College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Biology
Owens Science Hall (OWS) 352, (651) 962-5206
Martinović-Weigelt (chair), Carlson, Chapman, Ditty, Domine, Heimovics, Husak, Illig, Illig, Grant, Ismat, Kay, Klein, Lewis, Lewno, Martin, Okamoto, Schroeder, Small, Verhoeven, Vetter, Zimmer

Biology Department Web Site

Mission statement: The Biology Department is a professionally engaged community that equips undergraduate students to find their passions, embark on meaningful careers, and become responsible, scientifically literate citizens through authentic experiences in science.

Modern biology encompasses an extraordinary range of disciplines, from molecular genetics to global health and sustainability. The biology curriculum at St. Thomas reflects this diversity, providing the foundation of experience that students need in their freshman and sophomore years with the depth that they value as juniors and seniors. Courses at all levels of the curriculum emphasize two fundamentals: mastering the essential material of each discipline and developing the intellectual skills needed to do science – asking the right questions, developing methods to answer these questions and critically evaluating the results of these investigations. As well as providing a broad-based liberal arts education in the biological sciences, the biology program serves as an excellent basis for students planning careers in academia, agriculture, bioinformatics and genomic research, biotechnology, biomedical research, conservation biology, environmental science, forestry and wildlife management, medicine, dentistry and other health professions, and veterinary medicine.

A principle objective of the Department of Biology is to provide students with an excellent preparation for post-graduate pursuits. Graduates of the program command an understanding of core concepts in biology as well as an ability to design and implement studies of biological questions. The department evaluates its success in achieving these objectives using several tools, including assessments of all students as they progress through our programs.

The curriculum for a major in biology is divided into three levels, offering increasing challenges, greater emphasis on independent work, and more extensive use of the primary literature. All biology majors take an introductory series of twelve credits (BIOL 207, 208, and 209) in the first of these tiers. These core courses cover the central concepts of modern biology and provide a foundation for more specialized study at higher levels of the curriculum.

The second-tier courses (BIOL 301-399) all require successful completion of the introductory series and build on this foundation and offer a broad range of topics at an intermediate level, including research (BIOL 391-392).

All third-tier courses (BIOL 401-498) require the completion of specific second-tier courses and involve advanced scholarship, independent research projects, and extensive use of the primary literature. Research courses (BIOL 269, 389, 491) are available to students wishing to pursue in-depth studies in laboratory and/or field situations. Individual Study courses (BIOL 495) allow for tutorial study in a specialized subject area of the student’s choosing that is not otherwise available. Additional offerings in the form of Topics (BIOL 298, 398, 490) courses are available from time to time. Courses numbered between BIOL 483-498 (excluding 476 and 478) may, with approval of the department chair, be used to fulfill the 400-level requirement for the major.

Courses numbered BIOL 101-199 are intended for students of majors other than those in the sciences and cannot be used to fulfill either the major or minor requirements in biology. All of these courses fulfill the laboratory science requirement in the core curriculum.

Students planning to enter graduate school or a professional program after leaving St. Thomas should consult the entrance requirements of these programs while planning their choice of undergraduate courses. Students are strongly encouraged to consult with their biology academic adviser while making these plans.

Courses taken at other colleges by students already matriculated at St. Thomas may be credited toward the requirements of the major only with prior and explicit written approval of the departmental transcript evaluator. Approval will be granted only to reconcile schedule conflicts which otherwise would be unavoidable, to provide opportunities to enroll in appropriate courses that are not available in the St. Thomas curriculum, or to rectify problems arising from other special circumstances. These limitations apply to all requirements of the major, including courses in the allied requirements.

Transfer students desiring credit toward the major for work completed prior to matriculation at St. Thomas should contact the transcript evaluator in the Office of the University Registrar before seeking departmental approval. For biology courses numbered higher than BIOL 209, no more than 12 transfer credits can be counted towards the major. Of these 12, no more than 8 credits can be from academic institutions within the U.S.A, and no more than 12 credits can be from study abroad courses registered through St. Thomas.

