Undergraduate Program in
Biology and Medicine


  Biology Course Descriptions

Course No.

Course Title


BIO 101

Genes, Germs, and Genomics: An Introduction to Modern Biology

An introduction to selected principles of the biological sciences, explored through current topics in biology. Areas of study include the organization of life, the scientific method, and understanding data. Biological and biomedical topics of contemporary interest to be discussed may include, but are not limited to, cancer, aging, stem cells, genetic engineering, genetic counseling, the genetic and molecular basis of human disease, precision medicine and personal genomics, and the human microbiome. Classes involve lectures and workshop-style cooperative learning, which requires students’ active participation.
This course is designed for the non-science students. It is not suitable for students interested in going to medical school or other health-related professions.

BIO 101 can be used in the following natural science clusters: “Biological Principles” (N1BIO002), "Understanding the Biological World" (N1BIO003), “Chemistry and Life Science” (N1CHM0003), and “Life on earth” (N1INT015)

Prerequisites: None

BIO 102

Natural History

Introduction to identification and observation of plants and animals in their environment, with emphasis on locally common trees, birds, and insects. As much time as possible will be spent out of doors, mostly within walking distance of campus but also on occasional longer field trips. Grades will be based on identification quizzes and a required field journal.

Prerequisites: None

BIO 103

Natural History Research

Participation in a research project on local plants or animals, for non-science majors who have taken BIO 102 and need two additional credits for a cluster.

Prerequisites: BIO 102 and permission of the instructor. Seniors may request permission to take BIO 102 and 103 concurrently.

BIO 104K

Ecosystem Conservation and Human Society

As the natural resources on which human society depends are depleted, the need for sound conservation policies increases. The course examines a new approach in conservation biology that identifies and places economic value on the services that natural ecosystems provide. Such services are basic to sustainable societies and include clean water and air, waste decomposition, pollination and farm land productivity. Major themes the course covers include an overview of other approaches in conservation biology, a review of the services that ecosystems provide, ways the value of these services are determined, and how this novel approach is influencing economic and political policy at local, national, and international levels.

Prerequisites: None

BIO 109

Darwin and Darwinism

The first half of this course will introduce non-majors to evolutionary biology, focusing on the evidence that Darwin himself marshaled. This lecture section of the course will consider pre-Darwinian theories of life, the rise of Natural Theology, the appearance of the Origin of Species, and a brief survey of modern evolutionary biology. The second half of the course will consider the wider implications of the Darwinian revolution, including religious and philosophical implications. This seminar section of the course will consider Church-science interactions before and after Darwin, the creation-evolution debate, and the place of teleology in nature, among other topics.

Prerequisites: None

BIO 110

Principles of Biology I

The first semester in a year long introductory course sequence. The course will cover a) the basics of biochemistry including the structure and function of macromolecules, cell metabolism and energy production, b) the basics of cell biology including the structure and function of biological membranes and cell cycle regulation, c) the basics of molecular biology including the flow of information within a cell from DNA to RNA to protein, and finally d) animal physiology including nerve impulses, kidney function, muscle contraction, and hormone action. Emphasis will be placed on many of the fundamental experimental approaches used in biology as well as on quantitative learning and data analysis. BIO 110 is designed for Biology majors and all pre-medical school tracts. It will prepare students for upper level biology courses.

Prerequisites: Completion or concurrent enrollment in CHM 131 or equivalent.

BIO 111

Principles of Biology II

The second semester of the introductory sequence designed for majors in biology. Topics include: Evolution (natural and sexual selection, population genetics, speciation, origin of life), Biodiversity, Physiology, Ecology (communities, ecosystems, biomes) and Conservation biology.
Concurrent enrollment is BIO 111P is not required, but is strongly recommended for current or prospective Biology majors and is required for Biology majors. The laboratory course is also recommended for those intending to apply to medical school.

