Biology

Biology bridges the physical and social sciences in the study of living systems and how they interact - both with each other and the nonliving world. Western's Biology program provides broad training in the biological or life sciences and the rapidly advancing knowledge at the discipline’s forefront.

In addition to general biology, Western offers programs in the following areas:

What Will You Learn? What Skills Will You Acquire?

You will take a core of basic courses and choose one of five different emphases for your major. No matter your path, the biology program provides you with an excellent background for graduate and professional school, or for employment in biological science. Student successes include conducting independent, cutting-edge research and presenting at conferences.

Beyond the Classroom

Through hands-on activities at our outstanding indoor laboratories and in the living laboratory of the Gunnison Basin, you will work side by side with your faculty to explore wildlife biology, conservation, developmental biology, evolutionary ecology, aquatic ecology, virology and genomics.

After Graduation

Our small classes mean you receive individual attention and faculty mentoring, making Western's biology program ideal for career preparation, or for medical, professional or graduate school. We’ll help you find your future in the life sciences.

Next Steps

If you're interested in Western's Biology Program, we invite you to take the next steps towards becoming a part of the Mountaineer family. 

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  5. Find scholarships, grants, or financial aid that match your interests and situation.

Courses

 BIOL 120 - STUDIES IN BIOLOGY (3 credits)

An introduction to selected biological topics and the methods of science through an exploration of current topics such as evolution, bioethics and conservation biology. Students may only take this course once for credit.

 BIOL 130 - ENVIRONMENTAL BIOLOGY (3 credits)

An introduction to basic biological principles as they apply to interactions between organisms and their environment. Consideration is given to biotic and abiotic interactions, energy flow, biogeochemical cycling, population growth, biodiversity, basic cell biology, genetics, and evolution with a special emphasis on human impacts on these biological systems. This course establishes a strong foundation in applied biology from a scientific perspective.

 BIOL 135 - ENVIRONMENTAL BIOLOGY LABORATORY (1 credits)

An experimental approach in both the field and Laboratory to explore fundamental biological principles including biotic and abiotic interactions, energy flow, biogeochemical cycling, population growth, biodiversity, basic cell biology, genetics and evolution. Prerequisite or corequisite: BIOL 130.

 BIOL 150 - BIOLOGICAL PRINCIPLES WITH LABORATORY (4 credits)

An introduction to the central unifying concepts of biology including the biochemical foundations of life, cell structure and function, cell metabolism, genetics, and evolution. laboratories introduce students to the process and methods of science through investigative experiences. This course is designed for the science major. Prerequisites: A year of high school biology; and a year of high school chemistry or CHEM 101 or CHEM 111.

 BIOL 151 - DIVERSTY AND PATTERNS OF LIFE WITH LABORATORY (4 credits)

An overview of organismal diversity and ecology. Through a taxonomic survey, students are introduced to prokaryotic and eukaryotic diversity including microorganisms, plants, and animals. Organismic anatomy and physiology, as well as fundamentals of ecology, are also considered. laboratories introduce students to the process and methods of science through investigative experiences. This course is designed for the science major. Prerequisites: A year of high school biology and a year of high school chemistry or CHEM 111.

 BIOL 200 - ENVIRONMENTAL AND PUBLIC HEALTH (3 credits)

An appraisal of man's surroundings which influence his health, including an introduction to the societal structure designed to cope with health problems. Of particular benefit to those who plan to major in the social sciences or enter the field of public health.

 BIOL 201 - INTRODUCTION TO MICROBIOLOGY WITH LABORATORY (4 credits)

A study of the basic aspects of microbiology for allied health students that includes an introduction to the identification, physiology, growth and control of microbes. Laboratory exercises will emphasize aseptic, pure culture, and identification techniques. This course can only be used to fulfill graduation requirement for students in the allied health biology emphasis.

 BIOL 300 - BASIC NUTRITION (3 credits)

An introduction to the science of human nutrition. Consideration is given to the chemical nature and functions of the major groups of nutrients, the function of the digestive system, energy metabolism and balance, weight control, and nutrition for fitness. Human nutrition during the life span is also addressed. Prerequisites: BIOL 130 or BIOL 150; and CHEM 101 or CHEM 111.

 BIOL 301 - GENERAL ECOLOGY (3 credits)

An introduction to basic ecological principles and their relationships to natural systems. Human impact on the natural systems is assessed. Prerequisites: BIOL 150 and BIOL 151. Prerequisite or corequisite: COM 202.

 BIOL 302 - ECOLOGY LABORATORY AND RECITATION (2 credits)

An experimental approach in both field and Laboratory to explore fundamental ecological principles. Students gather and analyze data to address ecological hypotheses, learn practical ecological skills (performing field techniques, using statistical and graphical tools, and interpreting ecological software), and develop oral and written communication skills. Prerequisites: BIOL 150, BIOL 151, and CHEM 113. Prerequisite or corequisite: BIOL 301.

