Biological Sciences Overview
Chairperson: Brian K. Penney
Professors: Eric J. Berry, Daniel Broek, Brian K. Penney, F. Jay Pitocchelli, Barry J. Wicklow; Associate Professors: Lori LaPlante, Daniel J. Lavoie, William Ryerson, Stephen W. Tobin, Robert C. Vallari; Assistant Professors: Theresa Dabruzzi, Elizabeth Greguske.
The Department of Biology administers four majors: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Biology, Environmental Science and Natural Science. In each of these majors, the curriculum is designed to: 1) explore the fundamental properties of life from the molecular to the community/ecosystem level, 2) demonstrate how biologists conduct inquiry in biology through rigorous application of the scientific method, and 3) incorporate this body of information into the framework of modern evolutionary theory. Laboratory and field work are important components of all four majors.
For students from other majors with interests in the study of biology, Exploring the Natural World (BI 101), Topics in General Biology (BI 102), Exercise Physiology (BI 201), Tropical Biology (BI221) and Field Studies in Tropical Biology (BI 222) offer opportunities to learn about how biologists use the scientific method to investigate questions about the living world, the diversity of life, and the relationship of discoveries in the biological sciences to current problems facing a modern society. In addition, “The Biosphere at Risk” (BI 205), an introductory environmental science course, explores environmental issues of global significance, providing a scientific basis for both understanding the causes of and developing solutions for environmental problems.
Students interested in careers in life science secondary education should see details under the Education Department (Life Sciences certification for grades 7-12) in the online catalog.
Students are required to earn a minimum of a “C” average (2.0), and receive no individual course grade lower than C-, in General Biology BI 103 and BI 104 and in General Chemistry CH 130 and Structure and Reactivity CH 150, the traditional first year biology and chemistry course sequences, to continue enrollment in a biology department-administered major into the second year.
A student who falls below either performance requirement (“C” average or minimum of “C-” in a class) will be placed on probationary status in his or her respective major while repeating the necessary course(s) to meet the performance requirements. Probationary students must repeat the necessary course(s) by the end of the subsequent academic year and must meet all the performance requirements before enrolling in upper-level Biology courses. All probationary students must obtain permission of the Biology Department Chair to remain in any of the biology department-administered majors. It is the student’s responsibility to provide evidence of successful completion of these courses to the Chair and the Registrar no later than one week prior to the first day of classes.
Beyond the introductory courses (see above), students must maintain each semester a minimum grade point average of 2.0 in their major courses (biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics) to continue in their respective majors.
Students from other majors wishing to join one of the department’s four majors must first complete the equivalent of the General Biology 103-104 sequence. For these students, work completed in Exploring the Natural World (BI 101) or Topics in General Biology (BI 102 ) may be used in lieu of the corresponding semester of General Biology I (BI 103 ) or General Biology II (BI 104 ), provided that a minimum average grade of B+ is earned in BI101 or BI102. These students must consult and seek permission of the Chair prior to changing majors.
Students completing BI 101 or BI 102 but failing to earn a B+ average may also be admitted into a Biology Department major by meeting the minimum grade requirements described above for a typical major’s sequence, i.e. enrolling and successfully completing BI 103 - BI 104 and CH 130 - CH 131 with a C average or better across all four courses. These students must also take one additional elective to replace BI 101 or BI 102 , in accordance with the College’s policy on repeating courses.