Biology Courses

  • BIO-101Q. Issues in Ecology and Evolution 

    Approaches the fundamental principles of ecology and evolution using the examination of specific case studies and the current scientific literature. Principles will include population growth, organismal adaptations and ecosystem level interactions, all in the light of natural selection theory. Lecture readings and laboratory exercises will employ the scientific method and emphasize quantitative analysis of data. Recitation develops the academic skill set necessary for success throughout STEM fields at Ursinus. Three hours of lecture; an average of one and one-half hours of laboratory per week; one hour of recitation per week. Four semester hours. (S.).

    BIO-102Q. Cell Biology 

    Approaches the fundamental principles of cell biology using the examination of specific case studies and the current scientific literature. Principles will include molecular structure and function of cells, generation of biochemical energy, cell cycle regulation and cancer, and neuronal communication. Lecture readings and laboratory exercises will employ the scientific method and emphasize quantitative analysis of data. Three hours of lecture; an average of one and one-half hours of laboratory per week. Four semester hours. (S.)

    BIO-150. Biology and the World

    This course is intended for non-science majors. The biological topic on which the course focuses varies by semester. Students will develop the ability to explain and apply evidence-based approaches to understanding natural phenomena; understand the roles of observation, hypothesis and theory development, controlling variables, and repetition and replication in the accumulation of scientific knowledge; and participate in methods of inquiry and/or experimentation that include at least one of the following approaches: bench work, fieldwork, observation of the natural world, utilization of scientific databases, and modeling. Students will seek to understand how biology influences their individual understanding of the universe. Three or more hours of meeting time per week, some portion of which is spend participating in methods of inquiry and/or experimentation. Four semester hours. (S.)

    BIO-151. Biology and the African Diasporic Experience in America

    This course is intended for non-science majors. Biology and the African Diaspora in America takes a biological and historical look at topics including evolution of skin pigmentation, and the influence biology has had on the concept of race. Students will develop the ability to explain and apply evidence-based approaches to understanding natural phenomena. Students will understand the roles of observation, hypothesis and theory development, controlling variables, repetition and replication in the accumulation of scientific knowledge by participating in various methods of inquiry and/or experimentation that including: bench work, fieldwork, observation of the natural world, utilization of scientific databases, and modeling.  Students will seek to understand how biology influences their individual understanding of the universe. Three hours of lecture and one and one-half hours of laboratory per week. Four semester hours. (DN, Q, S.)

    BIO-201W. Genetics

    Exploration of principles of genetics using examination of specific case studies and the scientific literature. Topics include advanced Mendelian genetics, molecular genetics, population genetics. Prerequisites: BIO-101Q and BIO-102Q, or permission of the instructor. Three hours of lecture per week and three hours of laboratory per week. Four semester hours. (S.)

    BIO/HEP-205 Human Anatomy & Physiology I

    A study of the structure and function of the tissues and organs that compose the integumentary, skeletal, muscular, nervous, and special senses systems. We will explore the maintenance of homeostasis made by each of these systems. Prerequisites: BIO-102Q; or permission of the department chair; must be taken concurrently with BIO205L unless granted permission by instructor. Three hours of lecture per week.Three semester hours. (S, if taken with BIO/HEP-205L.)

    Note: Students who have taken BIO/HEP-205. 205L and/or 206 may not receive credit for completing BIO-305.

    Note: BIO/HEP-205 and 205L do not count toward the biology major.
    Note: Students can count BIO/HEP-205 and 205L as satisfying the organismal/population requirement and BIO/HEP-206 as satisfying the integrative requirement for the biology minor. Both courses must be taken for either course to count for the biology minor.

    BIO/HEP-205L. Laboratory in Human Anatomy & Physiology I

    Laboratory work related to BIO205. Emphasis in the laboratory will be placed on histology, joints, muscles, bones and nervous system anatomy. Prerequisite: BIO102; must be taken concurrently with BIO205 unless granted permission by instructor. Three hours of laboratory per week.One semester hour. (S, if taken with BIO/HEP-205.)