 BIOL 310 - CELL BIOLOGY (3 credits)

An introduction to cellular function and structure. Prerequisites: BIOL 150 and BIOL 151. Prerequisite or corequisite: CHEM 231 or CHEM 331; and COTH 202.

 BIOL 312 - GENETICS (4 credits)

A course in Mendelian inheritance, linkage, chromosomal aberrations, molecular genetics, gene regulation, genetic engineering, and population genetics. Prerequisites: BIOL 301, BIOL 310, CHEM 105, and CHEM 109; or CHEM 331.

 BIOL 313 - CELL GENETICS LABORATORY (2 credits)

An introduction to experimentation and Laboratory techniques used in cell biology, physiology, and genetics, including experimental design, data analysis, and presentation of research results. Prerequisite or corequisite: BIOL 312.

 BIOL 320 - ORNITHOLOGY WITH LABORATORY AND RECITATION (4 credits)

An introduction to the study of bird evolution, ecology, and conservation. This course has a strong field component providing frequent opportunities to observe birds in their native environments. Prerequisite: BIOL 301 or instructor permission

 BIOL 322 - MAMMALOGY LABORATORY AND RECITATION (4 credits)

An introduction to the study of mammal taxonomy, evolution, ecology and conservation. Prerequisite: BIOL 301 or instructor permission.

 BIOL 327 - FIELD ENTOMOLOGY WITH LABORATORY (4 credits)

An introduction to the world of the most diverse and abundant form of animal life on Earth through an experiential, field, and Laboratory class. The course emphasizes field study, collection and preservation, identification, ecology, and natural history. Prerequisite: BIOL 301 or instructor permission.

 BIOL 342 - MICROBIOLOGY WITH LABORATORY (4 credits)

An introduction to microbial morphology, identification, physiology, genetics, and microbiology Laboratory techniques. A brief consideration is given to fungi. Prerequisites: Biology Nucleus

 BIOL 352 - BOTANY WITH LABORATORY (4 credits)

Using field and Laboratory experiences this course explores the diversity within the plant kingdom using a comparative approach to examine evolutionary trends and relationships. Students are introduced to the structure and function of plants through an investigation of plant cells, tissues, organs, and basic physiological processes. Economic importance, human uses, and significance of plants to society are emphasized. Prerequisites: BIOL 150, BIOL 151, and ENG 102; or instructor permission.

 BIOL 353 - ROCKY MOUNTAIN FLORA (3 credits)

A field and Laboratory course focusing on identification of flowering plants common to the Western Slope of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. This course covers methods of plant collection and preservation, field identification, natural history, and ecology as well as local plants of particular human interest, including those that are medically important, edible, and poisonous. Prerequisites: BIOL 150 and BIOL 151; or instructor permission.

 BIOL 362 - EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY-THEORY AND APPLICATION (3 credits)

This course provides a comprehensive overview of evolutionary processes and mechanisms within an applied framework. Evolutionary perspectives in human health and medicine, environmental and conservation biology, agriculture and natural resource management, and biotechnology are covered. Topics include organismic adaptation to changing environments and long-term responses to environmental perturbation, and insights into many issues of growing social importance such as climate change, land use change, and emerging diseases. Prerequisites: BIOL 312; or ENVS 350, ENVS 370, ENVS 390, and either BIOL 151 or both BIOL 130 and BIOL 135; or instructor permission.

 BIOL 372 - HUMAN ANATOMY AND PHYSIOLOGY I WITH LABORATORY (4 credits)

An introduction to regulatory mechanisms which maintain normal body function. Specific topics include cytology, histology, integumentary system, skeletal system, muscular system, and nervous system. The course is designed for allied health and exercise and sport science students. Prerequisites: BIOL 150; CHEM 105 or CHEM 111.

 BIOL 373 - HUMAN ANATOMY AND PHYSIOLOGY II WITH LABORATORY (4 credits)

A continuation of BIOL 372 Human Anatomy and Physiology I. Specific topics include immunology, cardiovascular system, respiratory system, digestive system, excretory system, reproductive system, and endocrine system. Prerequisite: BIOL 372.

 BIOL 392 - INDEPENDENT STUDY (1 credits)

A study in a specific area of biology under the direction of a faculty member. May be taken for a maximum of four credits. Graded Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory only.

