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Undergraduate Course Descriptions

NON-MAJOR COURSES

(Courses may not be taken for Biology major credit.)

101. Introduction to Life’s Processes  4 cr.

An emphasis on the fundamental biochemical and cellular concepts required for a solid understanding of life's processes. This information will provide the background for the Anatomy & Physiology and Introductory Microbiology courses. Lecture.

101L. Introduction to Life’s Processes Laboratory  0 cr.

Laboratory experiments and demonstrations illustrating biochemical and cellular processes. The lab is designed to accompany the Lecture.

203. Introductory Microbiology  3 cr.

Introduction to microorganisms, their morphology, metabolism, ecology, and cultural characteristics, with emphasis on their interaction with other organisms, including man.  Principles of medical and health related aspects of microbiology, immunology and animal virology are presented.  This course is restricted to Health Sciences and Nursing students only.  Prerequisite: C or better in BIOL 101/102 or 111/111L.  Lecture.

204. Introductory Microbiology Laboratory  1 cr.

Prerequisite: 203 (or concurrent registration).

207. Anatomy and Physiology I  3 cr.

This course is for aspiring health care workers.  It provides a solid foundation in normal human anatomy and physiology, then helps the student to integrate the knowledge with exposure to pathological conditions and clinical applications.  The focus during this first semester is on body organization, movement and control mechanisms.  Prerequisite: C or better in BIOL101/102 or 111/111L.  Lecture.

208. Anatomy and Physiology I Laboratory  1 cr.

Laboratory exercises include both microscopic and gross examination of human anatomy, studies of physiological processes and exposure to basic clinically significant procedures.  The “hands-on” approach in the laboratory provides an opportunity for students to experience and better understand the topics covered in lecture.  Prerequisite:  BIOL 207 (or concurrent registration).

209. Anatomy and Physiology II  3 cr.

Continuation of BIOL 207, emphasizing the mechanisms employed to maintain the body.  Prerequisites: C or better in BIOL 207/208 or permission of the Instructor.  Lecture.

210. Anatomy and Physiology II Laboratory  1 cr.

Continuation of BIOL 208.  Prerequisite:  BIOL 209 (or concurrent registration).  Laboratory.


MAJOR COURSES

All courses for majors are also open to non-majors, providing that individual course prerequisites/background expectations are satisfied.

111. Biology I: Cells, Genetics, Development  4 cr.

Study of living systems at the molecular, cellular, and multicellular levels.  An introduction to cell chemistry, cell structure and function, energetics, inheritance, reproduction and development.  This course and Biology II provide basic information and concepts necessary to understanding living systems and their interrelationships.  Must be taken with BIOL 111L.  Lecture.

111L. Biology I Laboratory  0 cr.

Laboratory experiments and demonstrations illustrating cellular and molecular biological principles, energetics, inheritance, reproduction and development.  Must be taken with BIOL 111

112. Biology II: Diversity, Ecology, Evolution  4 cr.

This course is an introduction to the scientific study of living systems at the organismal, community, and ecosystem levels by surveying diversity in the five kingdoms, ecology and evolution.  BIOL 111 is not a prerequisite to BIOL 112.  Must be taken with BIOL 112L.  Lecture.

112L. Biology II Laboratory  0 cr.

Laboratory experiments and demonstrations that illustrate animal and plant diversity, ecological principles, and evolutionary concepts.  Must be taken with BIOL 112.

115.  Advanced General Biology I - Lecture  4 cr.

This course investigates the biological world at the level of biomolecules and cells. It also provides an introduction to the mechanisms of inheritance, how genes work, and the process of development the progression from fertilized egg to adult. Information and concepts essential to understanding the biological sciences are integrated with the process and excitement of scientific discovery. BIOL 115 is not a prerequisite for BIOL 117 or BIOL 112. This course is restricted to Biology and CERE majors. Freshman Course. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. Lecture. Must be taken with BIOL 115L. Class includes Freshmen only.

115L. Advanced General Biology I - Laboratory  0 cr.

Laboratory experiments in cellular and molecular biology, genetics, and development focusing on the process of scientific discovery. Experiments, data analysis, and laboratory reports are emphasized. This course is restricted to Biology and CERE majors. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. Must be taken with BIOL 115. Class includes Freshmen only.

117. Advanced General Biology II - Lecture  4 cr.

This course investigates living systems at the organismal, community, and ecosystem levels. Included is a survey of the diversity of life, ecology, and evolution. The information and concepts essential to understanding the biological sciences are integrated with the process and excitement of scientific discovery. This course is restricted to Biology and CERE majors. Freshman Course. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. Lecture. Must be taken with BIOL 117L. Class includes Freshmen only.

