Biology

Overview | Requirements | Courses | Faculty

Overview

Biology is a rapidly expanding, multifaceted discipline, full of possibilities for undergraduate research and for stimulating graduate study and employment after Occidental. Within an evolutionary framework, our program investigates the interactions between molecules, cells, organisms, populations, and ecosystems that constitute life on earth. Interdisciplinary and integrative by nature, the biology program at Occidental engages both majors and non-majors in a curriculum that emphasizes laboratory and field investigations. Our students are encouraged to collaborate with faculty mentors, whose research employs current methods in addressing questions from the molecular to the global in scale. Students acquire skills from careful observation through hypothesis formulation and experimental design to formal oral and written presentations of results. After participating in the biology program at Occidental, students are prepared for rewarding work and life­long learning, armed with the tools necessary to understand large complex data sets and help explain the intricacies of living systems. This rigorous program provides our students with the training to enter the work force after graduation and/or transition to an advanced degree program.  After completing the major, many students elect to take graduate training toward the Ph.D. in biological sciences or doctorates of medicine, veterinary medicine, pharmacy or dentistry. Many of our students complete Masters programs in Biological Sciences, teaching, environmental health and safety, and resource management.  Receiving a degree in Biology at Occidental College enables our students to excel in any post-baccalaureate professional pursuit. 

The Department of Biology is housed within the Bioscience building which is contiguous with the Moore Laboratory of Zoology. Facilities include the bird and mammal collections (70,000 specimens) of Moore Laboratory, greenhouses, facilities for microscopy (scanning and transmission electron and fluorescence), a tissue culture suite and fluorescence-activated cell sorter, fully-equipped molecular biology laboratories, field vehicles, and three research vessels for nearshore marine studies and SCUBA diving. Because of its proximity to the Mojave Desert, the Santa Monica, San Gabriel, and San Bernardino Mountains, and seacoast, Occidental College is ideally suited for field and laboratory studies of environmental biology.

Requirements

MAJOR: The major consists of nine Biology courses (36 units) plus Senior Comprehensive Seminar (Biology 490, 4 units), and five supporting courses (20 units). Required Biology classes are Bio 105, 106, 110 or Bio 115, Bio 130, Bio 490, and seven additional 200- and 300- level Biology classes that satisfy the breadth and depth requirements defined below.

Two semesters of introductory biology are required. In these courses, students are exposed to basic biological principles and the diversity of life.

The introductory courses may be taken in any order, but at least one should be taken during the first year. One course must be in organismal biology, stressing diversity and the relationship between structure and function (Bio 105, 106, 110 or 115). The second course must be in cellular and molecular biology (Bio 130) and provide a broad introduction to the biochemistry, physiology, and molecular biology of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. 100-level Biology courses are not open to senior Biology majors.

To meet the requirement for breadth within Biology, majors will take four classes, one from each of four biology subject areas: Cellular and Molecular Biology (Bio 221, 222, 224 or 226), Environmental Biology (Bio 106, 260, 270 or 275), Evolutionary Biology (280), and Organismal Biology (Bio 240, 250 or 275) 200 level requirements. In 300-level courses, students engage deeply with a particular specialized subject. Three 300-level courses (at least two of which must be Biology laboratory courses) are required. We accept Kinesiology 301 for this 300 level requirement.

One seminar course (Biology 490) is required to fulfill senior comprehensive requirements.

Five supporting classes are required for the major: Two semesters of chemistry (Chemistry 120 or 130, and 220); Calculus I or Calculus II and one other course with a strong quantitative component (this requirement can be filled by Calculus II, Math 150; Math 186, Bio 260 or Bio 368; Physics 110, 115, 120 or 125; or Psychology 201); and one other 4 unit course with a lab from Biology, Chemistry, Cognitive Science, Geology, Kinesiology, Mathematics, Physics and Psychology at the 200 or 300 level.

Biology majors must complete these courses within the Biology Department at Occidental:  at least two of the four 200-level courses and at least two 300-level electives. A course used to fulfill one requirement cannot fulfill another major requirement. 2 unit and AP courses, AP exams or placement exams do not meet requirements for the major.

Students intending to apply to health professional programs or graduate programs in Biology should include four semesters of Chemistry, two semesters of Physics, and two semesters of Calculus in their course plan. Pre-professional students are strongly encouraged to consult with the Health Professions Office early in their career. Students planning to apply to graduate programs in Biology are also advised to include research (Biology 395) in their program of study, and may wish to select an emphasis (see below).

Students intending to obtain a teaching certification in biology should contact the Education Department as early as possible for advice on course selection. Additional advice concerning courses and career planning may be obtained from the major advisor.

The Biology Department encourages international study for Biology majors. Among the semester options available are programs in Tropical Biology in Costa Rica, Global Medicine and Public Health in Costa Rica, and direct enrollment at James Cook University in Australia (with strengths in Marine Biology and Tropical Biology.) Students may receive credit towards the Biology major and to meet Core distribution requirements. See the International Programs Office and Professor Braker for more information.

