Biologists develop and test ideas that deepen our understanding of life. We examine both the structures and processes shared by organisms as well as the incredible diversity of life. In coursework and in research collaborations with our faculty, students work in our laboratories, the Skidmore Microscopy Research Center, and our 500+ acre North Woods to investigate molecular and cellular information and processes; study the structure and function of cells and whole organisms; investigate behavior and ecology; and explore evolutionary relationships.
We see our mission, within the context of a well-rounded liberal arts and sciences education, to be twofold:
- To provide majors with a sound curricular foundation in biology, as well as direct experience with scientific method and critical, analytical thinking in science; to provide students with opportunities for creative, original research experience; to prepare students for graduate and health professional programs or careers in biology or other fields.
- To provide courses for any student which introduce the method and content of science and provide a basis for a lifelong interest in science; to provide students with direct experience with scientific method and critical, analytical thinking in science.
The faculty who support this mission all have earned Ph.D. degrees, are effective teachers, are professionally active, and participate in college governance.
The Department of Biology offers instruction in many diverse areas of modern biology. In consultation with a faculty advisor, students design programs of study to meet individual interests and goals. The biology major offers three intradepartmental concentrations: (1) integrative biology, (2) molecular biology and genetics, and (3) ecology, evolution, and behavior. The major leads to a bachelor of arts degree.
Students who major in biology and plan to attend professional schools (medical, dental, veterinary, and others) are encouraged to take two semesters of organic chemistry (CH221 and 222) and two semesters of calculus-based physics (PY207 and 208). THE BIOLOGY MAJOR:
Students who major in biology must meet the College requirements for the degree, complete the general biology requirements, and complete the requirements for one of the intradepartmental concentrations. Each concentration requires fourteen courses. General requirements for all biology majors or concentrations
Concentration Requirements Integrative Biology
- Core courses: BI105 and 106. BI105 introduces the biological sciences by focusing on those structures and processes shared by all of life. The course explores evolutionary theory, cell structure and function, molecular genetics, biochemistry, and population ecology. BI106 extends this exploration to consider how the diversity of life is manifest in the reproduction, development, physiology, and functional morphology of multicellular organisms. These two courses constitute a core curriculum for the major, and should be completed by the end of the first year. BI105 is taken in the fall semester, followed by BI106 in the spring.
- Chemistry courses: CH105 and 106 (usually taken in the first year), CH221 (usually taken in the sophomore year)
- Mathematics course: MA111 (usually taken in the first year)
- Capstone course: BI374 (taken in the senior year)
Molecular Biology and Genetics
- The general requirements
- Seven additional courses at the 200 or 300 level. At least two courses must be at the 200 level; at least four courses must be at the 300 level. BI385 or 371 can substitute for one of these courses at the 300 level. Students may take additional BI385 or 371 courses as electives, but they do not substitute for 300-level biology courses.
Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior
- The general requirements
- Foundation courses: BI242 (Molecular Cell Biology) and BI245 (Genetics)
- Supportive courses: four courses selected from BI323, 337, 342, 348, 349, 351M, 352M, 353M, 360, 361, 362, 363, 370; CH340, 341, 342
- The general requirements
- Foundation courses: BI241 (Ecology) and either BI316 (Animal Behavior) or 324 (Evolution)
- Supportive courses: three courses selected from BI302, 307, 325, 327, 338, 344, 349, 351E, 352E, 353E, and 370. BI316 or 324 may count as a supportive course, if not already taken as a foundation course.
- One other biology course at the 200 or 300 level
- MS104 or PS217 or EC237
In conjunction with the Philosophy Department, the Biology Department offers a major in biology-philosophy.
The major will complete a minimum of six courses in each department and a total of fifteen courses in both. The courses chosen from philosophy must include PH203, 204, and 375. Students seeking honors in the major must complete either BI385 or PH376 in the senior year with a grade of A- or better (these will be counted toward the requisite total of 15 courses). Honors distinction also requires a positive recommendation from both departments. The major will have an advisor from each department, and the program must be approved by both chairs. The biology-philosophy major leads to the bachelor of arts degree.
Departmental honors are awarded to a senior major who has maintained the required College and department averages and has completed a research project in BI385. Other factors, such as academic integrity, will bear on the decision to award honors.
THE BIOLOGY MINOR:
Students who want to minor in biology must take a total of six courses from among those offered in the department. These must include BI105 and 106, two 200-level courses in biology, and two 300-level courses in biology. CH103 or CH105 is also required. Note: BI385 cannot substitute for one of the 300-level courses in biology.
Students who plan to apply to medical, dental, veterinary or other health professional schools should consult with a member of the Health Professions Advisory Committee early in their college careers and before registration each semester so that they can plan their courses at Skidmore to include those that will prepare them for the standardized admissions tests and satisfy the course prerequisites required by various health professional schools. Premed students may choose any major. The following courses are recommended by the majority of health professional schools as minimum requirements:
- Two courses in English
- Two courses in biology with lab
- Two courses in general chemistry with lab
- Two courses in organic chemistry with lab
- Two courses in calculus
- Two courses in physics with lab
Students should be aware that additional specific requirements may be set by individual medical, dental, veterinary, and other health professional programs.
The Health Professions Advisory Committee at Skidmore offers counseling to pre-health professions students in their undergraduate curriculum planning and application process to health professional schools. Students who are interested in health professions must contact the chair or any member of the Health Professions Advisory Committee to discuss their interests and seek advice regarding their academic and cocurricular planning. Students with an interest in the health professions should register with HPAC. The HPAC office is located in Dana Science Center, room 172, and is online at www.skidmore.edu/academics/health/
For course listings, please see the Skidmore College Catalog