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Course Descriptions



BIO 1027 Principles of Biology I - 4 credits
The Unity and Diversity of Life: Molecules, Cells, and Organisms. An introduction to biological principles at the cellular and molecular level. Central topics include cell structure and function, energy transduction, the flow of genetic information, cellular reproduction, and intracellular and intercellular communication. Laboratory investigations supplement the lecture material and introduce students to the theory and practice of the scientific method and the application of basic techniques in cell and molecular biology. Satisfies the mathematics and science distribution requirement. Three hours lecture and one laboratory period per week.

BIO 1028 Principles of Biology II - 4 credits
The Unity and Diversity of Life: Organisms, Ecology and Evolution. An introduction to biological principles centered on organisms, adaptation and evolution. The course will focus on the process of evolution and the diversity of higher organisms. The course will explore how and why all living organisms must deal with the transmission of information, with the capture and expenditure of energy, with transport of materials, and with self-regulation. Animal behavior will also be considered. The course will have an integrated lecture and laboratory and will stress the relationships between organismal adaptation, form, function, ecological relationships and evolution. Prerequisites: BIO1027 or consent of instructor. Three hours lecture and one laboratory period per week.

BIO 2010 Ecology - 4 credits
An introduction to ecological concepts and their applications including interrelated scientific principles, both abiotic and biological. In addition to a core grounding in ecological concepts, the class will look at major environmental perturbations and the complexity of interrelations inherent in dealing with human use and alteration of ecosystems. Students will focus on the quantitative comparison of different ecological communities and ecosystems and learn quantitative sampling and analysis. The laboratory will consist of field excursions and exercises related to the field experience and ecological techniques. Prerequisites: BIO1027, BIO1028. Satisfies the mathematics and science distribution requirement. Three hours lecture and one laboratory/field period per week.

BIO 2018 Genetics - 4 credits
The concepts of genetics permeate all sub-disciplines within biology, from medicine to ecology. Increasingly, a solid understanding of the principles of genetics have become necessary in the formation of public policy and legal affairs, as well as in the biotechnology, forensic, agricultural, healthcare and fitness industries. This course stresses a thorough understanding of the structure and function of the genetic material, how genotype dictates phenotype via the regulation of gene expression, how proteins are made, how mutations occur and are repaired, the basics of recombinant DNA technology, how genes get fixed in populations and the genetic basis of evolution. The laboratory will introduce the basic skills and stress the theoretical basis of modern molecular genetic techniques utilized in recombinant DNA technology, ecological and population biology, informatics and forensics. Prerequisite: BIO1027 or consent of instructor. Three hours lecture and one laboratory period per week.




BIO 3037 Cellular Biochemistry - 4 credits
A study of the properties, structures, and function of three major classes of biomolecules: proteins, carbohydrates and lipids; a comprehensive survey of carbohydrate metabolism, with emphasis on the integration and control of metabolic pathways. Laboratory investigations supplement the lecture material and provide an introduction to current methods and techniques in cellular biochemistry. Prerequisites: BIO1027 and BIO1028 or CHEM1110 and 1120; co-requisite CHEM2210. Three hours lecture and one laboratory period per week

BIO 3038 Molecular Biology and Biotechnology - 4 credits
DNA makes RNA makes protein. This course will cover the processes that revolutionized the study of biology and medicine. The scientific discoveries that shaped the biotechnology industry will be covered as we learn the cutting edge techniques currently used in academic laboratories, industry and medicine. Topics covered will include RNAi therapeutics, immunodetection and analysis of polymorphisms in forensic applications. The laboratory will be project based. Prerequisites: BIO1027 and BIO2018. Three hours lecture and one laboratory period per week.

