Dec 05, 2022  
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog 
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog

Department of Biology

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School of Science & Engineering


Chair: Professor R. David MacLaren
Professors Birnbaum, LeBlanc-Straceski, Lyon, MacLaren, and Modica-Napolitano,
Associate Professor Berkes 
Assistant Professors McDowell and Noori

Biology is the core life science program offered in colleges of arts and sciences. The Department of Biology provides a comprehensive, interdisciplinary education offering breadth and depth of study in the biological sciences, including cellular and molecular biology, biotechnology, genetics, physiology, organismal biology, ecology, and evolution. The curriculum emphasizes the process of science through inquiry-based experiential learning and accomplishment in laboratory and field courses, faculty-mentored research, and a host of co- curricular opportunities. The Biology degree programs (B.A. and B.S.) provide students with challenges, opportunities, versatility and purpose. The biology curriculum offers students multiple pathways to success while preparing students for employment across a wide range of careers, including biomedicine, biotechnology, health professions (including professional study in medical, dental, and veterinary schools), ecological and behavioral science, education, environmental studies as well as for graduate study in the diverse areas of the life sciences.

Students may choose to combine the biology major with an additional major or minor in another field, such as business, chemistry, computer science, education, environmental studies and sustainability, mathematics and/or psychology.

Health Professions Advising (including Pre-Medical, Pre-Veterinary and Pre-Dental): Dr. Charlotte Berkes, Merrimack College’s Health Professions Advisor, will meet with students having an interest in the medical professions area early in their freshman year. Students will be advised about course selection and extracurricular activities throughout their careers at Merrimack College that will strengthen their application to professional schools.

Graduate School Advising: The Department is committed to advising those students interested in pursuing careers in graduate school. The Department’s Graduate School Advisor, Dr. R. David MacLaren, is available to students to help them in preparation for, applying and attending graduate school. We also partner with the O’Brien Center for Student Success in helping students prepare for graduate study.

Experiential Learning: All Biology majors are strongly encouraged to participate in at least one semester of experiential learning while at Merrimack College either through research under the direction of a Biology faculty member (BIO 4092 and BIO 4096) or a Biology Internship (BIO 4095). The internship is an off-site work-study experience co-supervised by Dr. Mark Birnbaum, the departmental Internship Coordinator and a mentor in the work place. The Department also works in close collaboration with the O’Brien Center for Student Success in helping students in their career planning.

Larry J. Kelts Global Field Studies Program: Named in honor of the creator, the program provides students with intensive learning experiences in applied ecology, conservation biology and human ecology in environmentally significant locations across the globe. This program invites students to witness and compare the biological complexity of natural ecosystems, to appreciate their natural beauty, rich history, and to understand the effects of human activities on these systems. Recent courses have included field studies in Hawaii, but in past trips students have traveled to Tanzania, the Amazon River Basin in Brazil, Belize, Australia and the Galapagos Islands.

HHMI SEA PHAGES: The Department of Biology at Merrimack College is a member of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science Education Alliance. The HHMI SEA PHAGES project engages freshmen and upper level students in a unique research based curriculum as part of a global consortium investigating bacteriophage (viruses that infect bacteria) biology and evolution. Students begin by collecting soil samples in the field. In the lab, they purify, characterize and name their phage.  Next, they visit the Wyss Institute in Boston to take electron microscope pictures of the virus particles.  After purifying the phage genome DNA, the students send it to be sequenced. The project continues as they identify the gene functions during the annotation process.  The completed annotation is published in GenBank and includes the student as authors. Finally, students are selected to present their findings at the Annual SEA PHAGES Symposium at the HHMI Janelia Research campus.



    Bachelor of ArtsBachelor of ScienceMinor

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