    BIO/HEP-206. Human Anatomy & Physiology II

    A study of the structure and function of the tissues and organs that compose the endocrine, pulmonary, cardiovascular, digestive, urinary, and reproductive systems. A case study approach will be utilized to explore the homeostatic contributions made by each of these systems under rest, exercise, and disease conditions. This is an approved elective course for the completion of the Biology minor but not the Biology major. Prerequisites: BIO/HEP-205 or permission of the instructor. Three hours of lecture and three hours of laboratory per week. Four semester hours.

    Note: Students who have taken BIO/HEP-205 and/or BIO/HEP-206 may not receive credit for completing BIO-306.

    Note: BIO/HEP 206 does not count toward the biology major.

    Note: Students can count BIO/HEP-205 as satisfying the organismal/population requirement and BIO/HEP-206 as satisfying the integrative requirement for the biology minor. Both courses must be taken for either course to count toward the biology minor.

    BIO-220. Innovation in Biology

    This course approaches biology through the lens of innovation – identification of problems and pathways to solutions. Through the use of case studies, primary literature, and discussion students are introduced to historical and current innovations in biology. Students explore the relationships between innovative science, funding, ethics, intellectual property (patents), biotechnology, and business. Sophomores will be allowed to enroll in this course first and remaining seats can be filled by juniors and seniors. Prerequisite: BIO-201W; or permission of the instructor. Four semester hours.

    BIO/NEUR-225. Glial Cell Biology 

    Understanding biological functions and the mechanisms cells use to carry out them out are critical to advancing scientific knowledge about how cells govern systems. The overall goal of this course is to examine what we currently know about glial cells, one of the two major types of cells in the nervous system, and how research is discovering new roles for these cells in nervous system function by investigating primary and secondary literature, animal model systems, current experimental methods, and human conditions associated with alterations of glial cells. This course is designed for first- and second-year students. Prerequisite: NEUR-100 or BIO-102 or permission of the instructor. Three hours per week. Four semester hours.

    BIO/ENV-234. The Nature of Food

    The food we eat not only fuels our bodies, but also shapes the environment in which we live. This course introduces students to the biological and ecological principles that govern how food is produced and the impact food production has on air, water, soil, climate, and biodiversity. Students will gain knowledge of diverse approaches to food production (e.g., conventional, organic, biodynamic) through engagement with the scientific literature, popular media and field trips. In the laboratory students will research ecological approaches to food production in a class garden. Prerequisite: BIO-101 or permission of the instructor. Three hours of lecture; three hours of laboratory per week. Four semester hours.

    BIO-305. Human Anatomy and Functional Morphology

    A study of the structure of human tissues, organs and organ systems and their contributions to the integrated functioning of the human body. Prerequisite: BIO-201W; or permission of the instructor. Three hours of lecture and three hours of laboratory per week. Four semester hours.

    Note: Students who have taken BIO/ESS-205 or BIO/ESS-206 may not receive credit for BIO-305.

    BIO-306. Human Physiology 

    A study of the physiological processes that support the integrated functioning of the human body. Prerequisite: BIO-201W; or permission of the instructor. Three hours of lecture; three hours of laboratory per week. Four semester hours.

    Note: Students who have taken BIO/HEP-205 or BIO/HEP-206 may not receive credit for BIO-306.

    BIO/ENV-310. Biological Oceanography 

    A study of the biological bases of ocean science. Topics discussed include: ocean basins, seawater physics and chemistry, currents, waves, tides, upwelling zones, tidal rhythms in organisms, ocean habitats/biota, marine virology, marine microbiology, plankton, trophic relationships, hydrothermal vent communities, coral reefs. Prerequisite: BIO-201W; or permission of the instructor. Three hours of lecture; three hours of laboratory per week. (Course may be conducted in part at a marine field station). Four semester hours.

    Note: students receiving credit for BIO/ENV-310 may not receive credit for BIO/ENV-270.

    BIO/ENV-320. Biology of the Neotropics 

    A field study of Costa Rican tropical habitats — including lowland rain forests, montane rain forests, seasonally dry forests, and wetlands — conducted at research sites throughout the country. Topics include diversity and natural history of key plants and animals, ecological interactions and evolutionary processes, and conservation. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor and BIO-101Q. Field investigations accompanied by readings, lectures, and a directed research project. Course will meet 15 hours on campus and three weeks in Costa Rica between the Fall and Spring semesters. Four semester hours. (XLP.)