BIO 3040 Cell Biology - 4 credits
The goal of this course is to gain a working knowledge of the molecular mechanisms responsible for cell growth, death, differentiation, motility, communication, and homeostasis. Specific topics include macromolecular synthesis, cytoskeleton and motor proteins, the regulation of gene expression, signal transduction, membrane transport, protein secretion, membrane sorting, the cell cycle and cancer. Active learning is stressed in both the lecture and the laboratory. The lecture includes classroom discussions of textbook materials, along with student led presentations/discussions of original research articles on topics of their own choosing related to course subject matter. Emphasis is placed upon the understanding of concepts, methodologies, and interpretation of data. In the laboratory, the students work in small groups to: culture both osteolclast cell lines and primary cells and then treat these cells with hormones to bring about their differentiation in vitro; use high density DNA microarray chip data and bioinformatics to analyze osteoclast gene expression; transfect osteoclasts with siRNA; assess osteoclast differentiation; and write a research paper about their results. Prerequisites: BIO1027 and BIO2018. Three hours lecture and one laboratory period per week.

BIO 3050 Comparative Anatomy and Physiology I - 4 credits
A study of the evolution and mechanisms of animal body functions from genes to organ systems to the whole organism interacting with its environment. Course goals include fostering greater appreciation for the universal functions and principles shared by all animals while also considering the diversity of form and function (i.e. understanding the key differences across animal phyla, classes, orders etc., with particular emphasis on vertebrates). Focus is placed largely on animal nervous and endocrine systems as mechanisms of regulating physiologic function relative to environmental needs, and compared to that of human beings. Laboratory will consist of comparative anatomical dissections, physiological experimentation, and critical reviews (writing and discussion) of scientific literature relevant to the discipline. Prerequisites: BIO 1027, BIO1028 or 2018. Three hours lecture and one laboratory period per week.

BIO 3063 Animal Behavior - 4 credits
A study of the development, physiology, genetics,ecology and evolution of animal behavior, with particular emphasis on evolution. The course first introduces the mechanisms responsible for the expression of behavior in animals: the genes, hormones, neurons and muscles that create behavior in an animal. We then examine the evolutionary basis of behavior addressing such topics as foraging strategies, predator-prey interactions, mating systems, sexual selection, aggression, kinship, habitat selection, communication, and human behavior, among others. Laboratory will involve both field and lab work introducing students to (1) observation and description of animal behavior; (2) construction of hypotheses in behavioral ecology and  derivation of testable predictions; (3) collection of behavioral data; (4) quantitative & statistical analysis of those data; and (5) interpretation and presentation of findings in written and oral forms. Lab will also include critical reviews (writing and discussion) of scientific literature relevant to the discipline. Prerequisites: BIO1027, BIO1028, BIO2010 and BIO2018. Three hours lecture and one laboratory/field period per week.

BIO 3064 Marine Biology - 4 credits
A study of life and processes in the marine environment. The course stresses an ecological approach to the study of marine organisms, their adaptations, habitats, physiology and behavior, with emphasis on the importance of marine ecosystems to terrestrial ecosystems and to humankind. Special emphasis will be placed on biodiversity and conservation of ocean ecosystems as well as human impacts on the sea (fisheries, pollution, eutrophication, global climate change, environmental impacts of industrial activities and human populations, among other topics). Laboratories will include comparative anatomy and physiology of marine animals, site visits and field work. Prerequisites: BIO1027, BIO1028, BIO2010, CHEM1110, CHEM1120. Three hours lecture and one laboratory/field period per week.

BIO 3071 Conservation and Restoration Biology - 4 credits
This course will address the impacts of humans on Earth’s biodiversity and ecosystems, and strategies taken to conserve, protect and restore global natural resources. This course will center on issues that are paramount to conservation and restoration of species and ecological systems.  Topics covered will include global patterns of biodiversity, habitat exploitation and restoration, genetics of small populations, landscape ecology, design of nature reserves, problems associated with invasive species and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).  Laboratory periods include a combination of laboratory work, GIS work, site visits and later in the semester, field work.  Local and regional policies affecting the conservation and restoration of biodiversity will also be included in the course. Prerequisites are BIO1027, BIO1028, BIO 2010, BIO 2018. Three hours lecture and one laboratory/field period per week.

