Santa Clara University

Biology department

Course Descriptions

University Core Courses

3. Fitness Physiology L&L

Although many people rarely engage in vigorous exercise, as a species we evolved to perform prolonged, strenuous activity. This course surveys how exercise promotes a state of wellness and explores both the immediate responses to exercise as well as how the body responds to long-term training programs. In addition to learning basic human physiology, at the end of the course students should be able to critique and design experiments, understand and interpret reports of health and exercise news in the popular press, critically evaluate fitness claims made by advertisers, and recognize quackery. Laboratory 15 hours. (4 units)

5. Endangered Ecosystems L&L

An overview of earth’s ecosystems and the major factors contributing to the loss of biodiversity. Three major themes: (1) general ecological principles, especially focused on the structure and function of ecosystems; (2) factors contributing to the endangerment of ecosystems; and (3) the conservation of ecosystems and biodiversity. Global environmental problems, including several lectures highlighting current environmental and conservation issues here in California and within the San Francisco Bay Area. Laboratory 15 hours. Saturday field trips are required. (4 units)

6. Oceans L&L

Examination of major ocean ecosystems and their inhabitants, with special attention paid to issues of governmental policy, sustainability, and human impacts on marine ecosystems. Laboratory and field activities will emphasize hands-on exploration of local marine habitats. Laboratory 15 hours. Saturday field trips are required. (4 units)

18. Exploring Biotechnology L&L

Have you ever wondered about the science behind CSI, “Frankenfoods,” human cloning, or how biofuels might help combat global warming? This course will examine the science underlying biotechnology: how DNA, genes, and cells work, and how they can be used in new technologies that affect many areas of our lives, including medical diagnosis and treatment, forensics, agriculture, and energy. We will discuss current developments in biotechnology and also examine the controversies and ethical considerations that accompany them. Laboratory experiments will focus on hypothesis testing and experimental design, and include creating glow-in-the-dark bacteria, detecting viruses, performing human genetic testing, and testing common foods for genetic modification. Laboratory 15 hours. (4 units)

109. Genetics and Society

Upper-division course designed for non-science majors interested in exploring the interplay between the social, scientific, and technological dimensions of human genetics. In addition to studying the nature of DNA (the genetic material), students will study the social and technological dimensions of current topics in genetics, including the Human Genome Project, paternity testing, crime scene investigation, embryo testing to select specific genotypes, personalized medicine, evolution, etc. Fulfills the Science, Technology & Society component of the Undergraduate Core Curriculum. Does not satisfy requirements of the Biology major. (5 units)

135. Biofuels

Human use of fossil fuels is contributing greatly to global climate change. Could biologically based fuels be important climate-neutral energy sources for the future? This course will explore the biology and technology of diverse biofuels, their potential environmental benefits and pitfalls, and the economic and political issues surrounding them in the United States, Europe, and developing nations. Fulfills the Science, Technology & Society component of the Undergraduate Core Curriculum. Does not satisfy requirements of the Biology major. (5 units)

Lower Upper-Division Courses For Life Science Majors

21. Introduction to Physiology

Introduction to the physiology of multi-cellular organisms. Course will investigate how organisms are put together at the cellular level and how multi-cellular organisms maintain homeostasis despite a challenging and changing environment. Course focuses on four problems organisms have to solve: transport; maintaining water and ion balance; obtaining and processing energy; information exchange. Concurrent enrollment in a discussion section is mandatory. Prerequisite: Completion of, or concurrent enrollment in, CHEM 11. (4 units)

22. Introduction to Evolution and Ecology

Introduction to key concepts in evolution and ecology, including Mendelian and population genetics, natural selection and adaptation, phylogenetics and biodiversity, demography, and interactions among organisms and their environments. Concurrent enrollment in a discussion section is mandatory. Prerequisites: BIOL 21 and completion of, or concurrent enrollment in, CHEM 12. (4 units)