EMPHASIS WITHIN THE MAJOR: Students may construct an individual program to meet the Biology major requirements, or they may choose an emphasis in Cell and Molecular Biology or Marine Biology, or the Environmental Science Concentration in Biology.

Cell and Molecular Biology Emphasis: This emphasis is designed for students who are interested in pursuing a career in the health professions or graduate school in cellular or molecular biosciences. Cell and Molecular Biology encompasses a wide range of studies, including: gene expression and regulation, transmission of genes between generations, cell-to-cell communication, cell physiology, the biochemistry of DNA and RNA, the development of a fertilized egg into a multi-cellular organism, the biology of microbes, the cellular and molecular mechanisms that drive the specialized functions of the immune system, the nervous system and other organs and tissues. All requirements for the Biology major apply, with the addition that students must take two of the three courses at the 200 level as part of their program of study: Bio 221, 224, and 226 as part of their program of study. At least two of the required three courses at the 300 level must be chosen from the following list: Bio 320, 322, 323, 325, 326, 330, 333, 340, 349 and 350. Students are strongly encouraged to participate in research with faculty (Biology 395). Courses in organic chemistry and physics are strongly recommended for students planning to attend graduate and professional schools.

Marine Biology Emphasis: The marine emphasis is designed for biology majors who are interested in pursuing careers or graduate school in the marine sciences. Marine science is one of the most integrative fields in biology with research topics ranging from molecular methods for the classification of marine bacteria to the effects of global warming on fisheries. Students are required to satisfy all the requirements for the biology major and must take four of the following upper-division courses: Biology 260, 268, 344, 356, 368, 369, or Geology 245. These courses may also satisfy biology major requirements. In addition to the coursework, students are encouraged to participate in as many of the following activities as their schedules allow: 1) independent or collaborative research with faculty (Bio 395), 2) scuba diving as part of a club or research team, 3) participation in programs (academic year and/or summer) at marine science institutions, 4) participation in faculty led field trips, and/or 5) attendance at seminars on marine topics at Oxy and other nearby campuses. Students graduating with a marine emphasis will have strong lab/field research experience, know the common local marine organisms (plankton to mammals), and be able to discuss the pertinent physical and biological processes affecting the southern California marine area. Students interested in joining this emphasis should monitor our web site at www.oxy.edu/oxy/marinebio and contact one of the marine faculty to discuss their course of study.

Environmental Science Concentration in Biology: Environmental Science is a Concentration that explores earth processes and ecosystems and develops skills that students need for environmental analysis and problem-solving. The Environmental Science Concentration is designed for students who want to more fully understand the biological and geologic foundation of Environmental Science and provides them with a shared academic experience and expertise within a specific scientific field. Participation in a core of introductory courses establishes the interdisciplinary breadth necessary for understanding complex environmental problems. Further specialization gives students a strong background in Biology or Geology, preparing them to become involved in research projects, fieldwork, internships, and environmental studies. Students will receive their Bachelor of Arts in Biology or Geology with an Environmental Science Concentration, enabling them to pursue graduate work in Biology, Geology or Environmental Science, and professional careers in these and related fields.

Requirements
Students complete the Environmental Science Introductory Core and additional courses to complete a major in Biology or Geology.

Environmental Science Introductory Core: (7 courses)
First level courses:

Earth: Our Environment (Geology 105)
Introductory Biology (105, 106, 110, or 115)
Introductory Economics (101)
Second level courses:
Spatial Analysis with GIS (Geo 255)
Earth's Climate: Past and Future (Geo 245)
Biodiversity and Organization of Marine and Terrestrial Ecosystems (Bio 260)
or Ecology (Bio 270)
Environmental Economics (Econ 301) or another 300-level course dealing with environmental
policy, chosen in consultation with Academic Advisor.

Environmental Science Concentration in Biology
Environmental Science Core (above) plus:

Introduction to Cellular And Molecular Biology (Bio 130)
Vertebrate Physiology (Bio 240), Plant Form And Function (Bio 250), or Flora Of Southern California (Bio 275)
Evolutionary Biology (Bio 280)
Three 300-level courses (e.g., Bio 350, 360, 369, 377, 380)
Chemistry 120 and one other chemistry course with lab
Mathematics through Math 120 (or equivalent)
or Math 110 and a Department-approved statistics course.

MINOR: Five courses (20 units) are required for the minor. These include any two of our introductory courses (Biology 105, 106, 110, 115 and 130) and any three additional courses at the 200 or 300 levels, two of which must be taken in the Biology Department. Independent Studies and Advanced Placement credit may not count toward the minor.

WRITING REQUIREMENT: Students majoring in Biology will satisfy the final component of Occidental College's campus-wide writing requirement by successfully completing two courses at the 300-level (or appropriate course work). Students should familiarize themselves with the departmental requirement at the time of declaring the major. See the Writing Program and consult the department chair for additional information.

HONORS: The Honors Program at Occidental College is designed to allow the superior student’s attention to be focused on a directed investigation for a sustained period of time. It is expected that students admitted to the College Honors Program will have established themselves as outstanding prospects for individualized work in the department of their major and will also have established themselves as doing work of very high quality in all that they have undertaken at Occidental. Student admission to the College Honors Program will be by formal action of the faculty in the student’s major department (taken from the College Catalogue statement on Honors).

