Please note: This is NOT the most current catalog.
Chair, 2011-12: Kimberly Kandl, molecular biology and genetics, cytoskeleton function in yeast
Faculty, 2011-12: Alyssa Anderson, aquatic ecology, entomology, taxonomy and systematics; Diane Angell, animal ecology, animal behavior, environmental health and conservation; Eric Cole, developmental biology, cell biology and genetics, microscopy; Kevin Crisp, neurobiology, animal behavior, human biology (on leave); Nick Deacon, plant diversity, evoluationary ecology, conservation; Jay Demas, developmental neurobiology, biophysics, neurophysiology; Steven Freedberg, bioinformatics, evolutionary ecology; Sara Fruehling, molecular microbiology; John Giannini, plant physiology, membrane transport, deer migration, wildflowers; Ted Johnson, microbiology, aging, cancer and immunity; Henry Kermott, zoology, animal behavior; Laura Listenberger, molecular cell biology, biochemistry, lipid storage in mammalian cells; Eric McDonald, teaching and learning of science, science teacher preparation, the impact of teaching strategies on underrepresented groups in science; Jean Porterfield, molecular systematics, fish phylogeny; Tamar Resnick, developmental genetics in C. elegans, gene regulation and microRNAs; Rob Rozeske, systems neuroscience, stress, drug abuse; John Schade, biology, environmental studies, biogeochemistry, ecology (on leave); Kathleen Shea, plant evolutionary ecology, restoration ecology, conservation; Mike Swift, aquatic ecology, physiological ecology, toxicology; Charles Umbanhowar Jr., botany/ecology, disturbance ecology of grasslands, paleoecology (on leave Interim and spring semester); David Van Wylen, anatomy and physiology, cardiac physiology, myocardial ischemia; Anne Walter, cell and animal physiology, membrane biophysics, neuroscience
From the molecules that are the building blocks of life to the complex interactions between living beings and their environments, biology continues to fascinate the human mind. The Biology Department offers a diverse array of courses and experiences that present fundamental biological principles and processes within the context of being informed, responsible, and compassionate citizens. It provides a broad range of learning opportunities through its course offerings, laboratories, independent study/research, internships and off-campus study programs at sites including South India, the desert southwest, Costa Rica, Australia, Bahamas, Galapagos Islands, and Northern Minnesota. Woven into all learning opportunities are hands-on experiences with modern equipment that stimulate critical and independent thinking.
For science majors, the Biology Department offers an exciting slate of challenging and rewarding courses. For the less science-oriented student, it seeks to stimulate natural curiosity about how our bodies work and how humans interact with their surroundings by providing several courses designed primarily for non-science majors. These courses, which satisfy the natural sciences (SED, IST) requirements of the general education curriculum, focus on current biological issues and general interest topics in biology.
OVERVIEW OF THE MAJOR
The ever-broadening nature of biology requires diversely-trained and inquisitive biologists. The biology major has the dual mission of introducing students to the information and technological tools of various disciplines of biology while instilling the confidence to critically assess a biological phenomenon and to design and carry out an appropriate research program. To that end, the biology major provides the necessary content and instrument training while students practice the art of scientific inquiry. Opportunities for interdisciplinary work abound. Biology majors are encouraged to participate in research with faculty, off-campus programs in biology, in departmental seminars and social activities.
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE MAJOR
Students majoring in biology complete eight biology courses and a year of chemistry (Chemistry 121, 123, 126, or 125, 126). The eight biology courses must include: four core courses that emphasize cell/molecular biology (Biology 125 or Chemistry/Biology 125-127), biodiversity and evolution (Biology 126), genetics (Biology 233), and ecology (Biology 261); one course that focuses on a group of multicellular organisms (Biology 242, 247, 248, 251, 252, 266, or 275); one level III Biology course; two elective biology courses. The integrated chemistry-biology sequence (Chemistry/Biology 125, 126, 127) may be taken in lieu of Biology 125, and Chemistry 125 and 126. (In general, completion of at least two level II courses are required to take a level III course.) Only one independent study (Biology 298) or independent research (Biology 396 or Biology 398) can count toward the major; internships (Biology 294 or 394) do not count toward the major. Biology 294 and 394 can only be taken P/N.