117L. Advanced General Biology II - Laboratory  0 cr.

Laboratory experiments and demonstrations illustrating the diversity of life, ecological principles, and evolutionary concepts. Experiments, data analysis, and laboratory reports are emphasized. This course is restricted Biology and CERE majors. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. Must be taken with BIOL 117. Class includes Freshmen only.

212. Cell and Molecular Biology  4 cr.

An introduction to biological macromolecule structure, macromolecular synthesis and the control of gene expression. Also this course will include examinations of cellular organelles, nuclear and chromatin structure, membrane systems, protein trafficking, the cytoskeleton, the cell cycle, cell-cell communication and extracellular matrices. Techniques for purifying proteins and manipulating nucleic acids will be discussed. Prerequisites: Must have a C or better in BIOL 111/112 (or 115/117) and BIOL 111L/112L (or 115L/117L), and a C or better in CHEM 121, 122. Lecture.

212R. Cell and Molecular Biology Recitation  0 cr.

250. Genetics  3 cr.

This course is a survey of the subject of genetic analysis in biology. A problem solving approach is used to demonstrate the principles of genetics.  Topics include classical Mendelian genetics, chromosomal inheritance, human genetic disease, population genetics, and gene expression.  Prerequisites: C or better in BIOL 212 or permission of instructor.  Lecture and recitation.

250R.Genetics Recitation  0 cr.

313. Developmental Biology  3 cr.

The study of the progression through time and space from a single cell, the fertilized egg, to a complex multicellular organism.  The powerful tools of molecular and cellular biology have linked the fields of embryology, morphology, genetics, and evolutionary biology to reveal how cells, tissues, organs, and organisms develop.  This course explores the processes of morphogenesis, differentiation, pattern formation, growth, and reproduction at the molecular, cellular, and organismal levels to provide a current overview of development in a wide variety of organisms.  Prerequisite: C or better in BIOL 212.  Lecture.

315. Mammalian Physiology  3 cr.

Examination of the molecular and cellular mechanisms of mammalian body function, including consideration of the basic components of biological control systems and the manner in which various tissues and organ systems contribute toward the maintenance of physiological homeostasis in health and disease. Prerequisite: C or better in BIOL 212. Lecture and weekly recitation.

316.  Comparative and Environmental Physiology  3 cr.

This course focuses on the diversity of physiological mechanisms that different animals employ, including the high level of physiological and biochemical adaptation and specialization found in animals that live in diverse and challenging environments, or that possess other exceptional physiological abilities. Prerequisite: C or better in BIOL 212. Lecture.

319. General Microbiology  3 cr.

Survey of the microbial world, metabolism, biosynthesis, regulation, growth, structure and function. Also included is an introduction to the fundamentals of immunology and virology.  Recommended for students majoring in biology and post-baccalaureate students.  Prerequisite: C or better in BIOL 212.  Lecture.

322.  Animal Behavior  3 cr.

An evolutionary approach to study the behavior of animals. Using the Darwinian framework, one can understand basic life history events such as natal dispersal or seasonal migrations. Moreover intra-sexual selection and inter-sexual selection (mate choice) will be examined in several taxa. Finally intra-specific variation (or culture) will be explored among several animal populations, with special emphasis on social behavior. Prerequisite: C or better in BIOL 111/112 and BIOL 111L/112L. Lecture.

335.  Vertebrate Anatomy, Development and Evolution  3 cr.

This course emphasizes comparative development, functional anatomy and  macroevolution of vertebrate body plans.  Topics include the diversity and phylogenetic history of fossil and local forms, development and comparative embryology of each organ system, and comparative functional anatomy of the major clades of living vertebrates within an evolutionary framework. Prerequisite: C or better in BIOL 212.  Lecture and Laboratory.

340W.  Evolution  3 cr.

Evolution is the single most important concept uniting the many fields of biology.  This course covers the theory of evolution and the various levels at which evolution works in living systems. Topics to be addressed include evolutionary genetics (including molecular evolution), adaptation and natural selection, evolution and diversity (including phylogeny reconstruction), and paleobiology and macroevolution.  Prerequisites: C or better in BIOL 212; a genetics course is strongly recommended.  Lecture.

370W. Lab I: Experimental Biology  4 cr.

This junior level lab course sequence is designed to provide students with a multidisciplinary lab that reflects the integration among different disciplines in the broad areas of cellular and molecular biology.  The course emphasizes techniques and approaches in the molecular, biochemical, and cellular biology of organisms from bacteria to mammals.  Included are an introduction to research skills (computer use, library resources), characterizations and manipulations of cellular macromolecules including proteins and nucleic acids, and microscopy.  Prerequisites: C or better in BIOL 212.  Laboratory and recitation.