Prerequisites: None

BIO 111P

Introductory Biology Laboratory

This is the lab course which accompanies the lecture course Principles of Biology II and Perspectives in Biology II. The content of the course is drawn from the lecture material. Topics include plant and animal diversity, biology of protista, animal behavior, bioinformatics, and physiology. Emphasis is placed on problem solving, critical thinking and experimental design.
While this course is designed to accompany BIO 111 and 113, students taking these classes ARE NOT REQUIRED to register concurrently for BIO 111P. BIO 111P is strongly recommended for current or prospective Biology majors and is required for Biology majors. This lab courses is recommended for those intending to apply to medical school.

Prerequisites: Past or concurrent enrollment in BIO 111 or 113

BIO 112

Perspectives in Biology I

The first semester in a year long introductory course sequence: Topics include biochemistry, molecular and cellular evolution, cell reproduction, fundamentals of genetics and molecular biology. This course differs from BIO 110 in that material will be covered in greater depth and there will be greater emphasis on experimental approaches, data analysis and quantitative methods and will include additional readings of original research papers. Open only to freshman prospective majors or by permission of instructor. Both BIO 110 and BIO 112 are designed for majors and prepare students for upper level biology courses. BIO 112 is designed for first year students with a strong biology background (see prerequisites).

Prerequisites: Students with a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Biology test, or an IB score of 7. Completion or concurrent enrollment in CHM 131 or equivalent.

BIO 113

Perspectives in Biology II

Second semester of a two-course introductory sequence for students with a strong background and interest in science. Topics include: evolution, organismal diversity, ecology, and functional biology. This course differs from BIO 111 in that there will be greater emphasis on experimental approaches, data analysis, quantitative methods, and will include reading original papers. Note both BIO 111 and BIO 113 are designed to prepare students who intend to major in biology. Open only to freshman prospective majors or by permission of instructor.
Concurrent enrollment is BIO 111P is not required, but is strongly recommended for current or prospective Biology majors as it is required for Biology majors. The laboratory course is also recommended for those intending to apply to medical school.

Prerequisites: BIO 112 or AP Biology score of 4 or 5 or IB score of 7.

BIO 151

Introduction to Biochemistry - Lab

The course is designed to introduce sophomore biology majors to experimental approaches in biochemistry, including enzyme assays, protein analysis, and the use of antibodies. Students will also develop light microscopic skills, e.g. , using fluorescent dyes in organelle isolation. The laboratory emphasizes experimental design and data analysis and complements BIO 250, Biochemistry. This course can be used to satisfy a 1/2 laboratory requirement in the BA and other UPBM tracks.

Prerequisites: One year of introductory biology and chemistry ( e.g., BIO 110 & 111, CHM 131 & 132). Genetics ( e.g., BIO 198 or BIO 190) recommended.

BIO 190

Genetics and the Human Genome

The course will cover the basics of Mendelian and molecular genetics with a focus on the structure, function and evolution of the human genome. Recommended for non-Biology majors, however this course will also satisfy the "Genetics" requirement for Biology majors (consult the UPBM web page: http://www.rochester.edu/College/BIO/UPBM/upbmmajmin). The optional companion lab for this course is BIO 198P. A student cannot receive credit of both BIO 190 and BIO 198.

Prerequisites: BIO 110/112 and BIO 111/113, completion or concurrent enrollment in CHM 203.

BIO 198

Principles of Genetics

Methods of genetic analysis are stressed. Topics include: Mendelian assortment; gene interaction; linkage and mapping; methods of genetic analysis in yeast, bacteria and phage; DNA replication, recombination, repair and mutation; gene expression and its regulation; transposons and retroviruses; recombinant DNA technologies; cancer as a genetic disease.

Prerequisites: BIO 110 or BIO 112 and completion of CHM131 and 132.

BIO 198P

Principles of Genetics Lab

This course is an introduction to basic genetic theory and laboratory practices. Topics include classical inheritance in eukaryotes, bacterial genetics and molecular technology techniques. Emphasis is on data analysis and experimental design.

