Biology

Mark Eichinger (department head)

Biology is the scientific study of living systems. The discipline ranges from studying the structure of biomolecules to the interactions of species with their environment. Courses are taught from an evolutionary perspective, which explains both the unity and diversity of life.

The biology major is designed to be flexible in meeting the needs and interests of students. Students are introduced to the discipline in the two-semester introductory course, Principles of Biology. Beyond that, students are encouraged to select courses across the breadth of the discipline, from molecular/cellular to systemic to organismic to ecological aspects. Supplementing the biology courses are courses in general chemistry and calculus. Depending on students' interests and goals, they may be advised to take supporting coursework in chemistry (CHEM 202 or higher), physics (PHYS 151 or higher), mathematics (MATH 152 or higher), computer science (CS 150 or higher), or environmental studies (ENVS 134, 220, 310, 320). Students are encouraged to seek undergraduate research opportunities and internship experience in addition to their coursework to better prepare them for their future career.

Required for a major:

Plan 1 (non-teaching): Minimum of 28 hours in biology, including BIO 151 and BIO 152; 20 hours in biology numbered above 200 to include 12 hours in biology lab courses and 4 hours in a biology course numbered 340-370; CHEM 151 and CHEM 152, or CHEM 201; MATH 141 or MATH 151 (or higher); one course (4 hours) from the following: CHEM 202 (or higher), PHYS 151 (or higher), CS 150 (or higher), ENVS 134. No courses numbered 185 may be used to fulfill the major. No more than 4 hours from biology courses above 370 can be applied toward the major. Transfer students must complete at least four biology courses (four hours each) at Luther.

Majors are required to attend a minimum of 12 approved biology colloquia. Biology colloquium meets approximately 10 times during the academic year for lectures and discussions led by visiting scholars, faculty, and student researchers. Declared biology majors are expected to attend as often as possible.

Plan II (teaching): Same as the major requirements in Plan 1 except that the 20 hours in biology numbered above 200 must include one course from each of the three categories listed below. See education department for secondary education minor requirements.

  • ecology or evolution (BIO 245, 354, or 365)
  • microbiology, genetics, or physiology (BIO 243, 248, 255, or 262)
  • botany or zoology (BIO 251, 252, 253, or 258)

Writing requirement for either major plan completed with one of BIO 250, 251, 253, 258, 262, 354, 358, 359, 363, 364, 365, 367, or selected special topics courses in biology.

Required for a minor: A minimum of 20 hours in biology, including BIO 151 and BIO 152, and 12 hours in biology courses numbered above 200.

Affiliated programs are available in medical technology, cytotechnology, and nuclear medicine technology. Consult with the Biology department about the 3 + 1 options.

Biology Courses

BIO 112 Insects, Humans and the Environment

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Natural World—Lab

A study of relationships among insects, humans, and the environment. Using insects as a model, biological concepts such as evolution, form and function, genetics, development, natural history, biodiversity, and conservation will be covered. Includes a presentation of why insects are so successful, giving attention to their behavior and ecological roles in nature, impacts on human society as causes of famines, plagues and epidemics, and importance in human cultures. Laboratory includes field trips and an investigative approach to learning insect biology.

BIO 115 Human Anatomy

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Natural World—Lab

A basic gross anatomy course including dissection of the cat with reference and comparison made to human organ systems. For non-biology majors. Lectures and laboratory.

BIO 116 Intro to Human Physiology

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Natural World—Lab

A survey of physiological systems and principles with specific reference to the human body. This course is intended for non-biology majors. Lectures and laboratory.

BIO 125 Genetics and Society

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Natural World—Lab

Genetics plays an ever increasing role in our society, and a basic understanding of this field is vital for making informed decisions on issues that impact our health, safety, and environment. This course aims to connect the concepts and approaches of genetics to societal issues relating to health, diversity, forensics, and evolution. The course will provide basic coverage of the science of genetics, including the structure, expression, and transmission of heritable information and the evolution of populations. Methods and techniques, such as gene cloning and DNA fingerprinting, will be covered to provide information on how scientists use genetic technology to answer questions. Also included will be discussion of some of the ethical and social questions surrounding issues as diverse as screening human embryos for genetic traits, evaluating the genetic basis of aggressive behavior, and creating genetically modified organisms. Lecture and laboratory.

BIO 140 Introduction to Ecology of the Southwest

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Natural World—Lab

Field study of the ecology of the arid Southwest, with a focus on adaptations of organisms to arid conditions and understanding the challenges of setting environmental policy. Course activities include hiking in the deserts, mountains, and riparian areas of Arizona; daily readings and discussions; a paper exploring the ethical dimensions of environmental policy; and a research project which may be qualitative. Students who earn credit for Bio 140 may not earn credit for Bio 240. Fulfills Paideia 450 when students with junior or senior standing enroll in Political Science 258 in the following term. Offered alternate years during January term.

