The biology: cellular and molecular minor provides students with opportunities to experience and explore topics related to both the cellular and molecular aspects of modern biology to broaden and enhance their educational experience.
Notes about this minor:
This minor is closed to students majoring in biology, biochemistry, bioinformatics and computational biology, biomedical sciences, and biotechnology and molecular bioscience.
Posting of the minor on the student's academic transcript requires a minimum GPA of 2.0 in the minor.
Notations may appear in the curriculum chart below outlining pre-requisites, co-requisites, and other curriculum requirements (see footnotes).
Choose one of the following sequences:
General Biology I
This course serves as an introduction to cellular, molecular, and evolutionary biology. Topics will include: a study of the basic principles of modern cellular biology, including cell structure and function; the chemical basis and functions of life, including enzyme systems and gene expression; and the origin of life and evolutionary patterns of organism development on Earth.
General Biology I Lab
This course provides laboratory work to complement the lecture material of General Biology I. The experiments are designed to illustrate concepts of basic cellular and molecular biology, develop laboratory skills and techniques for microscopy, and improve ability to make, record and interpret observations.
General Biology II
This course serves as an introduction to animal and plant anatomy and physiology, in addition to the fundamentals of ecology. Topics will include: animal development; animal body systems; plant development; unique plant systems; Earth's terrestrial and aquatic environments; population and community ecology; animal behavior; and conservation biology.
General Biology II Lab
This course provides laboratory work to complement the material of General Biology II. The experiments are designed to illustrate concepts of animal and plant anatomy and physiology, develop laboratory skills and techniques for experimenting with live organisms, and improve ability to make, record, and interpret observations.
Introduction to Biology I
This course serves as an introduction to molecular biology, cellular biology, genetics, developmental biology, and evolutionary biology. Topics will include: a study of the basic principles of modern cellular biology, including cell structure and function; the chemical basis and functions of life, including enzyme systems and gene expression; and both the processes and patterns of the organismal development (ontogeny) and the evolution of life on Earth (phylogeny). Laboratory experiments are designed to illustrate concepts of basic cellular, molecular, developmental, and evolutionary biology, develop laboratory skills and techniques for microscopy and biotechnology, and improve ability to make, record and interpret observations.
Introduction to Biology II
Cellular and Molecular Biology
This course will address the fundamental concepts of Cellular and Molecular Biology. Lectures, assignments, and laboratory projects will explore the structure and function of molecules, organelles, and cells and the biological processes they are involved in. Students in this course will gain an understanding of various molecular mechanisms, structure/function relationships, and cellular processes as they relate to cellular and molecular biology. Students in this course will practice and carry out common laboratory techniques used by Cellular and Molecular Biologists including, recombinant DNA technology, cell trafficking, and cloning techniques.
Elective choices should total a minimum of 11 credit hours
Introduction to Microbiology
This course is an introduction to microorganisms and their importance. Principles of structure and function, metabolic diversity, taxonomy, environmental microbiology, bioremediation, and infectious diseases of bacteria are discussed. Basic laboratory techniques covered include: microscopy; staining, culturing, isolation, and identification of bacteria; isolation and identification of normal flora; identification of unknown bacteria; antibiotic resistance; metabolic tests; clinical and commercial testing protocols; and detection and counting of bacteria in environmental samples (foods, water, soils).
Biology of Plants
This course will focus on aspects of plant anatomy and diversity and their impact on plant physiology. Adaptations to the environment and biotechnological approaches to unraveling the physiology of plants will be explored. A feature of this course will be discussion groups on plant topics from the popular scientific literature- e.g. Biofuels, Bioengineered Plants. The laboratory classes will follow the lectures closely, to give an opportunity to examine the structure and physiology of different plant genera.
This course investigates the historical framework of evolutionary biology and the meaning/nature of evidence pertinent to biological evolution. Topics will include: earth history, the evolution of proteins and the genetic code, molecular evolution, neutral theory vs. selection, genetic variation, natural selection, migration, mutation, genetic drift, fitness, population dynamics and genetics, speciation, systematics and classification systems, molecular phylogenetics, the evolution of eukaryotic organisms, behavioral evolution, historical biogeography, and human evolution and variation.
