May 29, 2024  
2019-2020 Undergraduate Catalog, Volume 78 
2019-2020 Undergraduate Catalog, Volume 78 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Biology Department

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Meet the Biology Faculty
Biology Webpage

Health Professions Advisor: Dr. Dan White

Siena / Albany Medical College Joint Medical Program: Dr. Ray Walsh

Allied Health Professions Advisor: Mrs. Eileen Martino

The Biology Department develops in each student an appreciation for contemporary issues in biology and an understanding of the principles governing life through a laboratory-intensive curriculum taught by faculty dedicated to enriching the learning experience. A variety of courses, coupled with an effective advising system, prepares the Biology major for:

  1. Professional studies in the areas of medicine, dentistry, optometry, veterinary medicine, chiropractic and other health-related fields such as physical therapy and physician’s assistant. (See section of catalog under “Articulation Agreements and Cooperative Programs ”)
  2. Graduate studies in sub-specialties of Biology including Animal Behavior, Biochemistry, Botany, Cell Biology, Conservation Biology, Developmental Biology, Ecology, Endocrinology, Environmental Biology, Evolution, Forensic Science, Genetics, Immunology, Microbiology, Molecular Biology, Neuroscience and Physiology.
  3. Secondary education certification in collaboration with the Education Department.
  4. A variety of other careers including public health administration, genetic counseling, bioinformatics and jobs in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

A major emphasis of our program is to encourage critical thinking and an active engagement in the biological sciences. We do this by keeping class sizes small and including a laboratory experience as an integral component of most courses. Many laboratories incorporate an independent project where students build on the concepts and techniques they have learned by designing and carrying out an experiment of their choice. Some examples of recent projects include studies of cartilage and bone formation in chick embryos, diversity of fish species in local streams, hormonal modulation of neuronal impulses, host plant selection by a tropical shieldbug, and purification of wheat germ acid phosphatase.

Students in our form and function, physiology, and cell/molecular oriented courses obtain hands-on experience with the most modern techniques and equipment in biology, including: high quality stereo-dissecting; compound, phase and fluorescence microscopes; electrophoretic equipment and computer software for DNA/RNA analysis; PCR thermocyclers; an electroporator for gene transfer; hybridization ovens for Northern and Southern blotting; UV/visible spectrophotometers; a variety of centrifuges including microfuges and ultracentrifuges; state-of-the-art chromatographic and electrophoretic equipment for protein purification and immunoblotting; micromanipulators, intracellular amplifiers and computer-based data acquisition systems for muscle physiology and neurobiology; a microtome, tissue culture facility and dark room.

Other courses, such as vertebrate biology and general, plant, ecology, are truly field oriented-most laboratories involve trips that teach students how to make observations and collect data by standard sampling techniques. Further, many of these laboratories introduce students to environmental issues and applied problems. For example, students on a winter field trip to the Connecticut coast conduct a quantitative survey of overwintering ducks and geese. Students learn census procedures and how to think critically about the impacts of environmental pollutants, such as oil spills, and disturbances, such as water boat traffic, on these birds. Due to our proximity to the Adirondacks and other wildlife preserves, field biology studies are enriched by day and weekend trips to these nearby sites.

Our program encourages research experience by offering credit for Independent Research (on-campus) or Science Internship (off-campus) in biology. Each faculty member maintains a research laboratory where students may carry out research with a professor in a one-on-one situation. When classes are not in session, some students accompany their professors to research field stations. Research experience is open to all interested students and is especially effective in helping students to develop an appreciation of their creative and investigative skills. Many students present their findings in our annual student research poster session or Biology Department seminar, and some publish their work in scientific journals and books.

Education Certification: Students seeking admission to the Biology certification sequence should be approved by both the Biology Department and the Education Department no later than the junior year. Requirements for initial approval, as well as admission to the professional semester, will normally include a minimum GPA of 3.0 in biology, 2.75 overall, and demonstration of strong communication skills. Certification students are required to complete all courses required for the major in biology. An additional 28 hours of education courses are taken in consultation with the Education Department. Included in these is Instructional Theory and Practice in Science (EDUC 481 .) which will be allowed to substitute for one elective course in biology. It is anticipated that returning and continuing students seeking biology certification will have fulfilled all the above requirements (or their equivalents in the case of coursework). Under certain circumstances, applicants with relevant life experience may apply for an individualized program involving updating of background and demonstration of competence with advanced coursework in biology.

Advanced Placement (AP) Biology: Students who have a score of 4 or 5 on the AP examination will receive 3 credits in BIOL 040 . Those students majoring in biology or earning a minor in biology also have the option of taking the Advanced General Biology course sequence: Fall Semester: BIOL - 170. Advanced General Biology  4 credits, Spring Semester: BIOL - 180. Advanced General Biology Seminar  2 credits.

Department Colloquia: In order to help inform the student about the latest developments in the biological sciences, the department schedules colloquia (non-credit) on several Friday afternoons during the course of the semester. These colloquia feature guest lecturers from other institutions, Siena faculty reporting their research results, and students presenting results of independent research projects. Several sessions are designed to provide information about the career options available to Biology graduates. The attendance of all Biology majors is expected.


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