23. Investigations in Evolution and Ecology L&L

Introduction to experimental and statistical approaches used in modern ecological and evolutionary studies, with an emphasis on experimental design, data analysis, interpretation, and presentation. Builds on concepts presented in BIOL 22. Fieldwork and laboratory exercises (30 hours) will take advantage of the diversity of local terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Prerequisites: BIOL 22 and completion of, or concurrent enrollment in, CHEM 13. (5 units)

24. Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Biology

An introduction to the cell and molecular fundamentals necessary for life. Topics include macromolecular structure, enzyme function, membrane structure and physiology, metabolism, bioenergetics, the cell cycle, and DNA replication, transcription, and translation. Concurrent enrollment in a discussion section is mandatory. Prerequisites: BIOL 21 and completion of, or concurrent enrollment in, CHEM 31. (4 units)

25. Investigations in Cellular and Molecular Biology L&L

An introduction to experimental methods for studying the cellular and molecular basis of life. Builds on the concepts covered in BIOL 24. Topics include enzyme function and kinetics, cell reproduction, Mendelian and molecular genetics, and molecular biology. The topics are explored through laboratory work, with emphasis placed on the analysis, interpretation, and presentation of experimental data. Laboratory 30 hours. Prerequisites: BIOL 24 and completion of, or concurrent enrollment in, CHEM 32. (5 units)

Upper-Division Courses For Life Science Majors

101. Biology Research Seminar

A forum for the exploration of research in the life sciences. Invited scientists from a range of universities, institutes, and the private sector present their current research, and engage in discussion about this research with seminar participants. This course is intended to give students direct interactions with research academics in a range of fields, to make them aware of career opportunities and to provide them with contacts in those fields. Graded P/NP only. Prerequisite: Successful completion of BIOL 23 or 25. (2 units)


104. Human Anatomy L&L

An exploration of the structure, organization, and functional relationships of human anatomical systems. (Laboratory dissections use non-human vertebrates.) Laboratory 30 hours. Prerequisite: BIOL 25. (5 units)


106. Health Consequences of a Western Lifestyle

This course explores the impact of living in a developed country on human health. Topics such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, hypertension, and cancer will be discussed at the molecular, cellular, physiological, and population levels. Prerequisite: BIOL 24.  Also listed as PHSC 124. (5 units)


110. Genetics L&L

Basic principles governing inheritance and gene expression in viruses, prokaryotes, and eukaryotes. Emphasis on molecular aspects. Laboratory 30 hours. Prerequisite: BIOL 25. (5 units)


113. Microbiology L&L

An introduction to the biology of microorganisms, with emphasis on the molecular and cellular biology of bacteria, the diversity of microbial life, and the roles of microorganisms in human health and disease. Laboratory 30 hours. Prerequisite: BIOL 25. (5 units)


114. Immunology L&L

Principles, mechanisms, and techniques of humoral and cellular aspects of the immune response. Immediate and delayed hypersensitivity, tissue transplantation, tumor immunology, and immunodeficient states in humans. Laboratory 30 hours. Prerequisite: BIOL 25. (5 units)


115. Human Reproduction and Development L&L

Detailed study of the development and function of the male and female reproductive systems, gametogenesis, fertilization and implantation, and the anatomy of the heart, circulatory, nervous, and skeletal systems during embryogenesis. Where appropriate, the molecular mechanisms controlling the determination of these developing systems will be examined. Laboratory 30 hours. Prerequisite: BIOL 25. (5 units)


116. Medical Microbiology L&L

This course focuses on the interactions of pathogenic microbes (bacteria, viruses, fungi, prions, etc.) with their hosts. The various strategies employed by the infectious agents to subvert the immune system and the various strategies used by the immune system to combat the microbial invasion will be examined, as will  the co-evolution of hosts and their pathogens and the natural history of diseases. The laboratory component will expose students to clinical methodologies and scientific approaches to diagnose and differentiate pathogenic microorganisms. Laboratory 30 hours. Prerequisite: BIOL 25. (5 units)


