Skip to main content

Biology

Course Descriptions

Biology Courses


BIO 201 Cell Biology & Genetics (SD) (4.00 SH). This course serves as an introduction for students who have chosen biology or molecular biology as a major or minor. A combination of lectures, laboratory exercises, and assignments will introduce students to ways of observing and thinking about fundamental concepts and processes in the following areas of biology—biochemistry, cell structure and function, metabolism, genetics, and biotechnology. Various resources will be utilized to reinforce biological concepts, learn new laboratory skills, and improve critical thinking skills. Multiple sections offered every Fall Semester; one section offered every Spring Semester. Meets Scientific Discovery Intellectual Perspective requirement (SD).

BIO 202 Found II:Evolution,Form&Func (SD) (4.00 SH). BIO 202 is the second in a series of three foundational courses in biology, designed to serve as an introduction for students who are taking a biology or molecular biology major or minor. Using explorative lectures coupled with investigative laboratories, BIO 202 will focus on evolution, the structure and physiology of plants and animals, and animal development. Concepts and practices of experimental design, data analysis, and interpretation of results will be reinforced and extended through integrated laboratory activities. Prerequisite: completion of BIO 201. Offered Spring Semester.

BIO 203 Found III:Biodiversity & Ecology (4.00 SH). This course is the last in a series of three foundational courses in biology, and serves as an introduction for students who have chosen biology as a major or minor. A combination of lectures, laboratory exercises, and assignments will introduce you to the diversity or organisms and their ecological interactions. Various resources will be utilized to reinforce biological concepts, enhance the learning experience and use of practical skills, and to improve critical thinking skills (textbooks, scientific journals, laboratory experiments, writing assignments, etc.). Prerequisite: completion of BIO 202. Offered Fall Semester.

BIO 206 Biostatistics & Experim Design (QR) (4.00 SH). An introductory course in experimental design and data analysis designed to encourage an understanding and appreciation of the role of experimentation, hypothesis testing, and data analysis in biology. The course will emphasize principles of experimental design, methods of data collection, exploratory data analysis, and the use of graphical and statistical tools commonly used by biologists to analyze data. Prerequisite: C- or better in BIO 201. Offered every semester. Meets Quantitative Reasoning (QR) IP

BIO 301 Microbiology (4.00 SH). A study of the diversity in viruses, bacteria, fungi, and algae with an emphasis on the role of evolution in generating the diversity found in microorganisms. Consideration will be given to various energy metabolisms, genetic strategies, molecular systematics, and microbial adaptations that allow such diversity. Also considered will be the importance of microorganisms in medical, industrial, and environmental settings. A laboratory is included. Prerequisite: C- or better in BIO 201. Offered Spring Semester.

BIO 302 Cell & Molecular Biology (4.00 SH). A study of molecular structure and function in eukaryotic cells. Topics include organic molecules that contribute to cells the function of cells, membrane transport and signal transduction, gene expression, intracellular transport, structure and motility, energy conversions, tissue composition and cell division. Laboratory exercises will reinforce many of concepts covered in lecture. Required for the molecular biology major. Prerequisite: C- or better in BIO 201. Offered Fall Semester.

BIO 303 Molec Genet & Hered (4.00 SH). This course serves as a broad introduction to the structure and function of nucleic acids, processes that regulate expression of genetic information, and processes that direct inheritance of genetic information. Prokaryotic and eukaryotic organism will serve as model systems for studying topics such as nucleic acid structure, function, replication, damage, repair, and control of gene expression. Additional topics include, but are not limited to, Mendelian genetics, epigenetics, population genetics, and the genetics of cancer. Weekly laboratory exercises are an essential component of this class and will be used to explore various molecular and biochemical techniques for isolating, replicating and analyzing nucleic acid sequence as well as studying modes of inheritance. Required for the molecular biology major. Prerequisite: C- or better in BIO 201. Offered every other Spring Semester.

BIO 304 Developmental Biology (4.00 SH). A study of the mechanisms of organism development from fertilization to birth. Both molecular and classical morphologic aspects of development are covered, with emphasis on the vertebrates. A laboratory is included. Prerequisite: C- or better in BIO 202.

