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University at Albany Undergraduate Bulletin - 2004-2005

Department of Biological Sciences


Distinguished Teaching Professors

Stephen C. Brown, Ph.D.
University of Michigan

Helmut V. B. Hirsch, Ph.D.
Stanford University

John S. Mackiewicz, Ph.D.
Cornell University


Richard P. Cunningham, Ph.D.
Johns Hopkins University

Helen T. Ghiradella, Ph.D.
University of California, Santa Barbara

Colin S. Izzard, Ph.D.
Cambridge University (England)

Jon W. Jacklet, Ph.D.
University of Oregon

Gary S. Kleppel, Ph.D.
Fordham University

Gregory Lnenicka, Ph.D.
University of Virginia, Charlottesville

Paulette McCormick, Ph.D.
University at Albany

Albert J. T. Millis, Ph.D.
University of Pennsylvania

John T. Schmidt, Ph.D.
University of Michigan

David A. Shub, Ph.D.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Sho-Ya Wang, Ph.D.
State University of New York at Stony Brook

Daniel L. Wulff, Ph.D. (Collins Fellow)
California Institute of Technology

Richard S. Zitomer, Ph.D.
University of Pennsylvania

Associate Professors

Dmitry A. Belostotsky, Ph.D.
Ukraine Academy of Sciences

Thomas B. Caraco, Ph.D.
Syracuse University

Robert Osuna, Ph.D.
University of Michigan

George Robinson, Ph.D.
University of California, Davis

Caro-Beth Stewart, Ph.D.
University of California, Berkeley

Ben G. Szaro, Ph.D.
John Hopkins University

Assistant Professors

Ravindra Gupta, Ph.D.
University of Bombay, Ph.D.

Jamie C. Rusconi, Ph.D.
University of Kansas

Ing-Nang Wang, Ph.D.
SUNY at Stony Brook

Affiliated Faculty

Jeffrey L. Travis, Ph.D.
Dartmouth College

Suzannah Bliss Tieman, Ph.D.
Stanford University

Adjuncts (estimated): 41
Teaching Assistants (estimated): 26

The objective of the department is to provide the undergraduate student with a broad background in the biological sciences and adequate supporting strength in the physical sciences. Accordingly, most of the B.S. programs listed here are structured around a combined major/minor sequence.

The department also offers programs leading to the M.S. and the Ph.D. in which the graduate student is able to obtain an in-depth professional education in one of several more restricted areas of biological sciences.


The B.A., which specifies the major only and requires a separate minor sequence outside science and mathematics, is designed with the aims of the liberal or fine arts students in mind and as such is not intended for the professional biologist or teacher. The B.S. programs provide a strong background for further study either in graduate school or medicine and prepare the student for secondary school teaching and a variety of careers in biology at the technical level. Graduates with a B.S. degree often find technical-level positions with pharmaceutical companies or as research assistants in grant-related positions. Those who go on to graduate or professional school have a wide array of career opportunities in research, health fields, and business.

Degree Requirements for the Major in Biology

General Program B.A.:  Major sequence consisting of a minimum of 36 credits.

Required courses are: A Bio 110F or 110N, 111N, 212; A Chm 120N or 130, 121N or 131, 122A, 122B; and 16 additional credits of biology major electives including two courses which are partially or exclusively laboratory courses. A Bio 399, 399Z, 499, and 499Z may contribute up to a total of 4 credits of non-laboratory major elective credit. Courses that do not yield credit toward the major are indicated in the individual bulletin descriptions. Major electives must be selected so that a total of 12 credits at the 300 level or above is included in the major. The minor sequence will consist of a minimum of 18 credits. The student may not have a minor in: atmospheric science, biology, chemistry, computer science, electronics, geology, mathematics, physics, or statistics.

Bachelor of Arts in Biology Requirements
A Bio 110F& 111N8
A Bio 2124
Additional credits in biology   16
Plus nonscience/math minor18-24

General Program B.S.:  Combined major and minor sequence consisting of a minimum of 66 credits.

Required courses: A Bio 110F or 110N, 111N, 212, 365, 402; A Phy 105N, 106, 108N, 109; 6 credits in mathematics exclusive of A Mat 100, 101, 102N, 103, 105, 110; and A Chm 120N, 121N, 122A, 122B, 216A, 216B, 217A, 217B.

18 additional credits in biology are also required, and must include at least 3 laboratory courses. At least one course must be selected from each of the following areas:

  • Molecular-Cell Biology: A Bio 214, 217, 312, 314, 366, 412
  • Development-Function: A Bio 303, 317, 335, 341, 406, 410, 420, 422, 441, 460
  • Ecology-Behavior-Diversity: A Bio 306, 308, 316, 319, 319Z, 320, 321, 325, 326, 409, 432, 436, 442, 443, 444, 445, 450, 455, and 468.