In addition to courses designated as biology, the following courses can count as biology electives:
Chemistry 379: Biochemistry I
Biology/Environmental Studies 226: Conservation Biology
Biology/Environmental Studies 228: Environmental Health
Neuroscience 239: Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience or Psychology 238: Biopsychology
Exercise Science 375: Physiology of Exercise
Psychology 385: Human Neuropsychology
or other courses as approved by petition to the department. For two of these courses to count, they must be from different departments or programs. No more than three level I biology courses, including Biology 125 and 126, and Chemistry/Biology 127, may count toward the major. Only Biology Department courses (including independent research) may count toward the level III requirement. See http://www.stolaf.edu/depts/biology/courses/ for a planning table for the biology major.
Students wishing to count for the major a course taken abroad or at another institution must consult with the chair before taking the course.
While programs leading to graduate work are planned on an individual basis, most programs require students to have completed two or more quantitative courses (mathematics, statistics, or computer science), two courses in physics, and at least four courses in chemistry.
Students intending to enter graduate or professional school are encouraged to consult with the biology faculty to plan a course of study appropriate for the postgraduate program. Students pursuing a secondary school science education teaching license with a life science specialty must complete the biology major including Biology 123 or 243 as one of their electives. Additional courses are required as specified by the Education Department. Interested students should consult faculty in the Education Department.
The prerequisite for Biology 231: Microbiology and Biology 243: Human Anatomy and Physiology is Biology 125 or Chemistry/Biology 125-127. Biology 233: Genetics requires Biology 125 and completion or concurrent enrollment in Chemistry 125 or Chemistry/Biology 125-127. All other level II courses have prerequisites of Biology 125 and Biology 126 or Chemistry/Biology 125-127 and Biology 126.
The Biology Department honors a limited number of graduating majors with distinction in biology. Each spring the faculty reviews those eligible for distinction and chooses students who best fulfill departmental ideals of academic excellence, scholarship, and extracurricular/community involvement in biology, taking into account additional criteria available in the Biology Department Office or on the Biology website at http://www.stolaf.edu/depts/biology/distinction/
Research opportunities are central to the teaching mission of the Biology Department. In addition to independent research and project-based courses (Biology 396 or 398), each summer the Biology Department awards several paid research positions to students interested in working with faculty on current research projects. These ten-week positions, supported by outside funding, offer excellent opportunities in both lab and field research. Biology 291: Topics - Research is a quarter-credit opportunity for a journal club or other exploratory course offered at student request and the professor's discretion.
The Biology Department offers many opportunities for off-campus study. Two semester-long programs, Biology in South India (offered every fall semester) and Environmental Science in Australia (offered alternating spring semesters), are of particular interest to biology students. Other semester/summer programs are available through affiliated institutions or programs (e.g., ACM Oak Ridge Science Semester, ACM Tropical Field Research, Coe College Wilderness Field Station, Denmark’s International Studies Program). In addition, each Interim several off-campus biology courses are offered. Off-campus Interim courses may include Desert Biology (Arizona), Winter Ecology (Northern Minnesota), Island Biology (Bahamas), Tropical Ecology (Costa Rica), Equatorial Biology (Ecuador, Galapagos Islands) and Peruvian Medical Experience (Peru). Students interested in off-campus biology courses should consult biology faculty or the Office of International and Off-Campus Studies.
Several concentrations are offered that closely relate to the Biology Department: biomedical studies, biomolecular science, environmental studies, neuroscience, and statistics. Students interested in these concentrations should consult the descriptions in this catalog or the program director.
This biology course emphasizes learning strategies and critical thinking skills as applied to the curriculum of Biology 125. Objectives of the course are met through additional readings, problem sets, brief written assignments, introduction of discipline-specific writing styles, projects (including individual and/or group oral presentation), and library research. Assignments include new content that complements introductory biology. Offered annually. Prerequisites: concurrent enrollment in Biology 125 and permission of instructor.