BIO 334 Physiology (4.00 SH). An introduction to the physiology of cells and animals. Major emphasis is placed on the functional interrelationships that exist within cells and organisms. A laboratory is included. Prerequisite: C- or better in BIO 202. Offered Fall Semester.

BIO 335 Anatomy/Physiology (4.00 SH). First of a two-course sequence studying the anatomical and physiological principles of the human body, including a survey of the major organ systems of the human body and their relationship to health and disease. Emphasis is placed on cells, tissues, and the musculo-skeletal, nervous, and endocrine systems. A laboratory is included. Prerequisite: C- or better in BIO 202. Offered Fall Semester, alternate years.

BIO 336 Anatomy & Physiology II (4.00 SH). Second of the two-course sequence studying the anatomical and physiological principles of the human body. Emphasis is placed on the cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, urinary, immune, and reproductive systems. A laboratory is included. Prerequisite: C- or better in BIO 335. Offered Spring Semester, alternate years.

BIO 337 Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy (4.00 SH). A study of the phylogenetic history of the vertebrates through gross anatomy. Emphasis is placed on adaptive radiation of structures which are homologous through the classes of the vertebrate subphylum. The laboratory includes dissection of representative vertebrates. Prerequisite: C- or better in BIO 202. Offered Spring Semester, alternate years.

BIO 338 Evolution (4.00 SH). A study of the population as the unit of evolution. Considered are the origins of life, gene pools and genetic equilibrium, adjustments and adaptations to the environment including natural selection, fluctuations in numbers, genetic drift, polymorphism, isolation, and the origin of races and species. A laboratory is included with some field work. Prerequisite: C- or better in BIO 202. Offered alternate years.

BIO 360 Ecology (4.00 SH). A study of the structure of ecological populations, communities, and ecosystems, and the processes that affect them. Topics include population growth, regulation and dynamics, population interactions, food webs, species diversity, succession, biogeography, and energy flow and nutrient cycling. Laboratories stress experimental design and data analysis. Prerequisite: C- or better in BIO 203. Offered every Spring Semester. (Also listed as ES 360.)

BIO 361 Biodiversity (4.00 SH). An in-depth, cross-sectional study of the diversity of eukaryotic organisms. Pertinent to this course is the evolutionary process which is centered on adaptation, diversity, natural selection and speciation. Topics include paleontology, life histories, survival strategies in feeding and reproduction, biogeography and patterns of extinction. The social, ethical and political consequences of human activities will also be addressed. This course assumes reasonable knowledge of all major taxa and schemes of taxonomy. The laboratory component will consist primarily of field work. Prerequisite: C- or better in BIO 203. Offered every other Fall Semester.

BIO 363 Animal Behavior (4.00 SH). An introduction to the fascinating fields of animal behavior. This course focuses on the relationships between animals and their environments through adaptation, communication and social organization. It also explores other exciting issues such as, what animal behavior can teach us about ourselves, how economic game theory has been used to explain evolution of behavior, and how our understanding of animal behavior is changing the way we treat them. The lab component consists mainly of field work and bench work in the form of animal observations and a possible field trip to a wild animal facility. Prerequisites: C- or better in BIO 202 or PSY 201; willingness to spend significant amounts of time watching animals. (Also listed as PSY 315.)

BIO 401 Recombinant DNA & Biotechnology (4.00 SH). This course examines traditional and more recent advances in nucleic acid analysis and manipulation. Topics include genome analysis, subcloning, sequencing, gene expression, microarrays, RNAi, bioinformatics, vaccine development, pharmacogenomics, and gene therapy. Information literacy assignments reinforce topics covered in lecture and lab. Weekly laboratory exercises are an essential component of this class and will be used to reinforce and explore many of the concepts covered in lecture. Prerequisite: C- or better in BIO 302 or 303. Offered every other Spring Semester.

