The overall mission of the department is to provide students with a solid and rigorous foundation in biology, emphasizing a balance between the molecular/cellular and organisms/population areas of the field. While attempting to find order in life through comparisons and classifications, the biologist looks at the underlying principles involved in energy transformation, evolutionary mechanisms and regulatory forces. How is each individual unique and how does it function as part of a larger population in a community of different species? In the broadest sense, biologists take a worldview of living organisms and their roles in the global ecosystem.
Towards this end, it is imperative that students be subjected to scientific diversity and realizes the far-reaching implications of this field of study. It is equally critical for students to develop strong communication and presentation skills if they are to succeed. Therefore, the Biology program provides students exposure to many specific areas of study that can subsequently enable them to pursue an unlimited number of vocational directions. Moreover, the Biology curriculum is designed to cultivate effective communication and presentation skills.
1) Acquire a knowledge of the nature of science in general and Biology in particular to pursue careers in Biology and graduate/professions school.
2) Acquire a knowledge and proficiency in experimental procedures and techniques suitable for careers in industry or graduate school.
3) Acquire an introduction to the theories, methodologies and the philosophy of science and Biology in particular.
4) Develop critical thinking skills which meet or exceed the skills possessed by graduates of comparable academic institutions.
5) Creatively ask biological questions, design and conduct research experiments and communicate clearly these results.
Biology Research Series:
All Biology majors participate in a guided and supported undergraduate research experience. In the freshman year, students start to engage with faculty and explore research and career options (Biology Orientation). The following sophomore year students continue to engage with faculty to start developing an independent research proposal (Biology Reading). During the junior year, students formalize and conduct their research projects working closely with a faculty mentor (Biology Communication and Biology Practicum). The research series culminates in a capstone experience where students present their work to the department (Biology Thesis) and at scientific meetings. These experiences provide our students an in-depth understanding of the scientific process and the confidence and skills to be successful in their chosen future careers paths.
BIO 101 Biology Orientation: This course is designed for first-year Biology majors. This course introduces the independent research thesis project that is a part of the biology curriculum, and provides students with an opportunity to learn about potential projects and mentors. This course also provides an introduction to careers and professionalism for biology majors, and students will reflect on short-term and long-term goals while making an academic plan.
BIO 219 Biology Reading: This course continues to develop and refine the independent research thesis project. Through faculty engagement, students will use the scientific literature to generate and present potential research proposals. Students will be guided in activities that improve information literacy in biology and development of rhetorical, written communication skills. Students will also participate in professional development workshops and use academic and professional work standards to create meaningful career documents.
BIO 390 Biology Communication: This course will continue to refine the skills developed in BIO 219 and prepare students for Biology Thesis (BIO 400). Students will be guided in activities that improve information literacy in biology and development of rhetorical, written communication skills. This skill development is targeted to prepare students for executing a research project or refining a research proposal in Junior Thesis Lab (BIO 391). Students will also participate in professional development workshops and use academic and professional work standards to create meaningful career documents.
BIO 391 Biology Practicum: This course is designed to support and guide students in the execution of a previously designed research proposal (BIO 390). During this course, students will work closely with research mentor and faculty members to 1) execute, collect, analyze and interpret research data or 2) critically evaluate and refine a professional grant proposal. Students will document and reflect on their progress and orally present the results of their research to ensure preparedness for the Biology Thesis (BIO 400) capstone experience.
BIO 400 Biology Thesis: This course is the Biology Department’s capstone course that culminates the research series process (BIO 101, BIO 219, BIO 390, and BIO 391). Students in this course organize and present their own previously obtained research data or research proposal as a poster and as a professionally written document. Students begin the course by presenting a detailed research progress report to a Biology Faculty for evaluation. The course emphasizes presentation-enhancing computer software, technical aspects of scientific writing, and speaking before critical audiences. At the end of the semester, the students give oral poster presentations for evaluation by Biology faculty. Students also submit a professionally written research report or research proposal. Prior to registering for this course, it is mandatory that each student has already established an on-going working relationship with a full-time, on-campus member of the Biology faculty and have completed or made substantial progress on the research project or proposal.
Students may tailor their curriculum to achieve specific academic goals by declaring a concentration. The Department of Biological Sciences offers four concentrations (see list below) within biology to allow students to develop a greater depth of knowledge in specific areas to prepare them for specific career paths.
Biotechnology: This concentration is designed for students that are interested in developing a greater understanding of the tools and techniques used in biomedical and health based industries. Courses within this concentration provide students “hands-on” and “real-world” experience with these applications and techniques. Students that are interested in careers in pharmaceuticals, biotech industry, and science/technical writing may want to consider this concentration.
Cell and Molecular Biology: This concentration is designed for students who are interested in developing a greater understanding of the cellular and molecular aspect of biology ranging from microbes to animals. Courses within this concentration provide a student with application-based experiences and knowledge of how genetic information works to create and control cellular actions and the interactions with an organism. Students that are interested in careers in biomedical research, forensics, bioinformatics, or graduate or professional programs in molecular biology may want to consider this concentration.
Ecology and Conservation: This concentration is designed for students who are interested in developing a greater understanding of the distribution and abundance of organisms, the relationships among organisms and the abiotic environment, and applying ecological principles to conserve biological diversity and generate solutions for environmental problems. Courses within this concentration provide interdisciplinary knowledge and hands-on experience in techniques and data analysis necessary to tackle contemporary challenges. Students that are interested in careers in ecological research, environmental consulting and planning, natural resource management and restoration, environmental education, or graduate or professional programs in ecological fields may want to consider this concentration.
Pre-Health Professions: This concentration is designed for students preparing for a career in medicine and health related fields. Courses within this concentration provide students with core knowledge in structure and function relationships related to animal and human bodies. Students that are interested in careers in medicine (physician, physician assistant, physical therapy, optometry, etc.), veterinary medicine, or dentistry may want to consider this concentration.
Requirements for Graduation:
To be eligible for graduation, students majoring in Biology must complete a minimum of 120 credits, achieve a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 in all Biology courses, satisfy the College’s residency requirements, and complete the General Education Requirements of the College. A minimum grade of 2.0 is required for First Year Seminar and all courses taken as part of Foundations. Courses used to complete General Education Requirements may not be taken on a pass/fail basis.
The General Education Requirements of the college require students to successfully complete First Year Seminar, Foundations, Disciplinary Perspectives, and a Constellation. Students who enter the college with 30 credit hours completed will not take a First Year Seminar course and therefore must take an additional 3 credits for graduation. Transfer students that are awarded 60 or more credits upon acceptance to York College will not be required to complete a Constellation.
Students transferring into Biology must complete at least four Biology courses at York College in order to graduate as a Biology major. Acceptable courses are determined by the major advisor and the Department Chair.