Requirements

  • Student typically will have worked on a research project for 2 semesters (or 1 semester + summer session) minimum, before applying for honors
  • Student must have an average GPA of 3.25 (college policy)

Application Process

  • Student should discuss with their research mentor and submit an official Letter of Intent to the Biology Chairperson by the beginning of their senior year, or sooner. 
  • The letter of intent should include a summary of research results (realized and projected), as well as significance of the research and any projects in progress at the time of submission.
  • Applications will be evaluated by the Biology faculty.
  • Students nominated for honors will be notified by the Biology Chairperson.

Completion Process

  • At the time of nomination, each candidate will be assigned an honors thesis committee of two Biology faculty members, in addition to their faculty mentor. This committee will be available for guidance and to help ensure that milestones are met in a timely manner.
  • Milestones will include a thorough literature review, written drafts of the introduction, methods, and results sections, including draft figures, and a final discussion section, as well as preparation of a public seminar.
  • The candidate must complete a written thesis of their work. It is expected that the student will spend part of their final semester or directed research writing the thesis.
  • The written thesis will be due to the mentor by Monday in the 4th week of February.
  • The revised honors thesis will be due to the committee by Monday in the 3rd week of February.
  • The thesis will be reviewed by committee, and final revisions must be submitted by the last day of March.
  • Honors candidates will also give a presentation on their research during the week of April 15.. These presentations will last approximately 15 minutes, with 5 min for questions. 
  • Honors grades are Pass/Fail and reported to the registrar by the Chair.  The chair will inform the students of their grade when it is decided upon by the committee.

GRADUATE STUDY: Graduate study toward the degree of Master of Arts under the thesis plan may be undertaken in Biology by properly qualified students. Thesis projects may be elected in any of the following fields: cellular biology, developmental biology, immunology, microbiology, molecular biology, neurobiology, biochemistry, comparative physiology, animal behavior, environmental biology, ecology, systematics and evolutionary biology, and marine biology. Graduate courses, numbered 500 and above, are valued at five units unless otherwise noted. Consult the department chair for further information on graduate studies.
 

Courses

103 - Topics: Ecological Enhancement and Restoration

Biological, ecological, and social views regarding need, methods, and effects of restoration and enhancement of ecosystems. Recent events from California and the rest of the world are discussed, focusing on marine and terrestrial ecosystems, invasive species, overharvesting, industrial impacts on the environment, and methods of mitigating or repairing damages. Examples of discussions include: methods of combating overharvesting in the Pacific Ocean; natural and anthropogenic methods of recovering from forest fires; oil platforms functioning as artificial reefs to help endangered species thrive; also, how does a nuclear generating station affect a giant kelp forest, and what can be done to mitigate those damages?
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: MATH/SCI 

104 - Introduction to the Biology of Stem Cell Therapeutics

An introduction to the basic research of stem cells, potential sources, stem cell characterization, and stem cell development for therapeutic applications. The student will also gain an understanding in aspects of developmental biology, and the progression of translational research from basic science to clinical utility. Designed for non-science majors.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: MATH/SCI 

105 - Marine Biology

This course will be an introductory survey of marine organisms and their environment. It will cover fishes, invertebrates, mammals, reptiles and algae. Included will be an investigation of behavior, ecology, adaptations, and environmental relationships to humans. An emphasis will be placed on forms common to California. Includes one 3-hour lab period per week and field trips will be included during the laboratory period. (Labs may take longer than the scheduled laboratory period to accommodate field trips.)
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI 

106 - Biology of California

A component of the California Environment Semester. Enrollment limited to first-year students enrolled in the California Environmental Science Semester.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

110 - Organisms on Earth

Principles and concepts of organismal structure and function, diversity, evolution and ecology examined through case studies of organisms and interactions with their environments. Emphasis will be placed on how organisms from distinct biological groups meet environmental challenges such as obtaining energy and nutrients, maintaining water and osmotic balances, reproducing, and finding a place to live. Students will learn to recognize and frame hypotheses about biological organisms and phenomena that can be tested (or falsified) by acquiring and analyzing appropriate evidence. Students will learn to acquire, analyze, and evaluate biological data through observation and experimentation in the laboratory and in the field.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

115 - General Zoology

An introduction to the diversity, comparative anatomy and physiology of animals. Emphasis is placed on the classification of animals, how animals are adapted to the environment, and the evolutionary relationships between the phyla. This class is designed for science majors. Includes one three-hour laboratory per week.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

130 - Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Biology

A concept-driven survey course designed to provide broad introduction to the biochemistry, physiology, and molecular biology of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. Topics include structure/function relationships of biological macromolecules; the roles of such molecules in cellular metabolism and membrane biology; molecular biology of DNA, RNA, and protein synthesis; the cell cycle; elementary genetics; and cellular communication. Includes one three-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisite: Chemistry 120 or 130 or permission of instructor. Prerequisites may be taken concurrently with 130.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI 

