2016-2017 Academic Catalog 
    May 30, 2024  
2016-2017 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Biology Major

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Biology Overview

Undergraduate Program
The Department of Biology offers courses that prepare students for careers in the biological and biomedical sciences. The Department provides support for other programs within the University that require students to obtain a background in one or more subfields of biology and meets the needs of nonscience majors who wish to integrate the science of biology into a liberal-arts curriculum. The major in Biology is suitable for students who intend to go on to professional schools in the health sciences (such as medical, dental, or veterinarian school), or graduate studies in the biological sciences and for those who plan careers in biomedical research, biotechnology, education, environmental sciences, or conservation biology.

The Department encourages students to obtain a broad foundation in biology and then to identify an area of emphasis within the biological sciences. In consultation with faculty advisors, students select courses that provide depth of exposure to topics in their area of specialization, which can include research experiences. Two general curricular plans are offered on the Department of Biology web pages: one in cell and molecular biology and one in ecology and evolution. Curricular plans are also provided for pre-health students interested in majoring in biology. Early consultation with a faculty member in biology is strongly recommended to enable students to acquire the necessary background to participate in specially-designed research courses, internships, or research in faculty laboratories.

For more information, please visit the Biology Department’s website.

Major Requirements

A minimum of ten courses in Biology are required for the major. The two-semester Introduction to Biology sequence (BIOL101 and 102) is a prerequisite for all other courses in Biology that meet the requirements for the major. Biology 101 can be substituted with Biology 103 (designed for those interested in the environmental sciences or conservation biology).  In selecting the required 10 courses, biology majors should include at least (1) one course that develops research techniques in biology, (2) one seminar course, and (3) a one semester capstone experience in an upper level research course, an internship, or directed research (on- or off-campus).


At least four of the 10 required biology courses must be at the 200 level or above, and no courses below the 100 level may be used to satisfy major requirements.  A maximum of two units of independent study [Directed Research/Reading (BIOL 299), Honors in Biology (BIOL 297), Internship (BIOL 298)] may count toward the major. Biology courses used to fulfill the requirements for the major in Biology may not be taken with the pass option.


There are additional requirements for students interested in the accelerated BA/MS program in Biology. For more information visit http://www.clarku.edu/graduate/prospective/fifthyear/biology.cfm. Students are encouraged to attend the information sessions presented by Academic Advising and to carefully review to program requirements and application deadlines for the accelerated degree program.



Requirements for the Biology Major

1. Two semesters of introductory biology to include:

2. Eight additional courses in biology to include:

One course from each of the following three areas of study

  • Cell and Molecular Biology (e.g. BIOL 118-Genetics or BIOL 137-Cell Biology).
  • Organismal Biology (e.g. BIO 109-Microbiology, BIOL 110-Introduction to Botanical Diversity, BIOL 112-Comparative and Human Anatomy, or BIOL 143-Neuroscience).
  • Ecology and Evolution (e.g. BIOL 105-Evolution, BIOL 114-Marine Biology or BIOL 216-Ecology).

Four courses at the 200 level or above

4. Two courses in mathematics to include:

5. Two additional courses in the natural sciences, mathematics, or computer science:

  • To be drawn from offerings in computer science, chemistry, physics, GIS or earth system science.
  • Courses in mathematics above calculus (MATH 125 and above) can fulfill this requirement.
  • Courses applied to the major must be at 100 level or above and must be approved by the student’s faculty advisor.


Qualified, upper-division students majoring in Biology may choose to carry out independent research in the Honors Program, under the direction of a faculty member in the Department. Success in the program will result in notation on the student’s diploma.

Prospective Honors candidates should apply in writing to the Chair of the Department for admission to the Honors Program by April 15 of their junior year.

The application should include:

  1. a list of courses taken and those the student plans to take in the major and related fields,
  2. the name of their prospective faculty advisor, and
  3. a brief description of the proposed Honors project.
  4. An unofficial transcript


Requirements for the Honors program:

  • The candidate must maintain a “B” (3.0) average and grades of “B” or better in all biology courses during their junior and senior years.
  • The candidate must complete Clark University and Biology major requirements.
  • The candidate must work with a faculty advisor. Together they will select two other faculty members to serve on the student’s advisory committee.
  • The candidate must complete at least one semester each of Directed Research (BIOL 299) and Honors Research in Biology (BIOL 297), and the investigation must be summarized in an acceptable thesis.
  • The candidate must present his/her work in a public presentation and pass a comprehensive oral defense-of-thesis exam given by the advisory committee. This exam will test the student on the specific area of investigation and can also include general knowledge of biology. The candidate must provide each advisory committee member a near-final draft of the thesis one week before the scheduled comprehensive defense.
  • The candidate must complete a final draft of the thesis to the satisfaction of the committee and may be awarded Honors, High Honors, or Highest Honors, based on the quality of the research and presentation.
  • The original and two copies of the completed thesis must be submitted to the department five weeks before Commencement.


Biology Faculty


Philip J. Bergmann, Ph.D.

Robert Drewell, Ph.D.

Susan Foster, Ph.D.

John Gibbons, Ph.D.

David Hibbett, Ph.D.

Denis Larochelle, Ph.D.

Todd Livdahl, Ph.D.

Néva Meyer, Ph.D.

Deborah Robertson, Ph.D.

Justin Thackeray, Ph.D.


Halina Brown, Ph.D.
Frederick Greenaway, Ph.D.
Dominik Kulakowski, Ph.D.
Noel Lazo, Ph.D.
John Rogan, Ph.D.
David Thurlow, Ph.D.
Christopher A. Williams, Ph.D.


John Baker, Ph.D.


John Brink, Ph.D.

H. William Johansen, Ph.D.

Linda Kennedy, Ph.D.

Thomas Leonard, Ph.D.

Timothy Lyerla, Ph.D.

John Reynolds, Ph.D.

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