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Undergraduate Catalog 2016-2017

Biology (BIOL)

College of Computer, Mathematical, & Natural Sciences
2227 Biology-Psychology Building, 301.405.6904
Chair: W. Fagan (Prof)
Professors: G. Borgia, C. Carr, M. Colombini, M. Dudash, C. Fenster, W. Jeffery, T. Kocher, K. Lips, R. Payne, E. Quinlan, M. Rankin, M. Reaka, J. Simon, S. Sukharev, S. Via, G. Wilkinson
Associate Professors: I. Ades, R. Araneda, A. Bely, D. Butts, K. Carleton, M. Cummings, E. Haag, P. Kanold, C. Machado, J. Singer, N. Swenson
Assistant Professors: H. Fisher, Q. Gaudry, P. Johnson
Lecturers: H. Bierman, R. Compton (Senior Lecturer), R. Infantino (Senior Lecturer), S. Lombardi, J. Opoku-Edusei (Senior Lecturer), B. Parent (Senior Lecturer), D. Sandstrom, H. Woodham
Professors Emeriti: G. Anastos, A. Cohen, D. Gill, W. Higgins (Assoc. Prof. Emeritus), R. Highton, D. Inouye, S. Pierce, A. Popper

The Major

The Department of Biology is committed to an integrative understanding of organisms ranging from processes occurring at the level of molecules to human impacts on global ecological scales. This integrative approach is evident in the variety of courses we offer. Courses offered by Biology focus on the function of molecules or cells (e.g., Membrane Biophysics, Mammalian Histology, Neurophysiology), on the integration of organ systems (e.g.,  Vertebrate Form and Function, Mammalian Physiology), on the interaction of organisms with each other and their environment (e.g. Animal Behavior, Plant Ecology, Population Ecology), on evolutionary process and diversification (e.g., Principles of Evolution), and/or on the relationship between humans and their environment (e.g.,  Biology of Conservation and Extinction).

In addition to a strong foundation in basic biology, our faculty provide students interested in medical careers with courses that discuss medical applications (Biology of Cancer, Diseases of the Nervous System) and evolutionary considerations. Our program has particular strengths in neuroscience, evolutionary developmental biology, and ecology. Our diverse faculty and our linkages with other institutions, such as the National Institutes of Health and the Smithsonian Institution, provide students with a wealth of research opportunities to prepare them for careers in medicine, conservation biology, public policy, education, and more.

Courses offered by this department may be found under the following acronym(s): BSCI, BIOL, CONS, NACS, and BISI.

Program Learning Outcomes

  • Students will master the critical knowledge in biology relevant to the next stage in their career.
  • Students will demonstrate an ability to use and apply appropriate quantitative methods in the biological sciences.
  • Students will be able to critically evaluate and integrate scientific findings in the biological sciences and apply this understanding to areas of professional and public interest.  
  • Students will be able to effectively communicate though speaking and writing the processes of science and the results of scientific inquiry.
  • Students will master experimental design and laboratory skills relevant to the next stage in their career.

Admission to the Major

The Biology Department offers undergraduate courses in the Biological Sciences Program. Biological Sciences is a limited-enrollment program. Specific information about admission requirements for the major can be found at the following link: www.lep.umd.edu/cmns-lep.pdf .

Requirements for the Major

See Biological Sciences Program elsewhere in this chapter, or contact the Department of Biology Undergraduate Office.

Other Requirements for the Major

Students receiving a degree in the Biological Sciences from the University of Maryland must earn at least 120 credits with a cumulative minimum GPA of 2.000 in all courses being counted toward the degree as well as in all courses associated with the major. Additionally, all Biological Sciences major courses must have a grade of "C-" or better.

A list of required and optional courses for both the Physiology and Neurobiology and for the Ecology and Evolution specializations, as well as model four-year plans to graduation, can be found at the following link: http://bsci.umd.edu/major-requirements .


Students are assigned an academic advisor on the basis of their area of specialization. The Department of Biology faculty coordinate and advise students who specialize in Physiology and Neurobiology (PHNB), Ecology and Evolution (ECEV), and the Environmental Science and Policy-Biodiversity & Conservation Biology concentration (ENSP-BIOD). Contact the Department of Biology Undergraduate Office, 301-405-6904, for information about advising or to schedule an appointment. For advising in other Biological Sciences Specialization areas, see the Biological Sciences Program listing in this catalog.

Undergraduate Research Experiences

The Biology Department offers a wealth of undergraduate research opportunities. Students doing undergraduate research with a Biology Department faculty member serving as advisor or co-advisor may sign up for credit under BSCI399 or BSCI399H or may do research on a volunteer basis. More general information on research opportunities in the Biological Sciences may be found at: http://cmns.umd.edu/undergraduate/research-internships .

Honors Program

The Department of Biology Honors Program offers highly motivated and academically qualified students the opportunity to work closely with a faculty mentor on an original, independent, research project. Students are required to participate in the program for at least three semesters and need not have been previously admitted to the Honors College to participate. Contact the Biology Undergraduate Office (301-405-6904) for more information.

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