Department of Biological Sciences


Distinguished Teaching Professors
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 
Gary S. Kleppel, Ph.D.
  Fordham University
 Gregory Lnenicka, Ph.D.
  University of Virginia, Charlottesville
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
Ben G. Szaro, Ph.D.
  John Hopkins University 
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. (Department Chair)
  University of Pennsylvania

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

Assistant Professors
 Haijun Chen, Ph.D.
  Max-Planck Jena, Germany
Mary Katherine Gonder, Ph.D.
  City University of New York
 Melinda Larsen, Ph.D.
  Baylor College of Medicine
 Min-Ho Lee, Ph.D.
  University of Illinois at Chicago
 Pan Li, Ph.D.
  University at Buffalo, SUNY
 Kurt McKean, Ph.D.
  University of California, Riverside
 Hua Shi, Ph.D.
  Cornell University

Affiliated Faculty
 Jeffrey L. Travis, Ph.D.
  Dartmouth College

Adjuncts (estimated): 45
Teaching Assistants (estimated): 24

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 Department of Biological Sciences strongly supports a student’s desire to enhance her/his educational experience by pursuing additional majors and minors. However, once a student has declared her/his major in one of the majors offered by the department (B.A. and B.S. in Biology, B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, or B.S. in Human Biology), the student may not pursue a second major in another program within the department. Should there be an extenuating circumstance requiring an exception to this policy, the student MUST take at least 24 additional credits for the second major.

Degree requirements for the B.S. in Human Biology are listed in the Human Biology Program section of this bulletin.

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.

Advanced Placement Examinations
Students who have received scores of 5 on Advanced Placement exams in biology shall be allowed credit for A BIO 120 & 122 and for A BIO 121 & 123, required of all majors. Students who have received scores of 3 or 4 on Advanced Placement exams in biology shall be allowed credit in either the natural science general education category or in the general elective category. No credit will apply towards the major or minor in biology or the interdisciplinary major in biochemistry and molecular biology.

Degree Requirements for the Major in Biology

General Program B. A.: Major sequence consisting of a minimum of 36 credits.
Required courses:
A BIO 120 & 122, 121 & 123Z, 212Y.
A CHM 120 or 130, 121 or 131, 124, 125.
16 additional credits of biology major electives including two courses which are partially or exclusively laboratory courses:

  • A BIO 399/399Z and 499/499Z 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 120 & 122 and A BIO 121 & 123Z     8 credits
 A BIO 212Y    4 credits
 Chemistry  8 credits
 Subtotal  20 credits
 Additional credits in biology  16 credits
 Total  36 credits
 Plus nonscience/math minor  18-24 credits







General Program B.S.: Combined major and minor sequence consisting of a minimum of 66 credits.
Required courses:
A BIO 120 & 122, 121 & 123Z, 212Y, 365, 402.
A PHY 105 or 140, 106 or 145, 108 or 150, 109 or 155.
6 credits in mathematics exclusive of A MAT 100, 101, 102, 103, 105, 110.
A CHM 120 or 130, 121 or 131, 124, 125, 220, 221, 222, 223.

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

  • Molecular-Cell Biology: A BIO 217, 302Z, 314, 315, 329, 335, 336Z, 366, 367, 425, 426, 441.
  • Development-Function: A BIO 303, 305, 317, 341, 342, 406, 410, 411Z.
  • Ecology-Behavior-Diversity: A BIO 218, 308, 316, 320, 321, 325, 326, 327, 343, 432, 433, 442, 443, 455, 456.

Credits in A BIO 399/399Z and 499/499Z 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 and 499/499Z 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 6 credits at the 300 level and at least 3 credits at the 400 level or above. Graduate courses are open to qualified seniors with appropriate departmental and instructor consent.

Bachelor of Science in Biology Requirements:

 A BIO 120 & 122, A BIO 121 & 123Z   8 credits
 A BIO 212Y    4 credits
 A BIO 365  3 credits
 A BIO 402  3 credits
 Biology major electives  18 credits
 A BIO ___ (Molecular Cell)

 A BIO ___ (Function-Development)  
 A BIO ___ (Ecology-Behavior-Diversity   
 Chemistry  16 credits
 Mathematics  6 credits
 Physics  8 credits
 Total  66 credits









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

The Biochemistry and Molecular Biology program (BCAMB) 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.

Admission: Students 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 120 & 122, 121& 123Z, 212Y, 365, 366, 367, 425, 426.
A CHM 120 or 130, 121 or 131, 124, 125, 220, 221, 222, 223, 350 or 444, 351 or 445.
A PHY 140 or 141, 150 or 151.
A MAT 111 or 112 or 118, 113 or 119. 
An additional laboratory course in Biology or Chemistry at or above the 300 level. Credits in A BIO 399/399Z and 499/499Z or A CHM 425 and 426 may be used to fulfill this laboratory requirement if the student completes at least 4 credits over 2 semesters.

Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Requirements:

 A BIO 120 & 122, A BIO 121 & 123Z   8 credits
 A BIO 212Y    4 credits
 A BIO 425, 426  5 credits
 A BIO 365, 366, 367  8 credits
 A CHM 120 or 130, 121 or 131, 124, 125  8 credits
 A CHM 220, 221, 222, 223  8 credits
 A CHM 444 or 350, 445 or 351  6 credits
 A PHY 140 or 141, 150 or 151  6 credits
 A MAT 111 or 112 or 118, 113 or 119  8 credits
 Additional laboratory and elective credits  4 credits
 Total  65 credits











Honors Program

The honors program is designed for outstanding students in programs leading to the B.S. degree in either Biology or the interdisciplinary major in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. 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 120 & 122 and A BIO 121 & 123Z; (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.

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.

An application, which must include the consent from a faculty member to serve as the research advisor, should be made at the completion of the junior year. A minimum grade point average of 3.2 is required as well as three letters of recommendation from faculty. Students accepted into this program must complete at least 3 semesters of ABIO 399/399Z and 499/499Z.

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. The standard graduate application should be submitted to the Office for Graduate Admissions. For further information, please contact the Department Main Office.

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 (O.D.) 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 O.D. 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 3.30 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 City, 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 24 credits of biology and 6 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 120 & 122, 121 & 123Y, 212Y, 16 credits of biology electives* (of which 12 credits must be at 300 or 400 level).
A CHM 120 or 130, 122, 121 or 131, 122, 216, 217, 216, 217.
A MAT 112, 108.
A PHY 105, 106, 108, 109.
A PSY 101.
In addition to the General Education Program requirements, students are required to enroll in 10 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.