Courses and Requirements
The goal of Hamilton's Biology Department is to introduce a broad range of students to the life sciences, while providing a strong scientific grounding with practical, hands-on training for those who plan to pursue graduate study or a career in the health professions.
A concentration in biology consists of 12.5 credits, including 9.5 credits in biology, two credits in chemistry and one credit related to science in society. Biology courses must include 101 and 102 (or 115), at least four additional courses with laboratories, and 550 and 551. Chemistry courses must include 120 (or 125) and 190. The science and society course must be chosen from a list of courses provided by the department that discuss issues in public policy or ethics related to science or technology. With prior departmental approval, up to two credits may be transferred into the concentration from study off-campus. No more than one credit of independent study may be applied to concentration. Students preparing for graduate studies in biology should take at least one year each of calculus and organic chemistry and should have knowledge of statistics. Departmental honors are determined on the basis of distinguished achievement in coursework and in the Senior Thesis.
A minor in biology consists of five courses, which must include 101 and 102 (or 115) and at least one course at the 300 level or higher. The following courses do not count toward a concentration or minor in biology: 120, 150, 215, 216, 218, and 252. Biology 101 and 102 are open to juniors and seniors.
101F General Biology: Genetics and Evolution.
An introduction to the life sciences. The diversity of living organisms, the molecular basis of life, the mechanisms of inheritance, and the process and patterns of evolution. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Maximum enrollment, 60. The Department.
102S General Biology: Cells to Ecosystems.
An introduction to the life sciences with a focus on how structure promotes function at cellular, organismal, and ecosystem levels of organization. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Maximum enrollment, 60. The Department.
115F Biology: Fundamentals and Frontiers.
One semester introduction to the study of biology at the college level for students with a strong background in biology and chemistry. From the regulation of bacterial behavior to the complexity of animal endocrine and nervous systems, all organisms perceive and respond to chemical signals. Whether in microbes, plants or animals, regulation of growth, metabolism and reproduction depends on the appropriate coordinated action of chemical messengers. This course examines the biological role of chemical sensing and signaling. Three hours of class/discussion and three hours of laboratory. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) (Proseminar.) Prerequisite, high school AP Biology score of 4 or 5 or consent of department. Maximum enrollment, 32. Gapp and McCormick.
145S Biology of Aging.
An examination of aging from molecules to cells to systems. The course will examine the contributions of both genetics and environment to the process of aging, explore how we measure aging, and examine the proposed theories of the aging process. An overview of aging in the major organ systems as brought about by change at the molecular and cellular level and examination of the relationship between aging and disease. Three hours of class. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) May not be counted toward the concentration or the minor. Maximum enrollment, 16. Harvey Cramer.
150F Environmental Science and Society.
An introduction to environmental science. Emphasis on scientific understanding of the causes and implications of, and potential solutions for, problems that result from human interactions with the environment. Current environmental problems examined from an ecological perspective. ES 150 is not required for the ES major. (Same as Environmental Studies 150.) Environmental Studies and related faculty.
200S Scientific Digital Imaging.
An introduction to digital imaging techniques used to acquire, enhance and derive quantitative information from a variety of image sources. Use of Adobe Photoshop and other software to produce publication-quality images and extract data from digital images. Topics include digital photography, artifact removal, 3D rendering and quantitative analysis. Two hours of class and two hours of lab. Prerequisite, two science courses. Maximum enrollment, 12. Bart.
202F Research design and biostatistics.
A broad overview of experimental design and implementation, and the analysis of biological data. Topics include the scientific hypothesis, descriptive statistics, hypothesis testing and the use of common statistical tests. Emphasis on practical application of statistics to biological and medical data, enabling students to choose and apply appropriate statistical tools and to interpret their results. Three hours of class combining lecture and computer lab. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Prerequisite, 101 and 102, or 115, or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 16. Chris Briggs.
Introduction to Bioinformatics.