BIO 402 Biology of Infectious Disease (4.00 SH). This course investigates the causes, pathology, prevention and treatment of important infectious diseases that occur around the globe. The course is in a lecture/discussion format with focus on case studies and readings from primary literature, and includes hands-on laboratory investigations of living microorganisms. BIO 402 is a service-learning course. Students will be expected to participate in an ongoing, service learning project which includes the development of a lab manual and a set of experiential learning exercises to aid in the health education of school students at home and overseas. Prerequisite: C- or better in BIO 201 and BIO 203.

BIO 403 Cancer Biology (4.00 SH). This course provides students with a general introduction to the nature of cancer, a conceptual understanding of the molecular events underlying the development of human cancers, and an historical perspective on its underlying causes, including the role of tumor viruses, cellular oncogenes and tumor suppressors. The larger implications of these causes will be addressed by studying the mechanisms of tumorigenesis, metastasis, and angiogensis. In addition, students will investigate the development and clinical use of therapies based on major discoveries in cancer research. This is a textbook-based course, but will involve substantial use of the related primary literature and will include a laboratory component exploring a range of techniques used in the study of cancer biology. Prerequisite: C- or better in BIO 302. Offered every other Spring Semester.

BIO 404 Nuclear Structure & Function (4.00 SH).

BIO 433 Behavioral Neuroscience (SD) (4.00 SH). Analysis of how nervous systems activity underlies sensory, perceptual and higher cognitive activities including motivation, memory, language, thought and mental illness. A laboratory is included. Prerequisite: PSY 101 or BIO 201. (Also listed as NS 341 and PSY 341.) Meets Scientific Discovery Intellectual Perspective requirement (SD).

BIO 434 Neurobiology (4.00 SH). This course is an exploration of advanced topics in the field of neurobiology, with the focus being the nervous system as the central control and integrating system in animals. It reviews fundamental neuroanatomy and neurophysiology, as well as more specific topics such as sensory systems, neuroendocrinology and nervous system development and disease. Recent advances published in the field of neurobiology will also be discussed. The lab component will be complementary to material covered during lectures. Prerequisite: C- or better in BIO 334 or BIO 335. Offered Spring Semester in alternate years. (Also listed as NS 434.)

BIO 461 Field Biology (4.00 SH). This course examines the local flora and fauna and is based upon field observation, natural history, and identification of local plants and animals. The lab component will involve extensive field work, including techniques for monitoring and assessment, and will be a major focus of this course. Prerequisite: C- or better in BIO 338, 360, or 361.

BIO 463 Marine Biology (4.00 SH). A detailed study of marine organisms and their interactions with physical, chemical, and biological factors in their environment. Adaptations of the most important groups of marine organisms will be examined from evolutionary, ecological, and physiological points of view. Major marine ecosystems will be described. In addition, the course will examine how marine organisms and ecosystems are affected by human activities and how those activities affect the future of ocean resources on Earth. Prerequisite: C- or better in BIO 338, 360, or 361. Offered Spring Semester, alternate years.

BIO 464 Freshwater Biology (4.00 SH). A study of inland water systems, including lakes, rivers, estuaries, and wetlands. The biological, physical, and chemical features of these systems are described, and the interaction between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems is discussed. A laboratory emphasizing field work is included. Prerequisite: C- or better in BIO 338, 360, or 361.

BIO 465 Intro To GIS (4.00 SH). This course is an introduction to the theory and use of Geographic Information Systems, including the fundamental concepts of GIS, capabilities of GIS, and applications for dealing with spatial data. Key issues for discussion will include data input, data models, database design and database queries, sources of information for spatial databases, spatial analysis, computational algorithms, and information presentation. Other issues such as the nature of geographic phenomena to be represented in a GIS, comparisons of different GIS representational schemes, and appropriate use of geographic information will also be covered. These topics will be discussed within an environmental context using ArcView, a PC-based GIS software package. (Also listed as ES 465.)

BIO 467 Epidemiology (4.00 SH).

BIO 520 Biology Travel Course (2.00 SH). A combination of on-campus study, with off-campus study in a natural setting to gain firsthand knowledge of biological concepts and principles that are particularly well illustrated in the region being studied. Experiential, problem-based learning is emphasized. The specific region, topics, and focus are likely to change with each offering. Meets Scientific Discovery Intellectual Perspective requirement (SD).

