Harness technology advancements and biomolecular processes to research and develop technologies in genetics, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and vaccine development, environment and energy, forensic science, genetic counseling, and more to improve human health.
The biotechnology degree prepares you to immediately assume challenging positions in research, development, and management in the fields of plant biotechnology, human genetics, agriculture, food products, pharmaceuticals and vaccine development, environment and energy, forensic science, and genetic counseling. Meaningful research projects preparing you to gain valuable experience for full-time employment or to pursue graduate study.
The advanced nature of the third- and fourth-year courses, as well as the opportunity to participate in faculty-sponsored undergraduate research, provide a sound foundation to those students wishing to pursue a master’s or doctoral degree. The major also can be designed to include the education necessary for the pursuit of a career in the medical field.
Specialized areas of emphasis include recombinant DNA, microbial and plant genetic engineering, mammalian and plant tissue culture, monoclonal antibody production and purification, large-scale fermentation techniques (bacterial and mammalian cell), and methods for characterization and separation of proteins and nucleic acids in yeast, bacterial, viral, and plant systems.
Students are strongly encouraged to explore experiential learning opportunities to further enhance their education. Research internships, offered both on and off-campus, take place during the summer. RIT offers numerous opportunities for students to participate in research, including three on-campus summer programs: Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU), Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF), and the Summer Undergraduate Research Programs (SURP). Many students participate in undergraduate research for course credit during the academic year. Additionally, students may participate in cooperative education experiences, where students work in industry or government during the summer or the academic year. Students earn a salary while gaining valuable on-the-job experience. If a student elects to pursue a co-op during the academic year, they may need to extend the date of graduation beyond the traditional four years.
Three high school students working in a science lab for the first time made a surprising discovery with an RIT professor. Now, the young women are co-authors on a scientific paper announcing a rare bacterium that kills e-coli.
College of Science senior Ashley Adair is a trailblazer in her family: She will be the first to earn a college degree. She is also one of the first RIT students to graduate from a program that equips STEM majors with skills for navigating college.
Biotechnology and molecular bioscience, BS degree, typical course sequence
Sem. Cr. Hrs.
Introduction to Biology
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.
LAS Perspective 5 (natural science inquiry): General and Analytical Chemistry I
This is a general chemistry course for students in the life and physical sciences. College chemistry is presented as a science based on empirical evidence that is placed into the context of conceptual, visual, and mathematical models. Students will learn the concepts, symbolism, and fundamental tools of chemistry necessary to carry on a discourse in the language of chemistry. Emphasis will be placed on the relationship between atomic structure, chemical bonds, and the transformation of these bonds through chemical reactions. The fundamentals of organic chemistry are introduced throughout the course to emphasize the connection between chemistry and the other sciences.
LAS Perspective 5 (natural science inquiry): General and Analytical Chemistry I Lab
The course combines hands-on laboratory exercises with workshop-style problem sessions to complement the CHMG-141 lecture material. The course emphasizes laboratory techniques and data analysis skills. Topics include: gravimetric, volumetric, thermal, titration and spectrophotometric analyses, and the use of these techniques to analyze chemical reactions.
Introduction to Biology II
LAS Perspective 6 (scientific principles): General and Analytical Chemistry II
The course covers the thermodynamics and kinetics of chemical reactions. The relationship between energy and entropy change as the driving force of chemical processes is emphasized through the study of aqueous solutions. Specifically, the course takes a quantitative look at: 1) solubility equilibrium, 2) acid-base equilibrium, 3) oxidation-reduction reactions and 4) chemical kinetics.
LAS Perspective 6 (scientific principles): General and Analytical Chemistry II Lab
The course combines hands-on laboratory exercises with workshop-style problem sessions to complement the CHMG-142 lecture material. The course emphasizes the use of experiments as a tool for chemical analysis and the reporting of results in formal lab reports. Topics include the quantitative analysis of a multicomponent mixture using complexation and double endpoint titration, pH measurement, buffers and pH indicators, the kinetic study of a redox reaction, and the electrochemical analysis of oxidation reduction reactions.
LAS Perspective 7A: Applied Calculus
This course is an introduction to the study of differential and integral calculus, including the study of functions and graphs, limits, continuity, the derivative, derivative formulas, applications of derivatives, the definite integral, the fundamental theorem of calculus, basic techniques of integral approximation, exponential and logarithmic functions, basic techniques of integration, an introduction to differential equations, and geometric series. Applications in business, management sciences, and life sciences will be included with an emphasis on manipulative skills.
The Year One class serves as an interdisciplinary catalyst for first-year students to access campus resources, services and opportunities that promote self-knowledge, personal success, leadership development, social responsibility and life academic skills awareness and application. Year One is also designed to challenge and encourage first-year students to get to know one another, build relationships and help them become an integral part of the campus community.
LAS Perspective 1 (ethical)
First Year LAS Elective
First Year Writing (WI)
Cell and Molecular Biology w/ Lab
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.