    BIO-324. Darwin and Evolution.

    This course considers the theory of evolution from its original conception by Charles Darwin to its modern form. Reading from the primary and secondary literature, students will examine key components of the modern theory of evolution; gain an increased understanding of science as a way of knowing, including the scientific method as well as social and historical influences on the development of theory; and develop skills in critical reading, data analysis data, and writing. Prerequisite: BIO-101, 102, and 201; or permission of the instructor. Four hours per week. Four semester hours.

    BIO/ENV-325. Insect Biology 

    This course will introduce students to the insects—the most diverse group of organisms on the planet. We will examine the physiology, development, behavior, ecology, and evolution of insects to better understand why they are so successful, and special emphasis will be placed on understanding the importance of insects to human welfare. Students will learn the taxonomy of local insects by completing an insect collection. The laboratory component of this course will include insect rearing, experiments, and field trips to collect insects from terrestrial and aquatic habitats. Prerequisite: BIO-101 and BIO-102; or permission of the instructor. Three hours of lecture; three hours of laboratory per week. Four semester hours.

    BIO-328. Protein Biogenesis 

    Proteins are essential macromolecules that participate in virtually every aspect of cellular function, and their biogenesis requires some of the most ancient and highly conserved biological processes. Through discussions and analysis of primary research articles, this course will provide an in-depth exploration of the processes involved in protein biogenesis, including translation and its regulation, protein folding and quality control systems, as well as the physiological consequences of protein misfolding. Prerequisites: BIO-201W; or permission of the instructor. Three hours of lecture; three hours of laboratory per week. Four semester hours.

    BIO/ENV-330. Marine Biology 

    A field-oriented study of the important marine habitats including pelagic and benthic zones, and intertidal communities. Topics include marine biodiversity-plants, protists, invertebrates, vertebrates; marine ecology; primary production in the sea; estuaries; plankton; nektron; marine mammals; ocean pollution. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor and BIO-101Q. Lecture and field investigations. (Course conducted in part at a marine field station.) Four semester hours.

    BIO/ENV-333. Stem Cell Biology

    This course will address current knowledge and outstanding questions in the field of stem cell biology. We will use primary literature to examine the cellular and molecular characteristics of stem cells, and we will explore modern techniques used to study and manipulate stem cells in the laboratory. We will also discuss issues pertaining to the regulation of stem cell research in the United States and abroad. We will use current web-based readings from the popular press to explore the hope and hype generated by the private stem cell industry in the quest to cure disease. Students will demonstrate understanding through oral presentation, discussion facilitation, periodic quizzes, and writing projects. This course fulfills the Molecular/Cellular distribution requirement for Biology majors. Prerequisite: BIO-102Q. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (O.)

    BIO/ENV-334. Plant Biology 

    A survey of the morphology and evolution of the monophyletic green plant clade, including the principles, theory and methodology underlying modern taxonomic systems. Available field time centers upon the morphology and taxonomy of the local vascular flora. Prerequisite: BIO-201W; or permission of the instructor. Three hours of lecture; three hours of laboratory per week. Four semester hours.

    BIO-335. Plant Physiology 

    A study of life processes of green plants and the environmental factors that regulate them. Experiments will illustrate physiological concepts. Prerequisite: BIO-201W, and CHEM-107/107LQ or CHEM-151/151LQ; or permission of instructor. Three hours of lecture; three hours of laboratory per week. Four semester hours.

    BIO/ENV-336. Freshwater Biology 

    Students will study the inhabitants, human impact, and chemical and physical properties of streams, lakes, rivers, wetlands, and groundwater. The laboratory will include field and laboratory investigations, and culminate in individual investigations by students. Prerequisites: BIO-101 and BIO-102; or permission of the instructor. Three hours of lecture and three hours of laboratory per week. Four semester hours.

    BIO-345. Microbiology 

    The structure, physiology, genetics, diversity, and ecology of micro-organisms. Topics in medical microbiology will be discussed to illustrate basic principles of pathology, virology, immunology, and epidemiology. The laboratory will cover techniques of bacterial propagation, purification, identification, and genetic experimentation. Prerequisites: BIO-201W; or permission of the instructor. Three hours of lecture; three hours of laboratory per week. Four semester hours.

