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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.

For all classes up to and including the class of 2021:
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, 550 and 551.

Beginning with the class of 2022:
A concentration in biology consists of 12 credits, including 9 credits in biology, two credits in chemistry and one credit related to science in society. Biology courses must include Bio 100, at least four additional courses with laboratories, and 550. At least one upper level lab course must be selected from within each of the following curricular categories: Cell and Molecular Biology (212, 221, 248, 270, 334, 346, 357), Organismal Biology (213, 222, 228, 280, 330, 331, 334, 343) and Ecology/Evolution (212, 213, 228, 237, 238, 290, 343). Courses listed in more that one category can only be counted toward fulfilling the requirement in one.
 
For all classes:
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. To meet the Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies college requirement, students must take a specified number of biology courses that carry an SSIH designation (1 for the class of ’20, 2 for class of ’21, and 3 for the class of ’22 and thereafter). With prior departmental approval, up to one SSIH course can be taken from outside the department if the course addresses issues in biology or science in general. 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 the 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 Bio 100 (or 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: 145, 150, 214, and 216. Biology 100, 101 and 102 are open to juniors and seniors.

100B F Explorations of Biology: Frankenstein Fish.
A thematic course exploring five fundamental features of all biological systems, including organization, information flow, energy and matter, interactions, and evolution. As humans continue to exploit the ocean’s resources by overfishing, aquaculture and mariculture have become more and more important to meet human demands for fish proteins. This course will examine overfishing, genetically modified/engineered foods, and animal cloning and engineering to introduce fundamental concepts of ecology, ecosystems and conservation biology, genetics and molecular biology, and ethical issues. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory. Not open to students who have taken Bio 101, 102 or any other Explorations in Biology course. Admission of non-first year students with permission of the instructor. Maximum enrollment, 30. Chang.

100C S Explorations of Biology: Life at the extreme.
A thematic course exploring five fundamental features of all biological systems, including organization, information flow, energy and matter, interactions, and evolution. We will discuss adaptations of organisms, including humans, that live in extreme environments or that perform extreme feats. Topics include how organisms live in the deserts, at high altitude, or in thermal vents. We’ll also discuss the biology of the fastest, strongest, smallest, largest, or slowest. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory. Not open to students who have taken Bio 101, 102 or any other Explorations in Biology course. Admission of non-first year students with permission of the instructor. Maximum enrollment, 30. Downs.

[100D F] Explorations in Biology: Neurobiology and Animal Behavior.
A thematic course exploring five fundamental features of all biological systems, including organization, information flow, energy and matter, interactions, and evolution. An interdisciplinary study exploring the general principles of the function and organization of nervous systems. Topics include the physical and chemical bases for action potentials, synaptic transmission, and sensory transduction with a special emphasis on a comparative approach to the study of animal behavior and its underlying mechanistic control by the nervous system. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory. Not open to students who have taken Bio 101, 102 or any other Explorations in Biology course. Admission of non-first year students with permission of the instructor. Maximum enrollment, 30.

100E F Explorations in Biology: Microbes Rule!.
A thematic course exploring five fundamental features of all biological systems, including organization, information flow, energy and matter, interactions, and evolution. From early in Earth’s history to the present, microbes have ruled our planet. Recent advances in DNA sequencing reveal a vast, complex and diverse microbial world living around and within us (our personal microbiomes). This course examines the origin, function, and diversity of microbial life on our planet and explores recent discoveries in host-microbiome research. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory. Not open to students who have taken Bio 101, 102 or any other Explorations in Biology course. Admission of non-first year students with permission of the instructor. Maximum enrollment, 30. McCormick.

100F F Explorations in Biology: Genetic Engineering.
A thematic course exploring five fundamental features of all biological systems, including organization, information flow, energy and matter, interactions and evolution. This course explores the questions “Are we a product of our genes?” and “Can we change our genes?” We will focus on the molecular basis of life: how traits are controlled by genetic information, how this information is inherited, and how it can be manipulated through new genetic engineering and genome editing technologies, including discussion of medical and agricultural applications and their impact on society. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory. Not open to students who have taken Bio 101, 102 or any other Explorations in Biology course. Admission of non-first year students with permission of the instructor. Maximum enrollment, 30. Nannas.

[100G F] Explorations in Biology: Life in Space.
A thematic course exploring five fundamental features of all biological systems, including organization, information flow, energy and matter, interactions, and evolution. We will focus on two aspects of life in space. 1) The nature of and requirements for extraterrestrial life: how will we know it when we find it? 2) How to meet limitations to long term human survival in space? Research into the effects of reduced gravity, supplying a nutritious diet, and managing microbial interactions. Class project will plan life support for a sustainable human colony on Mars or the moon. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory. Not open to students who have taken Bio 101, 102 or any other Explorations in Biology course. Admission of non-first year students with permission of the instructor. Maximum enrollment, 30.