This course explores contemporary biological issues related to health and the environment, with the goal of fostering informed citizens prepared for current biological debates. Students learn the relevant biological principles in lecture and lab followed by appropriate lab or field research. Specific topics vary from year to year and may include emerging diseases, cardiovascular health, genetics, specific groups of organisms, behavior, and environmental dynamics. The course includes lectures plus one two-hour laboratory per week.
This course offers non-majors a chance to explore biology within the laboratory and in the field. It offers a thoughtful, reflective experience as students examine the process of science as a way of relating to mystery and phenomena of nature such as fertilization, embryogenesis, evolution, and ecology against the backdrop of modern culture.
Contemporary issues in human biology direct the study of how our bodies work. This knowledge is relevant to the decisions required in daily living. Specific topics vary, but may include nutrition, cancer, immune responses, exercise, and reproduction. Learning in this course utilizes lecture, discussion, and laboratory formats. The course includes lectures plus one two-hour laboratory per week. Offered annually.
Issues of women's biology including views of the evolving female and biological determinism are examined. Core material covers anatomy, development, the biological basis of gender, reproduction, sexual response, the menstrual cycle and aging, and aspects of women's health such as eating disorders, cancers, and hormonal treatments. Students participate in significant amounts of group work and oral presentation. The course is open to both men and women. Offered during Interim.
This core course explores major principles of cellular and molecular biology and it or the Chemistry/Biology 125-127 series is a prerequisite for all level II biology courses. Emphases include the structural and chemical composition of cells, crucial metabolic pathways, fundamentals of cell division, basic genetics, and the scientific method. Materials integrate concepts with problem-solving. Students are introduced to state-of-the-art library search technologies and scientific writing. Students attend lectures plus one 2.5-hour laboratory per week. Offered annually in the fall semester and during Interim. Counts towards exercise science major.
Integrated Chem/Bio I 125 : Chemical Concepts with Biological Applications
This course introduces chemical concepts that are important for students pursuing a study of chemistry or biology. Topics include atomic structure, the periodic table, bonding interactions within and between particles, water and its solutions, biological membranes, chemical reaction types, chemical stoichiometry, equilibrium systems, acids and bases, introduction to protein structure. Examples are often pulled from the realm of biological molecules and processes. Students attend three classes and one three-hour laboratory each week. Prerequisites: high school biology, chemistry and physics. Placement via online placement exam is required. Concurrent registration in Mathematics 120 or 121 is recommended. Offered annually in the fall semester.
In this core course, students study the mechanisms of evolution, the evolutionary history of biological diversity, and the diversity of life. The structure and function of organisms are compared within an ecological/evolutionary context. Key adaptations to survival are examined among organisms from bacteria and protists to plants, fungi, and animals. Labs investigate population genetics, phylogeny, form, and behavior of selected organisms and provide experience in experimental design and scientific writing. Students attend lectures plus one 2.5-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisite: Biology 125 or Chemistry/Biology 125-127.
Integrated Chem/Bio II 126: Thermodynamics and Kinetics with Bio Relevance
This course introduces physical chemistry with an emphasis on thermodynamics and kinetics of biologically relevant systems. Topics include probability as the driving force for chemical reactions; the relationship between chemical bonding energetics, entropy, and equilibria; oxidation-reduction reactions and electrochemistry; and rates of reactions, including enzyme-catalyzed reactions. Laboratory experiments and activities illustrate lecture topics and introduce new concepts. Prerequisites: Chemistry/Biology 125 and Mathematics 120 or 121. Offered during Interim.
In this course, designed as an introduction to genetics and molecular biology for non-biology majors, students learn about molecular biology techniques and the use of molecular biology in medicine, forensics and agriculture. Students discuss topics such as human genetic diseases, mutations, DNA cloning, DNA fingerprinting, eugenics, gene therapy, stem cell research, and genetic privacy. Each issue is addressed on scientific and ethical levels. Offered during Interim.
Integrated Chem/Bio III 127: Molecular and Cellular Biology
This course builds on the principles learned in Chemistry/Biology 125/126 and explores how chemistry informs major principles of cellular and molecular biology and genetics. Topics include cell structure, metabolism, movement, signaling, division, and molecular and Mendelian inheritance. The course emphasizes problem-solving, quantitative reasoning, the scientific method, and scientific writing through lectures, discussions, readings, writing assignments, and lab work. Students attend three classes and one three-hour laboratory each week. Prerequisite: Chemistry/Biology 126. Offered annually in the spring semester.
