? This course is intended for first year students who are interested in exploring the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and also want to empower their communities to address some of society's most vexing problems. We will take an interdisciplinary scientific approach to issues such as lead in pipes and paint, sinking coastal cities, contested genomes, and conflicts between technology and culture. At the same time we will necessarily confront intersecting ethical and social factors that set the context for these issues, such as race, gender, citizenship status, colonial history, and access to healthcare and education. No prior knowledge of any scientific discipline is required to be successful in this course, although we will be doing science. Note: You must co-enroll in the laboratory section of this course.
BIOL200Research Apprenticeship in Biology Apprenticeships intended to provide opportunities for biology majors to become regularly involved in ongoing research projects with faculty, either with the same faculty member for a number of quarters or with different faculty in different quarters. A minimum of 50 hours of work is expected for each quarter. Three apprenticeships earn one full unit toward graduation.
BIOL222Vertebrate Biology with Lab Broad-based study of comparative anatomy and life histories of adult vertebrates and how these influence our understanding of vertebrate phylogeny; laboratories in comparative anatomy and diversity of vertebrates. Prerequisite: BIOL-123 All course prerequisites must be met with a minimum grade of C-.
BIOL224Ecology and Conservation with Lab Ecology is rooted in natural history, the description of organisms in their environments. Ecologists study interactions in nature across many levels of biological organization, from individuals to populations, communities, ecosystems, and, finally, the entire biosphere; this course is organized along this continuum. How do we explain the distribution and abundances of organisms? How do populations of different species interact as competitors, as predators and prey, as pathogens and hosts, and as mutualists? And finally, given the planet-wide environmental impact of our species, how can ecologists apply their knowledge to the conservation of natural resources?Prerequisite: BIOL-123 All course prerequisites must be met with a minimum grade of C-.
BIOL232Plant Biology with Lab In this course we will explore the consequences of being a plant: they make their own food; generally they are stuck in one place; they are as dumb as posts; they are modular; they have some very cool genetics; they have evolved some critically important symbioses with bacteria and fungi. Moreover, plants can live without us, but we cannot live without them. We will review the plant kingdom generally, but we will focus on the angiosperms (flowering plants), covering broad aspects of structure, development, growth, and reproduction. Laboratory will focus on field identification and ecology.Prerequisite: BIOL-123 or Permission All course prerequisites must be met with a minimum grade of C-.
BIOL246Cell and Molecular Biology with Lab The complex workings of individual cells will be explored from a molecular perspective. Topics include the flow of genetic information, cell structure and mechanics, metabolism, cell signaling, and regulation. An integrated laboratory will introduce cutting-edge cell and molecular techniques, including cell culture, transfection, immunoprecipitation, electrophoresis, and Western blotting.Prerequisite: BIOL-112 All course prerequisites must be met with a minimum grade of C-.
BIOL/PSYC290Animal Behavior with Lab The study of animal behavior seeks to describe and explain behavior on multiple levels - from underlying physiological causation to evolutionary origin. Using examples from barnacles and worms to birds and mammals, this course examines behaviors such as orientation, communication, foraging, territoriality, reproduction and sociality. Through lectures, research literature and laboratory studies students will build proficiency in designing, conducting, analyzing and evaluating behavioral studies and gain new appreciation for the subtlety and complexity of behavior and its application to fields such as animal welfare and conservation.Prerequisite: One of the following courses: BIOL-112, BIOL123, PSYC-101 Any prerequisite must be met with a minimum grade of C-.
BIOL295Computational Tools for Biologists Students progress through the biology major at K learning about many laboratory tools that biologists use to perform research. One tool that is essential for modern biologists is the personal computer. Simply put: modern biology research requires a working knowledge of computers and scripting. This course introduces students to their personal computer and teaches them the possibilities of basic shell use, scripting (with the Python language), simple relational database creation and use, and basic graphics manipulation in a practical, problem-based framework. This course aims to help sophomores/juniors learn these skills in preparation for their SIP research and future biology research. Prerequisite: BIOL-112 and BIOL-123 or permission of instructor
BIOL312Population and Community Ecology with Lab This course builds upon principles studied in BIOL 224. Using both theoretical and empirical approaches, we will explore in greater depth: population ecology, demography, life history strategies, species interactions, community structure and dynamics for both aquatic and terrestrial communities. Labs will focus on the methods ecologists use to answer questions about the distribution and abundance of organisms; students will explore local habitats and conduct independent research.Prerequisite: BIOL-224 All course prerequisites must be met with a minimum grade of C-.
