Biology (BIO)

Academic Catalog 2010–2011

  • Colleen Jacks, Chairperson
  • Margaret Bloch Qazi
  • Joel Carlin
  • Jeffrey Dahlseid
  • Eric Elias
  • Michael Ferragamo (On leave, January and Spring 2011)
  • Pamela Freeman (Visiting, 2010–2011)
  • Jon Grinnell
  • Kiki Harbitz
  • Cindy Johnson (On leave, 2010–2011)
  • Brenda Kelly (On leave, 2010–2011)
  • Pamela Kittelson
  • John Lammert
  • Karla Marz
  • Kimberly Murphy (Visiting, 2010–2011)
  • Sanjive Qazi
  • Mary Morton Strey
  • Thomas Tucker (Visiting, 2010-2011)

Students who major in Biology at Gustavus Adolphus College investigate all the major fields of the life sciences—from how molecules and genes work to how organisms respond as well as the flow of nutrients through an ecosystem. Students have the opportunity to expand the boundaries of scientific knowledge by engaging in research in courses taught by a broadly-trained group of committed faculty, and in optional intensive research collaborations with a faculty mentor.

While encouraging in-depth preparation for graduate and professional studies, the Biology Department places a strong emphasis on breadth of understanding. All students will complete a core introductory Biology sequence of courses (BIO-101, Principles; 102, Organismal; 201, Cell & Molecular; and 202, Ecology, Evolution & Behavior) augmented with courses in Chemistry and Mathematics. This core sequence is structured to prepare students for advanced scientific studies while introducing them to a broad foundation. Two Chemistry courses (CHE-107, Principles; and 141, Organic 1) must be taken prior to BIO-201 and BIO-202. Level II courses have a prerequisite of BIO-101 and BIO-102, while Level III courses require completion of the four course Biology core and two courses in Chemistry.

The Biology Department encourages its students to study abroad. Many programs offer courses that will transfer back as part of Biology major/minor credit, including these from the past few years: Lancaster University (England), The University of Cape Town (South Africa), University College Cork (Ireland), The University of Aberdeen (Scotland), The Universities of Melbourne and Queensland (Australia), and non-university-based programs in Costa Rica, Tanzania, Denmark and Namibia. Interim Experience courses also encourage international experiences, with recent Biology offerings in Tanzania, Ecuador, Mexico Bolivia and Guatemala.

Biology Major:

Eight regular semester courses in Biology, plus CHE-107 and CHE-141, and one course in calculus or statistics. The Biology courses must include BIO-101, BIO-102, BIO-201, BIO-202, and four additional courses level II or above selected in consultation with a faculty adviser. Three of these additional courses must be level III.

CHE-255 or PSY-260 may be used as a level II course towards the major. Additionally, in the years it is offered, a comprehensive departmental program assessment exam is required of all graduating majors.

Life Science Teaching Major:

Two Life Science Teaching licenses are possible through the state of Minnesota: grades 5 through 8 and 9 through 12 licensure. Both options require the core science and education courses for secondary education as well as the requirements for the Biology major. One of the level III Biology courses in the major must be BIO-374, Genetics. In addition to the Biology, Chemistry, and Mathematics courses required for the Biology major, the following core science courses are also required: GEG-108, GEO-111, Physics (PHY-120 and 170 with labs, or PHY-122 and 172 with labs, or the IEX course PHY-101), and EDU-248. Please see the Education Department section of this bulletin or the department website ( for a listing of the Education courses required.

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Major:

See Biochemistry and Molecular Biology section of catalog.

Biology Minor:

BIO-101, BIO-102, BIO-201, BIO-202, CHE-107, and CHE-141.

Neuroscience Minor:

See Neuroscience section of the catalog.

Departmental Honors in Biology:

The Department has an Honors Program. Please consult the Departmental Honors in Biology page for details.

Petitions: Students not intending to major in Biology who want to take a core course out of sequence may do so by petition to the department. Petitioners must discuss their academic plans with a member of the department before submission of the petition. Approval of the petition allows enrollment in the core course only. Petition forms are available in the departmental office.