BIO 3072 Evolution - 4 credits
This course stresses the relevance of evolution to all of biology and to real world problems. We discuss evolution not as a collection of facts, but as an ongoing research effort with the goal of understanding evolution as an observable process, especially as it relates to modern medicine and the treatment of disease. Emphasis is placed on the theoretical underpinnings of modern evolutionary biology (mutation, selection, migration, & drift) that produce evolutionary change. Additionally, students are introduced to a variety of analytical and technical skills used for studying evolution. Topics covered include population genetics, the theory of evolution by natural selection, concepts of fitness and adaptation, genetic and developmental bases of evolutionary change, modes of speciation, molecular evolution, principles of systematic biology, paleontology and macroevolutionary trends in evolution, the origins of life, and extinction, among others. We hope that exposure to the tremendous diversity within this discipline will illustrate why evolution is viewed as the central theme unifying all of biology. Laboratory will consist of critical reviews (writing and discussion) of scientific literature as relevant to the discipline. Prerequisites: BIO1027, BIO1028, BIO2010 and BIO2018. Three hours lecture and one laboratory period per week.

BIO 3075 Aquatic and Coastal Zone Ecology - 4 credits
This course focuses on understanding the physical, chemical, and biological properties of freshwater lakes, streams and wetlands as well as estuarine systems and salt marshes.   Students will learn how concepts, ecological theory and methods can be integrated to address applied problems in aquatic and coastal zone ecology.  This course assumes a basic background in biology, chemistry, math and physics.  The course will allow you to become familiar with the scope of aquatic and coastal zone ecology and to master its basic facts, principles, and concepts. The approach will include a mix of theory (including a variety of mathematical, verbal, and graphical models of important ecological processes), and field and lab techniques.  Students  will also learn about how the science is done by looking at examples of research in course readings, examples in lecture, guest lecturers and by reading published research.  A key goal of the course is to develop a conceptual framework that may be used to pose and answer relevant questions in the discipline and to develop an appreciation for the special challenges involved in aquatic and coastal zone ecological studies. The course will also introduce to management of these resources.  Management is complex and integrates multidisciplinary natural and social sciences.  It requires exploration and knowledge about the relationships between habitats, applied ecology, climate, hydrology, watersheds and all types of human activities that affect aquatic ecosystems (e.g. urban development, coastal development, tourism, fisheries, protected areas, aquaculture and agriculture).   Prerequisites:  BIO1027, BIO1028, BIO2010, BIO2018 or consent of instructor.  Three hours lecture and one laboratory/field period per week.

BIO 3085 Bioinformatics - 4 credits
Bioinformatics can be defined as the field of study that extracts biological information from large data sets such as DNA, RNA and protein sequences. In this course, students learn about the use of this information in the study and diagnosis of disease, in the identification of new genes of biological importance, and in drawing phylogenetic and evolutionary relationships. Topics include the collection and storage of sequence data, identification of open reading frames, sequence alignments, predictions of RNA and protein structure and the analysis of gene product expression, function, subcellular localization and post-translational modification. In the computer-based laboratory, students explore available on-line databases to carry out these analyses. Prerequisites BIO1027 and BIO2018. Three hours lecture and one laboratory period per week.

BIO 4081 Special Topics in Biology - 4 credits
An investigation of a selected topic of interest in biology, with an emphasis on reading and discussion of the primary scientific literature. Students will learn to critically read the current literature in biology, to analyze and interpret data and to present their analyses of these works to the seminar group. Library reference work and practice in the preparation of written reports will be included. Prerequisites junior/senior standing. Four hours per week.

BIO 4092 Directed Study/Research - 4 credits
Intensive laboratory or field research experience in a selected area of biology, which includes reading and analysis of the primary literature, the development of a written report, and presentation of research results. Prerequisites junior/senior standing and permission of instructor.