BIO 521 Biology Travel Course (SD) (2.00 SH). A combination of on-campus study, with off-campus study in a natural setting to gain firsthand knowledge of biological concepts and principles that are particularly well illustrated in the region being studied. Experiential, problem-based learning is emphasized. The specific region, topics, and focus are likely to change with each offering. Meets Scientific Discovery Intellectual Perspective requirement (SD).

BIO 601 Biology Capstone (2.00 SH). The first semester of a two-course sequence emphasizing biological discovery and the synthesis of knowledge and skills from previous courses in the major. Focus of the capstone is on application of the scientific method through the design, execution, analysis, and presentation of an experimental study. In the spring of their junior year, students produce a formal proposal for research to be completed in the second half of the capstone, BIO 602. Required of all biology and molecular biology majors. Prerequisites: Junior or senior status, and successful completion of BIO 201, 202, 203, and 206, and above a 2.0 GPA within the major (all courses listed as BIO). Offered Spring Semester.

BIO 602 Biology Capstone (2.00 SH). The second semester of the capstone experience. Students in the class perform individual studies that were proposed in the prior semester, analyze their data, and present the results of their research in an appropriate forum. Required of all biology and molecular biology majors. Prerequisite: C- or better in BIO 601. Offered Fall Semester.

BIO 621 Independent Study (1.00 SH). Prerequisite: department approval after submission of a proposal.

BIO 623 Independent Study (3.00 SH). Prerequisite: department approval after submission of a proposal.

BIO 624 Independent Study (4.00 SH). Prerequisite: department approval after submission of a proposal.

BIO 632 Independent Study (2.00 SH).

BIO 634 Independent Study (4.00 SH).

BIO 644 Independent Study (4.00 SH).

BIO 661 Honors Research (1.00 SH).

BIO 662 Honors Research (2.00 SH).

BIO 664 Honors Research (4.00 SH).

BIO 672 Honors Research (2.00 SH).

BIO 673 Honors Research (3.00 SH).

BIO 674 Honors Research (4.00 SH).

BIO 681 Honors Research (1.00 SH).

BIO 682 Honors Research (2.00 SH).

BIO 684 Honors Research (4.00 SH).

BIO 694 Honors Research (4.00 SH).

 

Supporting Courses


CHE 117 Principles of Chemistry (SD) (4.00 SH). A course emphasizing stoichiometry, chemical equilibria, acids and bases, chemical kinetics, thermodynamics, electrochemistry, nuclear phenomena, and interactions of science and society. In the laboratory program students will investigate chemical systems, analyze observations and data, devise explanations, and communicate results. Prerequisites: High school chemistry and an acceptable score on a placement test or completion of CHE 111 or ES 160 with a grade of C- or better. Offered Fall and Spring semesters. Meets Scientific Discovery Intellectual Perspective requirement (SD).

CHE 180 Inorganic Chemistry (4.00 SH). A study of the energetics of the bonding and reactions of inorganic compounds. Emphasis is given to the periodicity of the chemical and physical properties of the elements. Major themes of the course include effective nuclear charge, lattice energy, charge density, acid/base theories, and the descriptive chemistry of all of the elements. The laboratory includes the investigation of the energetics of reactions, the synthesis and analysis of coordination compounds, qualitative chemistry, and the communication of results. Prerequisite: CHE 117 with a grade of C- or better. Offered Fall and Spring semesters.

CHE 230 Chemical Analysis (4.00 SH). A study of the theoretical foundation and skills necessary for the solution of problems encountered in the area of quantitative chemical analysis, including classical and modern methods. Emphasis is given to the evaluation and presentation of data, sampling, equilibrium dynamics of analytically important reactions, experimental design, volumetric techniques, absorption and emission spectroscopy, electrochemical methods, and analytical separations. Examples and laboratory exercises will include environmental air, soil and water systems. Prerequisites: CHE 117, and MTH 135, MTH 150 or BIO 206 (may be co-requisite) with grades of C- or better. Offered Fall and Spring semesters. (Also listed as ES 230.)

