Biology Courses

Biology Courses


Introductory Level and Core Life Sciences Courses


The first half of the general biology sequence addresses the biochemical, cellular, genetic, and evolutionary levels of biological study, providing a foundation for courses in the Molecules to Cells area of the upper-division courses in the department. Three lectures, one laboratory weekly. Fall term.
The second half of the general biology sequence addresses the diversity of life and the characteristics of the different kingdoms, as well as fundamentals of development, anatomy, physiology, and ecology of organisms. This course provides a foundation for upper-division courses in the Cells to Organisms and Organisms to Populations areas. Two lectures, one laboratory weekly. Spring term.
Biological principles and information are studied by examination of a single thematic topic such as genetics. Coursework integrates the scientific discoveries within the field with applied information and societal implications. Two lectures, one laboratory period weekly. Fall and Spring terms.
The development of new methodologies in experimental biology has proceeded at an unprecedented rate in recent years, particularly in the area of DNA technology. This has enabled biologists to advance their understanding of cellular and organismal function but has also brought many practical benefits to enterprises such as agriculture and drug development. This course introduces students to some of the more important methods of biotechnology, explains their scientific basis, and describes their current applications in industry and potential for use or misuse in the future. Because the focus of the course is on DNA technology, students will be given the necessary background instruction in cell structure and function, with emphasis on the role of DNA in the life of cells. Two lectures, one laboratory period weekly. Spring term.
This course will be an examination of human form and function through the integration of anatomy and physiology. Material covered in this course will emphasize a multi-dimensional view of the human body rooted in the biological sciences, but applicable to art, human history, and psychology. It will include applied topics such as human performance, biomechanics, nutrition, medicine, mental and physical development. Three lectures, one laboratory weekly. Fall term.
The history of infectious disease and mankind are remarkably intertwined. From diseases that date back to antiquity, such as tuberculosis, cholera, and malaria, to emerging pathogens such as West Nile and SARS, this course will explore the history of infectious disease and its impact on modern civilization. Students will explore how continuously changing technology, ecological conditions, and social practices have impacted the spread of infection. The course will examine the role of our public health institutions in disease control and prevention, including eradication and vaccination efforts. Additionally, students will study contemporary issues such as the rise in autoimmunity and antibiotic resistance.
Forensic science is based on systematic observation of the natural world for the purpose of advancing criminal investigations. While there are many sub-disciplines of forensic science (e.g.,ballistics, trace, entomology, anthropology), it is the appreciation of human biology that enables human identification.This course focuses on the fundamental aspects of human biology that are at the crux of crime scene investigation. Intentionally broad in scope, covering topics from macro observations (crime scene investigation, blood spatter, fingerprints, hair) to the most micro observations (cell types, serology and DNA testing). Through both lecture and lab, students will practice problem solving using the scientific method, collect and scientifically evaluate data, record results and draw logical conclusions based on the evidence, and communicate the results of their work. Three lectures and one laboratory meeting per week. Fall term only.
Investigations of the life and discoveries of Charles Darwin. Beginning with pre-Darwinian ideas on transmutation, Darwin's life is outlined from the voyage of the Beagle to the publication of the theory of natural selection and its subsequent reception by scientific and nonscientific community. Commentary from critics and supporters of Darwin's work aid in understanding the current status of the theory of natural selection and its influence. Prerequisites: None. Spring term, even-numbered years.
Environmental science represents the interface between ecological process, human behavior, history, and economic/political realities. This course provides students with fundamentals of the scientific principles that underlie ecological phenomena, combining scientific concepts with details on human issues related to food, air, water, land use, toxicology, population, energy, waste, and environmental education. Students analyze case studies and conduct web research of global issues, and undertake in-class debate of contemporary issues in environmental science. Three lectures, one laboratory weekly. Prerequisites: None. Fall term.
An introduction to ecological studies and their associated techniques. In the first week, students become acquainted with field techniques used for studying plants, birds, water and soils. Students also work with GIS/GPS to image and analyze ecological data. The second week is used for the development of independent student field research projects in an intensive backpacking/camping experience. Field experience may take place in Texas or may be an international field experience in Costa Rica. Prerequisite for 3416: Biology 1312. May term.