An introduction to the study of both prokaryotic and eukaryotic genome structures and molecular evolution. Topics also include surveys of different “omics” (e.g. proteomics, metabolomics, …) and their application toward medicine. Three hours of lectures and three hours of laboratory. Prerequisite, 101, 102, or 115. Not open to students who have taken 443 Maximum enrollment, 16.
213S Marine Biology.
Introduction to life in the sea from a global, ecological and evolutionary perspective. Study of marine habitats, food webs, biodiversity, ecological processes, adaptations of marine organisms and human impacts on marine life. Three hours of class and three hours of lab per week. Prerequisite, Bio 101 and 102, or 115, or consent of instructor. One required weekend field trip to the coast Maximum enrollment, 20. Coppard.
216S Introduction to Public Health.
A multidisciplinary examination of the facets that underlie determinants of our collective health. The history of public health and core public health sciences, including: the biomedical basis of disease; analytical methods; social, behavioral and economic factors; environmental issues; and the future of public health. Three hours of class. May not be counted toward the concentration or the minor. Lehman.
Introduction to microorganisms, including bacteria, archaea, single-cell eukaryotes (yeast, algae, protozoa) and viruses, with an emphasis on prokaryotic metabolism and ecology. Basic laboratory techniques, including isolation, cultivation and identification of microbes. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory. Prerequisite, 101 and 102, or 115 and Chemistry 120 or 125, or consent of instructor. Mohan.
222S Survey of Human Anatomy: Introduction to Pathology.
A comprehensive overview of human anatomy with emphasis on the practice of human pathology. Topics include disease pathology of major organ systems, review of diagnostic tools, functional and molecular imaging, as well as a forensic pathology component. Thoughtful dissections of animal model systems and analysis of histology will be the focus of the laboratory. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory. Prerequisite, 101 and 102, or 115, or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 18. Jessica Fellmeth.
228F Invertebrate Biology.
Survey of animal diversity, including marine and freshwater fauna, parasites, insects and the origin of vertebrates. Emphasis on morphology, physiology, ecology and evolution. Three hours of class, three hours of laboratory. Prerequisite, 101 and 102, or 115, or consent of instructor. The Department.
233F Developmental Biology.
Study of events and processes of animal development, including early development, organogenesis, signaling, developmental genetics, imprinting, stem cells, cloning and evolution of development. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory. Prerequisite, 101 and 102, or 115, or consent of instructor. Not open to students who have taken 333. Maximum enrollment, 18. TBD.
The relationships among living organisms and their physical environment, population growth and regulation, interspecific interactions, community and ecosystem structure and function, and biogeography. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, 101 and 102, or 115, or consent of instructor. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory or field exercises. Maximum enrollment, 20. Townsend.
240S Plant Diversity.
Evaluation of the diversity of form and function of vascular and non-vascular plants in an evolutionary context. Field exploration of the diversity of local plant communities. Laboratory and greenhouse study of external and internal structure of terrestrial plants. Three-hours class and three hours of laboratory or field exercises. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, 101 and 102, or 115, or consent of instructor. Next offered Spring 2017 Maximum enrollment, 20. Pfitsch.
248S Genes and Genomes.
Study of the structure and function of genetic material using classical, molecular and genomic analyses. Consideration of the social, medical and agricultural applications of genetic technologies. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory. Prerequisite, 101 and 102, or 115, or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 32. Sasaki.
270S Biological Chemistry.
A survey of the chemical and physical nature of biological macromolecules, including nucleic acids, proteins, lipids and carbohydrates; biochemistry of enzyme catalysis; bioenergetics and regulatory mechanisms. Principles and techniques of experimental biochemistry, focusing on isolation methods and techniques for analyzing structure and function. This course satisfies the second semester of a one-year General Chemistry requirement for post-graduate Health Professions programs, however, this course might not also satisfy a Health Profession program’s requirement for a course in Biochemistry. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Prerequisite, 190. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory. (Same as Chemistry 270 and Biochemistry/Molecular Biology 270.) S Rosenstein.
Plant Function and Structure.