CHE 261 Organic Chemistry I (4.00 SH). An overview of organic chemistry. Organic molecules are compared by their functional group, focusing on nomenclature, physical properties, and the major chemical reactions used in synthesis and identification. Emphasis is also given to the areas of acidity, basicity, stereochemistry, aromaticity, and spectroscopy. Laboratory activities involve techniques for determination of physical and chemical properties, and methods of purification. Prerequisite: CHE 117 with a grade of C- or better. Offered Fall and Spring semesters.

CHE 262 Organic Chemistry II (4.00 SH). A study of organic reactivity. This course details organic molecules by reactivity and emphasizes the differences between organic reactions. Specifically, organic reactions will be surveyed by type of reaction keying on the movement of electrons, molecular orbitals, and energetics. Spectroscopy is employed to monitor structural changes. Laboratory activities also probe the reactivity of molecules and explore the relationship between structure and reactivity. Prerequisite: CHE 261 with a grade of C- or better. Offered Spring Semester.

CHE 381 Biochemistry Principles (4.00 SH). A study of proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and nucleic acids in a biological context. Emphasis is placed on the relationship between the structure and function of these biomolecules. Other topics include methodologies to analyze biomolecules, membranes, transport, kinetics, and biosignaling. Prerequisites: CHE 261 and BIO 201. Offered most semesters.

CS 151 Principles of Computer Sci I (QR) (4.00 SH). A broad introduction to the discipline of computer science, with attention given to many components of the field. Topics include an examination of subfields of computer science, computer representation of data, an introduction to hardware structure, and fundamentals of programming languages. Special emphasis is given to techniques for problem solving and algorithm development, designing and implementing computer programs, and software analysis and verification methods. Prerequisite: prior programming experience recommended. (Offered Fall semester.)

ES 230 Chemical Analysis (4.00 SH). A study of the theoretical foundation and skills necessary for the solution of problems encountered in the area of quantitative chemical analysis, including classical and modern methods. Emphasis is given to the evaluation and presentation of data, sampling, equilibrium dynamics of analytically important reactions, experimental design, volumetric techniques, absorption and emission spectroscopy, electrochemical methods, and analytical separations. Examples and laboratory exercises will include environmental air, soil and water systems. Prerequisites: CHE 117, and MTH 135 or MTH 150 or BIO 206 (may be co-requisite). (Also listed as CHE 230.)

ES 360 Ecology (4.00 SH). A study of the structure of ecological populations, communities, and ecosystems, and the processes that affect them. Topics include population growth, regulation, and dynamics, population interactions, food webs, species diversity, succession, biogeography, and energy flow and nutrient cycling. Laboratories stress experimental design and data analysis. Prerequisite: C- or better in BIO 203. (Also listed as BIO 360.)

ES 465 Intro to GIS (4.00 SH). This course is an introduction to the theory and use of Geographic Information Systems, including the fundamental concepts of GIS, capabilities of GIS, and applications for dealing with spatial data. Key issues for discussion will include data input, data models, database design and database queries, sources of information for spatial databases, spatial analysis, computational algorithms, and information presentation. Other issues such as the nature of geographic phenomena to be represented in a GIS, comparisons of different GIS representational schemes, and appropriate use of geographic information will also be covered. These topics will be discussed within an environmental context using ArcView, a PC-based GIS software package. (Also listed as BIO 465.)

MTH 131 Applied Calculus (QR) (4.00 SH). A one-semester study of applications of differential and integral calculus with emphasis on polynomials, exponential functions, logarithmic functions, business and economics applications. This course is for individuals with a good high school background in mathematics. This course does not provide the background for a student to continue on to Calculus II. Not available to students who have credit for MTH 150, MTH 152, or MTH 250. Prerequisites: C or better in MTH 130 or permission of the instructor or department chair. (Offered every semester.) Meets Quantitative Reasoning Intellectual Perspective requirement (QR).

MTH 150 Calculus I (QR) (4.00 SH). This course will focus on the fundamentals of differential calculus. Topics considered include functions, limits, continuous functions, differentiation and integration of functions with one real variable, applications of differentiation and the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus. Students will be introduced to some basic calculus proofs. This course is suggested for all students who expect to continue for any advanced degree including finance, law, and medicine. (Offered every semester.) Meets Quantitative Reasoning Intellectual Perspective requirement (QR).