Upper-Division Courses


A one-semester biochemistry course designed for life science and pre-health majors. Concepts covered will include these: pH, biological buffers, bioenergetics, nucleotides, amino acids, polypeptide chain folding, proteins, enzymes/kinetics, carbohydrates, lipids, intermediary metabolism, characterization of major metabolic pathways, cellular respiration, and molecular biology. Prerequisite: Organic Chemistry I. Spring term.
Tropical Ecology is the study of the biotic and abiotic interactions that shape the origin, maintenance, and consequences of species diversity in tropical ecosystems. Ecopsychology argues that the deep and enduring questions – who we are, how we grow, why we suffer, how we heal – are inseparable from our relationships with the physical world, and similarly, that the overriding environmental questions – the sources of, consequences of, and solutions to environmental destruction – are deeply rooted in the psyche, our images of self and nature, and our behaviors. Lectures on tropical ecology and ecopsychology will be interspersed with discussion, and students will be asked to maintain a journal with one entry due for each week (from week 1 through week 10), reflecting on their understanding of the material assigned for that week. The aim of the course is thus for each student to come to a deeper understanding of the course themes of biodiversity, habitat and biome characteristics, human-environment interactions, and ecological concepts such as species interactions through reading and reflection of authors such as Jane Goodall, Wade Davis, Ralph Metzner, Jacob von Uexküll, and Christopher Uhl. Formative assessments by means of quizzes and exams allow for students to evaluate their knowledge of biological material paired with the journals serving as a weekly ritual in which students demonstrate their own way of incorporating course themes and readings into their daily lives. In this way, the two disciplinary portions of the course are designed to become mutually implicative and complementary in the students’ experience. This is in keeping with the Cowan’s original vision of the Core as interdisciplinary and mutually beneficial among the disciplines offered at UD. This course can satisfy the core life science requirement. Prerequisites: BIO 1311 and BIO 1312 OR BIO 2360 Corequisite: BIO 3117. Offered Spring term, odd years.
A study of the origins, evolution, anatomy, and function of land plants. Cell formation by apical and lateral meristems, cell differentiation, and the anatomy of monocot and dicot stems, roots, and leaves are described. Aspects of higher plant physiology such as photosynthesis, water relations, solute uptake, nitrogen metabolism, reproduction, and responses to environmental stimuli are also discussed. Three lectures and one laboratory period weekly. Prerequisites: Biology 1312, 1112. Fall term.
Human structure is studied with a strong emphasis on the integration of form and function. Origins and major systems of the vertebrates are studied through phylogenetic analysis and laboratory investigations of the cat. The relationship between anatomy and physiology, and the application of anatomical investigations to the medical field are also discussed. Three lectures, one laboratory weekly. Prerequisite: Biology 1312, 1112. Fall term.
The human immune system consists of a vast array of interacting cells and molecules, dispersed throughout the body, that are designed to recognize and repel anything foreign while avoiding harm to self. This course introduces the genetic, molecular, and cellular basis of vertebrate immunity. Clinical aspects of immunology including diagnostics, immune deficiencies, and autoimmune disorders also will be discussed. The goal is to present a broad overview of immune function that allows students to comprehend the rapid advances being made in this field. Three lectures weekly. Prerequisite: Biology 1312, 1112. Spring term.
A study of classical genetics as well as of the molecular biology of the genetic material. Three lectures, one laboratory weekly. Prerequisite: Biology 1312, 1112. Spring term.
Physiological ecology, behavior, population dynamics, community interactions, and ecosystem function are studied using the framework of natural selection and adaptation. Ecological models based on fundamental mathematical principles and experimental evidence from the primary literature complement student laboratory investigations of ecological principles. Three lectures, one laboratory weekly. Prerequisite: Biology 1312, 1112. Spring term, even-numbered years.
The majority of life on Earth, at least in terms of sheer numbers, consists of organisms too small to be seen individually with the unaided eye. All of the currently recognized domains of life are represented in the microbial world, along with the non-living viruses, viroids, and prions. This course introduces students to the structure, classification, physiology, and genetics of microorganisms, as well as their distribution in nature and interactions with humans, plants, and animals. The laboratory presents fundamental techniques for observing, handling, and cultivating microbial cells as well as methods for controlling their growth and identifying unknown microorganisms. Two lectures, one laboratory weekly. Prerequisite: Biology 1312, 1112. Fall term.
