Molecular Biology Program

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:

Major Requirements

A biology major must successfully complete the following courses:

and one of:

  • Credits: 3

    Instructor:

    Offered: Spring, alternate years

    Description: An examination of the fundamental unit of life, the cell. By exploring the boundary between chemical reactions and living systems, we will learn how interactions among biological molecules that are ruled by fundamental physical and chemical laws constitute and define life. Readings from the text as well as primary literature, with emphasis on experimental design and analyses.

    Prerequisites: BIOL113 HM 

  • Credits: 3

    Instructor:

    Offered: Spring, alternate years

    Description: The number of microbes in the human body is comparable to the number of human cells. How does the immune system identify and respond to the small number of these microbes that can cause illness or death? In this course, we will explore fundamental processes of the immune system and how they relate to medicine and biotechnology. Topics will include antibody and T-cell receptor structure and function, cells and molecular mediators that regulate the immune response, allergy, autoimmunity, immunodeficiency, tissue and organ transplants, and tumor immunology. 

    Prerequisites: BIOL113 HM 

Electives

Six credits of advanced biology electives, selected by the student and advisor. One chemistry course may be substituted for an advanced biology course with the prior approval of the department. Electives must include:

At least one Harvey Mudd laboratory course, selected from: 

  • Credits: 2

    Instructor:

    Offered: Fall, alternate years

    Description: 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: BIOL054 HM and BIOL101 HM 

  • Credits: 3

    Instructor:

    Offered: Spring, alternate years

    Description: 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: BIOL054 HM and BIOL154 HM 

    Concurrent requisites: BIOL108 HM 

  • Credit: 1

    Instructor:

    Offered: Spring

    Description: Experiments in biochemistry.

    Concurrent requisites: BIOL182 HM or CHEM182 HM 

and

One Harvey Mudd seminar-style course (requiring student presentations and reading from the primary literature), some examples include: 

  • Credits: 3

    Instructor:

    Description: 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.

    Prerequisites: BIOL154 HM. It is strongly preferred to have taken BIOL108 HM 

  • Credits: 3

    Instructor:

    Description: What makes humans different from our closest relatives and how have these differences evolved? This course examines human evolution from several perspectives, ranging from studies of the fossil record to computational and genomic approaches. It relies heavily on readings from the primary literature, and counts as a seminar course for Biology majors.

    Prerequisites: BIOL154 HM. It is also recommended to have taken one of BIOL109 HM or BIOL113 HM 

  • Credits: 3

    Instructor:

    Description: Readings from the primary literature in animal physiology. Specific topics may vary. Counts as a seminar course for Biology majors.

    Prerequisites: BIOL101 HM 

  • (most offerings)

    Credits: 1.5-3

    Instructor:

    Offered: Fall and Spring

    Description: Topics in a particular area of biology, depending on the instructor.

    Prerequisites: BIOL052 HM; additional prerequisites may be required dependent on topic 

  • (most offerings)

    Credits: 3

    Instructor:

    Offered: Fall

    Description: Advanced topics at the interface between chemistry and biology. Counts as a seminar course for Biology majors.

    Prerequisites: BIOL113 HM and senior standing

Colloquium

Four semesters of Biology Colloquium or Chemistry Seminar:

  • Credit: 0.5

    Instructor:

    Offered: Fall and Spring

    Description: 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 credits can be earned for departmental seminars/col­loquia.

    Prerequisites: HMC Biology (including joint majors) only.

  • Credit: 0.5

    Instructor:

    Offered: Fall and Spring

    Description: Presentations of contemporary research by students, faculty, and visiting scientists. Attendance by junior and senior majors is required. No more than 2.0 credits can be earned for departmental seminars/colloquia.

The colloquium requirement is waived for any semester during which a student is away on a study abroad program.

Capstone Project

Two semesters (at least 6 credits total) of Senior Thesis Research:

  • Credits: 3

    Instructor:

    Offered: Fall and Spring

    Description: A year-long experimental investigation in biology under the direction of a faculty advisor. Two oral presentations, a written proposal, and a thesis are required. Required of all senior biology majors.

