FAQs for Biology Students

What courses are required for the Biology Major?

All biology majors begin by taking an introductory course called"Concepts in Biology". This course focuses on two issues of current concern—the human genome, and infectious diseases—and is designed to emphasize both an understanding about the scientific method, and acquisition of skills that are needed to be a successful scientist. This course also introduces students to a consideration of Christian responses to controversial issues like evolution, genetic engineering and environmental stewardship.

Following this, all students take a series of three core courses that cover the major subdisciplines in biology: Molecules to Cells, Animal Form and Function, and Adaptation and Environment. All levels of biology are studied in these courses, ranging from cell biology to physiology to ecology. One upper-level course is required in each of these three biology subdisciplines, and one of these courses must be a plant-related course (Plant Physiology, Sustainable Agriculture, or Natural History of the Shenandoah Valley).

A research experience (a designated research course coupled with an independent project) is required; and a senior capstone course focuses on issues of science, faith and ethics. Other biology courses may be required for specific tracks. A total of 32 semester hours of biology courses are required for all biology majors. In addition, students take two semesters of general chemistry, and one semester each of organic chemistry, physics and calculus.

For a more comprehensive listing of biology course requirements, including requirements specific for the various biology programs, go to the course catalog.

How do I declare a major in biology?

A biology major may be declared when you apply at EMU, or at any time by filling out a “Change of Major” form available at the Registrar’s Office. Once you declare a major, you will be assigned an advisor who will help you with the course selections that will help you succeed in the major.

Is it possible to do research in a faculty laboratory?

We believe that participation in original research projects is an important means of teaching the scientific process and critical thinking skills. Students in biology therefore are required to participate in faculty-led research projects as a means of actively learning about how the process of science. Students are encouraged to speak with a faculty member who is leading a research project that interests them. Normally students choose a specific project that falls within a larger, ongoing, research project in the laboratory of a faculty member.Students meet on a regular basis with faculty to discuss progress, and sometimes get together with other research groups to exchange ideas.In some cases, research results lead to presentations at national scientific meetings.

How can I find out what type of research the faculty do?

You are always free to speak with faculty members about their research interests and ongoing projects—like most scientists they will be enthusiastic about explaining the significance of their results!For brief descriptions of general interests, go to the research page. Better yet, read about what students are doing right alongside professors!

What types of facilities are available for use for Biology courses and research projects?

We are lucky to possess a variety of equipment that increases the range of biological experiments that can be performed.Here is a brief list of some of the facilities that are routinely utilized in the biological classroom and research laboratories:

Microscopy Facilities:
Transmission Electron Microscope,
Light Microscope with DIC, phase and epifluorescence capabilities,
Compound microscopes
Nikon binocular dissecting scopes

Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Facilities:
Incubators, autoclave
Ultraspeed centrifuge,
Electrophoresis equipment,
pH/voltage meters,
High-peformance liquid chromatography
Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer
Thermal Cycler for PCR

Anatomy & Physiology Facilities:
Preserved organs
Human cadavers for anatomy
Physiograph equipment

Ecology Facilities:
Park Woods Reserve
Field Environmental Monitoring Equipment
Binoculars and Spotting Telescopes
Environmental Growth Chamber

What extracurricular activities do Biology majors participate in?

We believe that student benefit greatly from the diverse opportunities available at a Christian liberal arts university. We therefore encourage students to participate in the range of activities while at EMU. There are several organizations that provide extra-curricular activities within the field of biology, such as Earthkeepers, a club devoted to promoting responsible stewardship of the earth, or the Pre-professional Health Club, which provides a venue for medical-related activities.

Most Biology majors are active in organizations outside of the sciences as well. We are proud of the outstanding musicians, artists, athletes, and journalists, to name just a few of the talents found in our majors! Finally, many Biology students are devoted to volunteer organizations that provide services to other people and to our earth. These volunteer opportunities range from (for instance) volunteering at a local free health clinic to helping to restore a local stream.