All advanced courses (Level II and III) retain the prerequisites stated above. Non-majors may petition exception to the prerequisites, but the following three criteria must be met prior to enrollment:

  1. Completion of four science courses with a laboratory component. This is to ensure the critical skills required for advanced laboratory work.
  2. A minimum grade point average of 3.2 in the four science courses.
  3. Adequate space exists after enrolling biology majors, who have priority for advanced courses.

Preparation for Graduate School

Biology majors preparing for graduate school are urged to consult with a faculty adviser as soon as possible in their academic career. Careful selection of courses beyond the core is important for preparation toward a specific sub-discipline. Most students preparing for graduate work complete additional courses in calculus, statistics, chemistry, and physics. Most graduate programs assume a working knowledge of computers. Plans should be made to take the general and advanced tests of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) at the end of the junior or early in the senior year.

100Biology Explorations(1 course) This course explores the diversity of life and how organisms, including humans, function and interact in the biological world. Topics include how scientists identify and evaluate questions and the genetics, evolution, ecology, physiology, and cellular biology of living organisms. Approaches to understanding these topics will change depending on the instructor. Connections are made across disciplines through discussion, lecture, case studies, and laboratories. For students not intending to major in the sciences. BIO-100 and BIO-101 cannot both be taken for credit. NASP, Fall or Spring semester.

101Principles of Biology(1 course) A general introduction to the study of biology. Topics include the structural organization of organisms, cellular reproduction, basic metabolism, genetics, ecology, and evolution. Three lectures and one two-hour laboratory per week. Required for students intending to major in Biology, Environmental Studies, or Nursing. Recommended for majors in Chemistry, Life Science Teaching, and Health Fitness. NASP, Fall semester.

102Organismal Biology(1 course) This course introduces the organization of the major organismal groups including bacteria, protists, fungi, plants and animals. Topics include phylogeny, development, and the structural-functional relationships of these organisms. Four lectures and one three-hour laboratory weekly. Prerequisite: BIO-101. Spring semester.

118Microbes and Human Health(1 course) A study of the interactions between microbes and humans, with a particular focus on human disease. Topics include the morphology and biochemistry of bacteria and viruses, how they cause human disease, how the body fights infection, and how infection can be controlled. Three lectures and three hours of laboratory weekly. NASP, Spring semester.

201Cell and Molecular Biology(1 course) This course provides a study of the structure and function of eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells. Additional topics include energy transformation, respiration, photosynthesis, cytogenetics, signal transduction, and the molecular aspects of gene regulation. Four lectures and one three-hour laboratory weekly. Prerequisites: BI0-101, BIO-102, CHE-107, CHE-141. Fall semester.

202Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior (1 course) This course focuses on three themes: (1) the mechanisms and patterns of microevolution and macroevolution, including the evidence for evolution and a broad survey of the evolution of life on earth; (2) ecology, including organismal responses to the environment, population dynamics, species interactions, community structure, and ecosystem processes; and (3) behavior. Four lectures and one three-hour laboratory or field trip weekly. Prerequisites: BIO-101, BIO-102, BIO-201, CHE-107, and CHE-141. Spring semester.

241Invertebrate Zoology(1 course) This course explores the life styles of the many animals without backbones. This exploration includes invertebrate life histories, taxonomy, forms, and functions. Lectures focus on the unique features of different invertebrate phyla and the interesting ways animals interact with each other and their environments. We cover topics in animal classification, life history, and various types of human-invertebrate interactions. Laboratory work examines invertebrate diversity on campus and responses to features of their environment, as well as animal structure and function. Three lectures and one three-hour laboratory weekly. Prerequisites: BIO-101 and BIO-102. WRITD, Fall semester.

242Vertebrate Zoology(1 course) A study of the life histories, behavior, morphology, physiology, taxonomy, and conservation of animals representing each of the vertebrate classes, with emphasis on Minnesota fauna. Three lectures and one three-hour laboratory weekly. Prerequisites: BIO-101 and BIO-102. Spring semester.

244, 344Special Topics Seminar(1 course, 1 course) Study of special topics in biology. Research, individual, and/or group projects. Topics announced periodically. May be repeated for credit. Offered occasionally.

245Conservation Biology(1 course) This course focuses on the ecology of conserving biodiversity. It is organized to include species, population, and ecosystem-level issues. Topics such as biodiversity, extinction, sustained yield, exotic species, and preserve design will be covered. Management implications and the ecology of issues are integrated throughout the course. Labs emphasize ecosystems and conservation problems of southern Minnesota. Prerequisite: BIO-101 and declared major in Biology or Environmental Studies. WRITD, Fall semester.

