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Programs

Modern biology has evolved from its origins in natural history into one of the most complex, most rapidly changing, and most exciting of all the sciences. Biology today encompasses not only such traditional areas as anatomy and taxonomy, but also molecular genetics, immunochemistry, and sociobiology. Because today’s biologist must have an awareness of current developments in addition to a sound foundation in basic principles, Sweet Briar’s biology program emphasizes the application of new experimental discoveries to the fundamental questions of cellular, organismal, and population biology. A student who elects biology as her major subject may earn either the Bachelor of Arts or the Bachelor of Science degree.

The Biology Major (B. A.)
The Biology Major (B.S.)
The Biology Minor
Teacher Licensure
Course Descriptions


The Biology Major (B. A.)
(36 semester hours)

Required:
BIOL 111    (4)    Introduction to Organisms
BIOL 112    (3)    Introduction to Cells
BIOL 113    (1)    Introductory Laboratory Techniques

Senior Exercise
Choose 1 of the following:
BIOL 450    (1)    Senior Exercise

Choose 27 additional semester hours in biology, including at least 10 semester hours at the 300-level or above (excluding BIOL 377), and an additional 14 semester hours at the 200-level or above. A maximum of 3 semester hours of BIOL 377 may be counted towards the major. BIOL 104 may be counted towards the major if it is taken as a first-year student or a sophomore.

NOTES: In consultation with their advisor, students are expected to select courses which provide them with breadth in biology, covering the areas of cellular and molecular, animal, plant, and population biology. It is strongly recommended that students also take at least one course in the physical or environmental sciences.

At least 20 semester hours of coursework applied towards the major must taken at Sweet Briar College.

The Biology Major (B.S.)
(62-63 semester hours)

Required:
BIOL 111      (4)    Introduction to Organisms
BIOL 112      (3)    Introduction to Cells
BIOL 113      (1)    Introductory Laboratory Techniques
BIOL 205      (3)    Genetics
BIOL 310      (4)    Evolution
CHEM 131    (3)    General Chemistry
CHEM 141    (1)    General Chemistry Lab
CHEM 231    (3)    Organic Chemistry I
CHEM 233    (1)    Organic Chemistry I Laboratory

Senior Exercise:
BIOL 351    (3)    Independent Research

Choose 1 of the following:
MATH 205    (3)    Applied Statistics
PSYC 219    (4)    Statistics for Behavioral Sciences

Choose 21 additional semester hours in biology, including at least 7 semester hours at the 300-level or above (excluding BIOL 377), and an additional 11 semester hours at the 200-level or above. A maximum of 3 semester hours of BIOL 377 may be counted towards the major.

Choose 12 additional semester hours in biology, chemistry (except CHEM 119, 120, 125), computer science, engineering, mathematics (except MATH 106, 113, 211, 213), physics (except PHYS 103, 113, 114), psychology, or from the following courses in environmental studies: ENVR 143, 203, 228, 244, 309, 316, 322, 416, and 433). Eight of these 12 credits must be in departments other than biology and chemistry.

NOTES: The BIOL 351 option for the senior exercise may be satisfied by completion of Sweet Briar Summer Honors Research with a biology faculty member between the junior and senior year, or by participation in an approved NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates in a biological discipline between the junior and senior year.

At least 20 semester hours of coursework applied towards the major must taken at Sweet Briar College.

The Biology Minor
(18 semester hours)

Required:
BIOL 111    (4)    Introduction to Organisms
BIOL 112    (3)    Introduction to Cells
BIOL 113    (1)    Introductory Laboratory Techniques

Choose 10 additional semester hours in biology at the 200-level or above.

NOTES: No more than three credit hours of directed, special, or independent study may be applied toward the minor. Internship credits may not be applied toward the minor.

At least 9 semester hours of coursework applied towards the minor must be taken at Sweet Briar College.

Teacher Licensure

Required:
1. A bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degree in biology
2. Complete each of the following:

  •  one course in plant biology (BIOL 104, BIOL 214, or BIOL 301)
  •  genetics (BIOL 205)
  •  ecology (BIOL 324)
  •  two courses in zoology, and/or anatomy and physiology (any two of BIOL 216, BIOL 230, BIOL 247, or BIOL 326)
  •  evolution (BIOL 310)
  •  four courses in chemistry (CHEM 131, CHEM 141, CHEM 231, and CHEM 232)
  •  physics (PHYS 171)
  •  earth science (ENVR 143)
  •  one course in mathematics or statistics (MATH 106, MATH 123, MATH 124, MATH 205, or PSYC 219


Students who seek endorsement in more than one area of science need to complete an additional 18 credit hours in the second field which must include any specific requirements in that field.


