Life Sciences will be available starting in Fall 2020.

Vision for Life Sciences

The Life Sciences (LS) concentration will feature an interdisciplinary curriculum that provides a solid foundation in the sciences with courses that embody the latest discoveries in biology and chemistry and a pedagogy that challenges students to apply what they have learned to realistic scenarios. Within the Life Sciences concentration, students will practice science through authentic research experiences that train students in experimental design, data collection and analysis, and presentation of experimental results.

When Life Sciences students graduate, they should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate technical laboratory skills through the generation of novel data in the context of authentic course-based research,
  2. Demonstrate problem-solving and experimental design skills,
  3. Acquire and synthesize scientific knowledge,
  4. Communicate science effectively.

One goal of the Life Sciences concentration is to prepare students for post-graduate study in medical and affiliated health fields (dental, veterinary, physical therapy, physician’s assistant, nursing, pharmacy, etc) or graduate study toward a doctoral degree in the sciences. In addition, students should be well-prepared to directly enter the workforce after graduation in biotechnology, basic or medical research, or pharmaceutical careers as laboratory technicians. Students will also be able to use their scientific training in diverse careers, such as those related to policy, communication, law, forensics, education, and food science.

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. 

Sample Four-Year Schedule

  • August: Core I
  • First-year fall: Language 101, CHEM 150 (Foundations of Chemistry), Writing 101, Health and Wellness (13 credits)
  • First-year January: Learning Cluster 
  • First-year spring: IBC 200 (Integrated Biology and Chemistry), Language 102, Pacific Basin, math (14 credits)
  • Second-year fall: Language 201, Project-Based Laboratory (PBL), Modes of Inquiry, American Experience (13 credits)
  • Second-year January: Learning Cluster
  • Second-year spring: Language 202, Core II, other concentration elective, Life Sciences (LS) elective (13 credits)
  • Third-year fall: Study Abroad (15 credits)
  • Third-year January: Learning Cluster
  • Third-year spring: Life Sciences (LS) elective, Writing 301/305, Creative Arts, other concentration elective (12 credits)
  • Fourth-year fall : Life Sciences (LS) elective, Life Sciences (LS) elective, capstone, elective, Creativity Forum (14 credits)
  • Fourth-year January: Capstone
  • Fourth-year spring:, Capstone, elective, elective, elective (12 credits)