BIO 149 Introduction to Winter Biology

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Natural World—Lab
  • Prerequisites: Sophomore standing

A field study of the natural history of the southern boreal forest ecosystem in northern Minnesota, including the physiological and behavioral adaptations of organisms to extreme cold. Course activities will include skiing and snowshoeing excursions in remote natural areas, assigned readings, observations of natural history, and research projects. Students who earn credit for BIO 149 may not earn credit for BIO 249. Requires sophomore standing.

BIO 151 Principles of Biology:Ecology, Evolution and Biodiversity

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Natural World—Lab

An exploration of the diversity of life, its origins, and interactions among organisms and their environment. We introduce key concepts in evolution and ecology, provide an overview of the features of major taxonomic groups and their evolutionary relationships, and explore some of the practical and ethical implications of biodiversity. Through laboratory and field investigations, students develop their ability to make observations, analyze data, read primary literature, and communicate results. Designed as an introduction to biology; required for the biology major and minor.

BIO 152 Principles of Biology: Molecules, Cells, and Genes

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Natural World—Lab

Cells serve as the building blocks of all biological systems, so understanding cellular biology is critical to comprehension of life systems. This course examines the structural and chemical composition of cells, processes related to cellular metabolism and homeostatic control, and genetic concepts related to protein formation, genetic replication and patterns of inheritance. Laboratory methods reinforce concepts and increase students' ability to design experiments, analyze data, and communicate results in written form. Designed as an introduction to biology; required for biology major and minor.

BIO 195 Biology of Race And Sex

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Natural World—Nonlab
  • Prerequisites: Junior standing

This course will introduce students to basic concepts of inheritance and expression of genotypes into phenotypes, using the inheritance of sex and race-associated traits as case studies. These complex traits are useful examples of the influence of individual genes, genomes, and the physical environment on phenotypes. Not intended for biology majors. (Same as WGST 195)

BIO 231 Microscopy

  • 2 hours
  • Prerequisites: BIO 151, 152.

An introduction to the theoretical and technical aspects of light and electron microscopy and digital imaging as tools for scientific study. Demonstrations supplement lectures with no formal laboratory. This first-seven-week course offered each fall is designed to provide a broad overview of microscopy theory and technique while giving students an introduction to the available on-campus instrumentation. A full semester companion laboratory, BIO 232, is open to students enrolled in Bio 231.

BIO 232 Microscopy Laboratory

  • 2 hours

Students will develop a short-term project using at least one type of light or electron microscopy studied in Biology 231, including transmission and scanning electron microscopy as well as scanning laser confocal microscopy, fluorescent microscopy and various forms of enhanced contrast techniques. This course will also focus on specimen preparation as well as microscope operation and project design. Projects will likely support current research by biology faculty and will require a poster or oral presentation. Laboratory only with supplemental specimen preparation lectures.

BIO 240 Ecology of the Southwest

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Natural World—Lab
  • Prerequisites: BIO 151

Field study of the ecology of the arid Southwest, with a focus on adaptations of organisms to arid conditions and understanding the challenges of setting environmental policy. Course activities include hiking in the deserts, mountains, and riparian areas of Arizona; daily readings and discussions; a paper exploring the ethical dimensions of environmental policy; and a research project including statistical analysis of data. Students who earn credit for BIO 240 may not earn credit for BIO 140. Fufills Paideia 450 when students with junior or senior standing enroll in POLS 258 in the following term. Offered alternate years during January term.

BIO 241 Radioisotopes in Science

  • 2 hours
  • Prerequisites: BIO 152, CHEM 152, CHEM 201, or PHYS 152.

This seminar introduces the chemistry, physics, and biology of radioisotope use in research and in diagnostics. Laboratory safety, monitoring, and waste disposal will be included. This course does not fulfill the lab science requirement. Usually offered alternate years.

BIO 242 Animal Behavior

  • 4 hours
  • Prerequisites: BIO 151, 152.

An examination of the proximate and ultimate causes of behavior in animals. Topics include the development, control mechanisms, evolution, and ecology of behavior. In addition to lectures, this course includes films and behavioral studies of animals.

BIO 243 Microbiology

  • 4 hours
  • Prerequisites: BIO 151 and BIO 152 or BIO 115 and BIO 116

A basic introduction to the study of microorganisms and the principles of immunology and virology. Laboratory includes the study of basic cell processes and the identification and culturing of typical forms. Lectures and laboratory.

BIO 245 Ecology of Ecuador

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Intercultural
  • Prerequisites: BIO 151

An introduction to the ecology, evolution, and natural history of the flora and fauna of the Amazon rainforest and Galapagos Islands, and the customs and culture of Ecuador. The class will spend time in Quito, the Amazon rainforest, and the Galapados archipelago. Offered on an irregular basis.