Credits in A Bio 399, 399Z, 499, and 499Z may be used to fulfill the requirement for 1 laboratory course if the student completes at least 4 credits over at least 2 semesters. A Bio 399, 399Z, 499, and 499Z may contribute a total of 4 credits towards the major. Courses that do not yield credit toward the major are so indicated in the individual bulletin descriptions.

Courses in the combined major/minor sequence must include at least six credits at the 300-level and at least 6 credits at the 400-level or above. Graduate courses are open to qualified seniors with appropriate departmental and instructor consent.

Bachelor of Science Requirements
A Bio 110F& 111N8
A Bio 2124
A Bio 3653
A Bio 4023
Biology major electives18
   A Bio ___ (Molecular-Cell)
   A Bio ___ (Function-Development)
   A Bio ___ (Ecology-Behavior-Diversity)

Degree Requirements for the Faculty-Initiated Interdisciplinary Major with a Concentration in Human Biology are listed in the Human Biology Program section of this bulletin.

Degree Requirements for the Faculty-Initiated Interdisciplinary Major with a Concentration in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

The Biochemistry and Molecular Biology program is a Faculty-Initiated Interdisciplinary major (Biology and Chemistry) designed for students interested in these rapidly developing fields of science. Students with training in these fields can pursue careers as researchers in academic or industrial settings or they can pursue further study in graduate or professional schools. Students must complete 40 graduation credits before application to the program, generally in the spring of the sophomore year.

AdmissionStudents must obtain the approval of the Program Director before officially declaring this Faculty-Initiated Interdisciplinary Program as a major. General Program B.S. Combined major and minor sequence consisting of a minimum of 65 credits.

Required Courses: A Bio 110F or 110N, 111N, 212, 312, 313, 365, 366, 367; A Chm 120N or 130, 121N or 131, 122A, 122B, 216A, 216B, 217A, 217B, 340A or 441A, 340B or 441B; A Phy 140N or 141, 150N or 151; A Mat 111 or 112 or 118, 113 or 119; and an additional laboratory course in Biology or Chemistry at or above the 300 level. Credits in A Bio 399, 399Z, 499, 499Z or A Chm 425, 426 maybe used to fulfill this laboratory requirement if the student completes at least 4 credits over 2 semesters.

Bachelor of Science Requirements:
A Bio 110F (or 110N) & 111N8
A Bio 2124
A Bio 312 & 3135
A Bio 365, 366 & 3678
A Chm 120N or 130, 121N or 131, 122A, & 122B8
A Chm 216A, 216B, 217A, & 217B8
A Chm 441A (or 340A) & 441B (or 340B)6
A Phy 140 (or 141) & 150 (or 151)7
A Mat 111, 112, or 118 & 113 or 1198
Additional laboratory and elective credits3

Honors Program

The honors program in biology is designed for outstanding students in the programs leading to the B.S. degree. Students may apply for admission to the honors program by submitting a letter of request to the departmental honors committee no later than April 15 of the freshman or sophomore year (for admission for the fall) or November 15 of the sophomore year (for admission in the spring). Junior transfers may apply at the time of their admission to the University. Students found acceptable by the committee must find a research adviser to supervise the independent study leading to an HONORS THESIS.

The requirements for admission include: (1) the candidate must declare the major and have completed (or have in progress at time of application) 12 credits of course work required for the biology major, including A Bio 110F or 110N, and 111N; (2) an overall grade point average of 3.50; (3) a grade point average of 3.50 in courses required for the major; and (4) a written recommendation from an adviser, professor or teaching assistant if possible. Primary emphasis will be placed on indications of academic ability and maturity sufficient for applicants to complete with distinction a program involving independent research.

Students in the program are required to complete a minimum of 65 or 66 credits as specified for the respective program for the B.S. in biology and must include: (1) at least 6 credits of independent study (A Bio 399, 499); the independent study, or honors research project, which will result in an HONORS THESIS; (2) at least 3 credits of course work at the 500 level or higher (not including A Bio 515) in the student’s area of interest; and (3) oral presentation of research at a public seminar.

Students in the program must maintain both a minimum grade point average of 3.50 overall and in biology courses taken to satisfy major requirements during the junior and senior years. The progress of participants in the honors program will be reviewed at the end of the sophomore and junior years by the student’s adviser and the departmental honors committee. Students not meeting academic and independent research standards may be precluded from continuing in the program during their senior year. These students may, of course, continue as majors.

