The Biology Program: Courses

Human Anatomy and Physiology I: Anatomy and Physiology
BIO 1510
/ 4 credits / Fall
Introduction to the organ systems of the human body, including the neuromuscular, skeletal, cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, and digestive systems. The physiological mechanisms of adaptation to exercise are also considered.

Human Anatomy and Physiology II: Physiology and Nutrition
BIO 1520
/ 4 credits / Spring
Introduction to the human body, emphasizing general physiological processes. The body is studied from the viewpoint of homeostasis, concentrating on the relationship of food to the functioning living organism in health and disease. Topics of current interest, controversies, and myths are highlighted. BIO 1510 is not a prerequisite for BIO 1520.

General Biology I
BIO 1550
/ 4 credits / Fall
Introduction to contemporary biology, covering cell structure and function, genetics, development, and molecular biology. This course is for science majors and premedical students; students with limited high school science and mathematics can satisfy college distribution requirements with BIO 1510, or 1520.
Corequisite for premedical students, biology majors, biochemistry majors, and environmental studies majors: BIO 1551

General Biology I Lab
BIO 1551
/ 1.5 credits / Fall
Lab exercises on cell organization, cell division, genetics, enzyme kinetics, photosynthesis, and development, and the use of light microscopes, spectrophotometer, and chromatography. Required for premedical students, biology majors, biochemistry majors, and environmental studies majors.
Corequisite: BIO 1550

General Biology II
BIO 1560
/ 4 credits / Spring
Second semester of an introduction to contemporary biology covering plant and animal morphology and physiology, ecology, behavior, and evolution. This course is for science majors and premedical students; students with limited high school science and mathematics can satisfy college distribution requirements with BIO 1510 or 1520. BIO 1550 is not a prerequisite.
Corequisite for premedical students, biology majors, and environmental studies majors: BIO 1561

General Biology II Lab
BIO 1561
/ 1.5 credits / Spring
Vertebrate anatomy and physiology, and examination of selected plant and animal phyla through lab exercises, experiments, and field trips. Required for premedical students, biology majors, and environmental studies majors.
Corequisite: BIO 1560

Biology Freshman Seminar
BIO 1880
/ 1 credit / Fall
This supplement to BIO 1550 introduces biology majors and undeclared potential majors to the Biology Program and faculty and assists students in planning and succeeding in their course of study. Required for all freshman biology majors enrolled in BIO 1550.
Corequisite: BIO 1550

The Marine Biology of the Mediterranean
BIO 2470
/ 4 credits / Summer (offered in Italy)
An introduction to the oceanography and marine biology/ecology of the Mediterranean Sea. Topics include the history of and means by which scientists study the marine environment and its inhabitants; the diversity of life in the Mediterranean; various marine communities and their interconnections; and anthropogenic impacts on the marine communities. Lab and field exercises provide a hands-on introduction to the plants and animals of the Mediterranean.

Coral Reef Biology and Ecology
BIO 2850
and 3850 / 4 credits (per course) / Winter (offered in Honduras)
An introduction to biology and ecology of coral reefs, using snorkeling or scuba diving. Extensive field work, observations of living organisms, projects, lectures, and labs. Topics include reef coral biology and identification; field sampling; reef monitoring; threats to reefs; reef inhabitants (invertebrates, fish, sea turtles, algae); dolphins and whales; mangroves and sea grasses; local culture, history, and environment; substance and process of science.
Note: This course involves scuba diving and snorkeling. It will be possible to learn to scuba dive during the program or to complete the open-water dives for a scuba course taken before the program. Scuba divers must be certified by a nationally recognized organization. All students must be physically capable and healthy enough for field work, snorkeling, and boat work; able to swim and willing to snorkel or scuba dive in the ocean and from boats; and have a physician’s certification of adequate health and physical fitness to participate in course activities.
Prerequisite for BIO 2850: None; limited to sophomores, juniors, and seniors in disciplines other than the natural sciences
Prerequisite for BIO 3850: BIO 1550 and 1560; limited to sophomores, juniors, and seniors majoring in a natural science discipline

Biology Program Seminar
BIO 2890
/ 2 credits / Fall
Introduces biology majors and potential majors to the field of study, to the faculty, to the opportunities available to students and graduates, and to necessary computer and writing skills. Programs are presented by biology faculty members and include readings of relevant scientific papers, associated writing assignments, labs, and field trips. Required for all biology majors and potential majors immediately following BIO 1550 and 1560, and for all transfer students.
Prerequisite: At least one semester of BIO 1550 or 1560

BIO 3160
/ 4 credits / Fall
Basic but intensive survey of the mechanisms of heredity, covering gametogenesis, mutagenesis, chromosome mapping, transmission genetics, and an introduction to population genetics. The lab is optional.
Prerequisite: BIO 3530

Genetics Lab
BIO 3161
/ 1.5 credits / Fall
Lab and statistical exercises employing Drosophila, human, and plant material, selected to complement the lecture course.
Corequisite: BIO 3160