Students who receive at least a score of 4 on the Biology or Environmental Science Advanced Placement Exam or at least a score of 5 on the International Baccalaureate exam will receive 4 college credits in biology. Students not intending to major in biology will receive credit for BIOL 101 (fulfills a natural science with laboratory course requirement). Students intending to major in biology or related programs who score 4 on the AP exam will receive credit for BIOL 101, which will fulfill a core lab science requirement but will not fulfill a major field requirement. Students intending to major in biology or related programs who score 5 on the AP exam or 5-7 on the IB exam will receive 4 credits for BIOL 243, which counts toward the biology major.

Extracurricular Expectations

All students are expected to participate in departmental assessment activities and complete the departmental Senior Survey in the spring of their final year. All students are also strongly encouraged to attend the Biology Seminar Program on a regular basis. 

Departmental Participation

Students are encouraged to further engage the discipline of biology by participating in various departmental activities. Valuable experiences in the department include both paid and volunteer roles as research assistants (with ongoing faculty projects), teaching assistants, lab preparers, and biology tutors. Together with off-campus internships, membership in the Biology Club and the Beta Beta Beta National Biology Honor Society, as well as the Biology Seminar Program and various special events, these opportunities offer many ways to explore the vast discipline of biology and become better acquainted with department members and other students. 

Biology Honor Societies

Beta Beta Beta,the national biology honor society, chartered the Gamma Tau chapter at St. Thomas in 1990. The purpose of this organization is to recognize and encourage excellence in the study of biology, and to sponsor events and services of interest to biology students. The organization has a particular interest in promoting and recognizing student research, and encouraging students to consider vocations in the field of biology. Beta Beta Beta provides opportunities for presenting and publishing student work on a regional and national level.

Students are eligible for full membership when they have completed the introductory twelve credits in the department, and at least four credits at the 300-level, and have a grade point average of 3.0 or better in biology department courses. Associate membership in the chapter is available to all interested students.

Biology Honors Program

Candidates for graduation with honors in biology must complete four credits in 400-level biology Research (491), present and defend a thesis based on their work; achieve a final cumulative grade point average of at least 3.50 in biology department courses, 3.25 in biology and allied courses and 3.00 overall; and present their research at a scientific meeting beyond the St. Thomas community. Students interested in this program should begin planning early and in consultation with their academic advisor. 

Interdisciplinary Programs

The Department of Biology participates in three interdisciplinary degree programs, each of which leads to a Bachelor of Science degree: Biochemistry (with Chemistry), Environmental Science (with Chemistry and Geology), and Neuroscience (with Psychology). These programs are described elsewhere in the catalog. Students interested in concentrating in biology as part of the environmental studies major listed in this catalog should consult with a Department of Biology adviser to select appropriate courses.

Pre-Health Professions Programs

Students interested in a career in the health professions should consult the university’s pre-health professions advising committee.

See Pre-Professional Programs in this catalog for coursework suggestions, internships, and other information. 

Life Science Education

For information on the teaching licensure program in Life Science, see the Education section of this catalog. Students interested in specializing in biology at the elementary school level should consider the integrated major in Science and Mathematics for Elementary Education (SMEE), also described in the Education section. See Life Science Education.

Major in Biology (B.A.)

See Biology


Major in Biology (B.S.)

See Biology


Major in Biology of Global Health (B.S.)

Note: A student cannot simultaneously major in the Biology of Global Health and either major or minor in Biology (B.A. or B.S.), Biochemistry, or Neuroscience. 