Study of how physiology and anatomy enable plants to make a living. Consideration of how plant structures facilitate photosynthesis, uptake and transport of water and nutrients, and the survival of environmental stress. Investigation of environmental influences on plant growth and development. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Prerequisite, 101 and 102, or 115, or consent of instructor. Next offered Spring 2018
A study of the history of life, evolution and the fossil record. Topics include the general principles of paleontology, nomenclature, taxonomy, identification techniques, fossilization processes, plants, microfossils, invertebrates and vertebrates. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory with field trips. Prerequisite, Principles of Geoscience. (Same as Geosciences 290.) Maximum enrollment, 24. C Domack.
298F,S Biology Research.
Independent research under the supervision of a faculty member. May be repeated for credit. Students may count up to one credit of biology research toward the concentration. One-quarter, one-half, or one credit per semester. No senior concentrators. Prerequisite, Instructor's permission. The Department.
312S Molecular Phylogenetics Workshop.
Project based introduction to comparative evolutionary techniques using molecular sequences. Students will learn to produce robust molecular phylogenies, edit and align genetic sequences, select and apply best-fit models of molecular evolution, carry out phylogenetic analyses, interpret phylogenetic tree topologies, and determine timing of divergence using fossil calibrated phylogenies. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Prerequisite, 101 and 102, or 115, or consent of instructor. Two ninety-minute workshops per week. Maximum enrollment, 12. Coppard.
330S Systems Neuroscience.
The primary focus of this course is on the physiological and chemical basis of behavior from a systems perspective. Topics include analysis of sensory and motor systems; motivated behaviors; stress, anxiety and mental illness; and learning and memory. Laboratory exercises introduce students to the anatomy and physiology of the mammalian central nervous system and to some of the principal techniques used in systems and behavioral neuroscience. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory. Prerequisite, 204 or 205 or Biology 101 and 102, or Biology 115. Does not count toward the lab requirement in Psychology. (Same as Psychology 330 and Neuroscience 330.) Maximum enrollment, Other. Robinson.
331F Vertebrate Physiology.
Fundamentals of vertebrate physiology, emphasizing the functional and homeostatic controls that regulate nerve and muscle tissue, and the cardiovascular, respiratory, renal and endocrine systems. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, 101 and 102, or 115, junior standing or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 20. Downs.
The physiology of flowering plants. Includes plant growth and development, photosynthesis, mineral nutrition, water relations and stress physiology. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory. Prerequisite, 101 and 102, or 115, or consent of instructor.
343S Ecological Physiology.
Students will learn how evolution has shaped physiological adaptations of vertebrates to the environment. Topics may include adaptations that regulate and integrate water and energy balance, immune defenses adaptations that help organisms deal with disease challenges, and endocrine adaptations that help organisms deal with changes in their environment and that coordinate life-cycle events. Adaptations will be discussed within a comparative and integrative framework. Students will learn techniques to ask ecological physiology questions. Prerequisite, Biology 101 and 102 or Biology 115. Maximum enrollment, 16. Cynthia Downs.
The advanced study of biochemical pathways in living organisms, with emphasis given to gene regulation and metabolism of four major macromolecules: carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and nucleic acids. Includes in-depth discussion of contemporary developments in molecular biology and comprehensive training in molecular techniques. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory. Prerequisite, 101 and 102, 115, or consent of instructor. (Same as Biochemistry/Molecular Biology 346.) Mohan.
352F Scanning Electron Microscopy and X-Ray Microanalysis.
Theory, practice and application of the scanning electron microscope and energy dispersive X-ray microanalysis to selected research projects. Three hours of class and three hours of lab. Prerequisite, two laboratory courses in science. (Same as Geoscience 352). Open to juniors and seniors with consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 6. Bart.
355F Molecular Methods in Microbial Ecology.
Research project based introduction to molecular methods for assessing the diversity and activity of microorganisms in natural and engineered environments. A workshop format class with emphasis on quantitative measurement of environmental variables in microbial habitats (environmental chemistry), diversity of microbial metabolic strategies, and DNA based characterization of bacterial and archaeal communities. Three hours of class. Required weekend field trip. Prerequisite, 101, 102 or 115, Chemistry 120 or 125 or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 12. McCormick.
