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Biology Department

Exploration Courses

The following courses are designed for students who wish to fulfill the College natural sciences requirement with the study of biology. These courses are generally not counted toward the biology or any biology-combined major. Students who wish to major or minor in biology after completing one or two exploration courses should consult the department chair concerning the appropriate choice of courses; some exploration courses may be substituted for requirements in the major or minor at the discretion of the department.

BI 110 Biology of the Mind    4

An introductory level examination of the basic neurobiology of the human brain and nervous system. A sufficient depth of biological perspective is developed to allow the student to consider the neurobiological underpinnings of a wide variety of brain related topics including pathology (select mental and nervous system diseases), socially significant issues (drugs, alcohol), higher function (language, sleep, memory, consciousness), and philosophical issues (mind-body problem, artificial intelligence, ethical issues). Three hours of lecture, three hours of laboratory per week. (Fulfills natural sciences and QR2 requirements.) R. Meyers

BI 115 Ecology of Food    4

The study of fundamental concepts in ecology from a who-eats-whom perspective. Topics include the behavior and ecology of herbivores, predators, parasites, and mutualists, interactions among competitors in quest of food, trophic connections, and analyses of communities and landscapes managed for agricultural and aquacultural production. Quantitative field investigations of herbivory in Skidmore's North Woods are complemented by laboratory investigations of plant physical defenses and secondary chemicals, including the use and function of these secondary chemicals in world cuisine. A similar investigative approach is taken to the study of pollination, seed dispersal and predation. Local food producers contribute to the study of agroecology. Ecological impacts of various agricultural and aquacultural practices and the implications and potential ecological impacts of genetically modified foods are explored. Three hours of lecture, three hours of lab per week. One Saturday field trip. Prerequisite: QR1  (Fulfills laboratory science requirement)    M. Raveret Richter

BI 120 The Human Organism    4

An introduction to the study of life processes, focused on our species. This course will help the student acquire an understanding of basic biological principles, using humans as illustrative material. Topics will include genetics, reproduction, and physiology of humans. Three hours of lecture, two hours of laboratory per week. (Fulfills natural sciences requirement.) The Department

BI 135 Environmental Science    4

Environmental science is an interdisciplinary study of the interaction between humans and the environment chiefly in relation to ecology, resources, and population. The course will show how humans are a force now posing a serious threat to the long-term sustainability of natural life-support systems. Three hours of lecture, two hours of laboratory per week. (Fulfills natural sciences requirement.) The Department

BI 140 Marine Biology    4

An examination of the intricate and delicate nature of plant, animal, fungal, and microbial life beneath Earth's oceans and on its shorelines. Lecture topics include ocean chemistry and biochemistry, physiology of marine organisms, evolution and diversity of the marine world, marine ecosystems, and human-ocean interactions. The laboratory will include experimental manipulations of marine plants and animals, survey of various life forms, culture techniques, ecological sampling, and mariculture. Three hours of lecture, two hours of laboratory per week. Laboratory fee: $60. (Fulfills natural sciences requirement.) D. Domozych

BI 145 Understanding Biotechnology: Recombinant DNA and Ethical Issues    4

An investigation of the structure, function, and manipulation of DNA. Recent advances in decoding the genome of any organism and in recombining the DNA into functional units within the cell have important ethical, economic, environmental, political, and social implications, which will have major impacts on society, health care, insurance, environmental regulations, business, and the economy. This course will explore the science and technology of manipulating DNA and the potential social, ethical, and environmental consequences. Three hours of lecture, two hours of lab per week. (Fulfills natural sciences requirement.) The Department

BI 150 Biology: The Scientific Study of Life    4

An introduction to the basic principles underlying the study of life. Topics may range from the origin and evolution of life, to the molecular basis of heredity and development, to the structure and function of the global ecosystem. The lectures and labs emphasize the diversity of life, the unifying characteristics shared by all organisms, and an understanding of life based on scientific methods of analysis. Three hours of lecture, two hours of lab per week. (Fulfills natural sciences requirement.) The Department

BI 155 Evolutionary Biology    4

An introduction to evolution as the central organizing principle of the biological sciences. This writing-intensive course explores the mechanisms of evolutionary change and introduces the academic and applied issues that challenge modern evolutionary theory. Topics include: human origins, Darwinian medicine, adaptation, and sexual selection. Three hours of lecture and two hours of lab per week. (Fulfills expository writing requirement and natural sciences requirement.) C. Freeman-Gallant

BI 160 Conservation Biology    4

The biology of species, communities, and ecosystems that are perturbed or threatened by human activities. This course will examine the principles and tools for preserving biological diversity. Topics to be covered include principles of ecology, geographic distribution, animal and plant classification, and population dynamics. Three hours of lecture, two hours of laboratory per week; one all-day field trip. (Fulfills natural sciences requirement.) The Department

BI 165 Microbes and Society     4

An introduction to basic microbiology that focuses on the impact microbes have on our society. While everybody knows microbes can cause diseases and spoilage, microbes are more present and have a deeper impact on our lives than most of us realize. Students will focus on basic concepts in microbiology while exploring specific case studies and the latest news regarding the impact of microbes in our society. In the lab students will discover microbes in various environments, put them to work in food production, and address issues in food safety and spoilage while learning basic laboratory tehcniques. Three hours lecture, three hours of lab per week. (Fulfills natural sciences requirement.) S.McDevitt

BI 170 Human Genetics    4

An introduction to the principles of genetics and their application to human biology. Topics include the history of genetics, the structure, function, and inheritance of genes, medical genetics, and genetic engineering. Three hours of lecture, two hours of laboratory per week. (Fulfills natural sciences and QR2 requirements.) B. Possidente

BI 180 Economic Botany    4

An introduction to the concepts of plant and fungal biology with special emphasis on how they are utilized by humans. Lectures will focus on the structure and role of plant and fungal systems, their evolution and importance in human-based applications such as agriculture, medicine, and horticulture. Labs will include field trips to sites of botanical and mycological interest, hands-on horticultural exercises, and a survey of the plant-fungal kingdoms. Three hours of lecture, two hours of laboratory per week. (Fulfills natural sciences requirement.) D. Domozych