MTH 152 Calculus II (QR) (4.00 SH). This course will focus on the fundamentals of integral calculus, including techniques and applications of integration. Other topics include infinite series and introductory topics from differential equations. Prerequisite: C- or better in MTH 150 or the permission of the instructor. (Offered every semester.) Meets Quantitative Reasoning Intellectual Perspective requirement (QR).

NS 341 Behavioral Neuroscience (SD) (4.00 SH). Analysis of how nervous system activity underlies sensory, perceptual and higher cognitive activities including motivation, memory, language, thought, and mental illness. A laboratory is included. Prerequisite: PSY 101 or BIO 201. (Also listed as PSY 341 and BIO 433.) Meets Scientific Discovery Intellectual Perspective requirement (SD).

NS 434 Neurobiology (4.00 SH). This course is an exploration of advanced topics in the field of neurobiology, with the focus being the nervous system as the central control and integrating system in animals. It reviews fundamental neuroanatomy and neurophysiology, as well as more specific topics such as sensory systems, neuroendocrinology, and nervous system development and disease. Recent advances published in the field of neurobiology will also be discussed. The lab component will be complementary to material covered during lectures. Prerequisite: BIO 334 or consent of instructor. (Also listed as BIO 434.)

PHY 141 Foundations Physics I (SD) (4.00 SH). The first semester of an introductory study of physics (mechanics, heat, electricity, magnetism, waves, light and modern physics) without calculus. Basic principles used in both semesters are introduced in the first semester. Some emphasis will be given to applications of physics to biological systems. A laboratory is included. Prerequisite: a good background in high school mathematics including algebra and trigonometry. Offered Fall Semester. Meets Scientific Discovery Intellectual Perspective requirement (SD).

PHY 142 Foundations Physics II (4.00 SH). The second semester of an introductory study of physics (mechanics, heat, electricity, magnetism, waves, light and modern physics) without calculus. Some emphasis will be given to applications of physics to biological systems. A laboratory is included. Prerequisite: PHY 141 or PHY 151. Offered Spring Semester.

PHY 151 Principles Physics I (SD) (4.00 SH). The first semester of an introductory study of physics (mechanics, heat, electricity, magnetism, waves, light and modern physics). Basic principles used in both semesters are introduced in the first semester. Some basic concepts of calculus may be introduced as needed. A laboratory is included. Co-requisite: MTH 150 or higher. Offered Fall Semester. Meets Scientific Discovery Intellectual Perspective requirement (SD).

PHY 152 Principles Physics II (4.00 SH). The second semester of an introductory study of physics (mechanics, heat, electricity, magnetism, waves, light and modern physics). Calculus methods will be used. A laboratory is included. Prerequisite: PHY 151; Co-requisite: MTH 152 or higher. Offered Spring Semester.

PSY 315 Animal Behavior (4.00 SH). An introduction to the fascinating fields of animal behavior and cultural learning. This course focuses on the relationships between animals and their environments through adaptation, communication and social organization. It also explores other exciting issues such as, what animal behavior can teach us about ourselves, how economic game theory has been used to explain evolution of behavior, and how our understanding of animal behavior is changing the way we treat them. There will be field work in the form of animal observations and a possible field trip to Pittsburgh Zoo or another wild animal facility. Prerequisites: C- or better in BIO 203 or permission of instructor, willingness to spend a lot of time watching animals. (Also listed as BIO 363.)

PSY 341 Behavioral Neuroscience (SD) (4.00 SH). Analysis of how nervous system activity underlies sensory, perceptual and higher cognitive activities including motivation, memory, language, thought, and mental illness. A laboratory is included. Prerequisite: PSY 101 or BIO 201. (Also listed as NS 341 and BIO 433.) Meets Scientific Discovery Intellectual Perspective requirement (SD).

 

What can you do with a Biology degree?

Imagine yourself a physician, surgeon, genetic counselor, conservation biologist, academic biologist, marine biologist, forensic scientist, physical therapist, veterinarian, ecologist, scientist or biotechnologist.