Organic Chemistry I
This course is a study of the structure, nomenclature, reactions and synthesis of the following functional groups: alkanes, alkenes, alkynes. This course also introduces chemical bonding, IR and NMR spectroscopy, acid and base reactions, stereochemistry, nucleophilic substitution reactions, and alkene and alkyne reactions. In addition, the course provides an introduction to the use of mechanisms in describing and predicting organic reactions.
Organic Chemistry I Lab
This course trains students to perform techniques important in an organic chemistry lab. The course also covers reactions from the accompanying lecture CHMO-231.
Choose one of the following:
LAS Perspective 7B: Introduction to Statistics
This course introduces statistical methods of extracting meaning from data, and basic inferential statistics. Topics covered include data and data integrity, exploratory data analysis, data visualization, numeric summary measures, the normal distribution, sampling distributions, confidence intervals, and hypothesis testing. The emphasis of the course is on statistical thinking rather than computation. Statistical software is used.
LAS Perspective 7B: Biostatistics
Introduction to the principles of inheritance; the study of genes and chromosomes at molecular, cellular, organismal, and population levels.
Organic Chemistry II
This course is a continuation of the study of the structure, nomenclature, reactions and synthesis of the following functional groups: aromatic systems, alcohols, ethers, epoxides, and carbonyls. This course will introduce the use of mechanisms in describing and predicting organic reactions.
Organic Chemistry II Lab
This course teaches students to apply basic lab techniques to organic synthetic experiments reactions covered in the accompanying lecture COS-CHMO-232. This course will also help students to solidify the concepts taught in lecture. The course will continue to instruct students in maintaining a professional lab notebook.
Biotechnology and Molecular Bioscience Elective (WI)
LAS Perspective 2 (artistic)
LAS Perspective 3 (global)
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).
This course introduces the structure and function of biological macromolecules and their metabolic pathways. The relationship between the three-dimensional structure of proteins and their function in enzymatic catalysis will be examined. Membrane structure and the physical laws that apply to metabolic processes will also be discussed.
Bioinformatics Analysis Macromolecule
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.
Biotechnology and Molecular Bioscience Electives
LAS Perspective 4
LAS Immersion 1
Experiential Learning Requirement in the Life Sciences
The experiential learning (EL) requirement may be fulfilled through a variety of methods including co-op, undergraduate research, summer research experiences, study abroad relevant to the major, designated EL courses, etc. All experiences must be approved by the GSOLS EL Committee.
Biotechnology and Molecular Bioscience Electives
LAS Immersion 2, 3
Total Semester Credit Hours
One Writing Intensive (WI) elective must be selected to satisfy degree requirements. Please see adviser for a list of eligible courses.
(WI) Refers to a writing intensive course within the major.
* Please see Wellness Education Requirement for more information. Students completing bachelor's degrees are required to complete two different Wellness courses.
Molecular bioscience and biotechnology electives
Evolutionary Biology (WI)
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.
This course is a study of functional eukaryotic cellular physiology with an emphasis on the role of global gene expression in cellular function and disease. Nuclear and cytoplasmic regulation of macromolecular synthesis, regulation of cellular metabolism, control of cell growth, and the changes in cell physiology in disease are covered. This course also covers the technology used for studying changes in gene expression associated with cell differentiation and disease. The associated laboratory covers microarray techniques. This includes design and implementation of an experiment to acquire gene expression data, analyzing the acquired data using simple computer programs, such as MAGIC, and writing a research paper explaining findings.
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 (WI)
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 Product
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.
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.
Bioinformatics introduces students to the analysis of biological sequences: DNA, mRNA, and protein. Emphasis is placed on classical bioinformatics analyses such as gene prediction, sequence alignment, and phylogenetics. The methods are applicable to both human and model organism studies in medical, biotechnological, and classical biology research.
Viruses that infect bacteria (phages) are ubiquitous wherever their hosts reside– whether in soil, a hot spring or our own digestive tract. Phages are also the most abundant and diverse biological entities, consequently phage research is relevant to health, industry, agriculture, ecology and evolution. Phage Biology is a research-intensive course designed to explore the fundamental properties of phages, how they interact with their bacterial hosts, the major techniques used to characterize them and their applications. Since phage particles are comprised of DNA and protein the techniques employed in this course have relevance to many other biological disciplines. This course will develop both laboratory and analytical skills as students will isolate and characterize mutant phages in a novel model system, becoming mutation sleuths to determine mutation locations and their effect.
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.
Molecular Ecology (WI)
This course explores the biology of populations and communities of organisms using molecular data. As DNA, RNA and proteins are nearly universal between organisms, the principles taught in this course will have wide applications, both within ecology and throughout many sub-disciplines of biology. Furthermore, this course will prepare students to apply the techniques in numerous research fields. The primary literature and worldwide applications of the field of molecular ecology will be incorporated into the course.
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.
