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Biology

Course Descriptions

  

CORE COURSES IN THE MAJOR

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.  Prerequisites: none. 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 or consent of instructor. Satisfies the Writing Intensive 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. Prerequisites: BIO1027, CHM 1110, CHM 1120 or consent of instructor. Three hours lecture and one laboratory period per week.  

BIO 2100 HHMI SEA PHAGES Project - 2 credits
Merrimack College is an associate of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Science Education Alliance (SEA).  The Phage Hunters Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Science (PHAGES) project is a research-based laboratory course. Students isolate bacteriophages from local soil samples, purify and characterize their phages, and select one phage per class for sequencing. During the spring, students will gather for a couple of meetings to annotate and analyze the genome. The project culminates with participation in the SEA-PHAGES Symposium in June, a scientific meeting at which student representatives from each of the Alliance schools present the results of their research.  Prerequisite: consent of the instructor.  Open to freshmen and sophomores only.  One laboratory session plus another meeting during the week. 

 

UPPER LEVEL COURSE OFFERINGS

BIO 3031 Neurobiology of Embryonic Development - 4 credits Countless remarkable transformations and events occur in the transition from egg, to embryo, to adult.  Examples from neurobiology will be used to illustrate the cellular and genetic principles that govern embryonic development. Nerve cells born in the developing brain and spinal cord live for the entire life span of the organism.  Neural connections are established with muscles and other organ systems throughout embryonic development.  Discussion topics will include neural tube patterning, brain development, neural crest cell migration and differentiation, stem cells and spinal cord repair and emergent therapies for degenerative neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.  In the laboratory students will culture nerve and neural crest cells for original experimentation. Prerequisites: BIO 1027, BIO 2018 or consent of the instructor. Three hours of lecture and one laboratory period a 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 and CHEM1110, 1120 and 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 or consent of instructor. 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 or consent of instructor. 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 or consent of instructor. Three hours lecture and one laboratory period per week.

BIO 3051 Comparative Anatomy and Physiology II - 4 credits Students develop a working knowledge of the comparative structure and function of the animal body.  In class, students compare how different animal groups carry out muscle function, circulation, respiration, digestion, excretion, reproduction, and fluid, energy and thermal balance.  In laboratory, students utilize a combination of classroom discussions, anatomical models, palpation (surface anatomy), nerve/muscle associations, dissections of preserved material, computer software, musculoskeletal analysis of movements, and limited human cadaver examination to become proficient in structure/function relationships including medical perspectives.  Prerequisites: BIO1027, BIO 1028, BIO 2010, BIO 2018 or consent of instructor. Three hours of lecture and one laboratory period a 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 and BIO1028 or consent of instructor. 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: BIO1028 and BIO 2010 or consent of instructor. 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:  BIO1028, BIO2010 or consent of instructor.  Three hours lecture and one laboratory/field period per week.

BIO 3303 Clinical Microbiology - 4 credits                                           A study of the structure, biochemistry, physiology, and classification of the microorganisms that cause human disease, including bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses. The epidemiology and pathogenesis of human infectious diseases will be considered. The role that microorganisms play in both health and disease, and the prevention and control of infectious disease in individuals, as well as in community settings, will be addressed. Laboratory investigations will focus on the development of aseptic technique, and on the isolation and identification of organisms associated with human infection. Prerequisite: BIO 1027.  Three hours of lecture and one laboratory period a 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 I - 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: 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: consent of Department Internship Coordinator. 

BIO 4096 Directed Study/Research II - 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: permission of instructor.

  SUPPORT and STEM COURSES

BIO 1106 Human Biology -  4  credits                                                 An introduction to the structure and function of human body at the level of cells, tissues organs and organ systems. A special emphasis is placed on the functions of the nervous and endocrine systems and their role in homeostasis and the integration and regulation of the functions of the other tissues and organs. The course will also consider molecular, Mendelian and population genetics. This course is designed primarily for students who intend to major or are majoring in Psychology or Human Development. Prerequisites: none. Not open to BIO/HSC majors.Satisfies a Mathematics/Science distribution requirement. Fulfills a STEM requirement in LS Core. Three hours lecture a week.

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. Prerequisites: none. Satisfies the mathematics and science distribution and STEM requirements. This course does not count as an upper course elective for Biology Majors. Lecture three hours a week including some laboratory and field work.

SHORT-TERM STUDY ABROAD OFFERINGS 

imageLarry J. Kelts Global Field Studies Program

 BIO 3090  Global Field Studies - 4 credits
Each course offered in the Larry J. Kelts 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. One hour lecture per week and an approximately 12 day trip outside the United States.

Courses Offered Through the Marine Studies Consortium

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

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.