What makes a human healthy? What makes an environment healthy? This course explores these questions in the Sonoran Desert and diverse nearby habitats. Students carry out labs and exercises on physiological challenges to and acclimation of the human body, and field research projects on ecology and adaptations of a plant or animal group of their choice. They synthesize these different activities through academic exploration of factors that influence and connect both human physiology and ecological adaption. Data for the field research projects is gathered while utilizing a wide variety of physical techniques, such as hiking, rock climbing, and caving. Offered every 2nd or 3rd Interim. Not open to first-year students. Counts toward biology major.
Examining infectious diseases of the past and present, students study diseases in their societal and historical contexts, while emphasizing their biological origins. Topics include the germ theory, microbiology, the immune system, interaction between the environment and disease, the impact of infectious disease on history and public health measures. This is a non-lab course designed primarily for non-majors. Offered during Interim.
Why do biologists do what they do? How is biology actually done? Students investigate the reasons biological science is done the way it is today. Students have the opportunity to design and perform their own experiments while learning the process of scientific investigation. Designed primarily for non-majors. Offered during Interim.
This course examines the impact of emerging as well as existing health care issues on life in various parts of the world. Students study diseases in global as well as societal context while emphasizing their biological origins. Topics include microbiology, the immune system, interaction between the environment and disease, traditional medicine, and modes of health care delivery. Designed primarily for non-majors. Offered during Interim.
Bird watching is a passion for many. This course introduces students to avian biology, behavior, and appreciation through a combination of lectures, hands-on experiences, and field trips. Students learn about many native Minnesota birds and gain an appreciation for their place in nature. One hour lecture per week and two required field trips, times to be determined. Offered alternate years.
This interdisciplinary course introduces students to behavioral ecology, a field that applies the models and concepts of evolutionary ecology to the study of behavioral diversity in order to answer such questions as why birds sing and temple monkeys kill nursing young. Drawing on resources from sociobiology, psychology, decision theory, sociology, anthropology, and ethology, the course focuses on animal social behavior or sociology and its relation to human social behavior.
Students learn laboratory techniques common to genetics, microbiology and molecular biology. Topics include solution and media preparation, sterile technique, and safe handling of laboratory materials. Students learn to turn written instructions into materials needed for successful outcomes. Calculations, scaling and theory behind particular solution compositions and tools are covered as well as approaches needed to be effective teaching assistants. Prerequisite: Biology 125, Chemistry 125, or Chemistry/Biology 125, and required application to the instructor.
Biology/Environmental Studies 226: Conservation Biology
Conservation biology focuses on the study of biological diversity. Students examine why we should be concerned about the number and types of species on earth, what factors threaten the survival of species and how we can conserve them. Using principles of ecology and evolution, with input from other disciplines, students gain a better understanding of the impact of humans on biodiversity and the importance of responsible environmental decision-making. Offered annually.
Biology/Environmental Studies 228: Environmental Health
Human health is affected by the biological environment, a teeming world of parasites and diseases, and the physical environment -- the water, air, and landscapes that we inhabit. Human interactions with the environment have changed rapidly, as human populations grow, travel increases, and ecosystems are altered. This course touches upon traditional environmental topics such as air and water quality, and integrates newer public health challenges such as emerging diseases and food-borne illnesses. Prerequisite: an introductory science course.
Microbiology examines the morphology, composition, metabolism, and genetics of microorganisms with emphasis on bacteria and viruses. Students examine the dynamic impact of microbes on humans, the immune response, and the role of microbes in the environment. Students attend lectures plus one three-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisites: Biology 125 and Chemistry 121 or 125, or Chemistry/Biology 125-127. Offered annually.