 BIOL 397 - SPECIAL TOPICS ( 1-6 credits)

Special topics (1-6 credit hours, to be determined by faculty, department and student)

 BIOL 398 - BIOLOGY TEACHING PRACTICUM (1 credits)

Under faculty supervision, students participate in the development of Laboratory and field experience exercises, as well as in their instruction and execution. Specifically designed for students serving as teaching assistants in Biology. May be taken for a maximum of 3 credits. Graded Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory only. Prerequisite: Biol 150, Biol 151, and instructor permission

 BIOL 420 - MOLECULAR BIOLOGY I WITH LABORATORY (4 credits)

A study of the molecular mechanisms by which cellular processes are controlled in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. Topics include the biochemistry of macromolecular processes, the structure of genes and chromosomes, the genetic and molecular techniques used to study gene expression, and the transcriptional and translational control of gene expression. The Laboratory includes recombinant DNA techniques to manipulate the genome of a model organism. Prerequisites: BIOL 312 and CHEM 471.

 BIOL 430 - WILDLIFE ECOLOGY MANAGEMENT WITH LABORATORY (4 credits)

Principles of ecology are applied to population and habitat management towards wildlife conservation. Tools used by wildlife biologists to restore endangered species, harvest sustainable populations, reduce overpopulated species, and to monitor and study populations are emphasized. Habitat management approaches are discussed, along with human dimensions in wildlife conservation. A field component allows students to investigate wildlife populations and habitat issues in the Gunnison Basin. Prerequisite: BIOL 301 or instructor permission.

 BIOL 431 - WILDLIFE TECHNIQUES WORKSHOP (1 credits)

A one week intensive field course focuses on wildlife conservation issues and wildlife management techniques such as trapping and marking wildlife, radio telemetry, population monitoring, GPS and GIS, and wildlife conflict resolution. The course includes a trip outside the basin; a field trip course fee is required. Prerequisite: BIOL 301 or instructor permission. Co-requisite: BIOL 430

 BIOL 435 - ANIMAL BEHAVIOR (3 credits)

An introduction to the study of animal behavior. This course emphasizes the importance of ecology and evolution in understanding animal behavior. Prerequisites: Biology Nucleus or instructor permission.

 BIOL 440 - CONSERVATION BIOLOGY (3 credits)

This course addresses the reduction in biological diversity of the planet and suggested solutions to prevent further reduction. Integrating themes are drawn from scientific disciplines such as population genetics, ecology, evolutionary biology, botany, zoology, molecular biology, biochemistry, and wildlife management. Prerequisites: BIOL 312; or ENVS 350, ENVS 370, ENVS 390, and either BIOL 151 or both BIOL 130 and BIOL 135; or instructor permission.

 BIOL 444 - COLORADO ECOREGIONS (3 credits)

A survey of the three main ecoregions of Colorado including the Great Plains, the Southern Rocky Mountains, and the Colorado Plateau. Students travel throughout Colorado and explore the ecology and natural history of the ecosystems by hiking, backpacking, and river rafting. Content includes an evolutionary perspective on ecosystem features and the adaptations of species characterizing each system, as well as applied issues in natural resources management. Prerequisite: BIOL 301 or instructor permission.

 BIOL 454 - DEVELOPMENTAL BIOLOGY WITH LABORATORY (4 credits)

An examination of the embryology of vertebrates, stressing mammalian embryonic development and comparisons with amphibians, reptiles, and birds. Prerequisites: Biology 312.

 BIOL 474 - COMPARATIVE ANIMAL PHYSIOLOGY WITH LABORATORY (4 credits)

An analysis of function in invertebrates and vertebrates, utilizing an environmental approach and emphasizing evolutionary trends in physiological systems. Prerequisites: Biology Nucleus and PHYS 140.

 BIOL 476 - AQUATIC ECOLOGY WITH LABORATORY (4 credits)

A study of physical, chemical, and biological parameters of lakes and streams in the functioning of freshwater eco-systems. Prerequisites: Biology Nucleus and SCI 202; or instructor permission.

 BIOL 477 - PLANT ECOLOGY WITH LABORATORY (3 credits)

An introduction to plant populations and communities, including their role within terrestrial ecosystems. Prerequisites: Biol 301; or instructor permission

 BIOL 481 - FOREST ECOLOGY WITH LABORATORY (4 credits)

Ecology of forest species, communities, landscapes, and ecosystems, with a focus on the Gunnison Basin. Topics include tree physiology, species interactions, fire and disturbance, succession, forest types, climate, forest management and restoration. LABORATORYs and field trips will provide hands-on experience and practical skills in tree identification, forest mensuration, vegetation sampling, statistics and GIS. Students will develop and conduct independent/group research projects. Prerequisites: BIOL 301, MATH 213

 BIOL 495 - SENIOR SEMINAR (1 credits)

An examination of biological sub disciplines through an investigation of the primary literature. The professional practices, procedures, and standards of the sub discipline are discussed. This course may be repeated for credit and must be taken twice to fulfill the Capstone Course requirement. Graded Satisfactory/ Unsatisfactory only. Prerequisites: Biology Nucleus and MATH 213.