117. Epidemiology L&L

This course provides an introduction to epidemiology, including assessment of health and disease in populations, epidemiological data analysis, disease transmission, and public health interventions. The course also exposes students to the epidemiology of diseases and conditions of current public health and clinical importance in the United States and internationally. The laboratory (computer lab) will provide students with hands-on experience with epidemiologic methods, study design, and data analysis. Laboratory 30 hours. Also listed as PHSC 100. Prerequisite: BIOL 25. (5 units)


119. Biology of Stress

This course explores the impact of stress on physiology, behavior, and health, using a multidisciplinary approach. Topics include defining and measuring stress, differences between acute and chronic stress exposure, effects of stress on physiological processes and on the brain, how stress affects gene expression and neurogenesis, and relationships between stress and disease. We will also discuss the social patterning of stress exposure and the effects of social policies and interventions. Prerequisite: BIOL 24. (5 units)


120. Animal Physiology L&L

This course examines contrasting strategies used by different animals to deal with variations in temperature, food, oxygen, and water, and highlights the diversity of physiological adaptations in major animal groups, including humans, especially in response to “extreme” habitats. Laboratory 30 hours. Prerequisite: BIOL 25. (5 units).


122. Neurobiology L&L

Study of the molecular basis of neurobiology: how the nervous system is structured, how neurons form connections and relay information between each other, and how specific components of the nervous system function together to perceive the environment around us. Laboratory 30 hours. Prerequisite: BIOL 25. (5 units)


124. Human Physiology L&L

Examining the physical and chemical basis of human life, this course focuses on the neural and endocrine control of physiologic processes to maintain homeostasis. Laboratory 30 hours. Prerequisite: BIOL 25. (5 units)

128. Plant Development L&L

This course explores the processes of RNA and protein regulation, epigenetics, and “omics” based scientific approaches, phenomena that will be discussed within the context of plant development. Similarities and salient differences among and/or between plants, animals, and microbes will be described as appropriate. Laboratory 30 hours. Prerequisite: BIOL 25. (5 units)


133. Ecology of California Plant Communities L&L

Focuses on the factors controlling plant community composition in California, with emphasis on the basic question of plant ecology: Why are these plants here? Field trips highlight the astounding diversity of the California floristic province, emphasizing identification of plant species and sampling methods for ecological studies. Laboratory and field work 30 hours. Prerequisite: BIOL 23. (5 units)


145. Virology

Examines the biology of viruses including their structure, evolutionary origins, classification, genetics, laboratory propagation and diagnostic methods, viral pathogenesis, response of host cells to viral infection, and salient aspects of the epidemiology of viral diseases. The course will focus on viruses that infect eukaryotic cells, emphasizing important viral groups that infect humans. Prerequisite: BIOL 25. (5 units)


151. Restoration Ecology L&L

The science and practice of restoring degraded ecosystems, with an emphasis on plant ecology. Through fieldwork in restoration experiments and examination of literature case studies, students will grapple with basic questions: How do we decide what to restore? How do we restore it? And how do we know if we’re finished? Emphasis on reading and writing scientific papers, working with data, and critically judging the success of restoration projects in meeting goals of biodiversity and ecosystem function. Laboratory and field work 30 hours. Also listed as ENVS 151. Prerequisite: BIOL 23. (5 units)


153. Conservation Science

Conservation is a scientific enterprise and a social movement that seeks to protect nature, including Earth’s animals, plants, and ecosystems. Conservation science applies principles from ecology, population genetics, economics, political science, and other natural and social sciences to manage and protect the natural world. Conservation is all too often seen as being at odds with human well-being and economic development. This course explores the scientific foundations of conservation while highlighting strategies to better connect conservation with the needs of a growing human population. We will examine whether conservation can protect nature, not from people, but for people. Also listed as ENVS 153. Prerequisite: BIOL 23. (5 units)


