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Course Descriptions

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Courses

BMB 300: Biochemistry

Introduction to biochemistry at the cellular and chemical levels. Emphasis on protein structure and function, enzymes, bioenergetics, intermediary metabolism, carbohydrates, and other biological molecules. Three class meetings, one laboratory per week. Prerequisite: CHEM 221 and BIOL 120, or permission of the instructor. Students must also register for a lab. (Under the old GEC, this course meets the Natural Science & Mathematics requirement.) CHEM 300


BMB 320: Physical Chemistry I

Quantum mechanics and the nature of the chemical bond. Emphasis on understanding atomic orbitals, atomic and molecular energy, and the chemical bond. Applications of molecular quantum mechanics; spectroscopy and computational chemistry. Laboratory focuses on experiments that led to the development of quantum mechanics, molecular modeling, and spectroscopy. Three class meetings, one laboratory per week. Prerequisites: CHEM 221, MATH 111 or MATH 116; prerequisite or corequisite: PHYS 110 or PHYS 120. Students must also register for a lab. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the Technology requirement. Under the old GEC, this course meets the Natural Science & Mathematics requirement.) CHEM 320


BMB 321: Physical Chemistry II

The course explores the energy, dynamic behavior, and properties of large groups of molecules. Content includes the behavior of non-ideal gases, the kinetic theory of gases, thermodynamics, chemical kinetics, and reaction-rate theory. The laboratory focuses on kinetics and thermodynamics with a culminating independent project-based experience. Prerequisite: CHEM 221 and MATH 111 or MATH 116. Prerequisite or corequisite: PHYS 111 or PHYS 121. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the Technology and Experiential Learning requirements. Under the old GEC, this course meets the Natural Science & Mathematics requirement.) CHEM 321


BMB 322: Molecular Biology

Molecular biology is the study of how biological molecules hold information, replicate information, and use information to adapt to environmental changes. In this course, students investigate how information is stored in DNA, how DNA is replicated, how DNA encodes instructions for other biomolecules like proteins (in genes), and how genes are turned on or off in response to the environment. Classroom sessions variously involve group work, discussions, presentations, and lectures. Students investigate cell and tissue specific gene expression in the laboratory through open inquiry. Three lecture and four laboratory hours per week. Prerequisites: Chem 116 and Biol 221. (Under the old GEC, this course meets the Natural Science & Mathematics requirement.) BIOL 322, NEUR 322


BMB 323: Microbiology

This course will focus on the biology of single-celled organisms, with emphasis on bacteria and infectious disease. Topics include antibiotic mechanisms and resistance, bacterial gene swapping, epidemiology, host-microbe interactions, and the immune response. Several weeks of independent study will allow the student to isolate, research, and identify three bacterial species. Three lecture and four laboratory hours per week. Prerequisites: Biol 221, and either Biol 220 or Junior status. Students must also register for a lab. BIOL 323


BMB 324: Advanced Cell Biology

The structure and function of the cell and its organelles, with emphasis on membrane-related processes including transport, energetics, cell-to-cell signaling, and nerve and muscle cell function. Research reports will include extensive library and Internet exploration and analysis. Three lecture and four laboratory hours per week. Prerequisites: Biol 221, and either Biol 220 or Junior status. (Under the old GEC, this course meets the Natural Science & Mathematics requirement.) BIOL 324, NEUR 324


BMB 325: Topics in Advanced Cell Biology

The structure and function of the cell and its organelles, with emphasis on the extracellular matrix, membrane-related processes including transport, cell-to-cell signaling, protein processing, and post-transcriptional regulation. Current techniques will be explored in the context of primary research literature. Research reports will include extensive library and Internet exploration and analysis. Three lecture hours per week. Prerequisites: Biol 221, and either Biol 220 or Junior status. Not open to students who have taken BIOL 324. (Under the old GEC, this course meets the Natural Science & Mathematics requirement.) BIOL 325


