Oct 31, 2020  
2019-2020 Academic Catalog 
2019-2020 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]


The Biology Department offers a full range of courses designed to introduce undergraduate students to the major areas of modern biological science. The primary goals of the department are to prepare students for advanced study and research in biology and related sciences; for postgraduate study in medicine, dentistry, and the other health professions; and for careers in education, industry, agriculture, government service and veterinary medicine. Students interested in the health professions should check the Pre-Professional section of the catalog for additional information.


Rebecca Jabbour, PhD, Associate Professor Evolution, Anatomy, Chair
James Berleman, PhD, Associate Professor Microbiology, Microbial Ecology, Genetics
Carla C. Bossard, PhD, Professor Terrestrial Ecology, Plant Science
Vidya Chandrasekaran, PhD, Associate Professor Developmental Genetics, Biochemistry, Physiology
Lawrence R. Cory, PhD, Professor Emeritus Genetics,Amphibian Biology, Evolutionary Biology
Jessica Coyle, PhD, Assistant Professor, Ecology
Margaret F. Field, PhD, Associate Professor Emerita Physiology, Cell Biology
Keith E. Garrison, PhD, Professor Immunology, Genetics, Molecular Biology
Khameeka Kitt-Hopper, PhD, Assistant Professor Cell and Molecular Biology, Anatomy and Physiology
Phillip Leitner, PhD, Professor Emeritus Conservation Biology, Desert Ecology
Jacob F. Lester, PhD, Professor Emeritus Zoology, Parasitology
Michael P. Marchetti, PhD, Fletcher Jones Professor of Biology, Aquatic Ecology, Conservation Biology, Invasive Species
James Pesavanto, PhD, Assistant Professor Biochemistry, Molecular Biology
Sonya Schuh, PhD, Associate Professor Cell Biology, Developmental Biology, Physiology
Gregory R. Smith, MS, Professor Anatomy, Physiology

Learning Outcomes

Students who graduate with a major in biology will be able to:

  •  DEMONSTRATE a solid knowledge in all three major areas of biology: molecular and cellular, organismal and ecology and evolutionary.
  •  ANALYZE logically and critically scientific information.
  •  APPLY knowledge they have already mastered from current and previous courses to the exploration of new areas of inquiry.
  •  COMMUNICATE skillfully through written and oral reports.
  •  USE biological methodology competently for laboratory research.
  •  INTEGRATE an awareness of ethical issues with their understanding of and work in biology.

Admission Requirements

Applicants planning to undertake the biology major must present credits for one year of chemistry and four years of mathematics. One course in biology, one year of physics, and three years of a second language are strongly recommended. Students with less than a B average in high school science, mathematics and languages or with any course deficiency should seek the advice of the Admissions Office and the Biology Department before beginning their studies. A diagnostic chemistry examination is required of all students beginning a science curriculum at Saint Mary’s. This examination is administered by the Department of Chemistry before the start of classes each fall and is designed to detect important deficiencies in a student’s background. In some cases, the student may be advised to correct any deficiencies before undertaking the biology major curriculum. This can often be done within a four-year stay at Saint Mary’s but may require summer school attendance.

Suggested Biology Major Program

A suggested four-year program of study for a major in biology is available from department faculty. Faculty advisors should be consulted on a regular basis to assist in selecting courses and arranging specific curricula relating to fulfillment of major and core curriculum requirements, as well as particular career goals and personal interests. Students majoring in science should be particularly alert to the language proficiency requirement. Students may select courses of their choice for remaining electives. It is important to note that certain upper-division courses are offered in alternate years.

January Term

Frequently, faculty members in the Biology Department offer courses during the January Term. Since it is the policy of the department to provide a variety of learning experiences during this term, the following kinds of courses are often offered: (1) Seminars designed to probe special areas of current interest in the biological sciences through readings in the primary literature, preparation of reports and class discussions; (2) Field courses, based either on campus or at a field site, that provide experience in the study of natural ecosystems; (3) Directed research into topics in experimental or field biology of interest to faculty and students; (4) Independent study courses either on campus or by special arrangement at universities or research institutions. It is the general policy of the department that courses taken during the January Term cannot be used to satisfy requirements for the major.

Preparation for Medicine, Dentistry and Other Health Professions, and Veterinary Medicine

See the section in this catalog under Pre-Professional Curricula.

Prerequisite Grade

Any course listed in this department with a prerequisite assumes a grade of C- or better in the prerequisite course.


    Bachelor of ScienceMinor


      Biology - Lower DivisionBiology - Upper Division

      Each upper-division course has prerequisites of BIOL 001 , BIOL 001L  and BIOL 002 , BIOL 002L  with a grade of C- or better in each of these prerequisites.