Genetics examines relationships between genotype and phenotype in prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms from classical and molecular perspectives. Lectures in this core course cover ideas and technologies contributing to understanding mechanisms of gene transmission and regulation. Laboratories utilize model organisms to investigate classical and molecular modes of inheritance. Students attend lectures plus one three-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisites: Biology 125 and Chemistry 125 or 121/123, or Chemistry/Biology 125-127. Offered each semester. Counts toward neuroscience concentration.
Students focus on the natural history of Upper Midwest vertebrates and phylogenetic, morphological, and functional relationships of these animals. Laboratories include identification, and morphology. During field trips, students document bird migrations, amphibian chorusing, and other animal activities. Independent projects explore topics ranging from bluebird nesting behavior to thermal conductivity and insulation in animals. Students attend lectures plus one three-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisites: Biology 125 and 126, or Chemistry/Biology 125-127 and Biology 126.
Students journey toward greater understanding of the human body through an integrated study of the structure of the body (anatomy) and how organs such as the brain, heart, and kidney perform their remarkable functions (physiology). The course is designed primarily for students intending careers in the health sciences. Students attend lectures plus one three-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisite: Biology 125, or Chemistry/Biology 125-127. Offered annually. Counts towards exercise science major and neuroscience concentration.
How do animals do what they need to do to survive in all sorts of environments? Why are others able to exist in only very particular conditions? These are the sorts of questions students explore as they navigate the basic systems that provide circulation, ventilation, movement, digestion, and waste removal. Students look at how these processes are coordinated by the nervous and endocrine systems and how they vary across the animal kingdom to help organisms survive in dry, hot deserts, in dark, deep oceans, and places in between. In the weekly three-hour lab, they conduct quantitative physiological measurements to assess functions such as temperature control, respiration rates, and salt and water balance. Prerequisites: Biology 125 and 126, or Chemistry/Biology 125-127 and Biology 126. Counts toward neuroscience concentration.
This course traces the path of invertebrate evolution from single-celled protozoans to the most primitive chordates. Emphasis is placed upon major breakthroughs in design that enable organisms to exploit new ecological habitats. Laboratories are designed to introduce students to the major invertebrate groups via observation of living animals and through dissection. Students attend lectures plus one three-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisites: Biology 125 and 126, or Chemistry/Biology 125-127 and Biology 126. Offered alternate years. Counts toward neuroscience concentration.
A range of microscopic techniques including brightfield, darkfield, interference, fluorescence, and advanced techniques including laser confocal microscopy are covered in this course. In parallel to microscope training sessions, students learn the latest computer techniques for video image grabbing and analysis. Teams design investigative projects that make use of appropriate mircoscope and computer technologies. Prerequisite: Biology 125, or Chemistry/Biology 125-127. Offered during Interim.
This course begins with an in-depth look at a plant cell and its physiology, followed by a discussion of whole plant physiology as it relates to cellular functions. Students attend lectures plus one three-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisites: Biology 125 and 126, and Chemistry 125 and 126, or Chemistry/Biology 125-127 and Biology 126.
Plants are a diverse and important group of organisms. This course considers their evolution, emphasizing the morphology and anatomy of flowering plants. Students learn about basic techniques of data collection and analysis to investigate plant evolution: identifying plants, dissecting and staining plant structures, and using computer-based taxonomic statistics programs. Students attend lectures plus one three-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisites: Biology 125 and 126, or Chemistry/Biology 125-127 and Biology 126.
Ecology focuses on the study of the interrelationships that determine the distribution and abundance of organisms. This core course examines organism-environment interactions and the study of populations, communities and ecosystems. Consideration is given to use of ecological studies in ecosystem management. Students attend lectures plus one three-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisites: Biology 125 and 126, or Chemistry/Biology 125-127 and Biology 126. Offered each semester. Counts toward environmental studies major (all tracks) and concentration.
What happened to the dinosaurs? Can some human congenital heart defects be explained by reference to cardiovascular systems of diving turtles? Examining the origin and evolution of vertebrates, comparing morphology across vertebrate taxa and examining selective factors leading to modern forms is of value to health science students, graduate studies in biology, and people who like dinosaurs. Students attend lectures plus one three-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisites: Biology 125 and 126, or Chemistry/Biology 125-127 and Biology 126.