Developmental Biology
BIO 3170
/ 4 credits / Spring
Lecture course examining patterns and processes of animal development from fertilization to organogenesis in vertebrates and invertebrates. Emphasis is placed on the genetic control of development and on molecular and cellular mechanisms of differentiation and morphogenesis. A term paper on a current research area is required. The lab is optional.
Prerequisite: BIO 3530 and CHE 1550 and 1560

Developmental Biology Lab
BIO 3171
/ 1.5 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Lab studies on the embryology of the sea urchin, frog, chick, and pig, as well as slime mold development, gametogenesis, regeneration, insect development, and gene expression.
Prerequisite or corequisite: BIO 3170

Animal Physiology
BIO 3250
/ 4 credits / Fall
Lecture course examining the major organ systems of the vertebrates. Topics include neurophysiology and sensory biology, muscle contraction, cardiovascular physiology, respiratory physiology, osmoregulation, and digestion. Physiological adaptations of vertebrates to extreme environments (e.g., high altitude and aquatic hypoxia) are also discussed.
Prerequisite: BIO 1550, 1560, and 3530, and CHE 1550 and 1560

Animal Physiology Lab
BIO 3251
/ 1.5 credits / Fall
Lab course on vertebrate (animal and human) physiology. Topics include neurophysiology and sensory biology, muscle contraction, cardiovascular physiology (anatomy, blood pressure, EKG), respiratory physiology, exercise physiology, fluid balance, and osmoregulation.
Prerequisite: BIO 1550, 1560, and 3530, and CHE 1550 and 1560
Prerequisite or corequisite: BIO 3250

Field Biology of Local Landscapes
BIO 3280
Refer to ENV 3280 in Environmental Studies Courses for description. Biology majors may count BIO 3280 toward the lab studies requirement, but not as an upper-level biology elective.

BIO 3360
/ 5.5 credits / Spring
Lecture and lab course examining the anatomy and life processes of microorganisms with emphasis on bacteria and viruses. Topics include macromolecular aspects of growth, expression of genetic information, ecological adaptations, and infection and immunity. Lab exercises require time in addition to the scheduled period.
Prerequisite: BIO 3530 and CHE 1550 and 1560

Vertebrate Zoology
BIO 3430
/ 5.5 credits / Spring
Lecture and lab course examining the evolution of the major groups of vertebrates and emphasizing the interrelationship of vertebrate form, function, and environment in extinct and extant groups. Topics include locomotion, respiration, circulation, osmoregulation, and sensory physiology. The required lab covers anatomy, morphology, behavior, and evolution of vertebrates and includes studies at the American Museum of Natural History, the Bronx Zoo, the Norwalk Maritime Center, and Greenwich Audubon.
Prerequisite: BIO 3530

Invertebrate Zoology
BIO 3440
/ 5.5 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly, Fall)
A survey of the biology of freshwater, marine, and terrestrial invertebrates. Considers structure, function, development, evolution, ecology, and phylogenetic relationships. The required lab includes examination of representative species and some field trips to study living invertebrates in natural environments.
Prerequisite: BIO 3530

Cell Biology
BIO 3530
/ 4 credits / Fall
Cellular organization and function, and molecular genetics, with emphasis on eukaryotic cells. Topics include cellular genomes; replication and maintenance of genomic DNA; RNA and protein synthesis, processing, and regulation; macromolecular structure and processes of organelles; vesicular transport; cytoskeleton; the cell surface; cell signaling; and cell cycle. Students prepare a paper based on current literature in the field. Required for all biology majors immediately following BIO 1550 and 1560.
Prerequisite: BIO 1550 and 1560
Prerequisite or corequisite: BIO 2890 and CHE 1550

Coral Reef Biology and Ecology
BIO 3850
Refer to BIO 2850 for description.

Biology Junior Seminar
BIO 3890
/ 3 credits / Spring
A series of seminars and exercises on basic skills for research, literature review, scientific writing, and communication. Each biology faculty member presents a seminar on his or her own research, illustrating possibilities for senior projects. Students choose a senior project topic and sponsor and prepare a formal research proposal. Required for all junior biology majors before beginning the senior project; generally taken after completion of BIO 3530 and two advanced electives.
Prerequisite: BIO 2890

Independent Study and Tutorial
BIO 3900
and 4900 / 1–3 credits / Every semester
Students with special interests may study independently under the sponsorship of a qualified faculty member. Independent study in general subjects is permitted if the board of study offers no formal course covering the material. Independent study in advanced or highly focused studies may be undertaken after a student has completed two 3000- or 4000-level courses in biology with a grade of B or higher. Independent study may not be substituted for a course in the “biology course” category. A student may register for BIO 4900 only after completing BIO 3890.