    Prerequisites: Permission of instructor

or

  • Credits: 6

    Instructor:

    Offered: Fall and Spring

    Description: Intensive experimental research in biology undertaken in consultation with a faculty member. Replaces 3 credits of BIOL193 HM and 3 credits of advanced biology courses for credit toward biology major.

    Prerequisites: BIOL161 HM, and departmental approval of formal application

Or an approved biology-related Clinic:

  • Credits: 2-3

    Instructor:

    Offered: Fall

    Description: A yearlong experimental or computational investigation in chemistry under the direction of a faculty advisor. Two oral reports and a written thesis are required. Two or three credit hours per semester (2 credit hours equals a minimum of 6 hours of laboratory per week, 3 credit hours equals a minimum of 10 hours of laboratory per week: additional library time is required).

    Prerequisites: Senior standing

  • Credits: 2-3

    Instructor:

    Offered: Spring

    Description: A yearlong experimental or computational investigation in chemistry under the direction of a faculty advisor. Two oral reports and a written thesis are required. Two or three credit hours per semester (2 credit hours equals a minimum of 6 hours of laboratory per week, 3 credit hours equals a minimum of 10 hours of laboratory per week: additional library time is required).

    Prerequisites: Senior standing

or

  • and

    Credits: 3

    Instructor:

    Offered: Fall

    Description: The Clinic Program brings together teams of students to work on a research problem sponsored by business, industry, or government. Teams work closely with a faculty advisor and a liaison provided by the sponsoring organization to solve complex real-world problems. Students are expected to present their work orally and to produce a final report conforming to professional publication standards. CSCI183  HM and CSCI184 HM must be taken consecutively to count toward the major.

    Prerequisites: CSCI121 HM and senior standing; or permission of the Computer Science Clinic director

  • Credits: 3

    Instructor:

    Offered: Spring

    Description: The Clinic Program brings together teams of students to work on a research problem sponsored by business, industry, or government. Teams work closely with a faculty advisor and a liaison provided by the sponsoring organization to solve complex real-world problems. Students are expected to present their work orally and to produce a final report conforming to professional publication standards. CSCI183 HM and CSCI184  HM must be taken consecutively to count toward the major.

    Prerequisites: CSCI121 HMCSCI183 HM, and senior standing; or permission of the Computer Science Clinic director

or

Two from:

  • Credits: 3

    Instructor:

    Offered: Fall and Spring

    Description: Participation in engineering projects through the Engineering Clinic. Emphasis is on design of solutions for real problems, involving problem definition, synthesis of concepts, analysis, and evaluation.

    Prerequisites: Junior standing in engineering or permission of Clinic director

  • Credits: 3

    Instructor:

    Offered: Fall

    Description: Participation in engineering projects through the Engineering Clinic. Emphasis is on design of solutions for real problems, involving problem definition, synthesis of concepts, analysis, and evaluation.

    Prerequisites: ENGR004 HM, ENGR080 HM, and ENGR111 HM or permission of Clinic director

  • Credits: 3

    Instructor:

    Offered: Spring

    Description: Participation in engineering projects through the Engineering Clinic. Emphasis is on design of solutions for real problems, involving problem definition, synthesis of concepts, analysis, and evaluation.

    Prerequisites: ENGR004 HM, ENGR080 HM, and ENGR111 HM or permission of Clinic director

or

  • (taken twice)

    Credits: 3

    Instructor:

    Offered: Fall and Spring

    Description: The Clinic Program brings together teams of students to work on a research problem sponsored by business, industry, or government. Teams work closely with a faculty advisor and a liaison provided by the sponsoring organization to solve complex, real-world problems using mathematical and computational methods. Students are expected to present their work orally and to produce a final report conforming to the publication standards of a professional mathematician. Students are expected to take the two semesters of Clinic within a single academic year.

    Prerequisites: Senior standing as a mathematics major or permission of the Mathematics Clinic director.

or

  • and

    Credits: 3

    Instructor:

    Offered: Fall

    Description: Team projects in applied physics, with corporate affiliation.

    Prerequisites: Seniors only

  • Credits: 3

    Instructor:

    Offered: Spring

    Description: Team projects in applied physics, with corporate affiliation.

    Prerequisites: Seniors only