371W. Lab II: Cell and Molecular Biology  4 cr.

This course builds on BIOL 370W through investigative labs in cellular and molecular biology including cell culture, genetic mapping, constructing transgenic organisms, and microscopy of cellular structures.  Prerequisite:  BIOL 370W.  Laboratory and recitation.

372W. Lab III: Cell and Systems Physiology  4 cr.

This course builds on BIOL 370W through investigative labs in cardiovascular/ respiratory physiology, muscle and neurophysiology, and endocrinology.  Students will investigate selected physiological processes at different levels (whole organismal to molecular) using a range of techniques (electrophysiological, isolated organ, pharmacological, cellular, molecular) and procedures (computer-based data acquisition, surgical, tissue culture, microscopy).  This course exposes students to a broad range of skills and understandings that contemporary physiological research encompasses.  Prerequisite: BIOL 370W.  Laboratory and recitation.

373W. Lab IV: Microbiology  4 cr.

This course builds on BIOL 370W through investigative labs in microbial physiology, ecology and genetics. This laboratory also includes an independent research project designed and conducted by each student. Prerequisite: BIOL 370W. Laboratory and recitation.

374W. Lab V: Physiology and Molecular Techniques for Physical Therapy  4 cr.

This laboratory course focuses on how the body works in health and disease and the molecular techniques that relate to disease detection. Investigative experiments with organisms from bacteria to mammals will be performed, with an emphasis on human physiology. In addition, techniques such as polymerase chain reaction, molecular cloning, and DNA sequencing will be included. Prerequisites: C or better in BIOL 212. Laboratory and recitation.

376W. Lab VI: Microscopy  4 cr.

Microscopy can provide a unique glimpse at cell morphology and intracellular form and function. The purpose of this course is to introduce the theory and practice in the various types of microscopy including light (bright field, dark field, phase contrast, differential interference contrast), fluorescence, and confocal scanning laser, as well as scanning and transmission electron microscopy. It focuses on experimental design where microscopy provides the answer (conceptualization), determination of microscope/technique that will provide the answer (instrumentation), and producing the micrograph with digital photography and image processing (documentation). Prerequisite: BIOL 370W. Laboratory and recitation.

391. Biology Experience in China  3 cr.

This course provides an in-depth three-week scientific and cultural experience in China facilitated through Duquesne University and the Chinese Association of Science and Technology.  Students will travel to a variety of locations in China and work in seminars or small groups with the opportunity to (1) communicate orally and in writing in topics such as environmental science and pollution abatement; (2) acquire appropriate learning skills for collective laboratory work;  (3) become familiar with the Chinese scientific issues through actively participating in scientific presentations.  Students must participate in pre-trip seminars during the prior spring semester, in the three-week trip (typically in August) including all activities during the trip, in the writing of reports to include in the trip summary document, and in a post-trip presentation to the public.  This course is for undergraduate students in biology.  Pass/Fail.

394. Undergraduate Biology Seminar. 1 cr.

Discussion of current issues and scientific literature in the Biological Sciences. Format includes student presentations, faculty seminars or invited speakers. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. May be taken a total of two times for credit (in combination with honors seminar, BIOL 414H).

395.  Special Topics – Biology I  1-3 cr.

Treatment of topics of current or special interest in biology. Permission of instructor. Lecture, laboratory or combinations.

396.  Special Topics – Biology II  1-3 cr.

Treatment of topics of current or special interest in biology. Permission of instructor. Lecture, laboratory or combinations.

397.  Undergraduate Biology Thesis  2 cr.

A written thesis and presentation to be based on research that was conducted under the mentorship of a faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences. Prerequisite: permission of a faculty mentor.

398, 399.  Undergraduate Research  1-3 cr.

Opportunity for selected students to work in the laboratory on research problems under the direction of a faculty member.  Registration by permission of instructor. Pass/Fail only. Laboratory.

405.  Microbial Genetics  3 cr.

A course providing the fundamentals to the rapidly growing field of microbial genetics.  Emphasis is on gene structure and function.  Areas to be discussed are DNA replication, control of gene expression, recombination, transformation, conjugation, transduction, transposition, genetic fine structure and colinearity, mapping methods, mutation, DNA repair, plasmids and their properties.  Genetic engineering and gene cloning are described.  Prerequisite: C or Better in BIOL212.  Lecture.

415H.  Honors Thesis  2 cr.

A written honors thesis to be based on research that was conducted under the mentorship of faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences. Prerequisite: Application and acceptance into the honors program in Biology.

