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Biology

Majoring

The biology curriculum at Lewis & Clark prepares students for the demands and expectations of biological inquiry in the 21st century. Introductory courses explore the breadth and integrative nature of modern biology through immersion in the process of scientific investigation and emphasis on the core concepts that unite different realms of biological inquiry. Advanced courses allow more detailed treatments of the questions, techniques, and intricacies of a diverse array of topics ranging in scale from molecules to ecosystems. With small class sizes that allow direct interaction with our research-active faculty, all of whom share a unified commitment to inquiry-based learning, students report high levels of satisfaction with their education. We are proud that many find future success within top graduate programs and medical schools across the country.

Plan your four years

The major requires 40 credits, including:

  • Three core courses: Biology 110 (Biological Investigations), Biology 201 (Core Concepts: Systems), and Biology 202 (Core Concepts: Mechanisms).
  • A year of general chemistry with lab: Chemistry 110–120
  • A semester of mathematics at the level of Math 123 (Calculus and Statistics for Modeling the Life Sciences) or Math 131 (Calculus I), or Computer Science 171 (Computer Science I), or Math 255 (Statistical Concepts and Methods)
  • Six upper-level courses, four with laboratories . Students may choose from a wide menu including: Ecology, Neurobiology, Cell Biology, Molecular Biology, Physiology, Animal Behavior, Disease Ecology, Invertebrate Biology, Phylogenetic Biology, Developmental Biology, Behavioral Genetics, Marine Biology, and Biochemistry. Students can focus their upper-division coursework in a particular area or combine courses from different areas.

Students seeking to graduate with honors in biology conduct a year-long research thesis.

Outside the Classroom

  • Many biology students get involved in research, either by collaborating with one of their professors or pursuing their own investigations on or off campus. We provide extensive guidance for finding these opportunities. Research students frequently coauthor publications with their professors. Each fall, students present their work to the community at a poster conference.
  • Overseas study is a popular option for biology majors. In addition to the general culture programs open to all students, there are programs led by biology faculty—to Australia, East Africa, and New Zealand—on which students earn course credit toward the major.
  • We have a seminar series that regularly brings biologists to campus to speak about new areas of research.
  • Our natural history collection includes specimens of plants, fungi, insects, birds, and mammals from the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Students curate the collection and mount public exhibitions.

Biology Core Courses

All Biology majors take three core courses. These three core courses are:

  • BIO 110: Biological Investigations - a 4-credit, hands-on, lab-based, introduction to scientific investigation through project-based studies of biological phenomena. Each section of Bio 110 reflects the biological interests and expertise of its professor. Descriptions of spring 2021 sections.
  • BIO 201: Biological Core Concepts - Systems - a 4-credit, lecture and discussion-based introduction to core principles that underlie all of biology, illustrated through evidence-driven examples centered on integrative organismal biology and organisms’ interactions with the biotic and physical environment.
  • BIO 202: Biological Core Concepts - Mechanisms -  a 4-credit, lecture and discussion-based introduction to core principles that underlie all of biology, illustrated through evidence-driven examples centered on interactions among molecules and cells within organisms.

Other Requirements

Biology majors also complete at least a year’s study of chemistry (two years are recommended) and at least one college-level course in calculus, computer programming, or statistics. Students complete the major by choosing, with the help of their faculty advisers, at least six courses in biology that best serve their individual interests. Most of the upper-division biology courses require student teams to carry out student-designed investigations.