Maj
Min

Biology

Empowering innovation with understanding.

About

Get your feet wet

Whether you’re up to your knees in the streams right next to campus or deep in the rainforests of Costa Rica, our diverse courses emphasize hands-on learning. You can study Neurobiology, Tropical Ecology, Animal Behavior, Genetics, Evolution and more. And you can get involved with faculty in their active research programs during both the academic year and the summer.

Not just lab work

Experience matters at Saint Michael’s. As a biology major, you’ll spend plenty of time in the lab, but for starters you might also:

  • Intern with the Vermont State Medical Examiner’s Office or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Conduct and present professional-level research on aquatic biology, or genetics and evolution, to name just a few subjects
  • Prepare for graduate schools in areas such as medicine, dentistry, other healthcare professions, and M.S. or Ph.D. programs in a variety of other fields of biology

At Saint Michael’s, you can study Pre-Health, Conservation Biology, Cellular and Molecular Biology, or Biology Education. You can also create your own selection of biology courses.

Sample 4-Year Plan

Fall

BI 151 Introduction to Ecology and Evolution

CH 110 General Chemistry I

First Year Seminar

Liberal Studies course

Spring

BI 153 Introductory Cell Biology and Genetics

CH 117 Organic Chemistry I

Liberal Studies course

Liberal Studies course

Fall

BI 205 Communications in the Biological Sciences

CH 207 Organic Chemistry II

MA 130 or 150 Elements of Calculus or Calculus I

Liberal Studies course

Spring

Upper level Biology course

CH 208 General Chemistry II

ST 120 or MA 160 Elementary Statistics or Calculus II

Elective

Fall

Upper level Biology course

Upper level Biology course

Junior Seminar

Elective

Spring

Upper level Biology course

Upper level Biology course

Elective

Elective

Fall

Upper level Biology course

Elective

Elective

Elective

Spring

BI 410 Senior Seminar

Elective

Elective

Elective

In Depth

As a first-year student, you’ll take General Biology and General Chemistry in both the fall and spring semester.

In your first semester of General Biology, you’ll explore topics in ecology and evolution through the study of local biodiversity. You’ll be designing and executing a semester-long research project focusing on the conservation of a local threatened ecosystem, the sandplain forest, as well.

As they move farther along in the major, students will then have the ability to widen the range of their fieldwork while focusing more closely on particular subjects and issues that interest them. Those interested in Tropical Ecology, for example, might travel to Costa Rica to study the biodiversity of rainforests.  We offer courses and research opportunities in a range of biological fields, including molecular biology, genetics, neurobiology, animal behavior, physiology, development biology, and ecology.

Up close and personal

You’ll find that although biology is one of our most popular subjects, you’ll get personal attention and career preparation and guidance from your professors from the very beginning. Our introductory biology courses for first-year majors have no more than 60 students in each lecture section, with 20 or fewer in each lab section.

Most upper-level biology lab classes have a maximum of 20 students per section, and seminar style classes will be smaller.

Biology Department-level Learning Outcomes

Research

Our biology professors have a broad range of research interests, including aquatic biology, animal behavior, ecology, genetics, molecular biology, evolution, developmental biology and biology education. Our faculty are active researchers who have received major competitive grant awards from the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health, among others. As importantly, they genuinely love to teach undergraduate students.

Biology students will find many opportunities to perform research with faculty during the academic year or in the summers. Recent grant-funded research projects by Biology students include:

  • Cholinergic neurons and their projections in the nervous system of the Central American Hunting Spider Cupiennius salei
  • Genetic characterization of Tripartite Motif (TRIM) Protein 25 Gene in Lynx Rufus in Vermont
  • Measurement of neuronal physiological properties in the heartbeat system of the North American leech species
  • Molecular evolution of APOBEC3H in Felidae species
  • Population and evolutionary genetics of anti-viral innate immune genetic diversity in Vermont bobcats
  • Understanding the site of phosphorylation in multiple proteins

Student researchers have been co-authors on professional publications and have presented their work at conferences locally, nationally and internationally, including at:

  • Lake Champlain Research Consortium
  • Vermont Genetics Network
  • Posters on the Hill in Washington, DC
  • American Society of Microbiologists in Boston
  • North American Benthological Society in New Orleans
  • International Maize Conference in Mexico City
  • American Fisheries Society in Quebec City
  • International Society of Limnology in Montreal

Internships

Internships are a great way to help build valuable experience for potential jobs and further education, as well as a way to put your learning into action. Biology majors have many possible internships available, including positions related to human health, natural resources, environmental education, and medical research:

Study Abroad

In recent years, 35% of Saint Michael’s biology majors have had a study abroad experience – it’s highly recommended.  However, it does require planning, so speak to your academic advisor during your first year so that you can get a plan in place that will allow you to study abroad.Faculty-led Study TripsThe Biology department takes students on faculty-led study trips during winter break.  Students can gain field experience studying tropical rain forests or coral reefs and earn 2 academic credits:Costa Rica: Tropical Ecology Study Tour (Biology 250)This study tour provides an introduction to tropical ecology including tropical climates and topography and their effects on ecosystems. The sites include a tropical dry forest at Palo Verde National Park, a mid-elevation cloud forest at Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, and a premontane rain forest at Selve Verde Preserve. Activities include guided hikes, our own group hikes, early morning bird walks, a boat ride, and night hikes. Students generate study questions from observations made on the field trips and on the last full day at each site students gather data for a study that they have designed. Students analyze and interpret the data and give oral presentations on their studies. Students also keep a field journal on plants and animals we encounter and on their observations on conservation, ecotourism impacts, and sustainable development.Costa Rica Tropical Ecology Study Tour 2017 Facebook page Cuba: Coral Reefs (Biology 254)This is an intensive 11-day field course to study coral reefs and associated habitats in Cuba, which has some of the most pristine reefs in the Caribbean. The course focuses on the health and diversity of the coral reefs as well as the ecology and behavior of the marine fish that live in association with a coral reef. Coral reefs are one of the most productive of the world’s ecosystems, and there is extraordinary complexity of interactions among the biotic and abiotic components. Studying this ecosystem in a direct and intensive way facilitates an understanding and appreciation of the intricate inter-relationships within a biological community. In addition, this fragile ecosystem provides us with an opportunity to observe and analyze the impact of various environmental threats, both natural and anthropogenic, such as coastal development, pollution, and global climate change.  Students may snorkel or dive but must be scuba-certified in order to dive.

Careers

Being a biology major at Saint Michael’s is big step toward a rewarding science career. Our grads work in the fields of genetics and molecular biology, biological and chemical research labs, environmental consulting and conservation, and pharmaceutical labs.

Others pursue a career in medicine or health sciences. We provide special advising for students interested in Pre-Medical and Health Careers.

After graduation, our majors go on to careers like:

  • Environmental Scientist
  • Fishery Observer
  • Laboratory Analyst
  • Molecular Diagnostics Technologist
  • mRNA Synthesis Production Associate
  • Water Treatment Technician
  • CDC Public Health Associate
  • Clinical Research Coordinator
  • Health Care Associate
  • HIV Case Manager
  • Physician
  • Physician’s Assistant
  • Pharmacist
  • Registered Nurse
  • Environmental Educator
  • Science Teacher

If graduate school is in your plans, plan to be accepted – over 80% of our graduates who wish to go on to post-graduate studies are accepted.

Medical, dental, and veterinary schools attended by recent Saint Michael’s biology graduates include:

  • Dartmouth Medical School
  • Laval University
  • University of Vermont
  • SUNY Buffalo
  • Tufts University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • New England College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine
  • University of Dublin

Our graduates have also gone on into Masters and Ph.D. programs at strong research universities, including:

  • Harvard University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Cornell University
  • McGill University
  • University of Massachusetts-Amherst
  • University of Massachusetts-Medical Center
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Michigan State University
  • Colorado State University

In Depth

As a first-year student, you’ll take General Biology and General Chemistry in both the fall and spring semester.

In your first semester of General Biology, you’ll explore topics in ecology and evolution through the study of local biodiversity. You’ll be designing and executing a semester-long research project focusing on the conservation of a local threatened ecosystem, the sandplain forest, as well.

As they move farther along in the major, students will then have the ability to widen the range of their fieldwork while focusing more closely on particular subjects and issues that interest them. Those interested in Tropical Ecology, for example, might travel to Costa Rica to study the biodiversity of rainforests.  We offer courses and research opportunities in a range of biological fields, including molecular biology, genetics, neurobiology, animal behavior, physiology, development biology, and ecology.

Up close and personal

You’ll find that although biology is one of our most popular subjects, you’ll get personal attention and career preparation and guidance from your professors from the very beginning. Our introductory biology courses for first-year majors have no more than 60 students in each lecture section, with 20 or fewer in each lab section.

Most upper-level biology lab classes have a maximum of 20 students per section, and seminar style classes will be smaller.

Biology Department-level Learning Outcomes

Research

Our biology professors have a broad range of research interests, including aquatic biology, animal behavior, ecology, genetics, molecular biology, evolution, developmental biology and biology education. Our faculty are active researchers who have received major competitive grant awards from the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health, among others. As importantly, they genuinely love to teach undergraduate students.