Complex living organisms begin their existence as single cells, which must somehow give rise to diverse cell populations that are organized into characteristic forms and function coordinately. Developmental biology is the study of processes involved in creating a new organism and then modifying its structure in an orderly fashion as it progresses from an embryo to an adult. The goal of this course is to introduce students to fundamental anatomical, cellular, and molecular aspects of development, and to some of the rapid and exciting advances being made in this field. While we focus primarily on the animal kingdom, comparisons to other organisms are included to provide insight into the surprising conservation of genes, structures, and mechanisms that exists among living things. Three lectures weekly. Prerequisite: Biology 1312, 1112. Fall term.
Study of the anatomy, physiology, development, behavior, ecology and evolution of bird species, with particular emphasis on North American bird groups and native Texas birds. Lab exercises focus on taxonomy, identification, dissection, field trips, study skins, and behavioral observations. Course also includes discussion of birds through history and their influence on the arts and human society. Three lectures, one laboratory weekly. Prerequisites: None. Spring term.
Analysis of the physical and chemical phenomena governing the functions of cells, tissues, organs and organ systems. Provide students with an understanding of the function & regulation of the human body and physiological integration of the organ systems to maintain homeostasis. Course content will include neural, musculoskeletal, circulatory, respiratory, digestive, urinary, immune, reproductive, and endocrine organ systems. Three lectures, one laboratory weekly. Prerequisite: Biology 1312, 1112; Chem. 1303 and 1304. Fall term.
Focuses on the etiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis, and immunobiology of the major microbial diseases. Provide a systems approach to various infectious processes and includes an overview of antimicrobial therapy, vaccines, sterilization, and public health. Diseases covered will range from relatively trivial localized infections such as acne to life-threatening systemic infections such as anthrax. 
A sequential year course focusing on the study of living systems at the molecular and cellular level. An understanding of life's recurring strategies including: 1) how chemical structures of macromolecules (proteins and carbohydrates) relate to their biological function, 2) how enzyme mechanisms and energy flow catalyze reactions, 3) how interrelated metabolic pathways are regulated, and 4) how biological systems store, transfer, and regulate energy and information. Students acquire experience in reading and presenting the primary scientific literature. Three lectures weekly. Prerequisite: Chemistry 3322 or permission of the instructor. Biology 3135-3136 should be taken concurrently. Fall and Spring terms.
The laboratory is designed to introduce several major techniques common to biochemical investigations. Techniques include protein purification through chromatographic separations, protein characterization through spectroscopic and electrophoretic methods, immunoassay methods, enzyme kinetics, and recombinant DNA techniques. One four-hour laboratory period weekly. Prerequisite: Chemistry 3322 and concurrent enrollment in Biology 3335-3336. Fall and Spring terms.
A systems approach to exercise science and covers the structure and function of muscle including neuronal control, metabolism and energy expenditure, effects of exercise on the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, principles of exercise training, environmental influences on performance, performance optimization, nutrition, age and sex considerations in sport and exercise, diagnostic/ characterization techniques, obesity, and disease. Problem-based learning, peer teaching, critical thinking skills are emphasized. A research project utilizing techniques learned in this course will be required. Prerequisite: BIO 3331. Spring term.
Facilitates understanding of basic and advanced concepts of nutrition. Students will gain knowledge of the different nutrients, their functions,and their sources, with emphasis on the relationship of nutrition and health. At the end of the course students will be able to identify the six different nutrients, explain how the body processes foods, identify macro and micro nutrients, their functions, sources, deficiencies and toxicities, understand basic guidelines for optimal nutrition, the relationship of nutrition to health, and assess and evaluate their own eating practices. Skills such as critical thinking, communication, empirical and quantitative reasoning, and social responsibility are stressed. Prerequisite: BIO 1311. Spring term.
A laboratory-based course that complements Biochemistry, Cell Biology, and Molecular Biology. The techniques covered include spectrophotometry, centrifugation, using radioactive tracers, SDS gel electrophoresis, Western blotting and chromatography. This course is particularly useful for those intending to do summer research or work as research technicians. Prerequisites: None. Fall and Spring terms.