197 - Independent Study in Biology

Research in biology, for students who do not have advanced competence in biology (see Biology 397). Prerequisites: permission of instructor and approval of department.
2 units

221 - Molecular Biology

The study of DNA replication; transcription, processing and translation of gene products; molecular mapping of genes; chromosomal organization; molecular regulation mechanisms in prokaryotes and eukaryotes; mutation and repair processes; recombination mechanisms; microRNAi and RNAi; and the techniques to study these processes. Includes one three-hour laboratory per week plus two hours arranged. Prerequisites: Biology 130 and Chemistry 220; or permission of instructor.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI 

222 - Biochemistry

Survey of the basic principles that power biological processes in all living organisms. Includes introduction to biochemical techniques, enzyme structure and function, intermediary metabolism, synthesis and degradation of biological macromolecules, information transfer, and a concept-driven integration of these subjects into a biological context. Includes one three-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisites: Chem 220 or permission of instructor. Co-requisite: Biology 222L.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

222L - Biochemistry Laboratory

Laboratory techniques in biochemistry including protein purification, chromatography, crystallography, enzyme kinetics, and computer-aided structural analysis. Co-requisite: Biology 322. Graded on a Credit/No Credit basis only.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

224-524 - Genetic Analysis

Intensive, concept-driven exploration of genetic information transfer between generations. Topics include: Mendelian principles; sex-linkage; chromosomal and fine structure genetic mapping; allelic and genetic interactions at the phenotypic level; principles of molecular genetics; and an introduction to the genetics of complex traits, developmental genetics and genomics.Includes one three-hour laboratory session per week plus two hours arranged. Prerequisites: Chemistry 120 or 130 and Biology 130, or permission of instructor.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI 

226 - Cell Biology

A course designed to provide a thorough understanding of the molecular biology of eukaryotic cells. The course will discuss topics in modern cell biology including the molecular basis of cellular organization, structure and function, cell motility, organelle biogenesis and function, cellular communication and signaling, and intracellular processes such as apoptosis and autophagy. Includes one three-hour laboratory that provides experience with modern cell biology techniques. Prerequisite: Biology 130.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB/SCI
 

238 - Epidemiology

This course is designed to introduce the basic concepts, principles, and methods of epidemiologic research. In our pursuit to understand the interplay of risk factors and patterns of human disease and health, we will cover the history of epidemiology, the principles of epidemiologic thinking and of causal inference, the basic measures of disease frequency and of association and how to compute them. We will also learn about the major types of epidemiologic study designs and explore the major fields of epidemiologic investigation (such as global health, infectious diseases, outbreaks, occupational and environmental epidemiology). Prerequisite: Introductory Biology (Bio 105, Bio 106, Bio 110, Bio 115 or Bio 130) and statistics (Math 146, Math 150, Bio 268 or Bio 368)
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: MATH/SCI

240-540 - Vertebrate Physiology

Physical and metabolic activities of cells and tissues; properties of the cellular environment; regulatory and homeostatic functions of organ systems. Includes one three-hour laboratory per week plus two hours arranged. Prerequisites: Biology 130 plus any other 100-level Biology course except Bio 103), or permission of instructor (Bio 130 may be taken concurrently).
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI 

250 - Plant Form and Function

This course is a comprehensive introduction to the plant kingdom, emphasizing the ways in which organismal form and structure are shaped through evolutionary and ecological processes. The primary goal of the course is for students to learn how a major life form has adapted to physical factors such as light and water and to biological factors such as fungi, insects, and vertebrates. Labs involve experimental analysis of fundamental processes such as water uptake, photosynthesis, and hormonal regulation, as well as hands-on investigation of the vegetative and reproductive adaptations of the plant kingdom. Independent lab projects and fieldtrips are also key components of the course. Includes one three hour laboratory session per week. Prerequisite: any 100-level Biology course except Bio 103 or permission of instructor.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI 

260 - Biodiversity and organization of marine ecosystems

The goal of this course is to introduce marine ecosystems and the physical and biological attributes contributing to their organization. The course will focus on the nearshore marine environment of the Southern California Bight referencing examples from comparable ecosystems. It will introduce basic physical attributes and the organisms of these dynamic ecosystems. Students will learn how to collect data in field and laboratory settings, database management, advanced data base queries, conduct basic statistical analyses, test hypotheses, produce graphics and write scientific papers. This course will serve to prepare students for focused upper division courses and independent research. Labs may take longer than the scheduled lab period to accommodate field trips. Includes one three-hour laboratory session per week. Prerequisites: Biology 105, 106, 110 or 115, or permission of the instructor.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI 

268 - Biostatistics

The application of statistical methods to the solution of biological problems. Focus will be on applied statistics (as opposed to mathematical statistics) to study variation in nature. This course will survey descriptive statistics, probability and probability distributions, and methods of hypothesis testing (e.g., analysis of variance, regression, correlation, goodness of fit as well as selected nonparametric procedures). Course includes laboratory workshops sessions. Prerequisite: Bio 130 and Bio 105, 106, 110, or 115 or permission of instructor.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: MATH/SCI