Biology students will find many opportunities to perform research with faculty during the academic year or in the summers. Recent grant-funded research projects by Biology students include:

  • Cholinergic neurons and their projections in the nervous system of the Central American Hunting Spider Cupiennius salei
  • Genetic characterization of Tripartite Motif (TRIM) Protein 25 Gene in Lynx Rufus in Vermont
  • Measurement of neuronal physiological properties in the heartbeat system of the North American leech species
  • Molecular evolution of APOBEC3H in Felidae species
  • Population and evolutionary genetics of anti-viral innate immune genetic diversity in Vermont bobcats
  • Understanding the site of phosphorylation in multiple proteins

Student researchers have been co-authors on professional publications and have presented their work at conferences locally, nationally and internationally, including at:

  • Lake Champlain Research Consortium
  • Vermont Genetics Network
  • Posters on the Hill in Washington, DC
  • American Society of Microbiologists in Boston
  • North American Benthological Society in New Orleans
  • International Maize Conference in Mexico City
  • American Fisheries Society in Quebec City
  • International Society of Limnology in Montreal

Internships

Internships are a great way to help build valuable experience for potential jobs and further education, as well as a way to put your learning into action. Biology majors have many possible internships available, including positions related to human health, natural resources, environmental education, and medical research:

Study Abroad

In recent years, 35% of Saint Michael’s biology majors have had a study abroad experience – it’s highly recommended.  However, it does require planning, so speak to your academic advisor during your first year so that you can get a plan in place that will allow you to study abroad.Faculty-led Study TripsThe Biology department takes students on faculty-led study trips during winter break.  Students can gain field experience studying tropical rain forests or coral reefs and earn 2 academic credits:Costa Rica: Tropical Ecology Study Tour (Biology 250)This study tour provides an introduction to tropical ecology including tropical climates and topography and their effects on ecosystems. The sites include a tropical dry forest at Palo Verde National Park, a mid-elevation cloud forest at Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, and a premontane rain forest at Selve Verde Preserve. Activities include guided hikes, our own group hikes, early morning bird walks, a boat ride, and night hikes. Students generate study questions from observations made on the field trips and on the last full day at each site students gather data for a study that they have designed. Students analyze and interpret the data and give oral presentations on their studies. Students also keep a field journal on plants and animals we encounter and on their observations on conservation, ecotourism impacts, and sustainable development.Costa Rica Tropical Ecology Study Tour 2017 Facebook page Cuba: Coral Reefs (Biology 254)This is an intensive 11-day field course to study coral reefs and associated habitats in Cuba, which has some of the most pristine reefs in the Caribbean. The course focuses on the health and diversity of the coral reefs as well as the ecology and behavior of the marine fish that live in association with a coral reef. Coral reefs are one of the most productive of the world’s ecosystems, and there is extraordinary complexity of interactions among the biotic and abiotic components. Studying this ecosystem in a direct and intensive way facilitates an understanding and appreciation of the intricate inter-relationships within a biological community. In addition, this fragile ecosystem provides us with an opportunity to observe and analyze the impact of various environmental threats, both natural and anthropogenic, such as coastal development, pollution, and global climate change.  Students may snorkel or dive but must be scuba-certified in order to dive.

Careers

Being a biology major at Saint Michael’s is big step toward a rewarding science career. Our grads work in the fields of genetics and molecular biology, biological and chemical research labs, environmental consulting and conservation, and pharmaceutical labs.

Others pursue a career in medicine or health sciences. We provide special advising for students interested in Pre-Medical and Health Careers.

After graduation, our majors go on to careers like:

  • Environmental Scientist
  • Fishery Observer
  • Laboratory Analyst
  • Molecular Diagnostics Technologist
  • mRNA Synthesis Production Associate
  • Water Treatment Technician
  • CDC Public Health Associate
  • Clinical Research Coordinator
  • Health Care Associate
  • HIV Case Manager
  • Physician
  • Physician’s Assistant
  • Pharmacist
  • Registered Nurse
  • Environmental Educator
  • Science Teacher

If graduate school is in your plans, plan to be accepted – over 80% of our graduates who wish to go on to post-graduate studies are accepted.

Medical, dental, and veterinary schools attended by recent Saint Michael’s biology graduates include:

  • Dartmouth Medical School
  • Laval University
  • University of Vermont
  • SUNY Buffalo
  • Tufts University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • New England College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine
  • University of Dublin

Our graduates have also gone on into Masters and Ph.D. programs at strong research universities, including:

  • Harvard University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Cornell University
  • McGill University
  • University of Massachusetts-Amherst
  • University of Massachusetts-Medical Center
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Michigan State University
  • Colorado State University