Biology Courses Overview
The biology courses listed below are designed to serve the needs of students who are planning careers in biology, medicine, or other sciences, as well as students who would like to learn about the life sciences as part of a liberal arts education.
For non-majors, we offer several courses that introduce areas of biology that are currently under active investigation, or that interface with other academic disciplines and social issues. These courses include Biology of Infectious Disease, Biology of Noninfectious Disease, Sex and Gender, and Field Study in Natural History. New courses are frequently added and are listed in the course catalog or course schedule. Non-majors with appropriate background are welcome to take any biology course.
Here are the Biology courses offered at Bard:
Biology 201, Eukaryotic Genetics
This course is an introduction to the mechanisms of inheritance and the generation of diversity in eukaryotic organisms. This course takes a modern approach to the study of genetics in which classical ideas about genotype, phenotype and inheritance are integrated into the modern molecular and genomic understanding of the processes involved in the generation of diversity. In addition to discussions of the molecular mechanisms involved in DNA replication, recombination, the generation and repair of mutations, and the relationship between genotype and phenotype, special consideration is given to our understanding of the processes involved in generating population-level variation in complex traits and how this understanding can help us identify the myriad genetic and non-genetic factors influencing these traits. The laboratory consists of a semester long project involving the genetic manipulation of a model organism’s genome to address one or more topics in the course. Offered every fall.
Prerequisite: One year of college biology.
Biology 202, Ecology and Evolution
Students in this course will learn the fundamental principles of ecology and how they relate to the principles of evolution. The emphasis throughout the course will be on the development of mathematical models of natural phenomena, the testing of hypotheses through experiments, and reading of the primary literature. Major topics will include population growth and regulation, interactions among species, and causes and consequences of species diversity.
Prerequisite: Biology 201 or permission of the instructor.
Biology 244, Biostatistics
This course provides a background in: (1) the basic methods of data analysis for biologists, (2) the applications of mathematics to the description of biological phenomena, and (3) the generation of testable hypotheses from models of biological processes. The goal of this course is to give students a general idea of what statistical methods are commonly used in biology, which methods are appropriate for which types of data, and to provide an in-depth examination of how the methods work. Among topics covered are elementary probability and statistics, fitting and hypothesis testing, characteristics of frequency distributions, regression analysis, and some multivariate based methods. Recommended for sophomores and juniors.
Prerequisite: eligibility for Q courses.
Biology 204, Introduction to Physiology
The focus of this course is the relationship between the physical and chemical functions of various organs and organ systems to overall homeostasis, with an emphasis on human physiology. Systems examined include the central and peripheral nervous systems, muscle, the heart and blood vessels, blood, the lungs, the kidneys, the digestive system, the endocrine glands, and the reproductive systems. Laboratory work provides practical experience in relevant topics of human physiology. This course is appropriate for those interested in a career in the health professions and others interested in animal biology. Offered in alternate spring semesters. Prerequisites:
Biology 141-142 and Chemistry 141-142; Chemistry 201-202 is recommended concurrently.
Biology 206, Botany
This course consists of lectures, labs, and frequent field trips. The first part of the course surveys the plant kingdom and focuses on anatomy, histology, and physiology, with an emphasis on form, function, and adaptation. The last third of the semester covers local flora, taxonomy, and plant ecology.
Prerequisites: Biology 141-142 and Chemistry 141-142 or permission of the instructor.
Biology 206, Ecology of the Hudson River
An overview of the ecology of the Hudson River estuary, based on readings and directed discussions. Topics to be covered include the origin and morphology of the river channel; origins and fates of water, nutrients, and sediments in the estuary; characteristics of biological populations and the food web; major human impacts on the ecosystem; and comparisons with other aquatic ecosystems.
Prerequisite: college-level biology or permission of the instructor.
Biology 208, Biology Seminar
This 1-credit course will provide students with broad exposure to biology through the biology visiting speaker seminar series. Students will hear about the wide-ranging research interests of invited biologists and have opportunities to interact informally with them. The course is graded Pass/Fail and students are responsible for short follow-up assignments for at least 80% of the talks.
Biology 301, Biochemistry
An introduction to general biochemistry, including protein structure, enzyme mechanisms and kinetics, coenzymes, thermodynamics, central metabolic pathways, biological membranes, DNA structure and replication, and ribosomal translation. An emphasis is placed on integrating knowledge of fundamental organic chemistry into a biological context. Laboratory work provides practical experience in the topics covered. Offered in alternate fall semesters. Prerequisites: Biology 141 and Chemistry 201-202.