This course presents the microbiology of soils, freshwater, marine environments, and extreme environments. Topics include nutrient cycling in soils by microorganisms, the diversity of microorganisms in soils, the role of microorganisms in freshwater environments such as lakes, rivers, and wetlands and marine environments such as the open ocean, coastline environments, and salt marshes, and the diversity of microorganisms in extreme environments including highly acidic, highly alkaline, and highly saline environments. Laboratory experiments will explore the types of bacteria in different types of soils in Western New York, types of bacteria in different freshwater environments in Western NY, determining total and fecal coliform counts in freshwaters, determining the presence of antibiotic resistant coliforms in sediment samples, and examining the survival of various human pathogens in surface waters.
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.
Directed Research in Developmental Biology
In this lab-based course, students perform original research on the cellular and molecular mechanisms of development. Students use classical embryological, bioinformatics, molecular biology, and/or microscopy techniques, depending on the project. Students read and discuss primary scientific literature in a lab meeting setting, write a research paper and present their research findings in a talk or poster. Lab meets in two three-hour blocks; students are also expected to work independently for an additional three hours per week.
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.
Bioseparations: 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.
Fundamentals 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.
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.
Ethics in Bioinformatics (WI)
This course focuses on individual and organizational responsibilities in bioinformatics research, product development, product commercialization and clinical and consumer genetic testing.
Micro and Viral Genetics
This course will examine bacterial and viral genetic systems. These systems will be studied with the idea that they are simple examples of the genetics systems found in higher organisms, and can also be used as biotechnological tools. This course will show how these prokaryotic systems have served as excellent model systems for studying the genetics of higher organisms. This course will examine how these systems can be genetically manipulated using transformation, transduction, transposition, and conjugation. Bacteria and viruses will be discussed as important tools for many of the greatest discoveries in biology; especially in molecular biology and genetics. In addition some of the primary research journal articles will be critiqued.
Eukaryotic Gene Regulation
This course presents an overview of gene expression in eukaryotic systems, with an emphasis on how disease can result when gene regulation is disrupted. Points of control that are examined include: chromatin structure, transcription initiation, transcript processing, stability and modification, RNA transport, translation initiation, post-translational events, and protein stability. The mechanisms involved in regulating these control points are discussed by exploring specific well studied cases. The significance of these processes is highlighted by a discussion of several diseases that have been shown to be due to defects in gene regulation.
Advanced Applied Genomics
Genetic Engineering (WI)
This course is a laboratory-intensive introduction to the theoretical basis, laboratory techniques, and applications of gene manipulation.
Advanced Biology Research
This course is a faculty-directed student project or research involving laboratory or field work, computer modeling, or theoretical calculations that could be considered of an original nature. The level of study is appropriate for students in their final two years of study.
Advanced Independent Study
This course is a faculty-directed tutorial of appropriate topics that are not part of the formal curriculum. The level of study is appropriate for student in their final two years of study.
Research Based Writing (WI)
This course is intended for students with significant research experience to work closely with their faculty mentors to prepare a manuscript for publication or write a proposal for external funding. Students will devote significant time to writing, revision and peer review. A submission-quality manuscript or proposal is expected at the end of the semester.
Genetic Disease and Disorders
The identification of genetic causes of disease has been one of the major modern scientific breakthroughs. This course examines a range of inherited diseases, how causative genetic variations were or are being identified, and what this means for the treatment of the diseases. Scientific literature will be utilized, both current and historical.
Cell Molecular Genetics
Biochemistry of Infectious Diseases
Introduction to Infectious Diseases
This is an advanced course in the mechanisms by which bacteria and fungi cause disease in humans. The course topics include the clinical signs of each disease, diagnosis of each disease, pathogenic mechanisms used by the organisms to cause disease, treatment of the disease, and prevention of the disease. The laboratory component of this course will consist of a mixture of methodologies used in the identification of the infectious agents, evaluation of the host response to the infection, case studies, student presentations of articles related to infectious disease and other assignments aimed at deepening the understanding the infectious disease process.
Introduction to the fundamental facts and concepts on immunology to include: innate and adaptive immunity; cells, molecules, tissues and organs of the immune "system"; cell communication and interaction; antibody structure and function; and the application of these concepts to infectious diseases, vaccine design, autoimmune diseases, cancer, transplantation, regulation of the immune response, allergic reactions and immunosuppression. Students will gain an understanding of immunological principles and techniques, and their application to contemporary research, with results from instructor’s research laboratory
For all bachelor’s degree programs, a strong performance in a college preparatory program is expected. Generally, this includes 4 years of English, 3-4 years of mathematics, 2-3 years of science, and 3 years of social studies and/or history.
Specific math and science requirements and other recommendations
3 years of math required; pre-calculus recommended
Biology and chemistry required
Transfer course recommendations without associate degree
Courses in liberal arts, sciences, math, and computing
Appropriate associate degree programs for transfer
AS degree in biotechnology or liberal arts with biology