BIOL322General and Medical Microbiology with Lab This course includes a general introduction to microbiology including the structure and function, metabolism, and genetics of bacteria, archaea, viruses, and eukaryotic microbes. This basic introduction is expanded by topics including the roles of microorganisms in biogeochemical cycling, food microbiology, the pathogenesis of infectious diseases, and the benign and beneficial role that microorganisms play in the human body. Labs will focus on using standard microbiological techniques (e.g. sterile technique, dilution and culture-dependent assays, microscopy, molecular and computational biology) as tools for inquiry-based explorations of the microbial world.Prerequisite: BIOL-246 All course prerequisites must be met with a minimum grade of C-.
BIOL350Neurobiology with Lab Structure and function of the nervous system will be considered, in addition to the molecular and cellular workings of individual neurons. Topics include cell biology of neurons, electrophysiology, sensory and motor systems, brain development, and dysfunction of the nervous system. An integrated laboratory will focus on neuroanatomy, histology, physiological simulations, and neuronal cell culture.Prerequisite: BIOL-246 or permission of instructor All course prerequisites must be met with a minimum grade of C-.
BIOL/CHEM352Biochemistry Overview of the chemical mechanisms underlying biological processes including structure and function of proteins, polysaccharides, and lipids; enzymatic catalysis and kinetics; an introduction to bioenergetics; detailed treatment of carbohydrate metabolism; survey of lipid and amino acid metabolism; and integration of metabolism. Prerequisite: CHEM-220. All course prerequisites must be met with a minimum grade of C-.Prerequisite: CHEM-220; Biology majors only All course prerequisites must be met with a minimum grade of C-.
BIOL/CHEM352LBiochemistry Lab Overview of basic biochemical laboratory techniques with emphasis on protein isolation and characterization, enzyme kinetics, and bioinformatics. Students will devise and execute independent research projects as part of the course final project. Laboratory and scientific writing, oral communication, and preparation of quality figures and tables will also be emphasized. Prerequisites: CHEM-220 and CHEM/BIOL352 (can be taking concurrently). All course prerequisites must be met with a minimum grade of C-.Prerequisite: CHEM-220, Minimum grade of C- CHEM/BIOL-352 Lecture must be taken previously or concurrently
BIOL360Immunology and Human Health with Lab Introduction to basic principles of the mammalian immune system, including recognition of pathogens, mechanisms of pathogen clearance, the regulation of immune cells, and the evolution of immunity. We will explore current topics in immunology and human health, including personalized medicine, the rise of autoimmune diseases, and the cost of health care. Labs will cover both experimental infection models (e.g. nematodes) and molecular techniques in immunology (e.g. nucleic acid analysis). Prerequisite: BIOL-246 All course prerequisites must be met with a minimum grade of C-.
BIOL376Human Physiology with Lab This course explores the functioning and regulation of the human body. We will cover a variety of body systems as well as relevant emerging fields (e.g., evolutionary medicine). Emphasis will be placed in unifying themes (integrative physiology, homeostasis and the external environment, the role of evolution in shaping human physiology). Laboratories will include student-led experiments, primary literature discussions, presentations, and case studies. Prerequisite: BIOL-123 All course prerequisites must be met with a minimum grade of C-.