270 - Ecology

Ecology explores the interactions between organisms and their biotic and abiotic environments at a variety of spatial and temporal scales. Topics include factors affecting organisms at the population, community, and ecosystem levels, and the effect of human actions on natural systems. Practical aspects of studying ecology involve work in the laboratory, computer simulations and modeling, and field work. This course emphasizes the fundamentals of study design, sampling, field techniques, data analysis, and written and oral presentation of results. Includes one three-hour laboratory per week and weekend field trips to be arranged. Prerequisite: Any 100-level Biology course except Biology 103, or permission of instructor.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

275 - Flora of Southern California

Identification and classification of plants found in the various vegetational communities of southern California, with emphasis on understanding their ecological and evolutionary affinities. Current methods of field sampling and systematic analysis will be employed. Includes one three-hour laboratory per week and other field trips to be arranged. Prerequisite: Any 100-level Biology course except Bio 103 or permission of instructor.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

279 - Evolutionary Biology

A detailed analysis of the causes and consequences of biological evolution. The focus here is on understanding basic evolutionary mechanisms, with plant and animal examples used to illustrate and clarify the fundamentals of the evolutionary process. Classical and recent contributions to our understanding of evolutionary biology are examined, including population genetics, theoretical models, geographical variation, speciation, biogeography, phylogeny reconstruction, molecular evolution, macroevolution, and the evolution of Homo sapiens. Includes one three-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisite: Any 100-level Biology course except Bio 103, or permission of instructor.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

280 - Evolutionary Biology

A detailed analysis of the causes and consequences of biological evolution. The focus here is on understanding basic evolutionary mechanisms, with plant and animal examples used to illustrate and clarify the fundamentals of the evolutionary process. Classical and recent contributions to our understanding of evolutionary biology are examined, including population genetics, theoretical models, geographical variation, speciation, biogeography, phylogeny reconstruction, molecular evolution, macroevolution, and the evolution of Homo sapiens. Prerequisites: Any 100-level Biology course except Bio 103 or permission of instructor.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: MATH/SCI

290 - Research Methods in Biology

This two-unit course will offer students the opportunity to learn techniques of contemporary biology that are used in the laboratory and in the field. These may include culture and handling of biological specimens, observational methods, imaging, use of instrumentation to gather data, methods of data analysis, and identification of organisms. By the end of the semester, students will have been exposed to and gain practice in a diversity of techniques relevant to the practice of biological science. Graded on a credit/no credit basis only. May be repeated once for credit. Prerequisites: Biology 105, 106, 110, or 115, and Biology 130.

310-510 - Museum Science

Introduction to the principles and practice of museology and the functioning of a research natural history museum. Emphasis will be on the development of the "museum conscience" and attendant curatorial skills through extensive training as a curatorial assistant in the bird, mammal and fish collections of the Moore Laboratory of Zoology (world's largest collections of Mexican birds and Southern California Rocky Reef Fishes). Prerequisite: permission of instructor. May be repeated for credit.
2 units

320 - Developmental Biology

Animal development with an emphasis on the molecular mechanisms that regulate cell fate, cell adhesion and motility, and the formation of different tissue types. Cell signaling pathways and gene regulatory mechanisms that control development and are relevant to adult stem cell biology and cancer biology are stressed throughout the course. The laboratory focuses on major invertebrate and vertebrate model organisms and both classical and molecular genetic approaches used to study animal development. Includes one three-hour laboratory per week plus 1-2 hours arranged. Prerequisites: Bio130; and Bio 221 or Bio 224 or Bio 226. Co-requisite: Biology 320L.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

320L - Developmental Biology Laboratory

An introduction to classical and molecular methodologies used to study animal development. The laboratory focuses on early embryonic development of major invertebrate and vertebrate model organisms: sea urchins, C. elegans, zebrafish and chick. Co-requisite: Biology 320. Graded on a Credit/No Credit basis only.
1 unit
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

323-523 - Histology

An introduction to histology. Lectures present the structure and function of cells, tissues, and organs in healthy and diseased conditions. The laboratory introduces students to preparation of tissue for paraffin, plastic and cryostat sectioning and examination by light and electron microscopy. Students work on projects of their own choice. Includes one three-hour laboratory per week plus two hours arranged. Prerequisites: Biology 105 or 115 and 130.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

323L - Histology Laboratory

Laboratory techniques in histology. Co-requisite: Biology 323. Graded on a Credit/No Credit basis only.
1 unit
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

325-525 - Microbial Diversity

An introduction to the world of microbes, including viruses, archaea, and bacteria, and their role in shaping and sustaining life on Earth. Emphases will be placed on structure, metabolism and bioenergetics, physiological and biochemical adaptations to unusual environments, phylogenetic analysis, biotechnology, microbial ecology and biological interactions, including plant and animal symbioses. Laboratory exercises will include an exploration of microscopy, cultivation, biochemical techniques, and molecualr tools for studying microorganisms. Includes one three-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisites: Biology 221, 222, 224, or 270 or permission of the instructor.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