See Biology of Global Health



See Biochemistry 



See Environmental Science



See Neuroscience


Teacher Licensure

  • Elementary Education with a Co-major in Science and Mathematics for Elementary Education
  • Elementary Education with a Specialty in Science (5-8)
  • Co-major in Science (5-8) – Life Science (9-12) and a Co-major in Secondary Education

See Education


Minor in Biology

See Biology

Biology Undergraduate Courses

Course Number Title Credits
BIOL  101 General Biology 4
BIOL  102 Conservation Biology 4
BIOL  105 Human Biology 4
BIOL  106 Women, Medicine and Biology 4
BIOL  110 Genetics and Society 4
BIOL  161 Medical Geology 4
BIOL  195 Topics 2
BIOL  196 Topics 2
BIOL  197 Topics 4
BIOL  198 Topics 4
BIOL  200 First Year Seminar in Biology 1
BIOL  207 Genetics Ecology Evolution 4
BIOL  208 Biological Comm & Energetics 4
BIOL  209 Biology of Sustainability 4
BIOL  211 Intro to Field Research 0 TO 4
BIOL  243 Individual Study 2 OR 4
BIOL  256 Foundations of Microbio/Health 4
BIOL  269 Research 2 OR 4
BIOL  275 Born this way? 4
BIOL  287 Biology of HIV and AIDS 2
BIOL  295 Topics 0 TO 2
BIOL  296 Topics 2
BIOL  297 Topics 4
BIOL  298 Topics 4
BIOL  302 Animal Diversity 4
BIOL  303 Animal Diversity (without lab) 4
BIOL  315 Plants, Food and Medicine 4
BIOL  316 Plants, Food and Med (no lab) 4
BIOL  320 Plant Physiology 4
BIOL  328 Envr. Toxicology and Health 4
BIOL  330 Animal Behavior 4
BIOL  331 Animal Behavior (no lab) 4
BIOL  333 Ecology 4
BIOL  335 Conservation Biology 4
BIOL  336 Conservation Biology (no lab) 4
BIOL  340 Principles of Biochemistry 4
BIOL  349 Comp Anat/Phys: Loco &Syst Reg 4
BIOL  350 CompAnat/Phys: EnergyAcq&Proc 4
BIOL  353 Microscopic Anatomy 4
BIOL  354 Neurobiology 4
BIOL  355 Neurobiology (without lab) 4
BIOL  356 Microbiology 4
BIOL  358 Microscopic Anatomy (no lab) 4
BIOL  360 Genetics 4
BIOL  361 Medical Geology 4
BIOL  363 Immunology 4
BIOL  364 Immunology (no lab) 4
BIOL  365 Developmental Biology 4
BIOL  366 Developmental Biology (no lab) 4
BIOL  368 Genetics (no lab) 4
BIOL  371 Cell Biology 4
BIOL  372 Cell Biology (no lab) 4
BIOL  375 Endocrinology 4
BIOL  377 Endocrinology (no lab) 4
BIOL  389 Research 2 OR 4
BIOL  391 Research 0 TO 4
BIOL  392 Research 2
BIOL  393 Individual Study 1 TO 4
BIOL  395 Topics 2
BIOL  396 Topics 2
BIOL  397 Topics 4
BIOL  398 Topics 4
BIOL  415 Plant Physiology & Stress 4
BIOL  420 Sustainable Food Systems 4
BIOL  430 Evolutionary Ecology 4
BIOL  435 Aquatic Biology 4
BIOL  460 Cancer Biology 4
BIOL  462 Molecular Biology 4
BIOL  464 Bioinformatics 4
BIOL  467 Emerging Infectious Diseases 4
BIOL  470 Microbiomes in Changing World 4
BIOL  471 Evolution 4
BIOL  472 Evolution Medicine Psychology 4
BIOL  474 Biology of Global Health Sem 4
BIOL  476 Experiential Learning 1 TO 4
BIOL  478 Intern/Experiential Learning 0
BIOL  480 Urban Ecosystem Ecology 4
BIOL  484 Seminar 2
BIOL  485 Seminar 4
BIOL  486 Seminar 4
BIOL  488 Topics 2
BIOL  489 Topics 4
BIOL  490 Topics 4
BIOL  491 Individual Research 2 OR 4
BIOL  492 Individual Research 2
BIOL  493 Individual Research 4
BIOL  495 Individual Study 2 OR 4
BIOL  496 Individual Study 1 TO 2