    BIO- 346. Developmental Biology

    An investigation of the cellular and molecular mechanisms that control animal development. The role of developmental regulators and cell-cell communication in the embryo will be discovered in the context of fertilization, axis formation, gastrulation and organogenesis in a variety of model organisms. Laboratory work will focus on hypothesis driven inquiry and will include analysis of both vertebrate and invertebrate development. Prerequisite: BIO-201W; or permission of the instructor. Three hours of lecture; three hours of laboratory per week. Four semester hours.

    BIO-349. Experimental Physiology 

    An investigation of the basic principles of vertebrates. Included will be the study of cell physiology, organ function, and systems physiology, including the nervous, cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal and renal systems. The laboratory will emphasize cooperative problem-solving, experimental design, and independent investigation. Prerequisites: BIO-201W and CHEM-207, 207L; or permission of the instructor. Three hours of lecture; three hours of laboratory per week. Four semester hours.

    Note: Students having received credit for BIO-306 may not credit for BIO-349.

    BIO-350. Selected Topics in Biology 

    A course offered periodically in an area of special interest to students by a faculty member or a visiting lecturer. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor. Three hours per week, plus either intensive writing or three hours of laboratory, depending on the topic. Four semester hours.

    BIO-351. Advanced Cell Biology: Cellular Perspectives of the World

    This case-study and laboratory-based course builds on students’ knowledge from previous core biology courses and applies these concepts to broader issues that affect our world. The case studies use clinical and biomedical research to explore cellular biology principles and data. Principles may include explorations of genetic mutations and its implications on organ donation and the exploration of external strategies to modulate learning. The students will consider the obligations of cellular biologists to pursue research that benefits diverse groups including the socioeconomic disadvantaged and aging populations. The laboratory includes an introduction to cell culture techniques as well as hands on simulation experiments that directly support lecture topics. Students will gain knowledge through analyzing data, presenting primary scientific literature and reporting laboratory findings. Three hours of lecture and/or laboratory per week. Prerequisites: BIO-201W; or permission of the instructor.Four semester hours. (S, O.)

    BIO-359. Animal Behavior

    This course will introduce students to the study of animal behavior. The genetic, neural, and hormonal bases of behavior (i.e., proximate causes), and evolutionary explanations for behavior (i.e., ultimate causes), will be explored. Students will examine the behavior of a diverse array of taxa, including humans. The laboratory will provide students with training in animal behavior research. Research will involve both invertebrates and vertebrates, in both the laboratory and in the animals’ natural (outdoor) environment. Data collection, statistical analysis, and presentation will be emphasized in the laboratory. Prerequisite: BIO-101, 102, and 201; or permission of the instructor. Three lecture and three laboratory hours per week.Four semester hours.

    BIO-365/ENV 365. Ornithology 

    A study of bird biology (anatomy, physiology, behavior, ecology, phylogeny, and evolution) and the conservation issues that surround these most visible of terrestrial vertebrates. Because it will include field studies and natural history of Northeastern birds, a longer block of time is scheduled for one of the meeting times. Readings will come primarily from primary and secondary literature, with an emphasis on basic scientific research and its application to conservation. Prerequisite: BIO-101. Four hours per week plus field trips. Four semester hours.

    BIO-382. Internship

    An off-campus academic/work experience under the supervision of a faculty adviser and an on-site supervisor. Open to juniors and seniors. The term during which the internship work is performed will be noted by one of the following letters, to be added immediately after the internship course number: A (fall), B (winter), C (spring), or D (summer). Internships undertaken abroad will be so indicated by the letter I. The intern must complete a minimum of 160 hours of work. Prerequisites: Nine credits in biology and approval of a faculty internship adviser. Graded S/U. Four semester hours. (XLP.)

    BIO-391. Directed Research 

    Laboratory and/or field experiences under the direction of a faculty member and designed to introduce students to fundamental research procedures and data manipulation in the context of an original research project. This course can be taken more than once. Prerequisite: permission of a participating faculty member. Three hours of laboratory per week. Graded S/U. One semester hour.

    BIO-392. Directed Research 

    Content as in BIO-391. This course can be taken more than once. Prerequisite: permission of a participating faculty member. Six hours of laboratory per week. Graded S/U. Two semester hours.