325L - Microbial Diversity Laboratory

Students will examine microbial growth, form, and function and will select familiar environments from which to investigate microbial life. Co-requisite: Biology 325. Graded on a Credit/No Credit basis only.
1 unit
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

326/526 - Molecular Evolution and Phylogenomics

An introduction to the theory of how DNA and other molecular markers evolve. Theoretical knowledge will be applied to reconstructing evolutionary histories and genes and organisms, with emphasis on the application of molecular evolution to phylogenomics. Laboratory sessions will introduce the student to techniques for the isolation of genomic data and its storage, bioinformatic processing, and analysis via a broad suite of analytical software. Prerequisite: Bio 280 or permission of the instructor

330-530 - Immunology

Introduction to current concepts of immunology, including immunoglobulin structure and function, T cells and B cells, cell-cell cooperation in the immune response and the role of the major histocompatibility complex. Includes one three-hour laboratory per week plus two hours arranged. Prerequisites: Biology 221 (which may be taken concurrently) or permission of instructor. Co-requisite: Biology 330L

330L - Immunology Laboratory

Introduction to essential immunological techniques including immunization and immunoassay such as ELISA; generation of hybridomas and screening and characterizing monoclonal antibodies; and introduction to other techniques such as FACS. Co-requisite: Biology 330. Graded on a Credit/No Credit basis only.
1 unit
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

333-533 - Neurobiology

Emphasis on cell biology and phsyiology of neurons. Development and plasticity of the nervous system in invertebrates and vertebrates. Overview of selected central nervous system structures and their function and the cellular and molecular basis of selected nervous system diseases and disorders. Includes one three-hour laboratory per week plus 1-2 hours arranged. Prerequisites: Bio 130 and Bio 240 or Bio 226

333L - Neurobiology Laboratory

Laboratory techniques in neurobiology. Co-requisite: Biology 323. Graded on a Credit/No Credit basis only.
1 unit
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

336 - Microbial Pathogenesis

This course will examine interactions between the human host and infectious microbial pathogens including bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi. Emphases will be placed on mechanisms of microbial defense (virulence factors), immune evasion and adaptation strategies as well as the molecular and cellular mechanisms of the innate (immediate) response of the host in both immune and non-immune cells. Laboratory includes techniques used in clinical microbiology labs including culture and identification techniques as well as cell biology techniques. Prerequisites: Biology 221 or 226, or permission of instructor. Includes one three-hour laboratory per week plus two hours arranged. Prerequisite: Bio 221 or 226
5 units

340-540 - Advanced Animal Physiology

Dynamic physiological properties will be examined in single cells, tissues, and whole organisms. Emphasis will be placed on the physiology of excitable cells and their integration in the whole animal. Laboratories will utilize advanced recording techniques including microelectrodes, isometric tension measurements, semi-intact preparations and modern electronics. Prerequisite: Biology 240

340L - Advanced Animal Physiology Laboratory

Fundamental physiological processes will be investigated using advanced recording techniques including microelectrodes, isometric tension measurements, semi-intact preparations and modern electronics. Co-requisite: Biology 340. Graded on a Credit/No Credit basis only.
1 unit
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

344 - Invertebrate Morphology and Physiology

The structure and functional organization of animal-like protists and invertebrates are examined as adaptations to life in specific habitats. The current use of these organisms in applied systems such as aquaculture and as models to study basic biological processes are discussed. Marine organisms and parasites are emphasized. The phylogenetic relationships between taxa are also debated. Includes one three-hour laboratory per week plus two hours arranged. Prerequisites: Biology 105 or 115, and 130 or permission of instructor.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

344L - Invertebrate Morphology Laboratory

Field and laboratory exercises designed to 1) further expose students to invertebrate diversity, 2) examine and experiment with physiological processes such as locomotion, nutrient allocation, excretion, sensory function, and reproduction, 3) introduce parasite life cycles and parasite-host interactions, and 4) understand animal relationships based on morphological and molecular evidence. Co-requisite: Biology 323. Graded on a Credit/No Credit basis only.
1 unit
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

349 - Biochemistry I

This course explores the roles of the essential biological macromolecules focusing on proteins, while covering lipids, carbohydrates and nucleic acids. Topics include the structure and function of these macromolecules as well as an investigation of the biochemical methods used to study them. Also included are topics covering proteomics, DNA-based information technologies, biosignaling and an introduction to enzyme kinetics. Prerequisite: BIO 130 and CHEM 220 or permission of instructor

349L - Biochemistry Laboratory

Biochem lab The application of techniques to study protein structure and function, including protein purification, column chromatography, enzyme kinetics, crystallography and computer-aided structural analysis. Course Corequisite: BIO 349
1 unit

350 - Microbial Symbiosis

Symbioses are intimate associations involving two or more species. Symbiotic associations are widespread in nature and we can expect to find them in every type of ecological niche. This course will cover the diversity of symbiotic interactions that exist between both microbes and fungi and various eukaryotic hosts, including plants, animals, and protists, as well as other microorganisms. Topics in both lecture and lab will range from molecular to ecological, including the specific molecular communication between partners, the evolution of unusual host structures, novel physiological and biochemical capabilities, and the unique ecological advantages that many symbioses confer. This course will also include writing, presenting, and reviewing published work on various symbioses.  prerequisites: Biology 115, (or equivalent Including 105 106, 110), and 130; Biology 221 or 224 strongly recommended). Course co-requisites: Bio 350L
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

350L - Symbiosis Laboratory

Students will investigate the presence of bacterial symbionts within animals, plants, and protists, using molecular and microscopic techniques. Co-requisite: Biology 350. Graded on a Credit/No Credit basis only.