Course Descriptions

BIOL 103

Life Science by Inquiry
CR: 
4.0

Prerequisite: Priority given to majors in liberal studies. Not open to first-year students. Students will examine aspects of the scientific method including careful observation, experimental design, and data analysis using life science concepts. Topics will include organismal biology, ecology, cell biology, evolution, and genetics. Students will conduct hands-on, inquiry-based investigations and gain experience in independent investigation and the development and implementation of an independent scientific research project. This course may not be counted towards the major or minor in biology. V.8ab

BIOL 104

Plants and Human Affairs
CR: 
3.0

Prerequisite: Not open to junior or senior biology majors or minors. An introduction to plants and their remarkable impact on diverse aspects of human activity. This course will explore the ways in which humans use plants for food, medicine, and other products; the role of plants in our environment; and the implications of plants in areas such as economics and human culture. Some topics will be based on student interest and may include current concerns such as world hunger, use of chemicals in agriculture, use of genetically-engineered foods, and uses of native plants. V.8a

BIOL 107

Laboratory in Plants and Human Affairs
CR: 
1.0

Prerequisite: Not open to junior or senior biology majors or minors. Prerequisite or co-requisite: BIOL 104. An introduction to the scientific method and its application in plant biology. Observations and experiments will emphasize crop plants, plant growth and morphology, human impacts on natural systems, genetic engineering, and the properties of plant products. Students will present their findings in oral and written form. V.8b

BIOL 111

Introduction to Organisms
CR: 
4.0

An introduction to organismal and population biology. Topics include genetics, evolution and ecology, and the interactions of organisms with their environment. Three hours lecture and one three-hour laboratory. V.8ab

BIOL 112

Introduction to Cells
CR: 
3.0

Prerequisite: BIOL 111. An introduction to cell biology, including the chemistry of biological macromolecules, cell structure, function, and reproduction. Additional topics include genetic engineering, viruses and cancer, and the cellular basis of immunity. V.8a

BIOL 113

Introductory Laboratory Techniques
CR: 
1.0

Prerequisite or co-requisite: BIOL 112. An introduction to basic methods and instrumentation in biology, emphasizing fundamental laboratory procedures. Techniques to be studied include light and electron microscopy, spectrophotometry, electrophoresis, and chromatography. The use of computer applications for the basic analysis and presentation of data is also examined. One three-hour laboratory. III.Q, V.8b

BIOL 147

Human Anatomy and Physiology I
CR: 
4.0

Prerequisites: BIOL 111 and BIOL 112. Basic histology, anatomy (gross and microscopic), and physiology of the human integumentary, skeletal, muscular, nervous, and sensory systems. Human anatomy is studied using charts and models. Superficial anatomy is studied on the human body, and dissection examines homologous structures on the cat. This course may not be counted towards the major or minor in biology. Offered alternate years. Three hours lecture and one three-hour laboratory.

BIOL 205

Genetics
CR: 
3.0

Prerequisite: BIOL 112. An introduction to gene action and the principles of inheritance. Topics include Mendelian genetics, chromosome theory, and molecular genetics, as well as recombinant DNA, extranuclear genomes, and population genetics. Four hours lecture and discussion. V.8a

BIOL 206

Laboratory in Genetics
CR: 
1.0

Prerequisite: BIOL 113. Prerequisite or corequisite: BIOL 205. A laboratory study of concepts in genetics ranging from classical to molecular genetics. Students learn to apply the tools of genetics to explore Mendelian and non- Mendelian inheritance patterns and to investigate the nature of DNA. The interpretation of quantitative data is explored using appropriate statistical analyses. One three-hour laboratory.

BIOL 209

Marine Biology
CR: 
3.0

Prerequisites: BIOL 111 and BIOL 112. A survey of marine organisms and their adaptations to seawater chemistry, seafloor geology, and waves, tides, and currents. Our comprehensive survey of marine microbes, fungi, plants, invertebrates, and vertebrates will then enable us to discuss the ecology of specialized marine communities, such as kelp forests, polar seas, the open ocean, intertidal zones, seagrass beds, coral reefs, and the deep sea.