Biology 302, Molecular Biology
In this course the molecular and biochemical mechanisms controlling the dynamic cellular processes involving DNA and RNA are examined through close reading of the primary and secondary literatures. Discussions of review articles on particular topics precede in-depth discussions of one or more research articles in those areas. The literature is read with the objective of understanding the current models describing molecular processes, as well as the experimental rationale and the modern techniques used to probe fundamental molecular mechanisms and test the models. Of particular consideration are the regulatory mechanisms controlling such processes as DNA replication, transcription, translation and genome structure. The laboratory consists of a semester long project in which a cellular or developmental process is probed at the molecular level. Offered in alternate spring semesters. Prerequisites:
Biology 201-202 and Chemistry 201-202.
Biology 303, Microbiology
The biology and ecology of the prokaryotes and the viruses. Every attempt is made to organize the diversity of the prokaryotes into a modern phylogenetic context based on the latest results of molecular evolutionary analyses. The first portion of the course deals with prokaryotic cell biology and growth, the second with plant viruses, viroids, bacteriophages, animal viruses, and prions, and the third with the diversity of the prokaryotes, ranging from
the Archaea through both pathogenic and nonpathogenic Bacteria. Laboratory work provides practical experience in dealing with prokaryotes and bacteriophages. This course is appropriate for both those interested in a career in the health professions and those interested in ecology. Offered in alternate fall semesters; this course is a prerequisite for Biology 310. Prerequisites:
Biology 141-142 and Chemistry 141-142; Chemistry 201-202 is recommended concurrently.
Biology 304, Cell Biology
This course examines the molecular and biochemical mechanisms involved in processes relating to eukaryotic cellular: organization, communication, movement, reproduction and death. These topics are considered through close reading of the primary and secondary literatures. Discussions of review articles on particular topics precede in-depth discussions of one or more research articles in those areas. The literature is read with the objective of understanding the current models describing cellular processes, as well as the experimental rationale and the modern techniques used to probe fundamental cellular mechanisms and test the models. The laboratory consists of a semester long project in which a cellular process is investigated. Offered in alternate spring semesters.
Prerequisites: Biology 201-202 and Chemistry 201-202.
Biology 306, Vertebrate Zoology
Surveys the natural history, evolution, and ecology of the vertebrates native to the Hudson Valley region. Lab sessions are used for identification, taxonomy, and study techniques, with as much work as possible done in the field. Occasionally, evening or weekend classes are required. Prerequisites: Biology 141-142, Upper College status, and permission of the instructor; Biology 305 is recommended.
Biology 307, Aquatic Ecology
Freshwater ecosystems span a wide range of varied environments. This course will explore the physical and chemical processes that structure these ecosystems and examine how these influence the abundance and diversity of plants and animals. We will subsequently be able to look at how different human activities are affecting our freshwater resources. The course is lab/field work-intensive and will involve studying several lakes, wetlands, streams, and rivers in the area.
Prerequisites: Chem 142 and two Biology courses, at least one at the 200 level.
Biology 310, Prokaryotic and Viral Genetics
Considers biological inheritance in prokaryotes (bacteria) and their viruses (bacteriophages). Lectures alternate with student presentations of fundamental papers in chronological order. Topics include mutagenesis and repair, plasmids, conjugation, transformation, intemperate and temperate phages, transduction, transposition and nonhomologous recombination, homologous recombination, and the regulation of gene expression. Laboratory work provides practical experience in the topics covered. Offered in alternate spring semesters. Prerequisites:
Biology 201, Biology 303 and Chemistry 201-202.
Biology 312, Global Biogeochemical Cycles
Our planet is basically a closed system, and cycles of certain elements dictate life-determining processes. The nitrogen, phosphorus, and carbon cycles are of particular interest in understanding patterns of life on earth. At different time scales, geological, biological, and chemical processes all play important roles mediating the availability of these nutrients. We will examine how interactions between biological processes (like primary productivity) and geological processes (like rock weathering) influence nutrient availability and long-term climate. With this understanding, we will investigate how various human activities such as agriculture and energy consumption are affecting these cycles and the implications for these impacts.
Prerequisites: Chemistry 142 and two Biology courses, at least one at the 200 level.
Biology 314, Virology
This course will utilize inquiry based learning approaches to examine the molecular biology and genetics of viruses, as well as host response to and defense of viral infections. Lecture material will include coverage of viral structure and assembly, host specificity, and molecular mechanisms of viral cellular entry, mRNA production, and genome replication. Additional topics will include prion diseases and viral gene therapy techniques. A weekly discussion section and student presentations of the primary literature will be conducted to introduce students to classic virology studies in direct comparison to the most current laboratory techniques and assays. The laboratory portion of the class will be designed in a module format that will include bacteriophage isolation and enumeration, as well as tissue culture based animal viral infections. A final project will synthesize all portions of the course through the development of a unique research aim, presented in the format of a pre-doctoral grant proposal.