BIOL395Advanced Vertebrate Biology
BIOL395Plant-Animal Interactions Throughout their 500 million years of shared evolutionary history, plants and animals have interacted as antagonists and mutualists. We will explore that history by examining major forms of interaction (herbivory, pollination, seed dispersal, and protection); how these interactions shape the chemistry, physiology, behavior and life history of interacting partners; how these interactions have helped generate the diverse life forms we see today; and why these interactions are vital to maintaining functioning ecosystems. We will use lecture/student presentations, discussion of scientific and lay audience literature, and hands-on observation, experimentation and service to explore the theory, practice and application of plant-animal interaction studies.Prerequisite: BIOL-224 with a minumum grade of C-
BIOL396Entomology with Lab A comprehensive introduction to the biology and classification of insects. Topics covered include insect structure, function, development, behavior, principles of control, identification, systematics, and evolution. Laboratories include field trips to local sites to observe and collect insects, and to view ongoing basic and applied research projects by local entomologists. Students will gain experience in rearing and handling insects. All are required to assemble a collection of local insects.Prerequisite: BIOL-123 and BIOL-224 or permission of instructor Any prerequisite must be met with a minimum grade of C-.
BIOL420Advanced Molecular Genetics W/ Lab Advanced treatment of principles and methods of modern molecular genetics. Building on principles from core biology courses, this course covers multiple perspectives on genetics, including gene structure and regulation, modes and patterns of inheritance, identification and manipulation of specific genes, as well as population and quantitative genetics. Laboratories feature classical and molecular approaches including gene mapping with Drosophila, PCR and sequencing-based human genotyping, and accessing and utilizing bioinformatics databases.Prerequisite: Take BIOL-112 and BIOL-246 All course pre-requisites must be met with a minimum grade of C-.
BIOL484Topics in Biology: Neurodegenerative Disorders The molecular underpinnings of nervous system disease and injury states will be investigated. A combination of lectures, discussions, and student presentations of research articles will be employed. Course readings will come exclusively from the primary literature. Topics covered will include neurodegenerative diseases, nervous system injury states, drug addiction, and brain tumors.Prerequisite: BIOL-246 All course prerequisites must be met with a minimum grade of C-.
BIOL485Topics in Biology: Trees This course focuses on how trees impact human welfare and influence the environment. We will examine tree structure, physiology and ecology. We will discuss how conventional and urban forests are managed, how fire and climate change influence tree growth and regeneration, and how forests could provide climate change mitigation. We will also examine how trees impact social behavior and provide ecosystem services. Students will discuss current peer reviewed and popular press literature. The class will be discussion, lecture and field based. Students will experience activities that will enhance their understanding and appreciation of trees on campus and at the Lillian Anderson Arboretum.Prerequisite: BIOL-112,BIOL-123,BIOL-224, and BIOL246 All course prerequisites must be met with a minimum grade of C-.
BIOL486Topics in Biology: Animal Development & This course will explore the developmental and evolutionary basis of the morphological biodiversity of animals. Topics will include the fundamental pathways by which cells, tissues, organ systems and body plans develop, and how those pathways are modified during evolution. The course will integrate multiple levels of biological organization, ranging from molecular genetics, to cell biology, to organismal biology. Emphasis will be placed on reading and analysis of primary literature.Prerequisite: Must have previously taken BIOL-112; BIOL-123; and BIOL-224 BIOL-246; All course prerequirsites must be met with a minimum grade of C-.
BIOL488Topics in Biology: The Symbiotic Habit A comprehensive overview of current symbiosis research literature, focusing on animal-microbe relationships and with special emphasis on the human microbiome. This course will highlight both model- and non model-based approaches for understanding topics ranging from molecular biology to ecology and symbiotic relationships. Students will be responsible for reading primary literature and participating in discussion, oral presentations, and concise scientific writing.Prerequisite: BIOL-112,BIOL-123,BIOL-224, and BIOL246 All course prerequisites must be met with a minimum grade of C-.