Biology Internship
BIO 3980
/ 1–3 credits / Every semester
Opportunities to work in research laboratories, both at Purchase and other institutions, can be arranged for a student in an area of scientific or career interest. This course may not be substituted for a course in the “biology courses” category; when appropriate, it may be used to satisfy a lab study requirement.
Prerequisite: Two 3000- or 4000-level biology courses

BIO 4560
/ 4 credits / Alternate years
Lecture course examining both the humoral and cellular immune systems. Topics include antibodies; cellular immunity; immunogenetics; inflammation and resistance to bacterial and viral infection; immunoprophylaxis, immunodiagnostics, and immunological diseases, including hypersensitivity (allergy); autoimmunity; and immunodeficiency. Students prepare a paper based on current literature in the field.
Prerequisite: BIO 3530
Recommended but not required (one of the following): BIO 3160, BIO 3360, BIO 4620, CHE 4610

Molecular Biology
BIO 4620
/ 4 credits / Spring
Structure, function, and regulation of genes at the molecular level. Topics include transcription; RNA processing; involvement of RNA in protein synthesis; DNA replication, mutation, and repair; gene cloning; DNA sequencing; PCR ampliflication; and applications of recombinant DNA technology (including gene therapy). Students prepare a paper on a topic in the current literature and present a seminar to the class.
Prerequisite: BIO 3530
Corequisite: CHE 1550

Transmission Electron Microscopy and Cell Ultrastructure
BIO 4650
/ 6 credits / Fall
Lecture and lab course covering the techniques of transmission electron microscopy and the principles of cell ultrastructure. Lectures consider the structural organization of the cell and its organelles. Labs include practical instruction in the basic techniques required for the preparation and examination of biological materials. A written exam, project, and report are required.
Prerequisite: BIO 3530 and permission of instructor

BIO 4720
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly, Fall)
A survey of historic, observational, and experimental evidence for past and present processes of biological evolution. Familiarity with the principles of genetics is assumed. Each student presents one seminar on an appropriate topic or organism and submits a fully documented term paper.
Prerequisite: BIO 3530
Recommended prior or concurrent studies: BIO 3160

Behavior Genetics
BIO 4760
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
The study of genetic determinants of animal behavior. Each student presents at least one seminar and submits a term paper. Topics include the inheritance of monogenic and polygenic traits; disruptive and stabilizing selection for behavioral traits; ethological and psychological isolation; and assortative mating as it pertains to a variety of animals, including humans.
Prerequisite: BIO 3160 or permission of instructor

Scanning Electron Microscopy and Digital Imaging
BIO 4770
/ 5.5 credits / Spring
Preparation and examination of biological and other materials for scanning electron microscopy. Lectures consider theoretical aspects of microscopy and imaging. Labs includes the techniques of tissue preparation; operation of the microscope; and digital image collection, image processing, and image analysis. Interpretation of micrographs is emphasized, and a project and report are required. A lab section is required, and students pay for some lab supplies.
Prerequisite: BIO 3530

Biology Learning Assistant
BIO 4899
/ 1–2 credits / Every semester
Students who have received a grade of B+ or higher in the relevant course are eligible for BIO 4899. Assignments may include tutoring students or assisting faculty in labs. This assistantship may not be substituted for a course in the “biology courses” category, but it is recommended for students anticipating graduate school. Four credits in BIO 4899 may be applied toward the minimum required for graduation.

Independent Study and Tutorial
BIO 4900
Refer to BIO 3900 for description.

Senior Project
BIO 4990
/ 4 credits (per semester) / Every semester
Two-semester independent study (8 credits total) leading to a senior thesis. The project and thesis may take one of several forms. Students may join in the faculty sponsor’s research, pursuing an identifiable problem in that context; choose a topic for critical review in the life science literature; or choose a topic in the history and philosophy of science. Students with a special interest not represented by a faculty member may find research project supervisors at other institutions, subject to approval of and sponsorship by a Purchase faculty member.
Prerequisite: 90 credits, BIO 3890, and three other advanced biology courses

Additional Courses
The following can also be used to satisfy biology course requirements:

CHE 4610/Biochemistry
CHE 4611/Biochemistry Lab*
*May be used by biology majors to fulfill an upper-level lab study
ENV 3070/Economic Botany
ENV 3120/General Ecology
ENV 3805/Conservation Biology
ENV 3820/Animal Behavior
ENV 4460/Marine Ecology
PSY 3660/Physiological Psychology

Biology Courses Available at Shoals Marine Laboratory
Purchase students may take a variety of marine-oriented courses at Shoals Marine Laboratory ( during the summer and transfer credit to their Purchase transcripts. Substitutions of Shoals courses for biology program requirements are determined on an individual basis and should be approved in advance by the academic advisor. The introductory course at Shoals is Field Marine Science, a comprehensive, monthlong introduction to the marine environment with an emphasis on field work. A variety of more specialized courses is also available; details are available on the Shoals website.

For updates during 2013–2015, please visit

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