BIOL 214

The Plant Kingdom
CR: 
4.0

Prerequisite: BIOL 104 or BIOL 111. A survey of the plant kingdom with emphasis on the flowering plants. The structure, reproduction, evolution, adaptations, and economic significance of the major plant groups will be covered. Three hours lecture and one three-hour laboratory. Offered alternate years. III.W, V.8ab

BIOL 216

Insect Biology
CR: 
4.0

Prerequisite: BIOL 111. An introduction to insects and other terrestrial arthropods, with an emphasis on evolution, morphology, physiology, ecology and behavior. Offered alternate years.

BIOL 218

Field Natural History
CR: 
4.0

Prerequisite: BIOL 111, or one course of laboratory science and permission. This course will develop three important traits of a scientific naturalist: skill at seeing patterns in nature and framing interesting questions about them; knowledge of the names, classification, and identifying characteristics of local organisms; and the understanding of a modern theoretical framework in ecology, evolution, and behavior. Offered alternate years. Three hours lecture and three hours laboratory or field work. V.8a

BIOL 222

Animal Behavior
CR: 
4.0

Prerequisites: BIOL 111; and one additional 3- or 4-credit BIOL course, or PSYC 219 or PSYC 231. An introduction to the causes, development, evolution, and function of behavior. Offered alternate years. Three hours lecture and a one-hour workshop. May be counted towards the major or minor in either biology or psychology. III.W, V.8a

BIOL 228

Microbiology
CR: 
4.0

Prerequisites: BIOL 112, BIOL 113, and BIOL 205. Structure, physiology, and ecology of bacteria and other microorganisms. Three hours lecture and one three-hour laboratory. Offered alternate years.

BIOL 230

Comparative Vertebrate Morphology
CR: 
4.0

Prerequisite: BIOL 111. First-year students by permission. Functional anatomy of vertebrates, with emphasis on evolutionary adaptations. Three hours lecture and one three-hour laboratory. V.8a

BIOL 247

Human Anatomy and Physiology II
CR: 
4.0

Prerequisite: BIOL 147. Basic histology, anatomy (gross and microscopic), and physiology of the human cardiovascular, lymphatic, respiratory, digestive, urinary, and reproductive systems. Human anatomy is studied using charts and models. Superficial anatomy is studied on the human body, and dissection examines homologous structures on the cat. Offered alternate years. Three hours lecture and one three-hour laboratory.

BIOL 261

Directed Study
CR: 
3.0

Prerequisites: One BIOL course and permission of the instructor. The study of introductory level material by an individual student or by a small group of students under the immediate supervision of a faculty member.

BIOL 301

Plant Ecophysiology
CR: 
4.0

Prerequisites: BIOL 112, BIOL 113; and BIOL 104 or BIOL 214. An exploration of how plants respond and adapt to their environment. Topics include light responses and photosynthesis, reproduction, dormancy, hormonal regulation, soils and nutrition, plant defenses, and behavior. Students will conduct explorations and experiments in the laboratory and in campus natural areas. Three hours lecture and one three-hour laboratory. Offered alternate years.

BIOL 303

Principles of Development
CR: 
4.0

Prerequisites: BIOL 205 and either BIOL 214, BIOL 218, or BIOL 230. Sophomores by permission. An examination of the processes by which a single cell, the fertilized egg, gives rise to a multicellular organism. The modern study of development relies heavily on the tools and perspectives of cell and molecular biology. This course will integrate these new methods and approaches with those of classical embryology in the study of several model organisms. Offered alternate years. III.O, V.8a

BIOL 310

Evolution
CR: 
4.0

Prerequisites: BIOL 205 and one additional BIOL course at the 200-level. Sophomores by permission. A good grasp of algebra will be assumed. As the unifying principle of all biology, evolution overlaps genetics, molecular biology, anatomy and physiology, behavior, ecology, and development. This course will cover the processes responsible for the changes in living things over time; evidence demonstrating the shared evolutionary history of all living things; and the history of life on earth. Additional topics that may be covered include: co-evolution among species, human evolution, the origin of life, creationism. Three hours lecture and one hour discussion. III.O

