Professors McFadden (Chair), Adolph, Ahn, Bush, Drewell, Glater, Haushalter and Stoebel; Teaching Postdoctoral Fellow Ortega (2012-2014)
The biology program prepares graduates for further study and employment in biology and related fields. Biology graduates work in molecular genetics, neurobiology, mathematical ecology, medicine, epidemiology, plant physiology, bioinformatics, pharmacology, biotechnology, systems biology, veterinary medicine, forensic science, evolutionary biology, science teaching, environmental activism, and other areas.
The HMC biology major, in conjunction with the common technical Core, provides the topical breadth that is the foundation of modern biology and the intellectual depth that enables students to understand how discoveries in the life sciences are made and communicated. A set of required Biology Core courses provides a broad foundation in biology. Building on this foundation, each student, in consultation with a biology faculty advisor, selects a group of advanced biology and related technical courses that introduce a life sciences subdiscipline in depth. In addition to Harvey Mudd courses, students may draw upon the extensive course offerings at Pomona College, the Keck Science Department of Claremont McKenna, Pitzer, and Scripps Colleges, the Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences, and the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden.
Biology Major Requirements
A biology major must successfully complete the following courses:
- Biology 54: Biology Laboratory
- Biology 101:Comparative Physiology
- Biology 108: Ecology & Environmental Biology
- Biology 109: Evolutionary Biology
- Biology 113: Molecular Genetics
- Chemistry 56: Carbon Compounds
- Chemistry 58: Carbon Compounds Laboratory
- Chemistry 105: Organic Chemistry
Thirteen units of advanced biology, selected by the student and adviser, to include at least two HMC laboratory courses (selected from Biology 103, 110, 111, 128, 166, 184) and one HMC seminar-style course (requiring student presentations and reading from the primary literature, selected from Biology 121, 122, 164, 183, 189). Related non-biology technical courses may be substituted for advanced biology courses with permission of the department. With prior departmental permission, up to two credits of Biology 197/198 (Directed Reading) may count as Biology Electives.
Four semesters of Biology 191-192: Biology Colloquium.
(The colloquium requirement is waived for any semester during which a student is away on a study abroad program.)
Two semesters (at least 6 credits total) of Senior Thesis Research (Biology 193-194, or Biology 195-196) or an approved biology-related Clinic (Computer Science 183-184, Engineering 111-114, Environmental Studies 190, Mathematics 193 or Physics 193-194).
Molecular Biology Option
Students may also select the molecular biology option within the biology major. A student seeking to complete the molecular biology option must satisfactorily complete the following courses:
Molecular Biology Core
Biology Core from above, plus the following additional courses and modified requirements:
- Biology 111: Molecular Biology Laboratory
- Biology 182: Chemistry in Living Systems
- Chemistry 51: Physical Chemistry
- Chemistry 111: Organic Chemistry Laboratory
Eight units of approved biology electives, selected by the student and adviser, to include at least one HMC laboratory course (Biology 103, 110, 128, 166, 184) and one HMC seminar-style course (requiring student presentations and reading from the primary literature, selected from Biology 121, 122, 164, 183, 189). One chemistry course may be substituted for an advanced biology course with the prior approval of the department.
Four semesters of Biology 191-192: Biology Colloquium, or Chemistry 199: Chemistry Seminar. The colloquium requirement is waived for any semester during which a student is away on a study abroad program.
Two semesters (at least 6 credits total) of Senior Thesis Research (Biology 193-194 or Biology 195-196 or Chemistry 151-152), or an approved biology-related Clinic.
Joint Major in Chemistry and Biology
Important opportunities are emerging at the interface of chemistry and biology. The Joint Major in Chemistry and Biology provides an organized framework in which students will be able to appreciate the biological context of their research questions and master the chemistry fundamentals that underlie the properties and reactions of biomolecules. Students interested in the Joint Major, which is administered by the Departments of Biology and Chemistry, should contact the Chairs of Biology and Chemistry.
Harvey Mudd College is part of a consortium that enables HMC students to participate in the Semester in Environmental Science (SES) at the Ecosystems Center of the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Mass. This semester-long program emphasizes interdisciplinary, inquiry-based approaches to the in-depth study of both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Biology 171 and 173 are only offered as part of this program. Students interested in this program should contact Professor Catherine McFadden for information and applications. The Department of Biology also participates in the HMC Center for Environmental Studies, which coordinates research and other activities in environmental studies. For more information, contact Professors Stephen Adolph or Catherine McFadden.