Prerequisites: Concurrent with BIO 190/198 or after completion of BIO 190/198.

BIO 202

Molecular Biology

This course deals with the molecular mechanisms of DNA replication, DNA repair, transcription, translation, and control of gene expression. We will also discuss cell cycle regulation, programmed cell death, molecular basis of cancer, and modern molecular biology techniques. Emphasis will be given to mammalian systems and molecular mechanisms of human diseases.

Prerequisites: BIO 198 or BIO 190 and BIO 250.

BIO 204

Mammalian Physiology

This course focuses on normal function in a variety of systems with a special emphasis on humans. Topics include homeostatic regulation, various tissue and organ systems (endocrine, nervous, muscular, cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, digestive, and metabolic), and integration of function of those systems to allow complex function. Students must register for either a recitation or lab (BIO204P) but NOT both. This course uses the same textbook as BIO217 (Mammalian Anatomy).

Prerequisites: BIO 110 or 112 and BIO 111 or 113, or permission of instructor.

BIO 204P

Mammalian Physiology Lab

The goal of this course is to reinforce topics introduced in BIO204 via laboratory exercises. Laboratory exercises will primarily involve the use of a system (LabTutor) that allows students to measure a number of relevant human physiological variables. Registration for BIO204 during the same semester is required.

Prerequisites: Concurrent enrollment in BIO 204 required. Students taking BIO 204P should NOT register for a BIO 204 recitation.

BIO 205


Broad survey of evolutionary biology. History of evolutionary thought; mathematical theory of population and quantitive genetics; phylogenetics and molecular evolution; origin and history of life; sexual selection; cooperation and conflict; speciation; human evolution. Theory- and concept-oriented; not a survey of organismal diversity.

Prerequisites: BIO 190 or BIO 198; MTH 141 or MTH 161.

BIO 206

Eukaryotic Genomes

This course will provide an overview of the origins of eukaryotic genomes and their huge variation in size, organization and the proliferation of seemingly functionless DNA. It will also discuss the remarkable complexity in the structure and regulation of eukaryotic genes and the processing of their transcripts. While predominately focused on molecular and genomics topics, the course will attempt to wed these areas to models of evolution. Thus the course will frequently return to Dobzhansky’s adage “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”. Most readings will be from the original literature. The course is intended for Juniors and Seniors. Attendance at one discussion section led by the instructor each week is required.

Prerequisites: Completion of BIO 198 or BIO 190 is required; BIO 202 or BIO 210 are recommended.

BIO 210

Molecular Cell Biology

An intermediate level course that covers fundamental cell processes at the molecular level. Topics include organelle structure and functions, membrane biogenesis, cytoskeleton, cell signaling, cell cycle growth and death.

Prerequisites: BIO 110 or 112 and BIO 111 or 113. BIO 198 or BIO 190 and BIO 250 are strongly suggested.

BIO 214


This course will familiarize students with the essential statistical concepts necessary to evaluate primary literature in the biological sciences.  Students will be introduced to the statistical program, R. Topics covered in the course will include: descriptive statistics and graphics, estimation, elementary probability theory, statistical distributions, hypothesis testing, goodness of fit tests, experimental design, correlation, analysis of variance and regression.

Prerequisites: MTH 141, MTH 161 or MTH 171.

May only be used as an allied field elective, NOT a diversification elective for BIO majors.

BIO 217

Mammalian Anatomy

This course focuses on the structures of the body with a special emphasis on humans. Topics include the integumentary, skeletal, muscular, endocrine, nervous, cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, digestive, and reproductive systems. Students must register for lab (BIO217P). This course uses the same textbook as BIO204 (Mammalian Physiology).

Prerequisites: BIO 110 or 112 and BIO 111 or 113, or permission of instructor.

BIO 220

Advanced Cell Biology

An advanced course focusing on a mechanistic understanding of cellular organization and function. This course relies heavily on the primary research literature, classic and recent, and emphasizes the design and interpretation of experiments, drawn from biochemistry, microscopy, and genetics. A professional skills component covers analyzing research papers, giving presentations, and writing research proposals.