    BIO/ENV-415W. Ecology

    Ecology is the study of how organisms interact with one another and with their environment. This course will advance students’ understanding of interactions that determine the structure and function of organisms at individual, population, community and ecosystem levels. Case studies are used to apply ecological knowledge to current issues such as climate change, invasive species, sustainability, and pollution. The laboratory will provide students with training in ecological field research. Experimental design, data collection, statistical analysis, and scientific communication will be emphasized in the laboratory. Prerequisites: BIO-101Q and 102Q and 201W, or permission of the instructor. This course does not fulfill the ENV capstone requirement. Three hours of lecture, three hours of laboratory per week. Four semester hours. (O.)

    BIO-425W. Human Molecular Genetics 

    An investigation of the molecular mechanisms underlying complex genetic phenomena and human traits. The course will cover topics which may include: epigenetic inheritance, gene regulation, gene therapy, molecular pathology, disease gene identification, and genetic technologies through reading, discussion, and careful analysis of current primary research articles. Students will consider ethical concerns related to the use of genetic information and technologies as well as work to disseminate science to lay-audiences. A semester-long project will require each student to examine the symptoms, inheritance pattern, and molecular pathology of a genetic disorder. This Core/Biology Capstone course will explore the field of human genetics through the lens of the four questions that are the foundation of the Ursinus Quest. Prerequisites: BIO-201W; or permission of the instructor. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (CCAP.)

    BIO/BCMB-426W. Molecular Biology 

    A survey of gene structure, transcription, translation, regulation, and replication, as well as the theory underlying laboratory techniques used in their study. Laboratory experiments will include DNA and protein isolation, enzymatic manipulations, electrophoresis, and nucleic acid hybridization in an attempt to clone and analyze a bacterial gene. Prerequisites: BIO-201W; or permission of the instructor. Three hours of lecture; three hours of laboratory per week. Four semester hours.

    BIO-428W. Genomics

    The advent of technologies to facilitate rapid and inexpensive genome sequencing has enabled enormous volumes of genomic data to be collected in recent years, transforming biology and medicine and profoundly impacting our understanding of evolution and disease. This course will examine the field of genomics and the broader ethical and societal impacts of genomics research. Topics include genome organization, genome sequencing and analysis, bioinformatics, the microbiome, the epigenome, and the ethical, legal and social implications of the genomics revolution. Through selected textbook and primary literature readings, class discussions, in-class activities, and individual and group projects, this Core/Biology Capstone course will explore the field of genomics through the lens of the four foundational questions of the Ursinus Quest. Prerequisites: BIO-201W. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (S, CCAP)

    BIO/BCMB-429W. Structural Biology

    An introduction to the principles of protein and DNA structure, X-ray crystallography, structure visualization and interpretation, and bioinformatics. The use of these concepts to understand biological function at the level of individual molecular interactions and at the level of complex processes will be demonstrated through specific biological examples. Laboratory work will stress structure-determining techniques and use of scientific databases and protein visualization software. Prerequisite: BIO-201W; or permission of the instructor. Three hours of lecture; three hours of laboratory per week. Four semester hours.

    BIO/NEUR-431W. Cellular Neurobiology 

    An advanced examination of current research in the field of cellular neuroscience. Highlighted topics include the cell biology of neurogenesis, neuron morphology, electrical and chemical communication, intracellular signaling, and the importance of neuron-glia interactions. Class discussions will be grounded in primary literature, and the laboratory component will feature a semester-long original research project. This is a writing intensive course in which students will draft and revise a mock research proposal on a topic of their choice. Prerequisite: BIO-201W or permission of the instructor. Three hours of discussion; three hours of laboratory per week. Four semester hours.

    BIO/BCMB/NEUR-433W. Molecular Neurobiology 

    This course focuses on the cellular and molecular basis of neuronal communication. The lecture explores the structure of neurons, neurotransmitter regulation, synaptic plasticity, neurological disorders and their current pharmacological therapies. During the semester students will examine scientific literature through presentations and increase their understanding of molecular neurobiology mechanisms through laboratory cell culture techniques. Prerequisites: BIO-201W; or permission of the instructor. Three hours of lecture; three hours of laboratory per week. Four semester hours.