BIOL489Topics in Biology: Chemical Ecology Chemical ecology uses an evolutionary framework to understand the origin, function and significance of the chemistry underlying biological interactions. Through lectures, reading, discussion, student presentations and hands-on exercises we will explore how a diversity of life forms synthesize, use and respond to naturally-produced chemicals at the molecular through ecosystem level. Topics will be investigated from both basic and applied perspectives and include chemical ecology of defense, aggregation, feeding, mating, social interactions and deceit.Prerequisite: BIOL-112, BIOL-123, BIOL-224, and BIOL-246; All course prerequisites must be met with a minimum grade of C-
BIOL490FSenior Seminar (Full Year) Participation in a seminar involving teaching and research in the literature and consideration of current biological questions; preparation for SIP research through literature search and critical discussion of pertinent papers; preparation and defense of completed thesis based upon SIP research. (Fall component of full-year course.)Prerequisite: Senior Standing
BIOL490SSenior Seminar (Full Year) Participation in a seminar involving teaching and research in the literature and consideration of current biological questions; preparation for SIP research through literature search and critical discussion of pertinent papers; preparation and defense of completed thesis based upon SIP research. (Spring component of full-year course.)Prerequisite: Take BIOL-490F and BIOL-490W and Seniors Only
BIOL490WSenior Seminar (Full Year) Participation in a seminar involving teaching and research in the literature and consideration of current biological questions; preparation for SIP research through literature search and critical discussion of pertinent papers; preparation and defense of completed thesis based upon SIP research. (Winter component of full-year course.)Prerequisite: Take BIOL-490F and Senior Standing
BIOL/ENVS495Urban Ecology Currently, over 50% of the world population lives in urban or urbanizing areas. This course examines the ecology and thoughtful management of urban systems. We will assess how social, biological, physical, and chemical sciences act on urban ecosystems and we will apply these branches of science to issues currently faced by urban inhabitants (plants and animals). We will also discuss how urban planning affects issues related to climate change, social justice, human health, pollution, ecosystem health, and aesthetics. Without humans, there would be no urban areas, therefore we will pay particular attention to how humans fit into and change ecosystems.Prerequisite: BIOL-115 OR BIOL-224. Must have Junior of Senior standing. Open to students with a Biology Major/Environmental Science Concentration initially.
BIOL/CGHL495Topics in Biology: SARS-CoV-2 & COVID19 2020 has been defined by a global pandemic caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2. This course examines the biology, origin, and spread of SARS-CoV-2 and epidemiology and public health responses to COVID19. In this course, students will use both peer-reviewed scientific publications and more general literature (e.g. news articles, non-profit publications, statistical websites) to better understand the biology of SARS-CoV-2 and its effects on individuals and populations. Students will be responsible for demonstrating their learning with an exam, oral presentations to the class, and a multi- week, multi-part, written assignment.Prerequisite: Must have taken BIOL-224 and BIOL-246, both completed with a minumum C-.
BIOL495Topics in Biology: Evolutionary Ecology Evolutionary ecology lies at the intersection of ecology and evolution: it seeks to explain the ecology of organisms in the context of evolution and patterns of evolution as explained by ecological processes. In this course, we will discuss theoretical/synthetic and empirical studies so that young biologists gain a solid foundation on evolutionary ecology. Assessment will consist of written assignments and the effective leadership of discussions.Prerequisite: BIOL-112, BIOL-123, BIOL-224, and BIOL-246 with junior or senior standing. All pre-requisites must be met with a minumum grade of C-.
BIOL495Synaptopathy: Synapse Dysfunction This course focuses on synaptic dysfunction known as synaptopathy. Optimal synaptic communication is crucial for proper skeletal muscle physiology (peripheral synapses) and brain physiology (central synapses). Many psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia or autism have been related to synaptic disturbances. Likewise, neurodegenerative diseases such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease are characterized by disrupted synaptic structure and function. In this course students will read, discuss and present on contemporary research literature in the field to gain an understanding of the synaptic role in neurodegenerative and psychiatric disease, and the origins of resulting synaptopathies.Prerequisite: BIOL-246 with a minimum grade of C-
BIOL593Senior Individualized Project Each program or department sets its own requirements for Senior Individualized Projects done in that department, including the range of acceptable projects, the required background of students doing projects, the format of the SIP, and the expected scope and depth of projects. See the Kalamazoo Curriculum -> Curriculum Details and Policies section of the Academic Catalog for more details.Prerequisite: Permission of department and SIP supervisor required.