356-556 - The Biology of Marine Fishes

The biology of marine fishes begins with a study of the phylogenetic evolution of fishes. Within this context it discusses the physiology, ecology and behavior of marine fishes utilizing examples from our local fauna. Advanced methods of studying marine fishes will be covered with an emphasis on field research in which the class will visit various marine habitats throughout southern California. Includes one three-hour laboratory per week. (Labs may take longer than the scheduled laboratory period to accommodate field trips.) Prerequisite: Biology 105, 106, 110, OR 115 or permission of instructor.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

356L - Marine Fishes Laboratory

Laboratory techniques in marine fishes. Co-requisite: Biology 356. Graded on a Credit/No Credit basis only.
1 unit
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

360 - Avian Biology

Avian Biology is the study of birds, with particular emphasis on identification, natural history, and evolution of birds local to southern California. Prerequisite: Bio 130 and Bio 105, 106, 110, or 115 Course co-requisite:Bio 360L
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

369-569 - Biological Oceanography

Biological oceanography will focus on the biology of the open ocean with emphasis placed on relating parameters of the physical-chemical ocean to the distribution and abundance of marine organisms. We will focus on understanding the physical and biological processes of the southern California marine area using field and laboratory techniques. Using examples from our local ecosystem, students will explore the intricacies of macro scale oceanographic processes. Includes one three-hour laboratory per week. (Labs may take longer than the scheduled laboratory period to accommodate field trips.) Prerequisite: Biology 260 or permission of instructor.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

369L - Oceanography Laboratory

Laboratory techniques in oceanography. Co-requisite: Biology 369. Graded on a Credit/No Credit basis only.
1 unit
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

370 - Tropical Ecology

This course addresses tropical ecology starting with the discoveries and theories of early explorers to modern theories of biogeography of species richness. A large emphasis in this course will be placed on introducing students to field research in the tropics, including the design, implementation, data analysis and presentation of individual and group research projects. We will also learn to identify terrestrial and marine biodiversity of Central America, and how humans impact tropical diversity and the sustainability of tropical ecosystems. We will discuss questions that are actively investigated by tropical ecologists, namely: why are the tropics so diverse, how is this diversity maintained, how do communities respond to disturbance, how are different land uses having an impact on tropical people and communities, and how will global climate change affect communities and species richness. The course will include a three-week trip to Costa Rica and Panama, Central America, where students will directly interact with and do scientific research in the tropical terrestrial and marine ecosystems studied throughout the semester at Occidental College. Prerequisite: Bio 260 or Bio 270 Co-requisite Bio 370L
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB SCIENCE

370L - Tropical Ecology lab

After the semester, students will complete the lab for Bio 370, which will consist of a three-week trip to Costa Rica and Panama, Central America. Students will directly interact with and do scientific research in tropical terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Corequisite: BIO 370

378-578 - Animal Behavior

Emphasizes the evolutionary approach to the study of animal behavior, drawing broadly from the various disciplines within biology concerned with the factors that determine which organisms survive and reproduce. The course material will be divided into four broad categories: sensory capabilities, feeding patterns, spacing patterns, and reproduction. For each topic, theory and application will be presented. Students will analyze research papers and lead discussions on an aspect of each major topic. The laboratory portion of the course will focus on observational and experimental approaches to studying animal behavior in the lab and in the field. We will make use of local resources such as zoos, aquaria, wildlife conservation areas, veterinarians, and animal rehabilitation facilities. An independent research project is required. This course is designed for biology majors, although it would be appropriate for students from other majors. Includes one three-hour laboratory per week and weekend field trips to be announced. Prerequisite: Any 100-level Biology course except Biology 103, or permission of instructor. Biology 270 and/or 279 are recommended.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

378L - Animal Behavior Laboratory

Laboratory techniques in animal behavior. Co-requisite: Biology 378. Graded on a Credit/No Credit basis only.
1 unit
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

380 - Plant Physiological Ecology

An investigation of physiological processes in plants, including photosynthesis, nutrient uptake, and water relations, and how they are affected by environmental conditions and interactions with other organisms, including insects, vertebrates, and fungi. The emphasis will be on how to quantify and predict plant physiological responses to the particular ecological pressures of Southern California. Classroom discussions and presentations will focus on papers from the current scientific literature. Includes one three-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisite: Biology 250 or permission of instructor.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