Prerequisites: BIO 201, Eukaryotic Genetics.
Biology 315, Advanced Evolution
Evolution is one of the primary ties that bind the discipline of biology together. "Nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution", someone observed. In this class we will examine how biologists study evolution on several levels. We will examine the various forces of evolution. We will use population and quantitative genetics to address fundamental questions in biology. We will examine patterns of evolution within and among populations, across species, and we will learn tools that let us address cross-species comparisons. Although this is not a paleontology class, we will examine evolutionary patterns through time. We will also examine what evolution can reveal about other disciplines, such as medicine, and how modern genomic and bioinformatic techniques both rely on evolutionary principles and have revolutionized how evolutionary biologists do our jobs. This class includes a laboratory and one or two field trips.
Biology 316, Tropical Ecology
Tropical ecosystems are among the most biodiverse, most threatened, and the least studied in the world. This course will examine both practical and theoretical aspects that are unique to tropical ecosystems, including the role of geology, biogeochemical cycling,evolutionary processes and species interactions. In addition, we will discuss issues related to conservation, such as habitat fragmentation and climate change. This course will include lectures, student presentations, and research projects. Students will design, conduct, synthesize, and present a field research project. There will be a trip to conduct the research projects in La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica over spring break. Additional costs will apply. Application form required. Contact the instructor for more information. Prerequisites: Moderation, Bio 202 Ecology and Evolution, Permission of the instructor.
Biology 405, Immunology
This course is an introduction to immunology. Basic concepts will be taught from a historical perspective to their present understanding. Special relevance will be given to the current unanswered questions of the field and their implications. The second part of this course is aimed at learning how to read a scientific article. For this we will discuss laboratory techniques, we will read and comment on papers in class, and groups of two students will present additional papers in the following classes. Finally we will take a look at uses of immunology concepts from alternative perspectives other than medical and basic research applications. This course is appropriate for students who have a biology background and want to gain a basic understanding of the field and its applications.
Biology 407, Diabetes Mellitus
Diabetes mellitus is one of the most complicated physiological abnormalities to afflict humans, and is also one of the most common. It has been estimated that the lifetime risk of developing diabetes for individuals born in 2000 is 33% for males and 38% for females. It is responsible for a large fraction of the morbidity and mortality of developed nations. In this seminar we will examine the development of our current scientific understanding of diabetes
by examining the medical and scientific literature in chronological order, starting with the Ebers papyrus (1536 BC) and Arataeus the Cappadocian (ad 200) through papers describing the latest developments in the field. Wherever possible, participants will be provided an opportunity to see the works in the languages in which they were originally written. The course is designed to provide a historical perspective on the development of current notions of the disease and to provide an opportunity for seniors to apply their knowledge of many subdisciplines of biology to a single problem. 2 credits, no laboratory. Prerequisites:
extensive course work in molecular biology, cellular, and organismal biology; senior status; permission of the instructor.
Biology 409, Advanced Seminar in Ecology
Is your roommate really a vegetarian? How do we know that tequila hasn’t been altered by adding alcohol from grain? Did our early ancestors grow fat on meat or milk? Is ocean productivity declining in the North Pacific? How do we know what the earth’s past climate was like? Is sewage input affecting deep ocean food webs? Stable isotopes provide a simple approach to many environmental questions that might otherwise be difficult to answer. This class will cover some of the ways that oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen stable isotopes can be used to study nutrient sources, biochemical processes, and food web interactions. The class will be based primarily on student presentation and discussion of current literature to learn about different uses of stable isotopes in science and forensics. Students will do a small isotope project that they will present at the end of the semester.
Biology 410, Advanced Seminar: Animal Behavior
The aim of this course is to examine the biology of animal behavior. Although we will look at some proximate mechanisms to behavior, the bulk of the course will focus on the genetic and evolutionary causes and consequences of animal behavior. The course relies heavily on reading and discussing the primary literature and independent projects. Students are strongly encouraged to simultaneously register for Bio Ind with P. Johns. We may take infrequent weekend field trips.
