Courses of Study

Biology
 
See course descriptions for this department or program
 

Chair, Associate Professor Russell Johnson
Associate ChairAssociate Professor Judy Stone
Professors F. Russell Cole, Frank Fekete, David Firmage, Paul Greenwood, and W. Herbert Wilson Jr.; Associate Professors Catherine Bevier, Lynn Hannum, Russell Johnson, Judy Stone, and Andrea Tilden; Assistant Professors Syed Tariq Ahmad, Joshua Kavaler, Raymond Phillips; Faculty Fellows Elizabeth Addis and Joseph Seggio; Senior Teaching Associates Timothy Christensen, Scott Guay, and Lindsey Colby; Teaching Associate Tina Beachy; Teaching Assistant Sarah Gibbs; Research Scientists Bets Brown and G. Russell Danner; Research Associate Louis Bevier; Animal Care Technician Austin Segel

The Department of Biology provides its students with a background in, and an appreciation for, important aspects of classical and modern biology. To provide a broad and comprehensive investigation of the biological sciences, the departmental curriculum emphasizes the study of the biology of plants, animals, and microorganisms at the molecular, cellular, organismal, and population levels of organization. Special facilities include the Perkins Arboretum, the Colby-Marston Bog, a four capillary DNA sequencer, a microscopy suite, a flow cytometer, several laboratory microcomputer clusters, a well-equipped GIS laboratory, a radioisotope laboratory, a cell culture facility, two greenhouses, herbarium, numerous environmental chambers, and animal and aquarium rooms. Colby is a member of the Idea Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE), supported by the National Institutes of Health. Department graduates enroll in all fields of biology and in medical schools, dental schools, and veterinary colleges. Others are employed as research assistants, as teachers, and by private firms and government agencies.

Three optional concentrations are offered in addition to the basic major. The concentration in environmental science is designed to provide students with a background to work in the environmental field or to continue on to graduate study in environmental science, in ecology, or in one of the other biological disciplines. In recent years graduates have enrolled in graduate programs in ecology, marine biology, natural resource management, public policy, and environmental health. Others are employed by federal and state agencies, private and public organizations, and consulting firms.

The concentration in cell and molecular biology/biochemistry focuses biology majors on the interdisciplinary field that lies at the interface between biology and chemistry and also prepares students for graduate study or employment in the bio-medical fields. Recent graduates have pursued interests in gene therapy, genetic counseling, and biomedical research, or they have attended medical school or graduate school in a variety of disciplines.

The concentration in neuroscience allows students to explore the interdisciplinary field at the interface between biology and psychology. This program prepares students for graduate study or employment in neuroscience or biomedical fields. Recent graduates have pursued research in neurodegenerative diseases, molecular neuroscience, and neuroimmunology.

Students interested in teaching are urged to read the “Education” section of the catalogue and to contact a member of the Education Program. Students majoring in biology and preparing for dental, medical, or veterinary schools must take a year of organic chemistry and a year of introductory college physics with laboratory in addition to the courses required for the major; students preparing for graduate study in the biological sciences also should elect these courses. Students are encouraged to take courses at summer laboratories and field stations. With prior approval, such courses may be credited toward the major requirement.

Colby is a member of a consortium sponsoring the Center for Sustainable Development Studies, through which qualified students are provided the opportunity for a semester of study in Costa Rica. Studies combine biology with social and political issues to address sustainable development problems. Colby also maintains affiliate status with the School for Field Studies and with the Semester in Environmental Science at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole.

 
General Requirements for All Major Programs
For all major programs offered by the department, the point scale for retention of the major applies to all courses required for the major and all elected biology courses. Courses required for the major may not be taken satisfactory/unsatisfactory. At least eight biology courses must be taken for the major (at least seven with a laboratory component and at least two at the 300 level or above). An independent study may be counted as one of the eight courses. A maximum of four credit hours of independent study and two credit hours of seminar may be counted toward the major. No more than eight credit hours in a semester or 12 credit hours in total from off-campus programs can be counted toward the major programs. The academic honor of “Distinction in the Major” will be awarded to students who have an average of at least 3.5 in the biology major.
 