380L - Plant Physiological Ecology Laboratory

Instruction in contemporary physiological and environmental diagnostic instrumentation and analytical methods will be followed by directed and independent investigations in the laboratory and field. Day-long and overnight field trips will be scheduled. Co-requisite: Biology 380. Graded on a Credit/No Credit basis only.
1 unit
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

390 - Special Topics in Biology

This seminar course will teach students skills needed to read and critically analyze original journal articles. Some lectures will be given, but the bulk of the course will consist of student-led discussions and analysis of scientific papers. Students will improve their communication skills by discussing papers and leading discussions, by writing a research paper and editing each others' papers, and by preparing PowerPoint presentations as an aid for leading discussions. May be taken more than once for credit, as the topics will differ each semester, but can only be used to fulfill one of the requirements for the Biology major. Cannot be used to fill the Biology requirement of the Biochemistry major.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: MATH/SCI

395 - Research in Biology

Research for approximately five hours per week for students to study in an area not otherwise included in the departmental curriculum. Prerequisite: permission of instructor and approval of department.
2 or 4 units

397-597 - Independent Study in Biology

Directed research with individual faculty members for students with advanced competency to study in an area not otherwise included in the departmental curriculum. In addition to topics that may be studied on the Occidental campus, courses offered at the marine station of the Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies may be taken for credit under this course number. Prerequisite: permission of instructor and approval of department.
2, 4, or 5 units

490 - Senior Seminar in Biology

Topics of these seminars will be announced at spring pre-registration. Each senior must pass one seminar for the comprehensive requirement. Each meets two hours per week, with extensive reading, discussion, and a major oral presentation by each student.

499 - Honors in Biology

Prerequisite: permission of department.

501 - Graduate Research

Supervised investigation by properly qualified graduate students working toward a Master's degree. Students may not register for more than two courses of Research during any semester.
5 units

590 - Thesis for Master of Arts Degree

Preparation of the Master's thesis in consultation with the advisor and committee members. Prerequisites: at least two courses of Biology 501 and permission of the department.
5 units

595 - Graduate Seminar

This special-topics seminar course will be offered as needed to graduate students in the department. May be repeated once for credit.
2 units

Faculty

Regular Faculty

Daniel Pondella, chair

Associate Professor, Biology; Director, Vantuna Research Group

A.B., M.A., Occidental College; Ph.D., UCLA

Renee Baran

Associate Professor, Biology; Advisory Committee, Biochemistry; Advisory Committee, Neuroscience

B.A., Macalester College; Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Elizabeth Braker

Professor, Biology; Advisory Committee, Kinesiology; Advisory Committee, Urban and Environmental Policy; Affiliated Faculty, Latino/a and Latin American Studies

B.A., Colorado College; Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Shana Goffredi

Associate Professor, Biology; Advisory Committee, Biochemistry

B.A., University of San Diego; Ph.D., UC Santa Barbara

Gary Martin

Professor, Biology

B.A., M.A., California State College, Sonoma; Ph.D., UC Berkeley

John McCormack

Assistant Professor, Biology

B.S., University of Arizona; Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles

Gretchen North

Professor, Biology; Advisory Committee, Urban and Environmental Policy

B.A., Stanford University; M.A., University of Connecticut; M.A., College of William and Mary; Ph.D., UCLA

Cheryl Okumura

Assistant Professor, Biology

B.A. Pomona College; Ph.D. UCLA

Roberta Pollock

Professor, Biology; Biochemistry; Advisory Committee, Biochemistry

B.S., Emory University; Ph.D., Harvard University

Joseph Schulz

Associate Professor, Biology; Advisory Committee, Biochemistry; Advisory Committee, Neuroscience

B.S., Indiana University; Ph.D., UC San Diego

Kerry Thompson

Associate Professor, Biology; Advisory Committee, Biochemistry; Advisory Committee, Neuroscience

B.A., M.A., Ph.D., UCLA

On Special Appointment

Maria Adreani

Non Tenure Track Assistant Professor, Biology

B.S., University of California, Santa Barbara; M.A., Northeastern University; M.S., California State University, Northridge; Ph.D. Florida State University

Jeffrey Arendt

Non Tenure Track Assistant Professor, Biology

B.S., University of Illinois; Ph.D., Binghampton University

Jeremy Claisse

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Biology

B.S. U.C. Santa Barbara, M.S. University of Hawaii, Ph.D University of Hawaii

Mary Clark

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Biology

B.A., Occidental College; Ph.D., UCLA

Brian Louis Dorsey

Non Tenure Track Assistant Professor, Biology

B.S., Humboldt State University; Ph.D., University of Michigan

Karen Molinder

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Biology

B.A. Occidental, Ph.D U.C.L.A.

Gary Schindelman

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Biology

B.S., State University of New York at Binghamton; Ph.D., New York University

Jonathan P. Williams

Adjunct Instructor, Biology

B.S., UNC Wilmington, M.S., CSU Northridge

Laurel Zahn

Adjunct Instructor, Biology

B.S. University of California, Santa Cruz, M.S. California State University Long Beach

Amanda Zellmer

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Biology

B.S. University of Wisconsin, Ph.D University of Michigan