BMB 326: Immunology

This course introduces students to the major players of innate and adaptive immunity at the cellular and molecular levels. Topics include immune receptors and signal transduction, cell migration, development of lymphocyte subsets, humoral and cellular immunity, and immunological disorders. Students are expected to develop a semester-long research project that will tackle one of the current challenges that affect the human immune response.Three lecture hours per week. Prerequisites: Biol 221, and either Biol 220 or Junior status. (Under the old GEC, this course meets the Natural Science & Mathematics requirement.) BIOL 326, NEUR 326


BMB 340: Animal Physiology

This course will focus on mechanisms of homeostasis in vertebrates and invertebrates. A particular emphasis will be placed on examining specific adaptations (functional, morphological, and behavioral) to different environmental conditions, as well as problems associated with physical size. Topics will include integration and response to stimuli, gas exchange, circulation, movement, buoyancy, metabolism, thermal regulation, osmoregulation, and excretion. Three lecture and four laboratory hours per week. Prerequisites: Biol 221, and either Biol 220 or Junior status. (Under the old GEC, this course meets the Natural Science & Mathematics requirement.) BIOL 340, NEUR 340


BMB 342: Developmental Biology

Analysis of the genetic, molecular, cellular, and structural changes that occur between fertilization and the development of the adult form. This course examines many concepts including establishment of cell fates, stem cells, morphogenesis, and sex determination. Students also analyze key experiments and methods through primary literature that have provided an understanding of development. The laboratory demonstrates important developmental principles, allowing students to engage in projects of their own design to examine environmental and genetic contributions to development through the use of invertebrate organisms. Three discussion and four laboratory hours per week. Prerequisites: BIOL 221, and either BIOL 220 or Junior status. Students must also register for a lab. (Cross listed as BIOL 342 and NEUR 342) (Under the old GEC, this course meets the Natural Science & Mathematics requirement.) BIOL 342, NEUR 342


BMB 346: Neuroscience: Neuron to Brain

Neuroscience, the scientific study of the nervous system, is an inherently interdisciplinary field involving multiple levels of analysis. This course serves biology students, as an elective, and neuroscience students, as the first course in the two-part core neuroscience sequence. The course explores basic concepts in brain, mind, and behavior from a sub-organismal perspective. Current issues are examined within a broad integrative framework that begins with the cellular and molecular physiology of individual neurons. This lays the groundwork for the study of how molecules control the development of neuronal pathways and networks that underlie sensory, integrative, and motor systems. In addition, the course explores the molecular genetic basis of complex brain functions including learning, memory, affect, sleep, homeostasis, and ultimately, cognition. The accompanying laboratory provides students with hands-on experiences in the contemporary methods and experimental approaches of cellular and integrative neurophysiology. Three discussion and four laboratory hours per week. Prerequisites: BIOL 221, CHEM 116. (Under the old GEC, this course meets the Natural Science & Mathematics requirement.) BIOL 346, NEUR 301


BMB 352: Molecular Genetics

A study of the molecular basis for inheritance, particularly with respect to human traits and disorders. Topics include the structure, expression, and segregation of genes and chromosomes, use of model organisms in the study of human disease, genetic engineering and gene therapy, and principles of genome science. Laboratory will apply current molecular techniques to an original research problem. Three lecture and four laboratory hours per week. Prerequisites: Biol 221, and either Biol 220 or Junior status. (Under the old GEC, this course meets the Natural Science & Mathematics requirement.) BIOL 352, NEUR 352


BMB 362: Mechanisms of Brain Dysfunction

This course will examine the biochemical and molecular basis of both rare and common nervous system disorders that are at the frontiers of molecular medicine. Students will select from illnesses that disable processes as diverse as memory, language, cognition, sensation, movement, emotion, and homeostasis. A special emphasis will be placed on investigating the primary causes of dysfunction, such as the role of protein misfolding, genetics, and neurotransmitters. By discussing the latest primary literature students will gain current understanding of neurological and psychiatric illnesses, as well as insights into the techniques and methods used in this field. Students will seek to further new knowledge by authoring an original grant proposal. Finally, depending on the semester offered, students will serve as advanced peer mentors for first year students either enrolled in FIYS 106 or BIOL 130 courses. Prerequisites: Biol 221, and either Biol 220 or Junior status. Two 80-minute sessions per week. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the Writing requirement. Under the old GEC, this course meets the Natural Science & Mathematics requirement.) BIOL 362, NEUR 362