Stages of a biological research investigation, beginning with experimental design and data collection followed by descriptive statistics and other common statistical tests (one-and two-sample testing, analysis of variance, correlation, regression, and chi-square, nonparametric tests). Course work includes statistical analysis using the computer and a final course project presenting results of analysis of biological data. Three lectures weekly. Prerequisite: Biology 1312/1112. Spring term.
Study of the adaptive significance of behavior includes analysis of behavioral mechanisms (genetics, neurobiology) and development (instinct, learning), and focuses on categories of behavior such as foraging, mating, sociality, territoriality, and parental care. A wide range of behavioral examples, from microorganisms to humans, are used. Three lectures, one laboratory period weekly. Prerequisite: Biology 1312/1112. Fall term.
Study of micro and macroevolutionary processes that result in adaptive phenotypic change within and across populations. Darwin's ideas on natural selection are discussed and followed by presentation of evidence for evolution, analysis of the effects of other evolutionary forces, phylogenetic analysis, population genetics, and speciation. Three lectures weekly. Prerequisites: Biology 1312, 1112. Spring term, odd-numbered years.
Covers important topics in the health care environment, including regulatory structures used in the healthcare industry, economics of healthcare, health law and policy, HIPAA regulations, ethics in health information and delivery of health care, comparative approaches to health care in different countries, and emerging topics important to research and innovation in health care. The course will emphasize the use of case studies that apply concepts used in the course to potential real-world situations in the healthcare field. Through the course students will be required to conduct independent research to identify and use information concerning the health care and will be required to give at least one oral presentation that provides an analysis of a major issue in health care. Spring term.
Selected topics of current interest. Fall and Spring terms.
Field investigations of ecological relationships. Projects currently include restoration of endangered bird species, wetland studies, and examination of native mycoheterotrophic orchids. Three hours field work required per credit. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. Fall, Spring, Summer terms.
This course is designed to integrate the various bio-psychology concentration requirements in such a way as to illuminate the interface of behavior and physiology in humans. During the semester we explore topics such as brain anatomy/physiology, executive control and behavior, placebo/mind body, brain/music processing, pain perceptions, artificial intelligence, neuro imaging, dreams, memory, brain waves, language, cognition, the limbic system, empathy, and addiction.
Investigations of the study of mutations, comparisons of random and 'directed' mutations, chromosomal rearrangements, and the molecular basis of selected human diseases. Course includes student presentation of articles from the primary literature and discussion. One meeting weekly. Prerequisite: Biology 3325. Fall term.
The structure and activity of any living organism are ultimately dependent on information stored in its DNA genome. This information must be read correctly in a time and space-dependent manner to produce the nucleic acids, proteins, and other molecules that allow cells to function. The goal of this course is to provide students with an understanding of what genes are at the molecular level, and an overview of the mechanisms involved in transmitting, maintaining, and expressing the vast reservoir of information they contain. The laboratory introduces techniques for preparing and manipulating DNA, isolating and cloning genes, and expressing foreign proteins in bacterial cells. Prerequisite: Biology 1312, 1112. Spring term.
The structures of the cell membrane, cytoskeleton, endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi, lysosomes, proteasomes, nucleus, mitochondria, peroxisomes, and chloroplasts are described at the macro- and the molecular level. The roles of the cell membrane, cytoskeleton, and organelles in solute transport, signaling, constitutive and regulated secretion, cell movement, cell division, respiration, and photosynthesis are illustrated. The use of microscopy, centrifugation, and molecular biology in the study of cell biology is also discussed. Three lectures weekly. Prerequisites: Biology 1312, 1112. Spring term.
The techniques of searching for and acquiring information from the scientific literature, and the analysis and interpretation of it. Students present oral critiques of research papers and prepare for the comprehensive examination topics. Prerequisite: Senior standing. Fall term.
Research in some phase of biology. Fall, Spring, Summer terms.
 In-depth scientific literature-based study of specific problems in ecology, to include field botany, parasitology, ecological genetics or other advanced ecological questions.
In-depth scientific literature-based study of specific problems in microbiology, to include virology, microbial-caused diseases or other advanced microbiological questions.
In-depth scientific literature-based study of specific problems in physiology, to include exercise physiology, pathophysiology, neurophysiology or other advanced physiological questions.
In-depth scientific literature-based study of specific laboratory techniques, with emphasis on techniques involving DNA and RNA manipulation in the laboratory.