100H S Explorations in Biology: Disease Ecology in a Changing World.
A thematic course exploring five fundamental features of all biological systems, including organization, information flow, energy and matter, interactions, and evolution. This section will provide an introduction to disease ecology, with emphasis on environmental change, emerging infectious diseases, and zoonotic pathogens. We will discuss fundamental concepts in biology through examination of the genetic and physiological underpinnings of disease, the effects of disease on wildlife populations and behavior, and host-parasite co-evolution. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory. Not open to students who have taken Bio 101, 102, 115 or any other Explorations in Biology course. Admission of non-first year students with permission of the instructor. Maximum enrollment, 30. Townsend.

100J S Explorations in Biology: Our Blue Planet.
A thematic course exploring five fundamental features of all biological systems, including organization, information flow, energy and matter, interactions, and evolution. Marine habitats cover ~70% of the world’s surface and host the greatest range of animal life forms on earth, yet ~95% of our oceans remain unexplored. This course examines how marine species function, their interactions with each other and their environment, and their organization into communities and ecosystems. We will explore threats to ocean life, and regulatory and non-governmental efforts towards its conservation. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory. Not open to students who have taken Bio 101, 102 or any other Explorations in Biology course. Admission of non-first year students with permission of the instructor. Maximum enrollment, 30. Reynolds.

100K F Genes, Patterns, and Embryos.
A thematic course exploring five fundamental features of all biological systems, including organization, information flow, energy and matter, interactions and evolution. This course examines the genetic, molecular, and cellular mechanisms that control embryonic and post-embryonic development. We will focus on how complex systems are built and organized, and explore how we inherit both the composition of our genomes as well as the means to interpret that composition in the contexts of development and patterning. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory. Not open to students who have taken Bio 101, 102 or any other Explorations in Biology course. Admission of non-first year students with permission of the instructor. Maximum enrollment, 30. Datta.

145 S 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. Cramer.

200 S 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.

202 F 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, 100, or 101, or 102, or 115, or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 20. Briggs.

212 S 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, 100, or 101, or 102, or 115, or consent of instructor. Not open to students who have taken 443 Maximum enrollment, 20. Chang.

213 S 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 100, or 101, or 102, or 115, or consent of instructor. One required weekend field trip to the coast Reynolds.

[214] Seminar in Health Care Systems.
An overview and analysis of US health care systems. US health care systems include public health (population-based services) and medical care (individual patients) systems. Topics include development and organization of various public health and medical entities within the United States, strengths and challenges related to cost, quality, and access to these systems, past and present epidemics, and current issues related to health care systems. (Proseminar.) May not be counted toward the concentration or minor. Not open to students who have taken Bio 216. Next offered TBD. Maximum enrollment, 20.

221 S Microbiology.
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 characterization of microbes. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Prerequisite, 100, or 101, or 102, or 115 and Chemistry 120 or 125, or consent of instructor. McCormick.

222 S Human Anatomy.
Exploration of the structure and function of human tissues, organs and systems with an introduction to basic pathology and diagnostic tools. This course emphasizes physiological function and the role of anatomical form in these processes. Examines skeletal, muscular, endocrine, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and reproductive systems of humans. Thoughtful dissections of animal model systems and analysis of histology will be the focus of the laboratory. Prerequisite, 100, or 101, or 102, or 115, or consent of instructor. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory. Maximum enrollment, 30. Department.

223 F Bioethics.
Comprehensive overview of ethical questions and social impacts arising from the use of new biotechnologies. Topics include stem cells and regenerative medicine, human reproductive technologies, genetic screening and counseling, cloning, plant and animal transgenics, genome mapping and patenting, and genetic engineering. This Speaking-Intensive course will use oral presentations and student-led discussions to examine the potential merits and pitfalls of these technologies. (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) (Speaking-Intensive.) Prerequisite, 100, or 101, or 102, or 115, or consent of instructor. Three hours of class. Does not count toward the concentration or minor but fulfills the Biology science in society requirement. Maximum enrollment, 20. Nannas.

228 F 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, 100, or 101, or 102, or 115, or consent of instructor. Reynolds.

234 S Mechanisms of Developmental Evolution.
Examines the molecular mechanisms of evolutionary change that drive morphological diversity in the animal kingdom. This course integrates genetics, molecular biology, development, and evolution. We will study adaptation, mechanisms of selection, speciation, plasticity, the origin of novelties, developmental constraints, and the evolution of gene regulatory networks in the context of development and patterning. Prerequisite, 100, or 101, or 102, or 115, or consent of instructor. Rhea Datta.