268, 368Career Exploration, Internship(course value to be determined) Off-campus experience related to the student’s major. A limit of one course from BIO-392 or BIO-268, 368 may be used toward the Biology major and must be approved by the department in advance of the experience so that the department’s expectations are clear. See description of the Internship Program.

370Ecology(1 course) This course examines the principles that determine the distribution and abundance of organisms. Topics include population dynamics, species interactions, community organization, energy flow, and nutrient cycles. These principles are related to environmental issues and natural resource management. Three lectures and one three-hour laboratory per week, including field trips and greenhouse experiments. Prerequisites: BIO-101, BIO-102, BIO-201, BIO-202, CHE-107 and CHE-141. Spring semester.

372Animal Behavior(1 course) The study of animal behavior from an evolutionary perspective. This course will cover proximate mechanisms and ultimate adaptiveness of behavior in a diversity of organisms from invertebrates to humans. It will examine how behaviors enhance survival and reproductive success, and the ways in which ecological pressures shape behaviors involved in communication, predator avoidance, foraging, parental investment, altruism, and sociality, among other topics. Three lectures and one three-hour lab weekly. Prerequisite: BIO-101, BIO-102, BIO-201, BIO-202, CHE-107 and CHE-141. Fall semester.

373Cell Biology(1 course) This course examines cell morphology, signaling, trafficking, and life cycle events. Connections between Biochemistry and Physiology are emphasized. Laboratory experiments exploring these issues will include a variety of techniques using primary cultures and cell lines, with an emphasis on qualitative and quantitative light microscopy. Three lectures and one three-hour laboratory weekly. Prerequisites: BIO-101, BIO-102, BIO-201, BIO-202, CHE-107 and CHE-141. WRITD, Spring semester.

374Genetics(1 course) This course extends the study of genetic principles introduced in the four-course core sequence. Topics will include transmission genetics and pedigree analysis, population and quantitative genetics, and the molecular genetics of both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Four lectures weekly. Prerequisites: BIO-101, BIO-102, BIO-201, BIO-202, CHE-107 and CHE-141. Fall semester.

376Entomology(1 course) A general study of the structure, development, habitats, and economic importance of insects, the most abundant type of animal on the planet. Laboratory work explores insect development, physiology, and behaviors. Students also create an insect collection over the course of the semester. Three lectures and one three-hour laboratory weekly. Prerequisites: BIO-101, BIO-102, BIO-201, BIO-202, CHE-107 and CHE-141. Offered occasionally, Fall semester.

377Plant Systematics(1 course) This course is an introduction to the systematics of vascular plants (flowering plants, conifers, and ferns) with an emphasis on woody plants of North America and Minnesota flora. Students will learn the terminology used in systematics, identify representative families, and become familiar with the use of taxonomic keys. Topics included are phylogenetic relationships, speciation, phytogeography, plant mating, and pollination biology. Two three-hour lecture/labs weekly. Prerequisite: BIO-101, BIO-102, BIO-201, BIO-202, CHE-107 and CHE-141. Offered occasionally, Spring semester.

378Plant Physiology(1 course) This course focuses on physiological interactions between plants and the environment. Topics include: 1) how plants respond to challenging physical, chemical, and biological factors; 2) how plants acquire and exchange energy or nutrients with the environment; and 3) plant growth and development integrated by hormonal interactions. These principles are related to ecology, environmental issues, and molecular biology. Three lectures and one three-hour lab weekly. Prerequisites: BIO-101, BIO-102, BIO-201, BIO-202, CHE-107 and CHE-141. WRITD, Offered occasionally, Fall semester.

380Microbiology(1 course) This course will focus on prokaryotic cell structure and function, bacterial growth and metabolism, the molecular genetics of bacteria and viruses, diversity among bacteria, and the interactions between microbes and their environment. Three lectures and three hours of laboratory weekly. Prerequisites: BIO-101, BIO-102, BIO-201, BIO-202. CHE-107 and CHE-141. Spring semester.