Plants, Medicine, and Technology
Plants have played a significant role in the shaping of our world. This course will explore the utilization of plants for foods, fuels, materials, medicine, novel genetic information, and social aspects of different cultures. All cultures depend on about fifteen plant species, most of which have been changed by plant improvement methods to enhance human benefits. This course will explore these changes in important crops, plant constituents used in medicine, and the technology used to produce important plant-produced medicines.
This course presents the microbiology of foods. Topics include microbial food spoilage, foodborne pathogens, food preservation techniques, and environmental parameters found in foods important in the survival of food spoilage microbes and foodborne pathogens. The lab will include exercises on isolating heterotrophs from all kinds of food, isolation of fungi from various foods, and the survival of various pathogens in food and beverages.
Microbiology of Wastewater
This is an advanced course in the microbiology of wastewater treatment, solids treatment, and the generation and maintenance of drinking water. Topics include activated sludge processes, clarification processes, disinfection processes, trickling filters, rotating biological contactors, waste stabilization ponds, sludge microbiology, anaerobic digestion of biosolids, microbial aspects of drinking water and drinking water distribution systems, and public health aspects of wastewater and biosolids disposal on land and in marine systems.
Biology of Cancer
This course will address the fundamental concepts of the molecular and cellular biology of cancer cells. Class discussions, reading and writing assignments will explore the function of tumor suppressor genes, oncogenes, growth factors, and signal transduction pathways in the context of cancer cell growth, organization, and communication. Students in this course will gain an understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in the process of tumorigenesis, will become aware of landmark findings, current research, and practice how to communicate effectively through scientific writing. This is a designated writing intensive course.
Bioenergy: Microbial Production
This course presents how microbial processes are used to produce various biofuels from renewable feedstocks. The topics presented include bioethanol production, biobutanol production, methane (biogas) production, biodiesel production, and the economics involved with the production of alternative fuels.
This course will present the techniques and applications of culturing eukaryotic cells, tissues, and organs in vitro. Emphasis will be placed on mammalian systems. Lectures will cover the historical background of tissue culture, how to authenticate cell lines, basic cell culture techniques; as well as stem cells, tissue engineering, and the role of cell culture in regenerative medicine. In the laboratory, students will be introduced to growth curves, cloning techniques, primary cell culture, and making a cell line; as well as detecting mycoplasma and other cell culture contaminants.
Introduction to the principles of inheritance; the study of genes and chromosomes at molecular, cellular, organismal, and population levels.
This course is a study of the processes of growth, differentiation and development that lead to the mature form of an organism. The course will also address how developmental biology is integrated with other aspects of biology including disease, ecology, and evolution.
Bioinformatic Analysis of Macromolecules
This course addresses the fundamental concepts of bioinformatics, especially in regards to computational analysis of nucleic acids and proteins. The nature and extent of information available in bioinformatic databases will be presented. Discussion and utilization of computational programs for analysis of individual and multiple sequences for functional and evolutionary information will be discussed. The computational laboratory will highlight the multitude of web-based applications available for analysis of molecular sequences.
This course introduces students to the analysis of complex genomes. Emphasis is placed on genetic information derived from the human genome project but advances with genomes of other model systems will be discussed. Lectures cover scientific techniques used to map and sequence the human genome, as well as strategies for identification of disease susceptibility genes. The laboratory utilizes an automated DNA sequencer to demonstrate the acquisition of genetic sequences. Laboratory sessions emphasize cycle sequencing of cloned DNA fragments using an automated fluorescent DNA sequencer.
The goal of the emerging field of synthetic biology is to design and construct novel biological systems that are useful. Synthetic biology examines the whole system of genes and gene products, their regulation, co-regulation and the interactions among their products, not individual genes. This course will cover organisms with known and characterized processes that are used to add or modify biological functions. Students will become proficient in the understanding of synthetic biology concepts and will master basic laboratory techniques utilized in synthetic biology.
This course is an in-depth treatment of the molecular and cellular events associated with innate and adaptive immune responses. The response of the host to the environment of microbes and pathogens will be emphasized. Recognition and response of the host to the infectious agents and the resolution of the disease state will be examined at the cellular and molecular levels. The immune response to tumors will be treated and medical advances in treating neoplastic disease using immunological therapy will be presented. The laboratories will focus on the cellular and molecular techniques employed in the modern immunology laboratory. A laboratory module employing hybridoma techniques will provide an intensive experience with monoclonal antibodies and their use in diagnostics and disease treatment.
