Please note: The information displayed here is current as of Friday, May 24, 2019, but the official Course Catalog should be used for all official planning.

2014-2015 Course Catalog


This catalog was created on Friday, May 24, 2019.


Students come to Lawrence with varied interests in the life sciences. A student with strong interests in molecules and cells will wish to learn different techniques and approaches than will a student who is passionate about terrestrial or aquatic ecology. A student who is thinking about a career in health care may want different experiences than a student who wishes to become a naturalist. One individual may wish to be specialized, another to be a generalist with a broader background. To accommodate this heterogeneity, the biology department has designed its program to provide as much flexibility as possible.

The department encourages an open-ended, original, experimental approach to life science. The research-rich approach begins in BIOL 130: Integrative Biology: Cells to Organisms, in which all department faculty members participate. Students design, conduct, and interpret their own research projects and present their results at a professional-style symposium at the end of the term. The second course, BIOL 150 includes four open-ended research modules in the laboratory portion of the course while the third course has students focused on experimental design and statistical analysis of data. This course provides students the tools they will need in the rest of the curriculum and as well-trained graduates of Lawrence.

Experimental work becomes progressively more sophisticated and creative in advanced courses. All courses are designed to develop students’ insights and capacity to synthesize information and they include discussions, readings, field trips, lab work, and interactive class work in those areas most closely related to the competence of the faculty. Most courses feature intensive laboratory or field instruction in which students use advanced research equipment and computer facilities to explore modern biological concepts.

All biology faculty members conduct active research programs and employ students during the summer as research assistants and they supervise students undertaking independent study research for credit during the academic year. Motivated students may approach faculty about laboratory or field research after their first or second year of study. Many students culminate their work in biology with significant original research. In recent years, several papers with students and faculty as co-authors have been published in professional journals. Topics have included aquatic food chain energetics, physiology of aging, cellular metabolism, and molecular mechanics of vertebrate development. Recent advances in biological research are presented in a series of talks by faculty and by scientists from other universities. All students complete a project (research, curriculum development, outreach, or a creative project) of their own design as part of our Senior Experience program and they present their work at our annual BioFest celebration of Senior Experience (see below for more details).

Students who have strong secondary interests in chemistry, geology, or physics may construct majors involving biology and one of the other three natural sciences, using the interdisciplinary major in the natural sciences or the biochemistry major.

Required for the biology major

  1. BIOL 130, 150, and 170
  2. CHEM 116
  3. At least seven six-unit courses in biology numbered 200 or above (excluding Senior Experience courses), of which at least five must be laboratory courses
  4. Completion of Biology Senior Experience (A student-directed project, 6 units of BIOL 650, 2 units of BIOL 600)
    Note: Only two six-unit courses designated as tutorial, directed study, or independent study can be counted toward the major or minor requirements and only one of those can be counted toward the upper-level laboratory requirement.

Required for the biology minor

  1. BIOL 130, 150, and 170. Students majoring in disciplines requiring a research methods and statistics course may request exemption from the BIOL 170 requirement.
  2. At least four six-unit courses in biology numbered 200 or above, of which at least two must be laboratory courses.
  3. C average in the minor
    Note: Only two six-unit courses designated as tutorial, directed study, or independent study can be counted toward the major or minor requirements and only one of these can be counted toward the upper-level laboratory requirement.

Required for the interdisciplinary major in the natural sciences in biology and physics or geology

  1. BIOL 130, 150, and 170
  2. PHYS 141 and 151 or 151 and 160
  3. GEOL 110 and GEOL 210, if geology is the secondary discipline.
  4. At least 10 six-unit courses in the natural sciences (biology, chemistry, geology, and physics) numbered 200 or above, with at least five in biology (of which at least three must be laboratory courses), and at least three in the secondary discipline in other departments
  5. Completion of the Biology Senior Experience
  6. Note: Previous interdisciplinary combinations of biology and chemistry have been replaced by the Biochemistry major.

Wisconsin Teacher Certification

Students who major in biology and who wish to gain certification to teach biology in Wisconsin public schools should choose a broad range of biology courses that includes ecology, plant and animal organismal biology, as well as molecular and cellular biology. Students should gain experience in both field and laboratory research. Beyond the coursework required for the biology major, students will need to take the following additional courses:

  • One 6-unit geology course
  • One 6-unit physics course
  • EDST 180: Psychology of Learning
  • EDST 350: Ethnicity, Cultural Diversity, and Education
  • EDST 440: Sociology of Education
  • EDUC 560: Methods in Middle and Secondary Teaching
  • EDUC 430: Educating All Learners
  • EDUC 650: Student Teaching
  • EDUC 660: Student Teaching Seminar
For more detailed information about the certification program refer to the course of study for the Department of Education.

Senior Experience in Biology

Required: A student-designed project, 6 units of BIOL 650, 2 units of BIOL 600.
Purposeful advising in the spring of the sophomore year and attendance at the spring BioFest is meant to inspire sophomore students to think about what they might want to undertake as their culminating project in biology. During the fall of the junior year, students will hear from department faculty, the internship coordinator, and others about opportunities available for senior experience projects at a junior retreat. Breakout groups will allow students to brainstorm ideas for projects. Project work (research, internship, creation of a curricular module, draft of a grant proposal, draft of a children's book on biology, production of art about biology, or other creative project) generally will be undertaken prior to term 2 of the senior year and may be based on an internship, tutorial, course work, independent study, or other work.
Usually in the senior year, students will take two terms of BIOL 600: Recent Advances in Biology Lecture Series (1 unit each), one term of BIOL 650 (5 units) in the winter term and 1 additional unit of BIOL 650 in the spring term for BioFest. The purpose of the BIOL 650 course is to bring to culmination each student’s individual senior experience project and to place that project in an academic context. Each student will prepare a paper that places her or his project into a biological context, compares it to our past and current understanding of the topic using primary literature, and summarizes the student’s project or results. Students will begin gathering and organizing academic resources for this paper in the term 1 BIOL 600 course. In BIOL 650, students preparing a thesis for honors will prepare a significant portion of their thesis, while a student creating a visual product or curriculum will describe the biological underpinnings of the work and reflect on the production of the work itself, for example. The senior experience will culminate with a symposium, BioFest, in the spring term, at which all students will present the results of their projects (or the project itself) as a poster, demonstration, or other visual display.