417. Invertebrate Biology. 3 cr.

Of the nearly 1.5 million described species of animals, the vast majority are invertebrates. This course will survey the biology, evolutionary history, and relationships of invertebrate organisms from protozoa through invertebrate chordates. An emphasis will be placed on phylogenetic relationships of these organisms, in particular the adaptations and characteristics that identify them as unique groups. A formal understanding of modern phylogenetic techniques will be developed. A collection of invertebrates is required as part of the course and guided field trips will be undertaken to help assemble the collection. Approximately 15% of the course will be devoted to the uses of invertebrates in scientific study (especially Drosophila and C. elegans) and the impact of invertebrates on human life, especially as food, pollinators, disease-causing agents, disease vectors, and agricultural pests. Prerequisite: C or better in BIOL 212. Lecture.

424.  Immunology  3 cr.

A course in the fundamental mechanisms of the immune system with applications in basic research, medicine and public health.  Topics include the mechanisms of induction, regulation, and expression of the cellular and humoral immune responses, immunochemistry, antigen-antibody reactions, immunogenetics, immunopathologies, and immunodeficiencies.  Prerequisite:  C or Better in BIOL 212.  Lecture.

426.  Pathogenic Microbiology  3 cr.

Study of the infectious agents of human disease with emphasis on host-parasite relationships, unique aspects of microbial activities and organization, metabolism, regulation and genetics which contribute to pathogenicity, including identification and principles of prevention, treatment, and laboratory diagnosis.  Prerequisite:  C or Better in BIOL 212.  Lecture.

427W.  Microbial Ecology  3 cr.

In this course the interaction of microorganisms, primarily prokaryotes, with each other, plants, animals, and fungi, and the environment is explored. The course takes a systematic approach, examining these interactions at the ecosystem, organismal, subcellular, and historical level. Topics include microbial primary production and photosynthesis, biogeochemical cycling, the structure of microbial communities, modeling, symbiosis, and microbial evolution. Prerequisites: C or Better in BIOL 212, BIOL319, and CHEM 212 or permission of the instructor.

429.  Microbial Physiology  3 cr.

This course focuses on bacterial structure and function.  Topics covered include mechanisms of protein secretion, structure and synthesis of the cell envelope, and examination of the organelles associated with motility.  The role of the features examined in terms of bacterial pathogenesis will be emphasized.  Energy metabolism including chemoorganotrophy, chemolithotrophy, and phototrophy will also be covered.  Prerequisites: C or better in BIOL 212 and organic chemistry or permission of the instructor.  Lecture.

432W.  Applied and Environmental Microbiology  3 cr.

This course takes an in-depth look at microbial biogeochemical cycling and the application of microbial processes (both prokaryotic and eukaryotic) for biotechnology and bioremediation. Topics include biogeochemistry, the design and application of genetically engineered microbes (GEMS), natural attenuation, fermentation, and water treatment, in addition to current issues in environmental science. Prerequisites: C or better in BIOL 212, BIOL 319, and CHEM 212 or 212H or permission of the instructor.

438.  Environmental Biology   3 cr.

The course provides an overview of life and the environment.  Basic biological principles are examined in the context of the impact humans have on the biosphere. Topics include: ecological principles at the population, community and ecosystems levels; climate; biogeochemical cycles; human population growth; sources and effects of pollution; deforestation and habitat loss; loss of species richness; extinction; global warming; disease; biomarkers; biotechnology; and bioremediation.  The course is appropriate for science majors and for non-majors with a strong science background.  Prerequisites: BIOL 111/112, BIOL 111L/112L, CHEM 121/122, CHEM 121L/122L or consent of instructor. Lecture.

444.  Plant Biology, Biotechnology, and Genomics  3 cr.

This course is a merger of basic plant biology, molecular biology, and biotechnology. In it, we will discuss plant biochemistry, physiology, genetics, and development. The emphasis is placed upon linking basic plant systems to current research problems and developments in biotechnology and genomics. Typical topics will include applications of plant molecular biology to understand cellular structure and function, genomics, developmental genetics, and methods to develop tools for plant biotechnology. The course will also discuss the issue of plant biology as it pertains to world economics and food production. Prerequisites: BIOL 370W and a C or better in BIOL 250, BIOL 468 or CHEM 401, CHEM 402. Lecture.

457W.  Reproductive Physiology  3 cr.

This course offers a broad overview of mammalian reproductive physiology. The major emphasis will be on human/primate biology, but other mammalian species will be included for comparison. The application of modern techniques of cellular and molecular biology to answer central questions of reproductive physiology will be explored in more detail. Prerequisite: BIOL315 or BIOL 316 or comparable and permission of the instructor. Lecture.