After completion of the requirements above, the departmental honors committee will make its recommendation to the faculty to grant the degree “with honors in biology” based upon (1) overall academic record, (2) performance and accomplishments of the independent study project(s), (3) the quality of the Oral Presentation (4) the evaluations of departmental faculty members who have supervised these activities.

Combined B.S./M.S. Program

The combined B.S./M.S. program in biology provides an opportunity for students of recognized academic ability and educational maturity to fulfill integrated requirements of undergraduate and master’s degree programs from the beginning of the junior year. A carefully designed program can permit a student to earn the B.S. and M.S. degrees within nine semesters.

The combined program requires a minimum of 138 credits, of which at least 30 must be graduate credits. In qualifying for the B.S., students must meet all University and college requirements, including the requirements of the undergraduate major described previously, the minimum 60-credit liberal arts and sciences requirement, general education requirements, and residency requirements. In qualifying for the M.S., students must meet all University and college requirements as outlined in the Graduate Bulletin, including completion of a minimum of 30 graduate credits and any other conditions such as a research seminar, thesis, comprehensive examination, professional experience, and residency requirements. Up to 12 graduate credits may be applied simultaneously to both the B.S. and M.S. programs.

While satisfying B.S. and M.S. requirements, students must complete a coherent sequence of courses in one of the two core areas: ecology, evolution, and behavior (EEB); or, molecular, cellular, developmental, and neural biology (MCDN). This sequence of courses begins with a 400-level course and includes a minimum of three graduate courses up to a total of at least 9 credits. In addition, the sequence should include two semesters involving a discussion of the current literature in the field of biology selected by the student (one of the following: A Bio 650 or A Bio 633).

Students are considered as undergraduates until completion of all B.S. requirements. Upon meeting B.S. requirements, students are automatically considered as graduate students. Although the Graduate Record Examinations are not required for this program, students are encouraged to take the examinations in their senior year with the expectation that they will continue graduate studies.

Students may be admitted to the program at the beginning of the junior year or after the completion of 56 credits. Normally an application should be made at the completion of the sophomore year. Those students who are accepted into the program in their Junior year must complete at least three (3) semesters of research in the Bio 399-499 sequence. Seniors are not normally admitted into this program. However, students may be accepted if they have completed at least one semester of Bio 399 (for admittance at the beginning of first semester senior year) or one semester each of Bio 399 and 499 (for admittance at the beginning of second semester senior year). A minimum grade point average of 3.20 is required and the application should be supported by a minimum of three letters of recommendation from faculty. The application should be submitted to the department chair.

Joint Seven-Year Biology/Optometry Program

This combined program sponsored by the State College of Optometry, State University of New York, and the University at Albany, provides students an opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in biology and a Doctor of Optometry (D.O.) in seven years. Participating students will matriculate at the University at Albany for three years and begin their Optometry studies in year four of the program. Students will be awarded the B.S. degree after completion of their requirements at the end of the fourth year.

At the end of the seventh year and completion of all program requirements, students will be awarded the D.O. degree.

Students interested in making application to this program shall submit the necessary materials to the Pre-Health adviser in the University’s Advisement Services Center by the stated deadline in the middle of the spring semester of the freshman or sophomore year (transfer students are ineligible). Selection will be based on written application materials, academic progress, and a personal interview.

A minimum of a 3.2 grade point average on a scale of 4.0 in undergraduate courses completed at the time of application is required.

Students will complete three years (90 credits) of study at the University at Albany with a major in biology for a B.S. degree. Students attend SUNY-Optometry (New York, NY) for the fourth year of study (and pay SUNY-Optometry tuition), beginning the first year of the professional program. With the completion of the fourth year of study, the University at Albany will accept as transfer credits twenty-four credits of biology and six credits of physics electives, for a total of 30 credits. Students in this program should take the Optometry Admission Test (OAT) in October or February of the third year at the University at Albany.

A minimum of 90 credits must be taken at the University at Albany. Summer course work completed the first and second year or between the second and third year at the University at Albany is acceptable for this program.

The following courses are required: A Bio 110F, 111N, 212, 16 credits of biology electives* (of which twelve credits must be the 300 or 400 level); A Chm 120N or 130, 122a, 121N or 131, 122b, 216a, 217a, 216b, 217b; A Mat 112, 108; A Phy 105N, 106, 108N, 109; and A Psy 101M. In addition to the General Education Program requirements, students are required to enroll in ten credits of electives.

*The biology electives MUST be 300-400 level courses in biology that are designated as courses that count towards the biology major. The following courses will not be used as biology electives: A Bio 303, 325, 341, 342, 365, 406, 410, and 411.

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