381Immunology(1 course) A study of the molecular, genetic, and cellular components of the immune system. Four lectures and one three-hour laboratory weekly. Prerequisite: BIO-101, BIO-102, BIO-201, BIO-202, CHE-107 and CHE-141. WRITD, Fall semester.

382Developmental Biology(1 course) This course studies the principles of development in animals. Included topics are fertilization, embryology, growth, differentiation, and morphogenesis. These are examined from classical morphological to experimental perspectives. Lectures include journal article discussions and conversations about the ethical implications of developmental topics. Three lectures and one three-hour lab weekly. Prerequisites: BIO-101, BIO-102, BIO-201, BIO-202, CHE-107 and CHE-141. Spring semester.

383Aquatic Biology(1 course) A study of the distribution, ecology, and adaptations of organisms living in aquatic habitats within a framework of Environmental Geology and Chemistry. Laboratory work explores aquatic organism diversity, water chemistry, and community structure with an emphasis upon aquatic habitat sampling and experimental design. Prerequisites: BIO-101, BIO-102, BIO-201, BIO-202, CHE-107, and CHE-141. Offered occasionally, Fall semester.

384Neurobiology(1 course) An examination of the nervous system at three different scales: (1) cellular foundations of electrical excitability, synaptic transmission, and the arrangement of individual cells into a system; (2) system behavior in controlling conscious sensation and voluntary movement; and (3) mechanisms that underlie behavior, state changes, and plasticity. Two two-hour and one three-hour lecture/lab sessions. Prerequisites: BIO-202 or PSY-260 and permission. WRITD, Fall semester.

385Evolution(1 course) An advanced readings/discussion course on the theory and mechanisms of evolutionary change in populations. Topics include evolutionary genetics, natural selection, adaptation, life histories, and co-evolution. Two two-hour lecture/lab sessions per week Prerequisite: BIO-101, BIO-102, BIO-201, BIO-202, CHE-107 and CHE-141. Offered occasionally, Spring semester.

386Comparative Physiology(1 course) A chemical and physical analysis of function in living organisms, concentrating on the comparative aspects of organ function in a variety of animals and habitats. Two two-hour lecture/lab sessions per week. Prerequisites: BIO-101, BIO-102, BIO-201, BIO-202, CHE-107 and CHE-141. Spring semester.

388Molecular Genetics(1 course) A study of the molecular biology of the gene. The emphasis will be on the structure and function of nucleic acids, protein synthesis, and their regulation in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. Current methods used to study genetic regulation, and genomes, including recombinant DNA, will be discussed and used in lab. Four lectures and one four-hour laboratory weekly. Prerequisites: BIO-101, BIO-102, BIO-201, BIO-202, CHE-107 and CHE-141. WRITD Spring semester.

291, 391Independent Study(Course value to be determined) Special topics for independent study. Admission by permission of instructor. Students who have completed BIO-101 and BIO-102 will enroll in BIO-291. Students who have completed the core will enroll in BIO-391.

392Biology Research(Course value to be determined) This course is designed for student/faculty research. Enrollment is limited to students working directly with a faculty member on a research project. Credit is assigned on the basis of 1.0 course equal to 12 hours per week of research work with the faculty. A limit of 1.0 course of BIO-392 or BIO-268/368 may be used toward the biology major and must be approved by the department in advance of the experience so that the department s expectations are clear. Offered each semester.

396Directed Research(1 course) Directed group research on a special topic to be identified by the instructor. Students will work together with the instructor in developing a research proposal, designing an experimental protocol, and collecting and analyzing data to further understanding of current biological issues. Students will be expected to present this research in the form of a manuscript suitable for submission for publication and as a public presentation. Research topics and instructors vary by semester. Prerequisite: permission of instructor. WRITD, Fall and Spring semesters.

397Biology Honors Thesis(.13 course) Students enrolled in this course complete their work towards Departmental Honors in Biology. As agreed upon with their Honors Thesis adviser and committee, students: 1) complete their proposed research, 2) write an honors paper (extensive literature review) or thesis (experimental work), and 3) prepare for their oral exam. Consult the Biology Handbook or Biology web site for additional details regarding preparation and participation in Departmental Honors in Biology (

The following courses are offered by other departments and may be selected as electives in the Biology major:

  • GEO-241Paleontology
  • CHE-255Biochemistry
  • PSY-260Introduction to Neuroscience