The ability to reproduce is one of the key features of a living organism. Studying the biology of reproduction requires a synthesis of information and concepts from a wide range of fields within biology. This course addresses reproduction at the genetic, organismal, and population levels. Laboratory work adds a valuable investigative component to the course, and social/psychological issues are addresssed throughout. Prerequisites: Biology 125 and 126, or Chemistry/Biology 125-127 and Biology 126, or permission of instructor.
During this course offered at the University of Minnesota Biological Field Station at Itasca State Park, Minnesota, students learn through lectures, readings, laboratory work, and short field trips followed by extensive independent field research in a wide range of habitats. At least three weeks are spent at the field station and the remainder of the time on campus. Apply through the office of International and Office-Campus Studies. Prerequisite: Biology 125 and 126, or Chemistry/Biology 125-127 and Biology 126. Offered during Interim in alternate years.
Following introductory lectures on campus, the class travels on extended field trips to desert locations in Arizona and adjacent states. Students examine interrelationships of desert plants and animals, their adaptations to the harsh desert environment, and the role of primitive and modern humans in this ecosystem. Prerequisite: three courses in biology or consent of instructor. Apply through the Office of International and Off-Campus Studies. Offered during Interim.
This course is a service/learning experience. Week one is spent on campus learning basic clinical techniques, examining emerging disease, and studying existing health care issues. Students spend three weeks in Cuzco, Peru, assessing patient needs in a public hospital, a homeless shelter, orphanages, and a small village. Week four involves discussion and writing reflective journals. Prerequisites: Biology 125 or Chemistry/Biology 125-127, and Biology 291. Apply through the Office of International and Off-Campus Studies. Offered during Interim. Counts toward biomedical studies concentration.
Students examine freshwater resources of the world (streams, lakes, wetlands, groundwater, and ice), their uses and abuses by people, and the implications of current management practices for future water availability and quality. Case studies clarify management decisions determining how water is captured, allocated, used, and disposed of at local, national, and global scales. Students participate in a case study of a local water resource management issue. Prerequisites: Biology 125 and 126, or Chemistry/Biology 125-127 and Biology 126. Offered during Interim.
Biology/Environmental Studies 286: Tropical Ecology in Costa Rica
This course offers students the opportunity to study first-hand the most diverse ecosystems on earth. This intensive field-oriented course explores lowland rain forest, montane forest, dry forest, and coastal and agricultural ecosystems through projects and field trips. Students read and discuss texts and primary literature specific to ecology, evolution, conservation, and agricultural practices of each area, and keep reflective journals. Prerequisite: one science course. Offered in alternate years during Interim.
Intensive study of the biology that created the Bahamas and that now constitutes the living structure of these islands. Staying at the Gerace Research Center provides access to a diversity of marine and terrestrial habitats including coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangrove forests, hypersaline ponds, limestone caverns, and the "blue-holes" that connect inland waterways to the sea. The Gerace Research Center is located on San Salvador Island. Counts toward major: Biology. Prerequisite: Biology 125 and 126 or Chemistry/Biology 125-127 and Biology 126 or permission of instructor.
This course offers intensive field-biology experiences within three equatorial New World environments: the Amazon rainforest, the Andes cloud forests, and the Galapagos Islands. Students compare the rich biodiversity, the adaptations and natural history of species, and the influence of human impact on these areas. Preparation for class requires readings from texts and primary literature concerning ecological and environmental issues specific to each of these regions. Based in Quito, the three field expeditions alternate with home-based rest days allowing for reflective writing in journals, assimilation, and discussion. Prerequisite: Biology 125 and 126 or Chemistry/Biology 125-127 and Biology 126 or permission of instructor. Offered during Interim.
For science majors, learning to read the primary literature and other professional sources is an important transition from classroom learning to post-graduate endeavors. Students read, present, and discuss scientific literature in a field selected by participating faculty. The goal is to garner sufficient expertise to allow critical analysis of the particular field. Requires permission of instructor. May be repeated if topics are different.
Internships are designed to provide career-testing opportunities. Students interested in an internship should consult with the Center for Experiential Learning, enlist a faculty supervisor, and complete an internship application. Internships do not count toward the biology major requirements.