BIO 246 Ornithology

  • 2 hours
  • Prerequisites: BIO 151, 152.

An introduction to the biology and diversity of birds. Structure, function, classification, behavior, and ecology are covered. Laboratory emphasizes field identification of local species. Lectures and laboratory/field trips. Meets the second half of spring semester. Offered alternate years.

BIO 247 Subtropical and Marine Biology

  • 4 hours
  • Prerequisites: BIO 151, 152.

An introduction to the ecology and taxonomy of coral reef, tide pool, tidal creek, high and low energy beach, hypersaline lake, mangrove, and upland organisms and ecosystems. In addition to field excursions, students develop and carry out independent research projects. Consent of instructor required. Usually offered every other year.

BIO 248 Genetics

  • 4 hours
  • Prerequisites: BIO 151, 152.

A study of Mendelian genetics, gene structure, mechanisms of gene expression, mutagenesis, evolutionary genetics, and genomics. Lectures and laboratory.

BIO 249 Winter Biology

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Natural World—Lab
  • Prerequisites: BIO 151, 152.

A field study of the natural history of the southern boreal forest ecosystem in northern Minnesota, including the physiological and behavioral adaptations of organisms to extreme cold. Course activities will include skiing and snowshoeing excursions in remote natural areas, assigned readings, observations of natural history, and research projects. Students who earn credit for 249 may not earn credit for 149.

BIO 250 Restoration and Conservation Biology

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Natural World—Lab
  • Prerequisites: BIO 151 and sophomore standing

This course is an introduction to restoration ecology and conservation biology, with a primary focus on ecological principles used in restoring human-altered landscapes and conserving natural habitats. Secondarily, it considers basic policy and non-governmental avenues for the protection of biodiversity. Class is a combination of lecture, discussion, and lab. Discussion includes scientific literature and case-studies. In lab, students put theory into practice to develop restoration and conservation plans for local sites in a semester-long project. Requires sophomore standing or above.

BIO 251 Entomology

  • 4 hours
  • Prerequisites: BIO 151, 152.

An introduction to the biology and diversity of insects, particularly the life histories, form and function, ecology, and behavior of various insect groups found in various habitats. Students interested in developing field biology skills should take this course during their sophomore or junior year.

BIO 252 Botany

  • 4 hours
  • Prerequisites: BIO 151, 152.

A study of the anatomy, physiology, and evolution of the major groups of plants with an emphasis on field identification of seed plants. Students intersted in developing field biology skills should take this course during their sophomore or junior year. Lectures and laboratory. Laboratory includes field trips that require hiking.

BIO 253 Invertebrate Zoology

  • 4 hours
  • Prerequisites: BIO 151, 152.

A study of the morphology, physiology, taxonomy, and ecology of the major phyla of invertebrate animals from marine, freshwater, and terrestrial environments. Offered alternate years.

BIO 255 Human Physiology

  • 4 hours
  • Prerequisites: BIO 151, 152.

An in-depth exploration of physiological systems in the human body, beginning at the cellular level and proceeding to physiological systems and their role in homeostatic control. Students may earn credit for BIO 255 and BIO 262. Lectures and laboratory.

BIO 256 Biostatistics

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Quantitative
  • Prerequisites: BIO 151.

This course considers the application of statistical inference to the life sciences; numerous examples will be taken from the health sciences and environmental sciences. Emphasis will be on hypothesis testing and the importance of experimental design. Lectures and laboratory.

BIO 258 Vertebrate Natural History

  • 4 hours
  • Prerequisites: BIO 151, 152

A study of the classification, natural history, and distribution of the vertebrates. Laboratory emphasizes identification and field study of species typical of this geographical area. Lectures stress principles of vertebrate biology. Offered alternate years.

BIO 261 Developmental Biology

  • 4 hours
  • Prerequisites: BIO 151, 152.

A study of gametogenesis, fertilization, organogenesis, and the formation of the body. Both organismal and molecular aspects of these processes will be discussed, ending with a discussion of organ formation, especially the limb, the eye, and gonadal develpment. Questions such as how sperm and egg interact to create a new organism and how a single cell gives rise to the diverse group of cells that make up the adult body are central to this course. Laboratory will include observation of and experimentation with invertebrate and vertebrate systems.

BIO 262 Environmental Animal Physiology

  • 4 hours
  • Prerequisites: BIO 151, 152.

This course will examine the homeostatic control mechanisms of organ systems across species lines. Additionally, the course will focus on the molecular, cellular and systems adaptations that allow animals to live in particular environments. Lectures and laboratory. Students may not earn credit for BIO 262 and BIO 255. Offered alternate years.

BIO 264 Advanced Topics in Biology

  • 2 hours
  • Prerequisites: BIO 151, 152.