Prerequisites: Bio 201 & Bio 202; Bio 144 recommended
Biology 411, Cancer Biology
Cancer is a genetic disease that cannot be inherited, it is a disease in which one's own cells disrupt normal physiological functions, it is a disease for which some therapies result in the loss of the bodies ability to fight disease. This advanced course will look at the complex reasons for these paradoxes and more by looking at a particular cancer from several perspectives: epidemiological, physiological, genetic, molecular and cellular. A seminar style approach will be taken in which both text and the primary literature sources will be used to examine issues of cancer cause, progression, and treatment. Students will be expected to present primary literature articles and to write a research paper on a type of cancer. Prerequisites: moderated in biology and permission of instructor.
Biology 415, Advanced Seminar in Ecology
From gut flora of animals to fungi living in tree roots, symbioses are important and widespread throughout the natural world. We can broadly define symbiosis as different species living together in a close association of any nature, from mutualism to parasitism. In this weekly seminar, we will explore how symbioses are developed, maintained, and broken down, and consider the scientific challenges to understanding the function of such associations. We will read and discuss papers from the primary literature exploring a broad range of taxonomic groups, with a special emphasis on microbial symbiosis (involving fungi or bacteria).
Biology 422, Cary Institute Seminar in Ecology
The weekly seminar series hosted by the Cary Institute, Millbrook, NY, brings national leaders to speak about current topics in ecology. To enhance the opportunity for Bard graduate and undergraduate students to take advantage of these visitors, these seminars will be made available at Bard as part of this course. In advance of the talk, the instructor will assign readings so students can obtain background knowledge on the week's topic. Following the talk, the instructor will lead a discussion at Bard. When appropriate, the instructor will be accompanied by Cary Institute scientists who are specialists in the topic of the week’s discussion.
Biology 112, Biology of Infectious Disease
Both morbidity and mortality due to infectious disease declined steadily during the 20th
century in developed nations, but remain high in poorer nations. Students examine the reasons for this tenuous disparity as they study the agents of bacterial, viral, protozoan, and metazoan disease. Diseases covered include anthrax, typhoid fever, cholera, botulism, tetanus, bubonic plague, Lyme disease, leprosy, tuberculosis, influenza, smallpox, rabies, yellow fever, polio, AIDS, malaria, African sleeping sickness, and schistosomiasis, among others. Many of the readings are relatively nontechnical case histories, but the biology underlying each condition is thoroughly developed. This course is of interest to those aiming for a career in the health professions, but is also designed to provide liberal arts students with some degree of medical literacy in these health issues. The laboratory portion introduces students to bacteria and viruses that are relatively nonpathogenic for humans. Prerequisite
: experience in high school biology and chemistry.
Biology 114, Biology of Non-Infectious Disease
While both morbidity and mortality from infectious disease declined steadily during the 20th century in developed nations, they remained constant for noninfectious diseases. Students examine the reasons for this failure to deal more effectively with these conditions as they study various specific diseases. Examples include inherited diseases such as sickle-cell anemia, Huntington's disease, and cystic fibrosis; endocrine disorders such as acromegaly; nutrional disorders such as vitamin and mineral deficiencies; therapeutic drug addiction and toxicities; various poisonings such as plant intoxications and rattlesnake envenomation; cardiovascular diseases such as myocardial infarctions and cerebrovascular accidents; neurological diseases such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease; allergies; and autoimmune diseases such as myasthenia gravis, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes mellitus. Many of the readings are relatively nontechnical case histories, but the biology underlying each condition is thoroughly developed. This course is of interest to those focusing on a career in the health professions, but is also designed to provide liberal arts students with some degree of medical literacy in these health issues. The laboratory portion introduces students to human physiology as it relates to disease. Prerequisites:
experience in high school biology and chemistry.
Biology 127, Introduction to the Insects
In this course, students will use insects and other arthropods to explore biological topics. These topics will range from how bugs are put together, to how bugs reproduce and grow, to how bugs interact with their biological environment to do things like find food, catch prey, avoid predators, and compete for mates. Along the way we will also discuss how insects contribute to our understanding of broader topics, such as genetics, evolution, and disease. The course includes a laboratory and one weekend field trip.
Prerequisite: successful completion of Q exam, and experience in high school biology and chemistry.
Biology 130, Field Study in Natural History
Designed to acquaint the interested nonscience student with the plants and animals that make the Bard campus their home, including trees and shrubs in their winter condition and fall wildflowers. Animal tracks and bird migrations also are objects of study. Although the course includes some lab work on preserved specimens, especially during severe weather, most class meetings are field trips. Participants must have clothing appropriate to the weather and terrain: good walking shoes or boots, warm clothing and rain gear. Some Saturday field trips and early morning meetings may be required. Limited to 10 students.