Independent study allows students to study in an area not covered in the regular biology course offerings. The student undertakes substantial independent study in a defined biological field, meets regularly with faculty supervisor, and prepares some form of presentation of the material learned. The student must obtain permission of supervisor and complete an independent study form available from the Registrar's Office or its Web site.
Zoological parks serve a critical role in the 21st century, preserving endangered species and educating the public. Are zoos our best bet for preserving rare species, or would our time and money be better spent preserving the habitats that species require? This course gives students a background in conservation biology and zoo biology, and first-hand experience conducting research in a zoo setting. Prerequisites: Environmental Studies 137 or 226; Biology 126 and 261. Offered during Interim.
Students apply computational techniques and tools to the analysis of biological data. From mining large genetic sequence databases to simulating population dynamics, computer programming is rapidly becoming essential to the study of a broad range of biological systems. This course introduces computer programming to biologists and allows for the creative application of this skill to an array of biological questions, with an emphasis on advanced genetics topics. Prerequisites: Biology 126 and 233. Offered alternate years.
Biology/Environmental Studies 320: Arctic Ecosystems: An Analysis of Global Change
This course focuses on biological and physical features of arctic ecosystems, their responses to climate change, and consequences of climate change for ecological processes. The foundation of the course is the discussion of current literature on arctic ecosystems. The course briefly reviews causes of climate change in the Arctic and focuses on biogeochemical cycles, biological communities, and the unique characteristics of organisms, as well as the impacts of climate change on human societies. Students attend lecture plus one three-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisites: Biology 125 and 126 or Environmental Studies 137; and any 200-level biology or environmental studies natural science course. Offered annually.
The cell is the fundamental unit of life, capable of growth, motility, signal transduction, and functional specialization. Students study features common to cells: their macromolecular components, metabolism, membrane transport, motility, signal mechanisms, and intracellular trafficking, seeing how these are elaborated in cells with particular specializations. Research techniques suitable for cell biology are emphasized. Students attend lectures plus one three-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisites: Biology 125, 126, and 233 plus Chemistry 125 and 126, or Chemistry/Biology 125-127 and Biology 126 and 233. Counts toward neuroscience concentration.
This course introduces students to intensive research at St. Olaf and the Boulder Laboratory for 3-D Electron Microscopy of Cells at the University of Colorado. In Boulder, students prepare samples for electron microscopy and immuno-gold Electron Microscopy, capture EM-images, and generate 3-D Tomograms. At St. Olaf students generate 3-D computer models of their datasets. Prerequisite: Biology 125. Offered in alternate years during Interim.
Biology/Environmental Studies 350: Biogeochemistry: Theory and Application
The study of global change and human environmental impacts requires students to link concepts from biology, chemistry, and physics. Students investigate these links by exploring current theories in biogeochemistry, with an emphasis on understanding the feedback between physical and ecological processes and the coupling of multiple element cycles. Laboratory activities focus on a practical exploration of the methods biogeochemists use, including experience with a variety of instruments. Prerequisite: Any level 2 biology, chemistry, or physics course or permission of instructor.
Limnology is the study of inland waters and includes their physical, chemical, and biological characteristics. The course focuses on biotic processes and interactions set within the abiotic habitat of lakes and streams. Students examine current management problems facing freshwater environments by focusing on human-induced changes to aquatic habitats and their biotic consequences. Investigative laboratories introduce students to aquatic habitats and biological processes within them. Prerequisites: Biology 125 and 126, or Chemistry/Biology 125-127 and Biology 126, and 261 or permission of instructor.
Molecular biology techniques are bringing about a revolution in understanding living organisms. Students study the structure and function of macromolecules, methods currently used to clone and analyze genes, and new insights into basic biological processes which these methods provide. The course uses lecture and discussion topics with one project-oriented three-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisites: Biology 125 and 233; or Chemistry/Biology 125-127 and Biology 233.
