Interim Chairperson: Dr. William Mitchell
Department Office: Science Building, 281
The bachelor of science in biology trains students in the fundamental concepts, laboratory techniques, field methods, and basic principles of the biological sciences. Many emphasis areas are possible, including cellular and molecular biology, bioinformatics, microbiology, biotechnology, physiology, organismal biology, evolutionary and population biology, ecology, conservation biology, and plant biology. The range of emphases allows students to specialize to meet diverse career goals, including research-oriented academic, industrial, and 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 science education. The biology major is designed to provide a plan of study to suit individual career interests and needs, as well as the flexibility to pursue alternative career tracts as personal interests change. Nationally, approximately a quarter of biology students proceed to graduate school in biology or biology-related fields. About half of biology students pursue opportunities in medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry, or health related professions. Others go directly to work in a broad variety of fields including research or applied science positions in pharmaceutical, chemical, biotechnology, conservation, or related fields.
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, and the Science Education Program, and offers courses that support majors in the College of Health and Human Services. A biology minor for non-science majors is provided for students who wish to pursue opportunities in which increased knowledge in biology is desirable, such as science writing/editing, science illustration, environmental law, pharmaceutical, medical product sales, strategic communication, and related career interests.
The Department of Biology offers a curriculum leading to a bachelor of science degree. Candidates must successfully complete the University requirement of a minimum of 120 credits, which includes Foundational Studies course work, and the disciplinary requirements of the department.
A bachelor of science 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 six affiliated hospitals must be obtained; a minimum GPA of 2.7 required to be considered. 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. Pre-professional programs are available to students who plan to enter medical, dental, veterinary, optometry, chiropractic medicine, or pharmacy schools or who wish to become physical therapists. A two-year, non-degree program is available for students planning to become dental hygienists. For more information, consult the Professional Curricula section of this Catalog.
The Department of Biology emphasizes experiential learning and facilitates student engagement in scientific 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 (SURE) 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 walk-in environmental chambers, high-throughput scintillation counters, autoclaves, next-generation DNA sequencing equipment, federally-approved animal facilities, a greenhouse, herbarium, and museum collections of insects and vertebrates. Two nearby field stations and three other University-managed 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 high field NMR, HPLC/UPLC, a state-of-the art GIS computer laboratory and high-performance computer cluster, and extensive medical and research equipment and facilities.
A weekly seminar series (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, including a chapter of the national Tri-Beta Biological Honor Society that is 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 are typically taught by doctoral faculty members.