Mathematical and Computational Biology Major
Applications of mathematics and computer science are vital to many areas of contemporary biological and medical research, such as genomics, molecular modeling, ecology, evolutionary biology, epidemiology, neurobiology and cancer treatment. Students interested in the connections between biology and computer science and mathematics may pursue the Mathematical and Computational Biology major, which is jointly administered by the Departments of Biology, Computer Science and Mathematics. For more information contact Professors Stephen Adolph, Eliot Bush, Lisette de Pillis (Mathematics), Jon Jacobsen (Mathematics) or Ran Libeskind-Hadas (Computer Science).
Mathematical Biology Major
The Joint Major in Mathematical Biology was superseded by the Major in Mathematical and Computational Biology in 2010–11. Details of the old major can be found in the 2010–11 or earlier catalogues.
An excellent premedical preparation can be obtained at HMC. In fact, the College's emphasis on the humanities, social sciences and the arts is a valuable asset for pre-medical studies. While there is no specific premedical curriculum, a premedical program can be arranged through any of the majors, if supplemented by appropriate biology and chemistry course work. Most medical schools require, as a minimum, one year of physics and biology and four semesters of chemistry, including organic chemistry. Students interested in medicine or related fields, such as dentistry or veterinary medicine, should contact the pre-professional coordinators, Professors Karl Haushalter and Robert Drewell, for advice.
The biology department is housed in the F.W. Olin Science Center, which provides exceptionally well-equipped teaching and research laboratories to support our curriculum. The Robert J. Bernard Biological Field Station, located directly across the street from Harvey Mudd College, is the natural laboratory for field biology courses and student-faculty research. Automated DNA sequencing is carried out at the adjacent Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden.
Areas available for student-faculty research within the department include biochemistry, cellular and developmental biology, molecular genetics, molecular systematics, population biology, physiological ecology, biomechanics, animal locomotion, tissue engineering, neuroscience, animal behavior, bioinformatics, mathematical ecology, computational genetics, and molecular evolution. Students wishing to pursue research prior to their senior year may enroll in Biology 161-162, Research Problems, or Biology 197-198, Directed Reading. Summer research positions are also available. Contact the Department of Biology Research Coordinator, Professor Robert Drewell, for details and applications.
Biology Courses (Credit hours follow course title)
52. Introduction to Biology (3)
Adolph, Bush, Drewell, Stoebel. Topics in genetics, molecular biology and evolution. Prerequisites: one semester of general chemistry and one semester of calculus. (Spring)
54. Biology Laboratory (1)
Ahn, McFadden, Stoebel. Investigations in physiology, biochemistry, ecology, molecular biology and other areas of experimental biology. Prerequisite: Biology 52 (may be taken concurrently). (Spring)
81, 82. Current Issues in Biology (3)
Staff. Study of a biological topic of current importance to society. Active participation and discussion are stressed. (May not be counted for credit toward the biology major.) Prerequisite: Depends upon topic. (Fall or Spring)
95. Foundations of Neuroscience (3)
Staff. Introduction to the biological bases of human and animal behavior. Analysis of modern neurobiological approaches within a framework established by philosophical and historical traditions in the neurosciences. This course is jointly taught by Claremont Colleges Neuroscience faculty. (May not be counted for credit toward the biology major.) (Fall)
101. Comparative Physiology (3)
Ahn. Topics in the structural basis underlying general physiological mechanisms of plants and animals. Prerequisite: Biology 52. (Spring)
103. Comparative Physiology Laboratory (2)
Ahn. Experimental techniques and concepts in plant and animal physiology, including the general areas of cellular biology, energetics, ionic regulation and signaling. The final third of the course will involve independent student research projects culminating with oral and written presentations of experimental investigations. Prerequisites: Biology 52, Biology 54, Biology 101. (Fall)
108. Ecology and Environmental Biology (3)
Adolph, McFadden. Principles of organization of natural communities and ecosystems, including population dynamics, species interactions and island biogeography. Modern experimental and mathematical approaches to ecological problems. Application of ecological principles to conservation biology, human demography and harvesting of natural resources. Prerequisites: Biology 52 and Mathematics 30 or permission of instructor. (Spring)
109. Evolutionary Biology (3)
Adolph, McFadden. Evolutionary mechanisms, including natural selection, population genetics, speciation and macroevolutionary processes. Modern methods of phylogenetic reconstruction. History of biological diversity and the fossil record. Prerequisite: Biology 52 and Mathematics 30 or permission of instructor. (Fall)
110. Experimental Ecology Laboratory (3)