Prerequisites: BIO 198 or BIO 190, BIO 210, BIO 250.

BIO 222

Biology of Aging

This course focuses on molecular mechanisms of aging. We will discuss popular theories of aging, model organisms used in aging research, evolution of aging, relation between aging and cancer, human progeroid syndromes, and interventions to slow aging.

Prerequisites: BIO 198 or BIO 190 required. BIO 202 recommended.

BIO 225

Laboratory in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

This course emphasizes the development of testable questions and implementation of appropriate observations and experiments on a series of topics in ecology and evolution. Many of the mini-studies will be done in the field on non-model organisms native to New York. Students will gain experience on field and lab methods used in ecology and evolutionary biology (including relevant computer applications), critiquing published scientific studies, writing scientific reports, and presentation of scientific results. Open to BEB majors only.

Prerequisites: Completion of BIO 263. BIO 205 and BIO 214 strongly recommended. Concurrent enrollment in BIO 225W required.

BIO 226

Developmental Biology

This course deals with the cellular and molecular aspects of animal development, with emphasis on processes and underlying mechanisms. Topics include embryonic cleavage, gastrulation, early development of model vertebrates and invertebrates, patterning of cell fates along embryonic axes of Drosophila and vertebrates, organogenesis and stem cells.

Prerequisites: BIO 198 or BIO 190 or permission of the instructor.

BIO 243

Eukaryotic Gene Regulation

his advanced course examines mechanisms of chromatin-mediated regulation of gene expression, relating molecular structures, dynamic interactions, nuclear processes, 3-D nuclear organization to biological functions. Topics include DNA structures, packaging and higher order chromatin organization in the nucleus, the transcription machinery, eukaryotic chromosome structure and its modifications, epigenetics and functional genomics, dynamics of nuclear processes, nuclear reprogramming, development and applications of genome manipulation technology.
Lectures and readings draw heavily on primary literature both classic and most recent.

Prerequisites: BIO 198, Genetics, BIO 250/250H, Biochemistry; good knowledge of Molecular Biology. Cell Biology and/or Developmental Biology recommended.

BIO 247

Environmental Animal Physiology

This course is designed for sophomore biology majors who want to deepen their understanding of animal function by examining how animals cope with environmental challenges. This includes cellular and physiological adaptations to extremes of temperature, salinity, and altitude. This course can be used to satisfy an upper level elective/diversity requirement in all UPBM tracks and as a "group" A requirement in the BA track.

Prerequisites: One year of introductory biology and chemistry (e.g., BIO 110 & BIO 111, CHM 131 & CHM 132). Genetics (e.g. BIO 198) recommended.

BIO 250

Introduction to Biochemistry

Biochemistry 250 will cover fundamental aspects of biochemistry, including bimolecular structure and catalysis, bioenergetics, protein folding, kinetic analysis of enzyme action and general intermediary metabolism. The text will be the 6th edition of Lehninger's "Principles of Biochemistry" by Nelson and Cox.

Prerequisites: BIO 110 or BIO 112 and CHM 203

Biological Science Majors: Prior or Concurrent enrollment in BIO 190/198 and CHM 204 are strongly recommended.

Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Medical Students: BIO 190/198 are not required.

BIO 252

Principles of Biochemistry

Basic chemistry and structure of biological macromolecules. Topics include protein structure, enzyme catalysis, intermediary metabolism and bioenergetics, cellular architecture and information pathways. Biochemical basis of select human diseases will also be discussed.

Prerequisites: BIO 190/198, CHM 204, permission of Instructor

BIO 253

Computational Biology

An introduction to the history, theory, and practice of using computers to conduct biological research. Topics include the fundamentals of Linux-based computing and perl programming, accessing and storing biological data, alignment of molecular sequences, and computer-based analysis of data.

Prerequisites: BIO 111 or BIO 113 and BIO 198 or BIO 190.