    BIO/NEUR-435W. Developmental Neurobiology

    This course investigates the cellular and molecular mechanisms that govern nervous system development from conception through about age 25. Class discussions will cover nervous system organization, neural cell fate, axon and synapse formation, and neurological conditions in context of current research in the field of developmental neurobiology. Class discussions will also consider how the timing of nervous system development over the first 3 decades of life plays a role in the neurobiology of drug addiction from scientific, public policy, and personal perspectives. Laboratory work will be performed in small groups to analyze nervous system development via a hypothesis-driven experimental design. This course fulfills the Molecular/Cellular distribution and Capstone requirements for Biology majors and the Advanced Course Biology requirement for Neuroscience majors. Prerequisites: BIO-201W; or permission of the instructor. Three hours of discussion; three hours of laboratory per week. Four semester hours. (O, S.)

    BIO-442W. Mammalogy 

    A study of vertebrate biology using the mammalian class as the case study. The course includes evolutionary history, phylogeny, diversity, structure and function, behavior and ecological aspects of mammals. Prerequisites: BIO-201W; or permission of the instructor. Three hours of lecture; three hours of laboratory and field investigations per week. Four semester hours.

    BIO-444W. Advanced Integrative Physiology 

    A study of the mechanisms that regulate the interaction of the various organ systems. Students will build upon their understanding of physiology to explore the question of how gene products integrate at the cellular, systems and whole-organism level. The course will investigate the molecular basis for and pathophysiology of different diseases through reading and careful analysis of current primary research articles. Prerequisite: BIO-201W; or permission of the instructor; BIO-306 or 349 is recommended. Three hours of lecture per week. Four semester hours.

    BIO-449W. Immunology 

    A study of the cellular and humoral aspects of immunity in humans and other mammals. The course will cover interactions between mammalian hosts and bacterial, fungal, and viral antigens: tumor and transplantation immunology, vaccines and their development and the evolution of the immune system. Prerequisites: BIO-201W; or permission of the instructor. BIO-345 is recommended. Three hours per week. Four semester hours.

    BIO/ENV-455W. Conservation Biology

    Students in Conservation Biology will learn about the causes and the consequences of species extinctions and best management practices for conserving biodiversity. Concepts from genetics, ecology, and evolution will be applied to conservation, and the role of scientific research in conservation practice will be emphasized. Case studies in conservation will come from a variety of species and ecosystems, and special emphasis will be placed on conservation in human-dominated landscapes, such as the suburban landscape within which Ursinus College is situated. Prerequisite: BIO-101 or permission of the instructor. Three hours of lecture per week. Four semester hours.

    BIO-459W. Virology 

    After an introduction to general virology, each virus family and its unique approaches to host cell entry, viral replication, and transmission will be discussed. Topics covered will include the social, historical and economic impact of human diseases such as yellow fever and Ebola hemorrhagic fever, and important diseases of crops and agricultural animals. Prerequisites: BIO-201W; or permission of the instructor. Four hours per week. Four semester hours.

    BIO-481. Independent Research 

    Laboratory or field investigation of some biological phenomenon. This original work includes library-assisted preparation of a final written thesis and the oral presentation of its results before a faculty/student colloquium. This course can be taken more than once. Pre- or co-requisites: junior or senior standing, written consent of a faculty member who will serve as research adviser. Graded S/U. Four semester hours. (XLP.)

    BIO-485. Off-Campus Research 

    An approved, off-campus field or laboratory research experience supervised by a faculty internship adviser and an on-site supervisor. Approved projects result in the library-assisted preparation of a final written report. This course can be taken more than once. Prerequisites: Junior or senior standing and written consent of a faculty adviser. Eleven to 14 hours per week, with a minimum of 160 hours. Graded S/U. Four semester hours. (XLP.)

    BIO-491. Honors Research 

    Content as in BIO-481, but open only to candidates for departmental honors. Prerequisite: junior or senior standing, written consent of a faculty member who will serve as research adviser. Four semester hours. (XLP.)

    BIO-492W. Honors Research 

    Content as in BIO-481, but offered in the spring term and open only to candidates for departmental honors. This continuation of BIO-491 fulfills the capstone, oral and writing requirements within the major. Prerequisites: junior or senior standing, written consent of a faculty member who will serve as research adviser. Four semester hours (XLP.)