156. General Ecology L&L

Quantitative study of the interrelationships of organisms with their biotic and abiotic environments. Emphasis on population dynamics, interspecific relationships, community structure, and ecosystem processes. Laboratory and field work 30 hours, including one weekend field trip. Also listed as ENVS 156. Prerequisites: BIOL 23 and MATH 11. (5 units)


158. Biology of Insects L&L

An introduction to basic and applied aspects of insect biology, with emphasis on evolution, morphology, physiology, and behavior of insects and related arthropods. Also includes a review of important agricultural, medical, forestry, and veterinary pests. Laboratory and field work 30 hours, including an overnight field trip and optional trips to nearby ecosystems. Prerequisite: BIOL 23. (5 units)


160. Biostatistics L&L

A course in applied statistics for biologists and environmental scientists planning to conduct manipulative experiments. Students gain training in experimental design, quantitative analysis, and hypothesis testing. Theory and concepts are covered in lectures and readings. Laboratory sessions provide practical experience in computing statistical procedures by hand and with statistical software. Examples used in lectures and lab assignments are derived from medical research, physiology, genetics, ecology, and environmental risk assessment. Laboratory 30 hours. Also listed as ENVS 110. Prerequisite: BIOL 23. (5 units)


165. Animal Behavior L&L

Examination of the behavior of animals in nature using an organizational scheme that recognizes proximate, or immediate, causes of behavior and evolutionary bases for behavior. Topics include physiological correlates of behavior, perception of natural stimuli (light, sound, chemicals), and behavioral ecology of foraging, mating systems, parent-offspring relationships, and social behavior. Laboratory 30 hours. Prerequisite: BIOL 23. (5 units)


171. Ethical Issues in Biotechnology and Genetics

An interdisciplinary consideration of contemporary biotechnology, and the ethical implications inherent in the development and use of such technology. Topics include human cloning, stem cell research, human genome project, genetic testing, gene therapy, genetically modified organisms, personalized medicine, clinical trials, and public policy. BIOL 171 satisfies a biotechnology minor requirement but NOT the ethics requirement. When taken concurrently with BIOL 189, it satisfies an upper-division biology major requirement. It also fulfills the third Religious Studies requirement. Prerequisite: BIOL 25. (5 units)


173. Evolution L&L

Examination of advanced concepts of modern evolutionary biology. Topics include the evolutionary forces of microevolution, the evolution of sex, adaptation, speciation, human evolution, molecular evolution, and macroevolutionary phenomena deciphered from phylogenetic trees. Laboratory (30 hours) includes bench experiments, field study and computational activities. Prerequisite: BIOL 25. BIOL 110 recommended. (5 units)


174. Cell Biology L&L

Study of the function of cellular organelles and the signaling pathways that control cell reproduction. Topics include a detailed discussion of the structure of cell membranes, nuclear and chromosome structure, DNA replication, the microtubule and microfilament cytoskeleton, mitosis, mechanisms of cell motility, cell cycle regulation, and apoptosis. Laboratory experiments focus on cell cycle regulation and cell differentiation. Laboratory 30 hours. Prerequisite: BIOL 25. (5 units)


175. Molecular Biology L&L

An introduction to the maintenance and flow of genetic information at the level of protein-nucleic acid interactions. Lectures focus on basic molecular biology concepts and recombinant DNA technology. Laboratory 30 hours. Prerequisite: BIOL 25. (5 units)


176. Biotechnology Laboratory—Recombinant DNA Technology or Systems Biology L&L

Research topics vary from year to year. Laboratory meets twice each week. Lectures discuss the scientific basis for the lab methods, and their application in biomedical research and the biotechnology industry. Laboratory 60 hours. Prerequisites: BIOL 25 and at least one upper-division cell and molecular biology laboratory class. BIOL 175 recommended. (5 units)


