Biology Immersion

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Biology is the study of living organisms, including their structure, systems, function, evolution, and ecology. The immersion provides students with the opportunity to experience courses in a variety of areas of modern biology. Students complete a foundational course in Cell & Molecular Biology, General Ecology, or Evolutionary Biology (which all include laboratory experiences) and then go on to study at least one area in more depth.

Notes about this immersion:

  • This immersion is closed to students majoring in biology, biochemistry, bioinformatics and computational biology, biomedical engineering, biomedical sciences, biotechnology and molecular bioscience, environmental science, and physician assistant.
  • Students are required to complete at least one course at the 300-level or above as part of the immersion.


Required Course
Choose one of the following:
   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.
   General Ecology
This course is an introduction to population, community and ecosystem ecology, stressing the dynamic interrelationships of plant and animal communities with their environments. The course includes such ecological concepts as energy flow and trophic levels in natural communities, population and community dynamics, biogeography and ecosystem ecology.
   Evolutionary Biology
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.
Choose two of the following:
   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).
   Galapagos: Ecology & Evolution
A semester-long lecture course followed by a 14-day field trip to Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands. Students meet weekly on the RIT campus during spring semester to learn about the wildlife and geology of the islands, and about their influence on Darwin’s theory of evolution. Galápagos is still an area of vibrant research and students will be introduced to current ecological, genetic, and geological studies. We will explore ongoing difficulties of balancing human needs with environmental conservation in the Galápagos. The field trip occurs shortly after the close of the semester in which the course is given. We will visit various sites in the islands, with excursions focusing on the unique wildlife and the geology. There are frequent snorkeling opportunities. The course provides outstanding opportunities for nature photography. Enrollment is limited to 15 students. A travel fee is required. (Permission of instructor)
   Invertebrate Zoology
A study of the biology of invertebrate animals with emphasis on phylogeny and functional morphology.
   Comparative Animal Physiology
This course is a comparative study of fundamental physiological mechanisms. It covers a broad range of organisms studied from the standpoint of evolution of functional systems, the mechanisms and morphological variations that exist to deal with functional problems posed by the environment, and the special mechanisms used to cope with extreme environments.
Introduction to the principles of inheritance; the study of genes and chromosomes at molecular, cellular, organismal, and population levels.
   Developmental Biology
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.
   Introduction to Population Genetics
This course consists of a study of DNA, genes, inheritance, genetic variation, genetic architecture, and change within and among populations. Fundamental genetics topics include DNA, gene, and chromosomal structure and function along with, transmission genetics, Mendelian inheritance patterns, sex-linked inheritance, genetic linkage, and the Hardy-Weinberg Principle. Population based topics will include genetic variation, its importance, how it originates and is maintained as well as inbreeding, random mating, mutation, migration, selection, genetic drift, the effects of small population size, fitness, population subdivision, the shifting balance theory, inter-deme selection, kin selection, neutral theory, molecular evolution, molecular clocks, multi-gene families, gene conversion, artificial selection, the genetic basis of quantitative traits and the fundamental theorem of natural selection.
   Conservation Biology
   Human Anatomy and Physiology l
This course is an integrated approach to the structure and function of the nervous, endocrine, integumentary, muscular and skeletal systems. Laboratory exercises include histological examination, actual and simulated anatomical dissections, and physiology experiments with human subjects.
   Human Anatomy and Physiology ll
This course is an integrated approach to the structure and function of the gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, immunological, respiratory, excretory, and reproductive systems with an emphasis on the maintenance of homeostasis. Laboratory exercises include histological examinations, anatomical dissections and physiological experiments using human subjects.

* At least one course must be taken at the 300-level or above.