2019-2020 Academic Catalog 
    Nov 27, 2022  
2019-2020 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Biology Major

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Biology Overview

Undergraduate Program
The Department of Biology offers both a major and a minor 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 non-science 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 veterinary school) or graduate studies in the biological sciences and for those planning 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 their faculty adviser, 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; however, these are just two of many possible ways of focusing within the discipline. 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 (BIOL 101 and 102) is a prerequisite for all other courses in Biology that meet the requirements for the major. In addition, Evolution (BIOL 105) and Genetics (BIOL 118) are required, as well as one course with a focus on organismal diversity; students should speak with a faculty member to identify current courses that meet this requirement.  In selecting the remaining courses, biology majors should include at least (1) one course that develops research techniques in biology, (2) one seminar course, and (3) one capstone experience. The capstone requirement can be met by an upper level research or seminar course, an internship, or directed research (on- or off-campus); the student’s faculty adviser should be consulted to ensure the experience meets the capstone designation.


At least four of the ten 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/fail 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. Ten Courses in Biology:

a. Two semesters of introductory biology:

  • BIOL 101  - Introduction to Biology I
  • BIOL 102  - Introduction to Biology II

b. Two additional core courses in biology:

c. One course in Biological Diversity:

  • Examples include: BIOL 109  - Microbiology, BIOL 110  - Introduction to Botanical Diversity, BIOL 114  - Marine Biology, BIOL 111  - Comparative and Human Anatomy, BIOL 119  - Herpetology

d. Five additional courses:

  • At least four of these courses must be at the 200-level, at least one must be a capstone.

3. Two courses in mathematics to include:

4. Two additional courses outside biology that are in the natural sciences, mathematics, or computer science:

  • These courses must be at 100-level or above and must be approved by the student’s faculty adviser.
  • 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.

5. A capstone experience is required.

Completion of a capstone during the student’s junior or senior year is required for the major.  Capstone experiences must involve completion of a research project in the broad sense, may be completed individually or in small groups, and must have either a formal presentation component or a substantial written component.  Capstone experiences can serve as one of the ten Biology courses that count towards the major.

The capstone requirement may be fulfilled in one of three specific ways:

  1. completing a minimum of one unit of Directed research (BIOL299 or BIOL297)
  2. completing a course designated as a capstone course
  3. completing one unit of an Academic internship for credit (BIOL298)

Before beginning the qualified activity, the student must obtain on the Capstone Form their advisor’s signed approval of the intended capstone experience, and then deliver the form to the Undergraduate Program Coordinator.  It is also the student’s responsibility to coordinate any requirements necessary outside of the department (i.e. internship registration, any other Clark forms that may be needed, etc.).

Biology courses that fulfill the capstone requirement:

  • BIOL 297/299 - Honors/Directed Study
  • BIOL 298 - Internship
  • To count as a capstone, a BIOL 297/298/299 unit must meet the criterion of having either a substantive written component or a formal presentation.
  • Research courses - these have hands-on components that involve data collection/processing and components that provide a broad research experience, including interpreting results, writing, and presentations.
    • BIOL 201 - Ecology of Atlantic Shores
    • BIOL 208 - Conservation and Effective Practice
    • BIOL 209 - The Genome Project
    • BIOL 219 - Physiological Ecology of Marine Algae
    • BIOL 233 - Animal Locomotion
    • BIOL 242 - Animal Behavior
    • BIOL 258 - Small Scale Land Conservation
  • Seminar courses - these require students to produce substantial written work that synthesizes a substantial body of primary literature, such as literature reviews or grant proposals, and/or have a formal presentation component.
    • BIOL 206 - Advanced Biostatistics
    • BIOL 218 - Genetics & Disease
    • BIOL 223 - Topics in Marine Biology
    • BIOL 230 - The Human Genome
    • BIOL 234 - Signal Transduction
    • BIOL 236 - Biology of Cancer
    • BIOL 237 - Epigenetics
    • BIOL 238 - Seminar in Cell Biology
    • BIOL 239 - Evolutionary Developmental Biology
    • BIOL 290 - Science Careers & Effective Practice


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 adviser. Together they will select two other faculty members to serve on the student’s advisory committee.
  • The candidate must complete one semester of Honors Research in Biology (BIOL 297), and at least one semester of Directed Research (BIOL 299); the research project must also 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 copy of their thesis at least 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 - one for the faculty member and one for the student.


Biology Faculty


Nathan Ahlgren, Ph.D.

Philip J. Bergmann, Ph.D.

Robert Drewell, Ph.D.

Susan Foster, Ph.D.

David Hibbett, Ph.D.

Denis Larochelle, Ph.D.

Kaitlyn Mathis, 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.
Donald Spratt, Ph.D.
David Thurlow, Ph.D.
Christopher A. Williams, Ph.D.


John Baker, Ph.D.


John Brink, Ph.D.

Thomas Leonard, Ph.D.

Todd Livdahl, Ph.D.

Timothy Lyerla, Ph.D.

John Reynolds, Ph.D.

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