This is a reading-intensive course designed to provide an in-depth examination of a topic in biology. The topic may vary, but will cut across several scales of biological organization, from cells to ecosystems. The goals are to learn about the diversity of approaches used to investigate the biological world and to identify and explore questions that remain open to scientific inquiry.

BIO 301 Human Dissection and Anatomy

  • 4 hours
  • Prerequisites: BIO 151, 152, and junior standing

An in-depth gross anatomy course that includes dissection of a human cadaver. Skeletal, muscular, nervous, digestive, cardiovascular, respiratory, and urogenital systems will be covered. Lectures and laboratory. Requires junior or senior standing.

BIO 303 Bioethics

  • 2 hours
  • Prerequisites: 8 hours in biology at the 200-level or above and juniorstanding

This course will explore various ethical issues embedded in biomedical and environmental topics. Students will be introduced to fundamental ethical principles from which ethical positions are derived. Graded credit/no credit. Requires junior or senior standing.

BIO 354 Evolutionary Biology

  • 4 hours
  • Prerequisites: BIO 151, 152, 248.

An exploration of current questions in evolutionary biology through lecture, lab, and discussion of the primary literature. Topics include the role of natural selection and drift in human evolution; inferring the origins of new diseases; the effects of genomic conflict on speciation; and the challenges that hybridization poses to understanding the tree of life.

BIO 356 Genomics

  • 4 hours
  • Prerequisites: BIO 151, 152, 248.

This course will introduce students to the principles of genome science and the application of genomic data in ecology and evolution, medicine, and agriculture. We will explore topics such as high-throughput sequencing technologies, genome projects, genome structure and function, genome expression and the transcriptome, proteomics, and evolution and genomic change. We will also discuss the social impacts and ethical implications of the increased use of genomic data. Students will gain hands-on experience with some of the popular tools and databases available for bioinformatic analysis. Lectures and laboratory.

BIO 358 Toxicology

  • 4 hours
  • Prerequisites: BIO 151, 152, and BIO 255 or BIO 252 or CHEM 241.

This course covers the principles of toxicology, the study of poisons. Topics include molecular and cellular sites of toxicant action, physiological effects of toxicants in mammalian systems and ecological systems, and the application of toxicology to public health and policy. Central toxicology concepts such as dose-response, mixtures, gene-environment interaction, and endocrine/reproductive toxicity will be explored in the laboratory culminating in student-designed research projects and scientific papers. It is recommended that students have completed CHEM 152 or 201 before enrollin in this course. Lectures and laboratory.

BIO 359 Virology

  • 4 hours
  • Prerequisites: BIO 151, 152 and BIO 243 or 248.

Examination of both general and specific aspects of viruses, including structure, replication, infection strategies, host response and associated disease. Students will read primary literature in conjunction with research of a specific virus, and will present their findings both in formal papers and as oral presentations.

BIO 362 Neuroscience

  • 4 hours
  • Prerequisites: BIO 151, 152, 255.

The course explores the means by which neurons function and how they form circuitry related to sensory input, motor control and higher cognitive functions. A second component of the course is devoted to the role of primary literature within the field of neuroscience, including how hypotheses are formulated, tested and the results conveyed to the scientific community. A non-lab course.

BIO 363 Molecular Biology

  • 4 hours
  • Prerequisites: BIO 151, 152 and 248

This course examines molecular functions, gene expression, and regulation from an evolutionary perspective emphasizing structure-function relationships. Laboratory emphasis. Lectures and laboratory.

BIO 364 Cell Biology

  • 4 hours
  • Prerequisites: BIO 151, 152, and at least one 200-level course

A study of the biochemical and structural basis of cell activity. Close attention is given to protein structure and function as well as organelle activity. The laboratory stresses the use of biochemical and cytological techniques to study living systems at the cellular and molecular levels of organization. Lectures and laboratory.

BIO 365 Ecology

  • 4 hours
  • Prerequisites: Bio 151, 152, and a 200 level (4 credit) BIO class.

A study of the complex patterns and processes in the natural world. We examine questions about the distribution and abundance of species and communities, the transfer of matter and energy in ecosystems, and how these relate to biodiversity. Lectures and laboratory. Laboratory includes field trips requiring hiking and directed research projects.

BIO 367 Endocrinology

  • 4 hours
  • Prerequisites: Bio 151, 152, and Bio 255 or 262

This course will emphasize the role of hormones in maintaining homeostasis. We will examine the chemical messengers most relevant to human biology, and explore the structure, sites of synthesis and the mechanisms by which hormones exert their effects. Finally, through laboratory exercises, students will directly utilize current research methodologies to examine the role of hormones in physiologic control systems. Offered alternate years.

BIO 490 Senior Project

  • 1, 2, or 4 hours
  • Prerequisites: BIO 151, 152.