357F Cellular Neurobiology.
A study of the fundamental functions of eukaryotic cells. The interrelationships of cellular structure and function, the cell cycle, protein trafficking and cellular communication will be examined through the study of neurons, the basic unit of the nervous system. Additional topics will include specialized activities of neurons. Three hours class and three hours of laboratory. Prerequisite, 101 and 102, 115, or consent of instructor. (Same as Neuroscience 357.) Lehman.
430S Seminar in Animal Behavior.
Seminar in Animal Behavior. Advanced study of animal behavior from an evolutionary perspective. Topics include communication and signals, game theory and evolutionarily stable strategies, and the evolution of social behavior, mating systems, and reproductive behavior. Discussion of foundational readings and the primary literature. Prerequisite, Prerequisite BIO237 or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 12. Andrea Townsend.
Seminar in Tropical Ecology.
In-depth study of basic and applied topics in tropical ecology including biodiversity and the structure and function of tropical ecosystems. Discussion of readings from the literature. Prerequisite, 237 or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 12.
442F Seminar in Cancer Biology.
Cancer kills millions of individuals worldwide each year. It is a complex disease that takes on many forms and we are only beginning to understand the mechanisms involved for tumorigenesis. This seminar will explore cancer epidemiology, the molecular mechanisms of tumorigenesis, and the moral and ethical implications stemming from cancer research. Prerequisite, 101 and 102, or 115, and junior standing. Maximum enrollment, 12. Mark Sasaki.
443S Seminar in Bioinformatics.
Study of computer-based approaches to molecular investigations: sequence variation, molecular evolution, functional and comparative genomics, and computational biology. Both literature-based lecture and training on the use of bioinformatic software are included. Prerequisite, 101 and 102, or 115, or consent of instructor. 215, 248 or 346 recommended. Chang.
444S Seminar: Evolutionary Medicine.
An in-depth discussion of human diseases from an evolutionary perspective. Topics include proximate versus ultimate causation, reproduction, nutritional and metabolic adaptations, defense, behavior and social organization, evolutionary principles applied to medical practice. Three hours of discussion of papers and topics. Prerequisite, 101 and 102, or 115. Maximum enrollment, 12. Cynthia Downs.
Seminar in Global Change Ecology.
Study of the ecological, physiological, behavioral, and evolutionary responses of organisms to environmental change. Current research on global climate change, changing species distributions, extinctions and invasions, emerging infectious diseases, urbanization, pollution, and mitigation potential will be explored. Discussion of readings from the literature. Prerequisite, 237 or consent of instructor. Next offered spring of 2020 Maximum enrollment, 12.
452S Seminar in Evolutionary Change.
This course explores the process of evolution and the patterns generated by it. Evolution is a way of thinking about biological diversity and life in general. Using primary literature as our main tool, we will explore topics including population genetics, the history of evolutionary theory, concepts of fitness and adaptation, genetic and developmental mechanisms of change, speciation, extinction, macroevolution, sexual selection, origins of life, and human evolution. Three hours of lecture/discussion. Prerequisite, Bio 101 and 102 or Bio 115 and Junior or Senior standing. Maximum enrollment, 12. Jessica Fellmeth.
550F Senior Thesis I.
An intensive library and laboratory or field research project carried out in association with a faculty member. Prerequisite, acceptance by the department of a written proposal. Maximum enrollment, 6. The Department.
551F,S Senior Thesis II.
Completion and presentation of the senior research project. Includes written and oral presentation. Prerequisite, 550. One-half credit. Maximum enrollment, 6. The Department.
552F,S Senior Thesis III.
A continuation of the senior research project for a more in-depth study of special topics in biological research. Open to students whose project in 550 warrants additional investigation. To be taken concurrently with 551. Prerequisite, 550 and consent of instructor. One-half credit. The Department.
(from the Hamilton Course Catalogue)