McFadden. Design and analysis of ecological experiments with an emphasis on hypothesis testing, sampling techniques and computer-based statistical analysis of data. Most projects are field-based, designed to address aspects of population, community, physiological and behavioral ecology in animals and plants; work in both terrestrial and aquatic habitats. Includes several all-day field trips to local coastal, desert and mountain sites. Prerequisites: Biology 54 and 108 (may be taken concurrently) or permission of instructor. (Spring)
111. Molecular and Cellular Biology Laboratory (2)
Drewell,Glater. Basic techniques of molecular biology, including restriction mapping, DNA cloning, protein expression, and fluorescence microscopy. Prerequisites: Biology 54 and 113 (may be taken concurrently) or permission of instructor. (Fall)
113. Molecular Genetics (3)
Drewell, Stoebel. Molecular description of gene function in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, including DNA, RNA and protein structure; DNA replication; transcription and translation; and gene regulation. Prerequisites: Biology 52, Chemistry 23. (Fall)
118. Introduction to Mathematical and Computational Biology (3) (Also listed as Mathematics 118)
Adolph, Bush, de Pillis (Mathematics), Jacobsen (Mathematics), Levy (Mathematics), Libeskind-Hadas (Computer Science). An introduction to the fields of mathematical and computational biology. Continuous and discrete mathematical models of biological processes and their analytical and computational solutions. Examples may include models in epidemiology, ecology, cancer biology, systems biology, molecular evolution and phylogenetics. Prerequisites: Mathematics 64 or 65 (or Mathematics 63 and 64), Biology 52, or permission of instructor. (Spring)
119. Advanced Mathematical Biology (2) (Also listed as Mathematics 119)
Adolph, de Pillis (Mathematics), Jacobsen (Mathematics), Levy (Mathematics). Further study of mathematical models of biological processes, including discrete and continuous models. Examples are drawn from a variety of areas of biology, which may include physiology, systems biology, cancer biology, epidemiology, ecology, evolution, and spatiotemporal dynamics.. Prerequisites: Biology 52, Biology/Mathematics 118, or permission of instructor. (Fall)
121. Marine Ecology (3)
McFadden. Advanced ecology focusing on marine communities. Dispersal, recruitment, competition, disturbance, plant/animal interactions and other topics. Readings in the primary literature. Counts as a seminar course for Biology majors. Prerequisite: Biology 108 or permission of instructor. (Spring 2013)
122. Cell and Developmental Biology (3)
Drewell. Cellular and molecular mechanisms of animal development, including cell fate determination, morphogenesis and pattern formation. Emphasis on modern experimental organisms and approaches. Readings in the primary literature. Counts as a seminar course for Biology majors. Prerequisite: Biology 113 or equivalent or permission of instructor. (Spring, alternate years—offered in Spring 2012.)
126. Biology of Prokaryotes (3)
Staff. Current topics in prokaryotic biology jointly selected by students and instructor. Emphasis on molecular mechanisms of adaptation to diverse environments. Primarily seminar format with readings from the primary literature. Prerequisite: Biology 113 or permission of instructor.
128. Prokaryotes Laboratory (2)
Staff. Techniques for isolating, identifying and characterizing bacteria from diverse environments. Prerequisites: Biology 54 and 126 (may be taken concurrently).
153. Biostatistics (3)
Adolph. Statistical techniques for analyzing biological data, including both parametric and non-parametric methods. Statistical aspects of experimental design. Additional topics may include spatial statistics, circular statistics, multivariate methods, randomization tests and bootstrapping. Prerequisites: Biology 52 and Math 35 or permission of the instructor. (Fall; not offered in 2012)
161, 162. Research Problems (1-3)
Staff. Original experimental investigations in biology undertaken in consultation with a faculty member. (May not be counted for credit toward the biology major.) Prerequisite: permission of instructor. 1 credit hour for each 3 hours of laboratory per week. (Fall and Spring)
164. Genetics (3)
Drewell, Stoebel. Current topics in genetics and developmental genetics. Emphasis on experimental techniques and design with model experimental organisms. Readings from the primary literature. Counts as a seminar course for biology majors. Prerequisites: Biology 54 and Biology 113. (Spring, alternate years)
166. Cell Biology and Genetics Laboratory (2)
Staff. Techniques for investigations of protein localization, organelle isolation, genetic mapping, and fluorescence microscopy. Laboratories consist of student projects. Prerequisites: Biology 54 and Biology 113; corequisite: Biology 164 or permission of instructor.
171. Analysis of Aquatic Ecosystems. Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) (4)
MBL Staff. The nature and controls of ecosystem processes (production, decomposition, element cycling and biogeochemistry) in freshwater, estuarine and marine ecosystems. Application of basic principles of ecosystems ecology to contemporary environmental problems such as coastal eutrophication, fisheries exploitation, effects of introduced species, acid deposition and global change. Includes lecture, discussion, laboratory and field work. Prerequisites: Biology 52, 54, Chemistry 23, 24 and Mathematics 30. (Fall) Offered only through the Semester in Environmental Science Program at the MBL Ecosystems Center, Woods Hole, Mass.
