Interim Chairperson: Dr. Diana Hews
Department Office: Science Building, 281A
The bachelor of science in biology trains students in the fundamental concepts and basic principles of the biological sciences. Areas of emphasis–including cellular and molecular biology, bininformatics, microbiology, biotechnology, physiology, organismal biology, ecology, conservation biology, and plant biology, allow students to specialize to meet diverse career goals. Biology majors receive practical training in field and laboratory biology, which prepares them for academic, industrial, or governmental careers. The major also prepares students for professional schools (medical, dental, or veterinary), graduate school in any area of the biological sciences, training in an allied medical science, and secondary science education.
In support of the liberal arts and sciences mission of the college and the University, the Department of Biology participates in the Foundational Studies Program, the University Honors Program, the Science Education Program, and offers courses that support majors in the College of Health and Human Services.
The Department of Biology offers a general curriculum leading to a bachelor of science or a bachelor of arts degree. Candidates for either degree must successfully complete the University requirement of a minimum of 120 credits, which includes Foundational Studies course work, and the requirements of the department. A bachelor of arts degree is granted upon completion of two years, or the equivalent, of a non-native language in addition to the requirements for the bachelor of science degree.
A bachelor of science or bachelor of arts degree in biology with a specialization in medical laboratory science (formerly clinical laboratory science) is awarded after completion of the “3-plus-1” program consisting of three years of study at ISU and a one-year hospital internship. Acceptance into an internship program at one of five affiliated hospitals must be obtained. The program culminates in an examination by the American Society of Clinical Pathologists to become a registered medical laboratory scientist.
Students interested in teaching middle or high school biology (grades 6-12) complete a double major in Biology and Science Education; for more information, consult the Science Education section of the Catalog. Preprofessional programs are available to students who plan to enter medical, dental, veterinary, optometry, or pharmacy schools or who wish to become physical therapists.. A two-year, nondegree program is available for students planning to become dental hygienists. For more information, consult the Professional Curricula section of this Catalog.
The department also offers a Certificate in Genomic Advocacy.
The Department of Biology emphasizes experiential learning and facilitates student engagement in research. Students can earn course credit while conducting original research under the mentorship of department faculty, and students have the opportunity to present their research at scientific meetings and publish in scientific journals. Scholarships and work study funds to support undergraduate research are available. The department participates in the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience program to support students conducting research over the summer. Faculty members have a strong background in research, ensuring that undergraduate lecture and laboratory courses are informed by recent research in respective fields. Research faculty members have national and international reputations and many receive grants awarded by federal and state agencies. The department is home to the Center for Bat Research, Outreach, and Conservation and the Center for Genomic Advocacy.
Modern research laboratories support departmental research efforts. Major equipment and resources available in the department include six walk-in environmental chambers, high-throughput scintillation counters, autoclaves, next-generation DNA sequencing equipment, federally approved animal facilities (laboratory and wild), a greenhouse, an herbarium, and museum collections of insects and vertebrates. Two nearby field stations and three other University-run natural areas are also available for research.
The Department of Biology encourages opportunities for student involvement in multidisciplinary research with faculty in fields of anthropology, chemistry, computer science, geography, geology, mathematics, and physics. Through these collaborative efforts, students have access to a high field NMR, a state-of-the art GIS computer laboratory, a new high-performance computer cluster, and extensive medical and research equipment and facilities.
A weekly seminar series in each semester (available for course credit) exposes students to current biological research and promotes interactions with invited speakers from other universities.
The department supports student organizations for community engagement and other activities such as a chapter of the national Tri-Beta Biological Honor Society, housed within the Department of Biology. The department also provides a student community for learning and social activities. Competitive departmental awards and annual scholarships support student achievement.
Biology majors are assigned a departmental advisor who assists in selecting courses and planning careers. Most class sizes range from 10 to 75 students, and most classes are taught by doctoral faculty members.