BMB 365: The Neuroscience of Sleep

Why do we sleep? Despite the fact that we spend a third of our lives sleeping, neuroscience research has only just begun to answer this fundamental question. In this course, we delve into the fascinating field of brain-based research by investigating several sleep-related topics (e.g., sleep across species, the role of sleep in cognitive functions, sleep disorders, and dreaming). We explore these topics through the lens of contemporary neuroscientific work, so the majority of class time is dedicated to student-led presentations and discussions of primary research articles. Outside of class, students conduct independent research on a niche sleep-related topic, ultimately developing a thorough literature review and an original grant proposal. Prerequisites: BIOL 221 and PSYC 110 or permission of the instructor. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the Natural Sciences requirement.) NEUR 365, BIOL 365, PSYC 365


BMB 372: Pharmacology: Drug, Brain, Behavior

In this course, we will explore ideas and principles regarding neuronal communication and drug interactions that govern behavior. We will explore communication patterns of both electrical and chemical signaling, define complex dynamics of drug distributions and identify how these processes are influenced by individual genetics. This class will also investigate the interaction between neurotransmitters and drugs at specific neuronal receptors, which will be discussed from the perspective of agonism and antagonism. We will use these principles to guide our understanding of pharmaco-therapeutics that are focused on symptom targeting. Students will also have the opportunity to discuss clinical cases and participate in the development of strategic therapeutic approaches based on current research towards the treatment of psychiatric and neurological disorders. Prerequisites: PSYC110 and BIOL221 with a grade of at least C-, or permission of instructor. (Under the old GEC, this course meets the Natural Science & Mathematics requirement.) BIOL 372, NEUR 372, PSYC 372


BMB 389: Evolution

This course will focus on the mechanisms of evolutionary change, ranging from short-term microevolutionary processes within populations to the origins of new species. Topics will include evidence for evolution, short-term microevolutionary processes, natural selection, adaptation, phylogenetic reconstruction, divergence and speciation, 'evo-devo', and human evolution. Classroom sessions will consist of lectures, discussions, and student presentations. Three lecture and four laboratory hours per week (including Field Museum trips). Prerequisites: Biol 220, and either Biol 221 or Junior status. (Under the old GEC, this course meets the Natural Science & Mathematics requirement.) BIOL 389, NEUR 389


BMB 415: Sr Sem: Molecular Machines

(Senior Seminar in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology: Molecular Machines.) We live in a golden age of structural biology. Recent technological advances in X-ray crystallography, cryo-electron microscopy, and nuclear magnetic resonance imaging mean we can observe both small, transient protein-molecular interactions and large macromolecular structures. In this course, students scour the premier research journals to select and debate the top molecular structures of the year. These proteins are selected on the basis of what these discoveries teach us about protein function. After selecting the top proteins, students work in teams and individually to describe what was previously known about their proteins, describe their known and predicted functions, and describe what unanswered questions and future possibilities remain. Prerequisites: BMB300/CHEM300 and BIOL 221 or permission of the instructor.


BMB 477: Mechanisms of Neurological Disease

(Senior Seminar: Mechanisms of Neurological Disease.) This course examines our current understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie neurodevelopmental disorders (i.e. autism), psychiatric disorders (i.e. depression, schizophrenia), and neurodegenerative disease (Alzheimer�s, Parkinson�s). Special emphasis is placed on a comparative analysis of model organism and human clinical research. Precise topics depend on student interests. Classes involve discussions of primary literature, student presentations, and short lectures. Prerequisites: Open to senior Biology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Neuroscience majors who have completed at least one 300-level course in the major or by permission of the instructor. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the Natural Sciences and Speaking requirements.) BIOL 477, NEUR 477