Requirements for the Basic Major in Biology
Thirty-five hours of course work in biology (excluding Advanced Placement credit), including Biology 163, 164, one course with laboratory from Group I (Biology 211, 214, 235, 237*, 252*, 259j*), one course with laboratory from Group II (Biology 237*, 257j, 259j*, 271, 312, 334, 354, 358j, 373), and one course with laboratory from Group III (Biology 225, 232, 238, 252*, 274, 275, 279, 315, 367). Courses marked with * can be used to fill only one group requirement. Seniors must enroll in Biology 401 or 402. In addition, Chemistry 141, 142; Mathematics 121 or 161 or equivalent; and one of the following courses: Computer Science 151, Mathematics 122, 162, 212, 253.
 
Requirements for the Concentration in Environmental Science
Thirty-five hours of course work in biology (excluding Advanced Placement credit), including Biology 163, 164, 271, 352, 493, one course with laboratory from Group I (Biology 211, 214, 235, 237*, 252*, or 259j*), and one course with laboratory from Group III (Biology 225, 232, 238, 252*, 274, 275, 279, 315, 367). Courses marked with * can be used to fill only one group requirement. Seniors must enroll in Biology 401 or 402. In addition, Chemistry 141, 142; Mathematics 121 or 161 or equivalent, Mathematics 212 or 231; Economics 133, 231; and two courses selected from the following: Biology 257j, 259j, 354, 358j, Chemistry 217, 241, 242, Environmental Studies 118, 212, 233, 266, 319, Geology 141, Science, Technology, and Society 215, or selected courses from off-campus study programs. Students are encouraged to take at least one field-oriented program such as a School for Field Studies semester or a similar approved program.
 
Requirements for the Concentration in Cell and Molecular Biology/Biochemistry
Thirty-five hours of course work in biology (excluding Advanced Placement credit), including Biology 163, 164, 279 (with laboratory), 367 (with laboratory), 368 (with laboratory), 378, one course with laboratory from Group I (Biology 211, 214, 235, 237*, 252*, 259j*), and one course with laboratory from Group II (Biology 237*, 257j, 259j*, 271, 312, 334, 354, 358j, 373). Courses marked with * can be used to fill only one group requirement. Seniors must enroll in Biology 401 or 402. In addition, Chemistry 141, 142, 241, 242; Mathematics 121 or 161 or equivalent; and one of the following courses: Computer Science 151, Mathematics 122, 162, 212, 253; and one course with laboratory chosen from Biology 225, 232, 238, 252, 274, 315, 379, Chemistry 331, or Physics 145 (142). In addition, each concentrator must complete an independent study project equivalent to two (or preferably three) credit hours. This requirement can be satisfied through independent study, January Program, or a summer research project.
 
Requirements for the Concentration in Neuroscience
Thirty-five hours of course work in biology (excluding Advanced Placement credit), including Biology 163, 164, 274, one course with laboratory from Group I (Biology 211, 214, 236, 237*, 252*, 259j*), and one course with laboratory from Group II (Biology 237*, 257j, 259j*, 271, 312, 334, 354, 358j, 373). Courses marked with * can be used to fill only one group requirement. Seniors must enroll in Biology 401 or 402. In addition, Psychology 111; two psychology courses from the following: 232, 233, 235, 254, 272, 372, 374; one psychology elective course; Chemistry 141, 142; Mathematics 121 or 161 or equivalent and one of the following courses: Computer Science 151, Mathematics 122, 162, 212, 253. In addition, each concentrator must complete an independent study project equivalent to two (or preferably three) credit hours. This requirement can be satisfied through independent study, January program, or a summer research project.
 
Honors Program in Biology
Biology majors with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.50 at the end of the January term of the junior year or with permission of the department are eligible to apply for the Biology Honors Research Program during spring registration of the junior year. Honors research projects will earn a total of seven to nine credits and will be conducted during each semester of the senior year (and may include Jan Plan). Completion of the honors program will include a written thesis, an oral presentation at the Colby Undergraduate Research Symposium, and successful completion of an oral examination given by the student's honors committee. Successful completion of the honors program will result in the degree being awarded “With Honors in Biology.”