BIO 4095 Biology Internship - 4 credits
An intensive work-study experience co-supervised by the Biology Department Internship Coordinator and a mentor in the work place. Students are placed according to interest in a variety of public and private sector work settings, including: biomedical, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology laboratories; medical, veterinary, and dental clinics; environmental management and consulting firms. Internships engage students in the real world application of knowledge and skills obtained from course work in Biology, develop new knowledge base and skill sets in life sciences, enhance critical thinking and problem solving capabilities, enhance effective written and oral scientific communication skills and enhance interpersonal communication skills. Prerequisites: junior/senior Biology Major and consent of Department. 

BIO 4096 Senior Thesis Research and Seminar- 4 credits
Intensive laboratory or field research experience in a selected area of biology, which includes reading and analysis of the primary literature, the development of a written research proposal and thesis, and presentation of research results. Prerequisites senior standing and permission of instructor.


Courses Offered Through the Marine Studies Consortium

Please contact Dr. David MacLaren if interested in registering for these courses.

BIO 3009 Environment, Ecology and Society - 4 credits
The future of our society depends on whether Homo sapiens can learn to live in harmony with the global ecosystem so that in can support civilization. Knowing how ecosystems function permits more than knowledgeable participation in the great decisions of our day. The course investigates the linkages between ecological systems and human systems and how and why human perturbations impact ecological systems. The main themes running throughout the course are sustainability and stewardship. The course will include the basic principles of ecology - the study of the interactions among organisms and their physical environment. Emphasis will be placed on applied environmental issues that currently confront the planet from both a global and regional perspective. Topics will include global and regional climate change, renewable water resources, sustainable fisheries, alternative energy and the linkages between these topics.

Environmental Science and Ecology inherently interdisciplinary, and the course will integrate concepts from biology, chemistry, engineering and hydrology. Students will also discuss the process of scientific inquiry and the nature of science as it applies to environmental issues and questions. This course will also acquaint students with some of the social, economic, political, and ethical aspects of environmental problems. Consideration will be given to alternative ways of organizing our society in accordance with sound ecological and environmental principles. Students will read several topical papers, get hands-on experience in the laboratory and field and work in teams to conduct a semester-long investigation on an approved topic. Satisfies the mathematics and science distribution requirement. Lecture three hours a week including some laboratory and field work.

BIO 3010 Marine Mammals: Biology and Conservation - 4 credits
This course is designed to familiarize students with the biology and natural history of marine mammals, with particular emphasis on whales, dolphins and seals of the western North Atlantic. Topics include evolution, anatomy, behavior, field identification, the history of whaling and contemporary conservation issues. Hands-on activities include laboratory work and marine mammal surveys on Massachusetts Bay.  Prerequisites: BIO1027, BIO1028, BIO2010, CHM1110 and CHM1120. The course is taught off-site of the Merrimack Campus.

BIO 3060 Biology of Fishes - 4 credits
A study of the evolution, systematics, anatomy, physiology and behavior of freshwater, marine and anadromous fishes from temperate to tropical environments. The course also examines the diversity of fish interactions in aquatic communities, including predator/prey relationships, host/symbiont interactions and the various roles of fishes as herbivores. Study of inter- and intraspecific predator/prey relationships among fish populations in aquatic communities integrates principles of ecology. Prerequisites: BIO1027, BIO1028, BIO2010, CHM1110 and CHM 1120. The course is taught at the NEW ENGLAND AQUARIUM in Boston.



BIO 3090  Global Field Studies - 4 credits
Each course offered in the Global Field Studies Program is an intensive experiential learning opportunity involving a lecture/classroom component and field work in various remote, environmentally significant locations around the world. Different ecosystems are studied and compared, and every course focuses on the natural history of the particular location both from an integrated biological perspective as well as consideration
of conservation and cultural aspects of the region. Students develop an awareness and appreciation for both biological and cultural diversity and complexity. There is an additional fee for travel. Open to majors and non-majors. Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor. Two hours lecture per week and an approximately 10 day trip outside the United States.