Please note: This is NOT the most current catalog.

Biomolecular science

Director, 2007-08: Kim Kandl (Biology), genetics, molecular biology, cell biology

Faculty, 2007-08: Beth R.J. Abdella (Chemistry), bio-organic chemistry; Douglas Beussman (Chemistry), analytical and bioanalytical chemistry; Eric S. Cole (Biology), developmental biology; Steven Freedberg (Biology), bioinformatics, evolutionary ecology; Gregory Muth (Chemistry), biochemistry, organic chemistry; Jean Porterfield (Biology), genetics, evolution, molecular systematics; Jeffrey Schwinefus (Chemistry), physical and biophysical chemistry; Kathleen Shea (Biology), population genetics, conservation; Anne Walter (Biology), biophysics, membranes, cell physiology

Biomolecular science incorporates a wide range of traditional scientific fields. Expanding interest in the intersections of disciplines such as biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, psychology, and physics has led to the development and growth of new scientific areas. Biochemistry and molecular biology have been recognized as interdisciplinary sciences for many years. Newer on the scene are fields such as bioinformatics, molecular evolution, and biophysical chemistry.

The St. Olaf concentration in biomolecular science will appeal to any student who is seeking an understanding of the core sciences of biology and chemistry, but wishes to pursue an integrated selection of upper level courses or to apply the study of biology and chemistry to a different major. The quarter-credit course Explorations in Biomolecular Science introduces concentrators and other interested students to the breadth of this scientific area. An experiential learning component takes biomolecular science out of the traditional classroom and enables students to explore its applications in fields such as medicine, agriculture or genetics.


Biomolecular concentrators must complete the following core courses:

Biology 125 (Cellular Biology and Genetics), Biology 126 (Organismic Biology), Biology 233 (Intermediate Genetics), Biomolecular Science 201 (Explorations in Biomolecular Science, 0.25 credits), Chemistry 125 (Structural Chemistry and Equilibrium), Chemistry 126 (Chemical Reactions), Chemistry 247/253 and 248/254 (Organic Chemistry and Synthesis Laboratory), and Chemistry 379/373 (Biochemistry I and Experimental Biochemistry).

Chemistry 121 and 123 can substitute for Chemistry 125. Chemistry/Biology 125, 126 and 127 can substitute for Chemistry 125, 126 and Biology 125.

Each concentrator must take part in an Experiential Learning Component (see below) and must select at least two Level III electives from a set of approved courses including:

Biology 341 (Cell Physiology), Biology 364 (Molecular Biology), Biology 372 (Developmental Biology), Chemistry 385 (Bio-chemistry II), Chemistry 391 (when taught as Biophysical Chemistry or Bioanalytical Chemistry), and Computer Science 315 (Bioinformatics).

Students are encouraged to consult with their advisor and the program director about the appropriate physics and mathematical sequences (Calculus I and II at a minimum) for their interests as well as appropriate complementary courses, e.g., Biology 383 (Evolutionary Biology).

Experiential Learning Component

Participation in an experimentally based research experience or employment that takes biomolecular sciences beyond the traditional classroom is required of each concentrator. This can occur either on or off campus. This activity must be pre-approved by the Biomolecular Science Committee and be supported after the fact by a letter from a supervisor.


201 Explorations in Biomolecular Science (0.25)

A quarter-credit course devoted to a broad study of the field of biomolecular science through the reading and discussion of primary and secondary literature across the field. Through exploration of the breadth of the field, biomolecular concentrators plan their own 300-level course structure. While required of all Biomolecular Science concentrators, this course is open to all interested students. P/N only. Prerequisite: either Biology 125, Chemistry 125, or Chemistry/Biology 125, or the equivalent. Offered Spring Semester.

294 Internship

298 Independent Study

394 Internship

398 Independent Research