Life Sciences Course Offerings

The Life Sciences concentration offers courses that foster connections among biology, chemistry, and physics while actively practicing science through novel experimentation and original data analysis. Graduates will be prepared for professional school, graduate school, and biotechnology careers.

Overview of the Curriculum

To fulfill the LS concentration requirements, students will take two foundational courses that are prerequisites for all upper level LS courses: Foundations of Chemistry (CHEM 150) and Integrated Biology and Chemistry (IBC 200). Students concentrating in Life Sciences will also be required to take at least one Project-Based Laboratory (PBL) course and a minimum of two additional 300 or 400-level concentration courses. LS students will also complete a capstone project with a scientific focus. Students are able to fulfill their concentration requirements in either a focused or broad fashion from course offerings within the fields of biology and chemistry, from courses that emphasize practical, applied experimental skills, and through courses cross-listed from other concentrations.

Key Curriculum Elements

This course is an introduction to general chemistry with an emphasis on developing problem-solving skills for students planning a professional career in science, engineering, and medical fields. We will explore basic concepts of chemistry along with the mathematics required for quantitative problem solving. The topics include elements and compounds, chemical calculations, atomic structure, bonding, stoichiometry, chemical equations, reactions in aqueous solutions, oxidation-reduction, energy and chemical changes, quantum mechanical atom, chemical equilibrium, and acids & bases & buffers. To improve student learning outcomes, the laboratory section of this course will follow a research project-based learning strategy. Each project will include identifying a problem, literature search to locate an appropriate synthesis method, design experimental procedure, synthesis and characterization, analysis, and reporting data.

This interdisciplinary course will focus on the molecular biology of cancer and the underlying chemistry of cell biology. Students will learn how proteins are encoded and the impact of genomic instability on protein structure and function; alterations of normal metabolism in cancer cells; and basic pathways of cell division and death. Complementary chemistry topics include chemical structure and bonding, biological polymerization, thermodynamics, enzyme kinetics, and redox reactions. Laboratory research will use model systems to understand cancer biology.

These three-unit inquiry-based laboratory courses provide students with a more authentic learning environment than would be possible in a more typical one-unit laboratory course. These courses will feature a mix of in-class experiments and independent work by students to acquire background, analyze results, and prepare presentations of results using techniques seen in actual scientific research.

Electives will include diverse offerings such as biochemistry, organic chemistry, genetics, genomics and bioinformatics, evolutionary biology, integrative and comparative zoology, nanochemistry in medicine, microbiology, biophysics, and human physiology.

Rather than offering a physics course to prepare engineers or future physicists, this course will feature applications of physics in biological contexts.