BIOL 316

Seminar in Conservation Biology
CR: 
3.0

Prerequisite or Co-requisite: BIOL 324. This advanced seminar will use case studies to explore the main threats to biological diversity: habitat loss and fragmentation, habitat degradation, introduced species, and overharvesting. Although the emphasis is on biological science issues, these will be examined as well in their social, economic, and political contexts. Readings and discussions will concentrate on the primary literature. Offered alternate years. III.O

BIOL 320

Biomathematics
CR: 
4.0

Prerequisites: BIOL 111, BIOL 112, MATH 124; and MATH 205 or PSYC 219. This course addresses quantification skills for biomathematics, using mathematical models to investigate biological phenomena through analysis of experimental data, Skills developed include the ability to examine an unfamiliar problem, analyze it to determine the type of data necessary to address the problem, select the appropriate mathematical tools to be applied to the data, and evaluate the adequacy of the results. May be counted as a 300-level course in mathematics. Offered alternate years. V.8a

BIOL 324

Ecology
CR: 
4.0

Prerequisites: BIOL 111 or ENVR 101; and one 200-level lab course in biology or environmental science. This course examines the interrelationships between individuals and their abiotic environment, among members of a population, and among populations in a given habitat or community. General principles and theories will be applied to a range of organisms, including plants, animals, microorganisms, and humans. Labs emphasize the collection and evaluation of numerical data to test hypotheses, and include field problems, computer models, and student-designed experiments. Three hours lecture and three hours laboratory/discussion. III.Q, V.8a

BIOL 326

Comparative Animal Physiology
CR: 
4.0

Prerequisites: BIOL 112, BIOL 113, and BIOL 216 or BIOL 230; and one year of chemistry. Sophomores by permission. A study of animal function, with examples drawn from all the major phyla. Emphasis is placed on functional adaptations used by animals to overcome common environmental challenges, such as obtaining sufficient quantities of food, oxygen, and water. The roles of thermoregulation, osmoregulation, and animal sensory systems in maintaining homeostasis also are emphasized. Three hours lecture/discussion and one three-hour laboratory. Offered alternate years. III.Q

BIOL 342

Cell and Molecular Biology
CR: 
4.0

Prerequisites: BIOL 205 and one year of chemistry. Sophomores by permission. An examination of recent work in major areas of cell biology including membranes, regulation, cellular compartmentalization, signal transduction, and cellular and molecular aspects of immunology and cancer. Three hours lecture and one hour discussion. Offered alternate years. III.W

BIOL 344

Experimental Laboratory in Cell and Molecular Biology
CR: 
2.0

Prerequisites: BIOL 205, BIOL 206, and one year of chemistry; or CHEM 321 and permission of instructor. Sophomores by permission. An introduction to current techniques and modern experimental approaches used in the study of cells and their components. Includes electrophoretic and chromatographic analysis of DNA and proteins, organelle characterization, advanced techniques in light microscopy and photomicrography, and basic techniques of genetic engineering. One four-hour laboratory. Offered alternate years.

BIOL 351

Independent Research
CR: 
3.0

Prerequisites: BS degree biology majors with senior standing and permission of the instructor. An independent research project selected and carried out in consultation with a faculty sponsor. A written report and an oral presentation are required. III.W

BIOL 361

Special Study
CR: 
3.0

Prerequisites: 100-level BIOL course and permission of the instructor. The study of an intermediate level topic by an individual student or by a small group of students under the immediate supervision of a faculty member.

BIOL 377

Internship
CR: 
3.0

Prerequisites: Three credits in BIOL and permission of instructor and department chair. This course is graded P/CR/NC only.

BIOL 450

Senior Exercise
CR: 
1.0

Prerequisite: Senior B.A. biology major. An independent research project developed in conjunction with a 300-level biology course, with permission of the instructor. The project may involve field, laboratory, or library work. The senior exercise will include a substantial paper.

BIOL 452

Senior Colloquium
CR: 
1.0
A seminar on topics in biology. Required of all senior majors.

BIOL 461

Independent Study
CR: 
3.0

Prerequisites: One 100-level BIOL course, one 200-level BIOL course, and permission of the instructor. Pursuit of an upper level research project determined in advance by the student in consultation with a faculty member who will act as the sponsor.