6: College of Arts and Sciences

General Information | Academic Information | Departments and Programs | Faculty

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Department of Biology

Course Descriptions | Faculty

Overview   The Department of Biology offers a diversified program that serves students with a breadth of interests and provides an education that ultimately enables them to pursue careers in many areas of the biological sciences including teaching, medicine, and research. Biology is the study of life itself, at its many levels of organization: ecosystem, population, organism, cell and molecule. Our universal fascination with life drives our exploration of this discipline, for in it there are questions and answers about us and all living systems. How does the fertilized egg develop into a multicellular organism? Why do some cells age while others continue to divide? How do cells communicate with one another? How does the monarch butterfly know when and where to make its astonishing migration? Questions such as these define the frontiers of biology. We approach these scientific problems with exciting new technologies and creative approaches undreamed of even a decade ago. During this "golden period" of biological research we have been brought close to a complete understanding of many fundamental biological processes. Our dissections probe not only into cells, but to the very molecular fabric of living things. As we do so, we learn about our past and how we have evolved. We also gain an ever- increasing appreciation for living things and the delicate balance of the ecosystem that we share.

Faculty   The thirty-four members of the faculty include professors who are nationally and internationally recognized in their fields. The research activities within the department are currently supported by over forty investigator-initiated research grants totalling more than $4 million awarded annually from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and other government agencies or private foundations. Our commitment to excellence in research complements and enhances our dedication to outstanding teaching, and provides the resources to promote creative and original research by our students. The department participates in University-wide programs in biological timing, biophysics, cell and molecular biology, developmental biology, and neuroscience.

Students   There are currently about six hundred students majoring in biology. Upon graduation, many biology majors have spent the better part of two years assisting in nationally funded research projects and carrying out their own experiments. Students collaborate with some of the best biologists in the country, conducting research using the most advanced equipment available. The department has expanded and modernized its research laboratories, making it easier for students to take advanced classes early in their academic careers. Students graduating with a B.A. in biology gain admission to the most outstanding graduate schools in the country. The acceptance rate of our biology graduates to medical schools is exceptionally high.

Special Resources   The department, in offering modern research facilities equipped with the most advanced instrumentation available for biochemical, biophysical, cellular, molecular, and behavioral research, creates an intellectual environment which fosters scientific creativity. The facilities include a confocal microscopy facility, two light microscopy-image processing facilities, transmission and scanning electron microscopes, a high-performance liquid chromatography laboratory, and a range of instruments for molecular studies. An ethernet interconnects mainframe and micro-computers and provides access to the Internet. These resources in turn give ready access to scientific software such as DNA and protein sequence analysis programs and sequence databases.

The Center for Biological Timing   Graduate and undergraduate summer fellowships at the Center are available on a competitive basis.

Mountain Lake Biological Station   Information about undergraduate and graduate level summer courses may be obtained from the Director, Mountain Lake Biological Station, Department of Biology, Gilmer Hall, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22903.

Requirements for Major   Students selecting biology as their major subject are required to have completed the lower-level introductory courses BIOL 201, BIOL 202, BIOL 203 and BIOL 204 unless exempted by examination or placement. Students exempted from BIOL 201/202 must take BIOL 203/204 unless they have completed laboratory courses equivalent to BIOL 203/204. In addition, students must complete 22 credits of upper-level Biology courses (300 and above) that include BIOL 311, (Genetics), BIOL 301 (Cell Biology), and at least one upper-level laboratory course.

BIOL 385, 386, BIOL 395, and BIOL 495, 496, 497, 498 Restrictions   No more than 6 semester hours of credit toward the biology major may be awarded for any combination of independent research courses, including BIOL 385, BIOL 386, BIOL 395 and BIOL 495-498.

The laboratory requirement can also be satisfied by a three-credit departmental course in field or marine biology, or by two consecutive semesters of independent research (BIOL 495/496/497/498) conducted in one laboratory. (Summer research does not apply unless enrolled in BIOL 495-498.)

The overall grade point average for courses presented for the major must be 2.0 (C) or better. Majors are required to complete CHEM 141, 142, CHEM 141L, and 142L. CHEM 181, CHEM 182, CHEM 181L, and CHEM 182L, also satisfy this requirement. Majors are also required to complete one course in either calculus (e.g., MATH 121, 122, 131, or 132) or statistics (e.g., MATH 112 or PSYC 301L ). Students anticipating a career in the biological sciences are strongly advised to also take two semesters of organic chemistry with lab (CHEM 241, 242, CHEM 241L, 242L), two semesters of physics with lab (PHYS 201, 202, PHYS 201L, 202L), and at least one additional math course. Sixteen of the 22 credits of upper-level courses required for the major must be chosen from courses offered by the biology department at the University of Virginia.

Requirements for Minor   Students selecting biology as their minor subject are required to complete the lower-level introductory courses BIOL 201, BIOL 202, BIOL 203 and BIOL 204 unless exempted by examination or placement. Students exempted from BIOL 201/202 must take BIOL 203/204 unless they have completed laboratory courses equivalent to BIOL 203/204. In addition, three upper-level biology courses (300 and above) of three credits each are required. Only three credits in either