237 F Ecology.
The relationships among living organisms and their physical environment, population growth and regulation, interspecific interactions, community and ecosystem structure and function, and biogeography. (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) Prerequisite, 100, or 101, or 102, or 115, or consent of instructor. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory or field exercises. Townsend.

238 F Community and Ecosystem Ecology.
A place-based examination of the ecological communities on and around Hamilton College. Use of field sampling, mapping methods, and analytical techniques to measure and describe local terrestrial and stream ecosystems. Application of skills in group investigation of the implications of human alterations of local natural systems. These projects will inform a collective consideration of the roles Hamilton properties play in global carbon and nitrogen budgets. (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Prerequisite, 100, or 101, or 102, or 115, or consent of instructor. Pfitsch.

248 S 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. (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Prerequisite, 100, or 101, or 102, or 115, or consent of instructor. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory. Nannas.

270 S 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.) Welsh.

280 S Plant Function and Structure.
Study of how plants make a living. Consideration of how plant structures enable photosynthesis, uptake and transport of water and nutrients, and the maintenance of food production in the face of environmental limitations. Student designed investigation of how plant adaptations can feed the increasing human population in a changing world. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Prerequisite, 100, or 101, or 102, or 115, or consent of instructor. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory. Pfitsch.

290 F Paleontology.
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.

298 F,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.

330 F 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, Psych/Neuro 204 or 205. Does not count toward the lab requirement in Psychology. (Same as Psychology 330 and Neuroscience 330.) Maximum enrollment, 20. Robinson.

331 F 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. Prerequisite, 100, or 101, or 102, or 115, plus one other biology course or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 24. The Department.

334 F Developmental Genetics.
In this course we will integrate classical genetics, epigenetics, cell and molecular biology, and organismal approaches to the study of development. We will analyze a diversity of mechanisms, ranging from ones that set up pattern formation in the unfertilized egg to those governing morphogenesis of organ systems. Topics covered include embryogenesis, gene regulation, axis specification, morphogen signaling, stem cells, cloning, limb formation, and sex determination, as well as congenital defects and issues in human development. Prerequisite, 100, or 101, or 102, or 115, or consent of instructor. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory. Maximum enrollment, 32. Datta.

[343 S] 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, 100, or 101, or 102, or 115, or consent of instructor.

346 F Biochemistry.
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. (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) Prerequisite, 100, or 101, or 102, or 115, and Chemistry 190, or consent of instructor. (Same as Biochemistry/Molecular Biology 346.) Chang.

352 F 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. Open to juniors and seniors with consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 6. Bart.

355 F 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, One semester of introductory Biology (100, 101, 102 or 115) and Chemistry 120 or 125, or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 15. McCormick.

357 S 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, 100, or 101, or 102, or 115, or consent of instructor. (Same as Neuroscience 357.) Lehman.

373 S Conservation Biology.
Survey of the conservation of biological diversity from genes to populations to ecosystems. We will explore current ideas and literature in protecting, preserving and restoring biodiversity and ecosystem function. Discussion of ecological foundations, techniques to study conservation (e.g., technological, molecular, habitat restoration), and policy issues. We will examine causes of diversity loss such as habitat loss, and how conservation planning can help mitigate losses in the face of continuing anthropogenic pressures such as fragmentation, pollutants and climate change. (Proseminar.) Prerequisite, One laboratory science course. (Same as Environmental Studies 373.) Maximum enrollment, 16. C Briggs.

430 S 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 Bio 237 or consent of instructor. Students must have Junior or Senior standing. Maximum enrollment, 20. Townsend.

[437] 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, 20.

[443 S] 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, 100, or 101, or 102, or 115, or consent of instructor. Biology 215, 248 or 346 recommended. Maximum enrollment, 20.

[444 S] 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, 100, or 101, or 102, or 115, or consent of instructor and Junior or Senior standing. Maximum enrollment, 20.

[451 S] 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, 20.

[453] Seminar in Ecotoxicology.
Study of the effects of toxins in the environment covering areas from the molecular to whole ecosystems. This course will examine how pollutants enter ecosystems, their fates, and their eventual effects. We will use primary literature discussions to examine the effects of specific pollutants and how we can deal with them. Prerequisite, 100, or 101, or 102, or 115 and Chemistry 120 or 125, or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 20.

454 F Molecular Genetics.
An in-depth study of how genetic information is accurately transmitted and the consequences of mistakes in this process. Topics include mechanisms of chromosome segregation, chromosome and aneuploidy disorders, genetics of cancer, epigenetics, molecular mechanisms of genetic disease and gene therapy options. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Prerequisite, 100, or 101, or 102, or 115, and 248 or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 20. Nannas.

550 F 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.

551 F,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.

552 F,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)

Contact Information


Biology Department

198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323
315-859-4367 315-859-4807 biology@hamilton.edu
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