460.  Endocrinology  3 cr.

This advanced integrative physiology course investigates the role of the endocrine system in coordination and regulation of body activities. Topics include homeostasis, reflex arcs, hormone synthesis, hormone action and signal transduction, hypothalamic/pituitary axis, regulation of salt, mineral and water balances, regulation of energy metabolism, reproduction, growth and development. This course is appropriate for biology and biochemistry majors interested in physiology, as well as for pre-health profession students. Prerequisite: C or better in BIOL 212.  Lecture.

466.  Terrestrial Field Biology  3 cr.

This applied ecology course is designed to present an overview of field and laboratory methods used by ecologists to describe and analyze plant and animal aggregations and their environments. The course focus is on the principles and practice of various ecological procedures with explanation of how to collect, record and analyze data. The course reviews the basic concepts of ecology that are needed to understand the various methods and their significance. The course material is presented as a combination of lecture, laboratory and field sessions.   Prerequisites: There are no specific course prerequisites; however, students should have knowledge of basic biology, chemistry and fundamental algebra.  Lecture and Laboratory.

467.  Genomics  3 cr.

This course examines the structure, function, and evolution of genomes, including both prokaryotes and eukaryotes.  Topics covered will include genome sequencing methods and analysis, gene expression, chromosome structure, proteomics, bioinformatics, and genome evolution.  Prerequisites: C or better in BIOL 212 and BIOL 250 (or BIOL 405 or BIOL 468), or CHEM 402.  Lecture.

468.  Human Genetics  3 cr.

This is an advanced course in human genetics focusing on principles of inheritance, structure and function of the human genome, genetic mapping of diseases, and patterns of human genetic diversity. We will examine both theoretical concepts as well as practical applications to a variety of fields. The emphasis of applications will be on the logic of the approach rather than on technical experimental details. Lecture.

475.  Neurobiology  3 cr.

This course will survey topics found in the science of neurobiology.  Neurobiology is the study of the nervous system, its development, its function and its diseases.  Topics will include evolution and development of the nervous system, electrophysiology of neurons, human neuroanatomy, anatomy and functioning of the sensory systems and molecular genetics of the nervous system.  The focus of the course is on how a scientist discovers the inner workings of the brain.  A vast array of living organisms have brains.  Science has shown that the study of “simple” brains can tell us a great deal about how all brains function, including human brains.  As such, in this class, we will study aspects of the neurobiology of many different organisms.  Prerequisite:  C or better in BIOL 212 or permission of instructor.

480. Readings in Biology I  1 cr.

Discussion and critical evaluation by faculty and students of significant papers from the recent research literature.

481. Readings in Biology II  1 cr.

Discussion and critical evaluation by faculty and students of significant papers from the recent research literature.

490. Seminar  1 cr.

Students attend and participate in weekly departmental research presentations and demonstrations by biological scientists from the Department of Biological Sciences, field stations, biotechnology laboratories, and other universities.  May only be taken once for credit.  Pass/Fail only.

492W.  Stream Field Biology  3 cr.

This course is the study of the functional relationships and productivity of fresh water streams as they are affected by their physical, chemical and biotic environment.  The course material is presented as a combination of lecture, laboratory and field sessions.  Prerequisites: There are no specific course prerequisites; however, students should have knowledge of basic biology, chemistry and fundamental algebra.

494. Environmental Sampling and Analyses 3 cr.

Explores the fundamentals of sample collection from experimental design and chain of custody, to methods used for obtaining environmental samples from air, water, and sediment in addition to biological sampling. The class lectures are augmented with trips to field research stations and a river excursion with RiverQuest to obtain environmental samples. Sample analysis includes microscopy and spectrometry, as well as biological and molecular techniques. Prerequisites: Biology 111/111L, 112/112L; CHEM 121/121L, 122/122L; MATH 225 or enrollment in graduate program.

530W.  DNA Methods Population Genetics   4 cr.

This combined laboratory and lecture course examines the biology underlying the most common genetic marker systems used in the forensic community. The basics of population genetics and DNA analysis methodologies will be covered, including the CODIS database. Techniques include extraction protocols, quantification using both uv-vis spec and qPCR, amplification of DNA, methods for labeling DNA, primer design and genotyping via an ABI 3130 Avant Genetic Analyzer. A semester-long project involves processing non-human DNA tissue samples that mimics the techniques employed in a forensic laboratory. True Allele, an Expert System used in analyzing genotyping data will also be examined. Prerequisites: BIOL 579 and permission of the instructor if not in Forensic track.