This course focuses on learning modern field and laboratory methods to test ecological hypotheses. Students work on group and individual projects to collect and analyze data and give oral and written presentations on projects. Class periods focus on discussion of primary literature and project results. Class trips include visits to local natural areas. Students attend lecture/discussion plus one four-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisites: Biology 125, 126, and 261; or Chemistry/Biology 125-127 and Biology 126 and 261. Counts toward environmental studies major (natural science track).
The last decade has unveiled the mechanism by which a single cell gives rise to an embryo rich in pattern and cellular diversity. This course traces the use of surgical, genetic, and molecular techniques as they have uncovered the developmental blueprints encoding the universal body plan fundamental to all metazoan life. Students attend lectures plus one three-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisites: Biology 125,126, and 233; or Chemistry/Biology 125-127 and Biology 126 and 233. Counts toward neuroscience concentration.
Immunology focuses on the structure, development and function of the immune system. The course explores the molecular and cellular basis of the immune responses. The application of immunological principles to allergy, autoimmunity, AIDS, transplantation, and cancer are included. Students attend lectures plus a two-hour discussion per week. Prerequisites: Biology 125 and 233, and one semester of chemistry, or Chemistry/Biology 125-127 and 233.
The idea of evolution forms the foundation for all modern biological thought. This course examines the processes of evolution in detail (selection, genetic drift, mutation, migration) and studies the methods by which biologists reconstruct the history of life on the planet. Advanced topics are explored through reading and discussion of journal articles. The social and historical context of evolutionary theory is discussed. Prerequisites: Biology 125, 126 and 233; or Chemistry/Biology 125-127 and Biology 126 and 233.
From tiny ion channels to the basis for learning, neuroscience is a rapidly developing area. Using texts, reviews, and current literature, students examine in depth the fundamental unit of the nervous system, the neuron. The goals are to understand how neurons accomplish their unique functions: electrical signaling, synaptic transmission, and directed growth and remodeling. Prerequisites: Biology 125, or Chemistry/Biology 125-127, and progress towards a major in any of the natural sciences.
This seminar course approaches the study of animal behavior from the blended viewpoints of evolutionary behavioral ecology and comparative psychology. Mechanisms of learning, cognition, and development, as well as aggression, territoriality, and mating are examined at the organismic and cellular level. A deeper understanding of the neural and environmental determinants of behavior in a wide variety of species helps students better understand themselves and their place in nature. Prerequisite: Biology 126 or Psychology 125. Counts toward neuroscience concentration.
Neuroethology is the study of how nervous systems generate natural behaviors in animals. The nervous system connects an animal with its environment, determining how an animal perceives, learns, and reacts to stimuli. This course explores the neural mechanisms underlying diverse behaviors -- such as escape reflexes, locomotion, and communication -- in a wide range of invertebrate and vertebrate species. Lecture concepts are explored through laboratory experimentation and student presentation. Prerequisites: Math 120 (or equivalent) and one of the following: Biology 233, 247, 266, Neuroscience 234, or Psychology 238 or permission of instructor. Counts toward neuroscience concentration.
Specific topics announced prior to each term are based on student interests and available staff. Past offerings include cardiovascular physiology, evolution, stress biology, and animal behavior. Class work includes comprehensive review of literature on the specific topic. Class meetings present topics in discussion format. Prerequisites: Biology 125 and 126, or Chemistry/Biology 125-127 plus Biology 126, and junior or senior standing. May be repeated if topics are different. Counts toward environmental studies major (all tracks) and concentration when taught with environmental science focus and approved by chair.
Biology 394 is for students who have completed one internship (Biology 294) and wish to complete a second internship. Students interested in an internship should consult with the Center for Experiential Learning, locate a faculty supervisor, and complete an internship form.
This course provides a comprehensive research opportunity, including an introduction to relevant background material, technical instruction, identification of a meaningful project, and data collection. The topic is determined by the faculty member in charge of the course and may relate to his/her research interests. Prerequisite: Determined by individual instructor. Offer based on department decision.
Independent research is offered for students dedicated to an in-depth research experience. In conjunction with a faculty supervisor, a student conceives and performs a research project leading to the writing of a major research paper and a poster presentation. Independent research requires permission of a supervisor, a secondary faculty reader of the paper, and completion of an independent research form available at the Registrar's Office or its Web site.