173. Analysis of Terrestrial Ecosystems (4)
MBL Staff. Fundamental biogeochemical processes in fields, pastures, tundra and forested ecosystems. Physiological ecology of land- plants and soil organisms in an ecosystems context. Impacts of environmental change on the landscape at local, regional and global scales. Includes lecture, discussion, laboratory and field work. Prerequisites: Biology 52, 54, Chemistry 23, 24 and Mathematics 30. (Fall) Offered only through the Semester in Environmental Science Program at the MBL Ecosystems Center, Woods Hole, Mass.
174. Biophysics (2) (Also listed as Physics 174)
Gerbode (Physics), Haskell (Physics). Selected topics in biophysics reflecting areas of active research in the field. Possible topics: imaging techniques, membrane biophysics, sensory transduction, motility. Seminar format. Prerequisites: Biology 52 and Physics 51. (Second half of Spring)
182. Chemistry of Living Systems (3)(Also listed as Chemistry 182)
Haushalter, Vosburg (Chemistry). Relation of molecular structure and energy flow to reactions in living systems. Prerequisite: Chemistry 105. (Spring)
183. Topics in Physiology (3)
Ahn. Readings from the primary literature in animal physiology. Specific topics may vary. Counts as a seminar course for Biology majors. Prerequisites: Biology 52, Biology 101 or consent of instructor. (Fall, alternate years)
184. Methods in Biochemistry (1) (Also listed as Chemistry 184)
Haushalter, Vosburg (Chemistry). Experiments in biochemistry. Prerequisite: Biology/Chemistry 182 (may be taken concurrently.) (Spring)
185, 186. Special Topics in Biology (3)
Staff. Topics in a particular area of biology, depending on the instructor. Prerequisites: Biology 52, and possibly other courses. (Fall and Spring)
187. HIV-AIDS: Science, Society and Service (3) (Also listed as Chemistry 187)
Haushalter. Molecular biology of HIV infection. Biochemical basis for antiretroviral therapy and HIV prevention strategies. The causes and impact of the global HIV-AIDS pandemic, including the interrelationships among HIV-AIDS, prejudice, race and stigma. Students will complete a community service project in partnership with a local AIDS organization. Prerequisites: Biology 113, Biology 182/Chemistry 182 or permission of the instructor. (Only 1 unit may be counted for credit toward the Biology major.) (Fall)
188. Computational Biology (3)
Bush. Computational algorithms and methods used in the study of genomes. Lectures, discussions and computer laboratory exercises. Prerequisites: Biology 52 and Computer Science 5 or permission of instructor. (Spring)
189. Topics in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (3) (Also listed as Chemistry 189)
Drewell, Haushalter, Ortega. Advanced topics at the interface between chemistry and biology. Counts as a seminar course for Biology majors. Prerequisites: Biology 113 or permission of the instructor. (Fall)
190B. Biomechanics (3) (Also listed as Engineering 190B)
Ahn, Orwin (Engineering). Mechanical properties of biological tissues, including bone, connective tissue and muscles. Static analysis of joints. Analysis of how muscle generates motion, leading to dynamics, including kinematics, kinetics and locomotion, and how these principles scale for different sized animals. Focus on applications and primary literature. Prerequisites: Biology 52 and Engineering 83 or permission of instructor. (Fall, alternate years)
191, 192. Biology Colloquium (0.5)
Staff. Oral presentations and discussions of selected topics including recent developments. Participants include biology majors, faculty members and visiting speakers. Required for junior and senior biology majors. No more than 2.0 units of credit can be earned for colloquium. Pass/No Credit grading. (Fall and Spring)
193, 194. Senior Thesis Research (3)
Staff. A year-long experimental investigation in biology under the direction of a faculty adviser. Two oral presentations, a written proposal and a thesis are required. Required of all senior biology majors. Prerequisite: permission of instructor. (Fall and Spring)
195, 196. Intensive Research (6)
Staff. Intensive experimental research in biology undertaken in consultation with a faculty member. Prerequisite: Biology 161, 162 or 193 and departmental approval of formal application. Replaces 3 units of 193-194 and 3 units of advanced biology courses for credit toward biology major. (Fall and Spring)
197, 198. Directed Reading (1-3)
Staff. Directed readings or independent laboratory research in selected topics in biology. With prior permission, up to 2 credits may count toward biology major. Prerequisite: permission of instructor. (Fall and Spring)