This course is an introduction to bioremediation focusing on the interactions between engineers, chemists, hydrologists, and microbiologists to develop, design, and implement strategies to remediate contaminated soils or water. Topics include microorganisms involved in bioremediation, types of chemical pollutants, economics of remediation, environmental factors important in bioremediation, in situ processes, and ex situ processes. The laboratory project involves the isolation of hydrocarbon degrading bacteria from soils and sediments and further characterization of the hydrocarbon degrading isolates with respect to types of hydrocarbons degraded and rate of degradation.
Biological Separations: Principles and Practices
This is a laboratory-based course that teaches classic concepts and techniques to enable the use of these techniques to purify small molecules and macromolecules from whole organisms. Detection techniques will include the use of bacterial biosensors, coomassie-blue staining, silver staining, and immunoblot analysis. Separation techniques will include SDS Polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE) analysis, thin layer chromatography, and paper electrophoresis. Purification techniques will include ammonium sulfate precipitation, affinity chromatography, and thin layer chromatography.
Principles of Plant Biochemistry and Pathology
This course is primarily focused on biochemical and pathological aspects of a plant's life. This course provides an understanding of why protein catalysts are important in the field of plant biochemistry and plant pathology. More specifically, the role enzymes play in the basic cellular processes of plant growth and development is presented. Topics related to plant pathology are presented; such as plant disease epidemics, plant diagnosis, plant diseases caused by fungi, bacteria, nematodes, viruses, and plant-pathogen interaction, at the ecological, physiological and genetic level.
This course is an introduction to virology with specific emphasis on the molecular mechanisms of virus infection of eukaryotic cells and virus-cell interactions. Virus structure, genetics, the infectious cycle, replication strategies, pathogenesis, persistence, effects on host macromolecular synthesis, viral oncogenesis, viral vectors, emerging viral diseases, and strategies to protect against and combat viral infection will be discussed.
In this course aspects of plant biotechnology will be investigated. Areas of concentration will include: tissue culture, genetic transformation of plant cells, regeneration of transgenic plants, and the construction and characterization of transgenic plants for food production, experimental biology investigations, and novel product(development. The laboratory will provide experiences to complement(the lecture information in plant cell culture and experiences in the use of Agrobacterium as the gene shuttle to introduce novel genetic information into plants.
Plant Molecular Biology
The course will introduce molecular biology concepts and encourage the application of these concepts to the particular plant gene being studied. This upper-level elective course has a strong laboratory element. Small groups will study different plant genes during the semester. The laboratory element will be a self-paced group project to amplify, clone, sequence, and examine the expression profiles of plant genes. Gene databases such as TAIR and NCBI, as well as sequence analysis software, will be used throughout the course. The groups will be guided to make week-by-week project plans, to troubleshoot problems, and record results in laboratory notebooks. In addition, weekly results and progress will be shared via an interactive wiki.
Bacterial Host Interactions
This course focuses on the bacterial and host (human, insect, plant, animals and fungi) mechanisms used in interactions with hosts during both pathogenesis and symbiosis. We will explore molecular, microbiome and genomic levels, drawing on the disciplines of genomics, biochemistry, molecular biology and cell biology. Several of the agonistic and antagonistic interactions will illustrate broader principles and contribute to our fundamental understanding of biological processes. The results of these interactions have a strong impact on biological productivity, and so are also ever increasing important in human health. An emphasis will be on the roles of molecules and cell structures in determining the outcome of an interaction. Course is intended to allow students to develop knowledge of host-bacterial interactions at the molecular to organismal level, with an emphasis on several model symbiotic- and patho-systems. Knowledge about bacterial mechanisms use to associate with host organisms and the different strategies bacteria employ to gain entry, damage host tissue and obtain nutrients for growth will be explored. We will also illustrate several mutualistic relationships between eukaryotic hosts with partner symbiotic bacteria. Genomic approaches to describe microbiomes (microbial communities) on host organisms and in environments will also be explored.
This course is a laboratory-intensive introduction to the theoretical basis, laboratory techniques, and applications of gene manipulation.