BIO 258

Human Anatomy
(cross-listed as BME 258)

Human Anatomy is the detailed study of the human organism at the cellular, tissue and organ systems levels. The relationship between structure and function is covered with emphasis on structural relationships. The course includes both lectures and laboratory sessions, an provides a basis for further professional and clinical experience.

Students should not take both BME/BIO 258 and BIO 203.

Prerequisites: BIO 110 or equivalent.

BIO 260

Animal Behavior

Examines animal behavior from an ecological and evolutionary perspective. Topics include social organization, mating systems, foraging, aggression, and animal learning. Students also learn quantitative techniques in behavioral biology.

Prerequisites: BIO 111 or 113.

BIO 261W

Genetic Research A

This 4-credit course is geared towards providing hands on experience in conducting genetic research, with a focus on the genetics of complex traits such as behavior and development. Genetics of complex traits is an exciting and rapidly growing field. You will gain experience in conducting research in a laboratory environment using the insect Nasonia vitripennis and its sibling species (see link information below). Alternate projects involve using bioinformatic methods to investigate insect genome evolution & function, and basic molecular methods to confirm predictions. The skills you will develop include experimental design, genetic crossing, data analysis, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), animal husbandry, research record keeping, basic bioinformatic and genomic methods, and research presentation. You have the option of continuing with your project in BIO 262W or BIO 395. For further information please contact Dr. Jack Werren werr@mail.rochester.edu.  If interested, you will fill out a questionnaire to apply for enrollment in the course.

Prerequisites: None.

BIO 263


This course examines ecology at the levels of individuals, populations, communities, ecosystems, and biomes. Topics include physiological and behavioral ecology, dynamics of natural populations, interactions between species, and the impact of global change on ecological patterns and processes. This course is intended for juniors and seniors.

Prerequisites: BIO 111 or 113 and MTH 142 or MTH 161.

BIO 265

Molecular Evolution

This course explores evolution at the molecular level. We will use basic evolutionary principles to infer history from DNA sequences; to determine what forces have shaped the evolution of genes and genomes; to understand the relationship between molecular evolution and phenotypic evolution; and to address applied problems, like assigning biological function to genome sequences, finding the sources of epidemics, and finding the genes involved in human disease.

Prerequisites: BIO 111 or 113 and BIO 198 or BIO 190.

BIO 268

Laboratory in Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology

This course is designed to provide (1) introduction to model organisms (2) training in specific methods used in molecular, cell and developmental biology research, with emphasis on data acquisition and analysis (3) experience in the design and execution of experiments, reading and writing scientific reports, and public scientific presentation.

Prerequisites: Completion of biology and chemistry core requirements, as well as BIO 198 or BIO 190 and BIO 250 required.

BIO 270W

Writing in Ecology and Evolution

Students will research, write, and extensively revise a literature-based review paper on a topic in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Suggested topics will be provided. Weekly workshops will give guidance on reading and understanding papers in the primary literature, and writing and revising the paper.

Prerequisites: Intended primarily for junior and senior BEB majors; open to other Biology majors with permission of instructor. At a minimum, students must have completed at least one upper-level BEB track lecture course, and be concurrently enrolled in at least one more.

BIO 275W

Writing Biological Reviews

This course is extensively supported by Dr. Katherine Schaefer of the College Writing Program. In this class, students will be guided through the process of writing a 10-15 page Biology review article for a science audience. The writing process will be divided into several steps, including pre-planning, identifying the interesting scientific “story,” outlining, presenting ideas orally for multi-person feedback, writing and revision. Students will complete several pre-writing exercises and an oral presentation, and revise in response to at least two different reviewers’ comments.

This course satisfies one of your two required upper-level writing experiences. There are 5 required meetings during the semester for this class, with the option for individualized help and small group work at other times. There will be significant out-of-class time commitment required for writing, revision, self-assessment, and peer-review.

Prerequisites: Completion of the Primary Writing Requirement