177. Biotechnology Laboratory—Gene Expression and Protein Purification L&L

Explores principles and techniques for expression and purification of recombinant proteins. Laboratory meets twice each week and will use techniques such as column chromatography, mammalian tissue culture, and various gene expression systems. Lectures discuss the theory behind the methods used in lab, as well as their application in basic and applied research. Laboratory 60 hours. Prerequisites: BIOL 25 and at least one upper-division cell and molecular biology laboratory class. BIOL 175 recommended. (5 units)


178. Bioinformatics L&L

Bioinformatics tools are important for storing, searching, and analyzing macromolecular sequences and structures. This course in applied bioinformatics provides an in-depth survey of modern bioinformatics tools. Students will become proficient at searching GenBank, downloading and analyzing sequences, and working with metadata. Each student will write an original computer program to complete an independent research project. Software tools for functional and evolutionary analysis of nucleic acids and proteins will also be examined. Laboratory 30 hours. Prerequisite: BIOL 25. BIOL 175 recommended. (5 units)


179. Cancer Biology

Introduction to the molecular and cellular basis of cancer. Introduction to the pathology of cancer. How basic processes such as cell growth, cell cycle control, and cell death are affected by molecular changes in oncogenes and tumor-suppressor genes. Prerequisite: BIOL 24. (5 units)


180. Marine Ecology L&L

Quantitative study of the ecology of marine organisms, with an emphasis on population dynamics, interspecific relationships, community structure, and ecosystem processes. Also examines principles of oceanography, biology, and ecology of the oceans, focusing on organisms and ecosystems of coastal California. Laboratory and field work 30 hours. Prerequisite: BIOL 23. (5 units)


189. Topics in Cell and Molecular Biology

Seminar dealing with contemporary research in cellular and molecular biology and biotechnology. Students are required to lead discussions and participate in critical analyses of recently published research articles. BIOL 189 may be taken up to two times for credit. Does NOT count as an upper-division course toward a major or minor in biology, but allows BIOL 171 to count as an upper-division biology course for the biology major or minor when BIOL 189 and BIOL 171 are taken during the same quarter. Prerequisite: BIOL 25.


191. Project Lab

Project lab is an intensive, research-oriented course where students conduct projects directly related to ongoing studies in the professor’s laboratory. The class will use modern, cutting edge research approaches and will emphasize critical thinking, experimental design, and scientific communication. Research topics vary from year to year. Laboratory 60 hours. Prerequisites: BIOL 25 and at least one upper-division laboratory course. (5 units)


195. Undergraduate Research

Experimental research project supervised by Biology Department faculty. Five hours of research per week is expected per unit. Maximum of 3 units per quarter. Can be repeated for credit, with a maximum of 5 units per academic year. Must be taken P/NP. Prerequisite: Consent of instructor. (1–5 units)


198. Internship and Undergraduate Research

Students wishing to take either 198A or 198B should have a GPA of 3.0 or better in biology and must present an outline of their projected research to the Chair not later than the fifth week of the term preceding the start of the project.  Prerequisite: Senior status; Departmental and University permission.


198A. Internship

Research in off-campus programs under the direct guidance of cooperating research scientists and faculty advisors. (1–5 units)


198B. Research

Supervised laboratory research culminating in a written report suitable for publication or a talk or poster at a national meeting. Sustained for one year with credit given for one term. Course may substitute for one upper-division elective (with laboratory, no emphasis) for the Biology major if taken with single instructor. Must be taken for a grade to count towards the major. (5 units)


199. Directed Reading and Research

Detailed investigation of a specific topic in biology under the close direction of a faculty member. Students wishing to take this course should have a GPA of 3.0 or better in biology and must present an outline of their projected research to the department chair no later than the fifth week of the term preceding the start of the project, which will continue for one term only. Prerequisite: Departmental and University permission. (1–5 units)

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