 BIOL 496 - SENIOR THESIS ( 2-4 credits)

An application of the research-based practices for instruction in math. Focus is placed on the foundations for assessing and teaching math by addressing basic skills, critical thinking skills, conceptual understanding, real life applications, and diverse learner needs. Students implement and review specific assessment practices, teaching structures, intervention strategies, and technology applications within a standards- based framework of instruction. Prerequisite: admission to the Education Department.

 BIOL 497 - SPECIAL TOPICS ( 1-6 credits)

thinking skills, conceptual understanding, real life applications, and diverse learner

Scholarships

Scholarships associated with academic programs usually have a specific scholarship application form that can easily be obtained by contacting that academic program's office or visiting that academic program's web page. If you have any questions, please contact the Financial Aid office at 970.943.3085 or 800.876.5309.

 Charlesworth, William Memorial Scholarship

Charlesworth, William Memorial Mathematics and Natural Science Scholarship Available to:

The applicant has applied to and has been accepted for admission to Western State Colorado University and is pursuing a major in mathematics or related natural sciences. The applicant has demonstrated a need for financial assistance. The applicant has demonstrated an interest and is active in inter-collegiate athletics. Preference should be given to entering freshmen; however, all classes, freshmen through senior, are eligible. Preference should be given to applicants whose study time is limited by family obligations or the need to earn income. No preference should be given based on the sex of the applicant. Preference should be given to applicants from Delta County, Colorado, or from the Western Slope of Colorado.

Scholarship Provided by:

Established with the Western State Colorado University Foundation to perpetuate the memory of William Charlesworth, a 1954 graduate of Western State Colorado University. The express purpose of the fund is to provide financial assistance to student-athletes pursuing majors in mathematics or related natural sciences.

Amount: Award depends on funds available.

Scholarship Recipient Selected by:

Chaired by the chairman of Mathematics and Computer Information Science and shall include a representative from the Athletic Department appointed by the Athletic Director. A representative from the Natural Sciences Department shall be on the selection committee.

Application: Contact the Mathematics and Computer Information Science Department or the Athletic Department for application and deadline information. MCIS Department: (970) 943-2015 - Hurst Hall 128 Athletic Department: (970) 943-2079 - Paul Wright Gym 201

Find out more about Western's Math Program at www.western.edu/mathematics.

Find out more about Western's Chemistry Program at www.western.edu/chemistry.

Find out more about Western's Biology Program at www.western.edu/biology.

Find out more about Western's Geology Program at www.western.edu/geology.

 Ferchau, Hugo A. Memorial Scholarship

Ferchau, Hugo A. Memorial Biology Scholarship is Available to:

A full-time student at Western State Colorado University. Must maintain a cumulative GPA average of 3.0 and have obtained at least sophomore status. Must demonstrate an interest and capability to pursue studies and/or research in the area of botany and native plant research (Biology). Preference will be given to those with financial need.

Scholarship Provided by:

Family and friends to honor Dr. Ferchau for the never-ending assistance he gave to students at Western.

Amount: Award depends on funds available (Anticipated award $2400).

Scholarship Recipient Selected by:

Sciences Scholarship Selection Committee.

Application: Contact the Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences for application and deadline information. (970) 943-2015 - Hurst Hall 128

Find out more about Western's Biology Program at www.western.edu/biology

 Lawrence, A. W. Memorial Scholarship

Lawrence, A.W. Biology and Chemistry Scholarship is Available to:

Students majoring in Biology or Chemistry.

Scholarship Provided by:

Family and friends of Aubrey W. Lawrence who served as Professor of Chemistry and Chairman of the Division of Natural Science and Mathematics.

Amount: Award depends on funds available.

Scholarship Recipient Selected by:

Science Scholarship Selection Committee.

Application: Contact the Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences for application and deadline information. (970) 943-2015 - Hurst Hall 128

Find out more about Western's Biology Program at www.western.edu/biology

Find out more about Western's Chemistry Program at www.western.edu/chemistry

 Light, Dr. Mason and Betty Scholarship

Light, Dr. Mason and Betty Biology Scholarship Available to:

Recipient must be a junior or senior and a full-time student attending Western State Colorado University for the term following the scholarship award; must have obtained at least a 3.0 GPA; must be engaged in pre-medical studies.

Scholarship Provided by:

Dr. Mason Light, who served the college community for over forty years while he was a practicing physician in Gunnison. He and his wife established this scholarship.

Amount: Award depends on funds available.

Scholarship Recipient Selected by:

Donor Scholarship Committee (Family of Mason Light) in cooperation with Western State Foundation and the Director of Financial Aid.

Application: Contact the Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences for application and deadline information. (970) 943-2015 - Hurst Hall 128

Find out more about Western's Biology Program at www.western.edu/biology

 Mckenny, Casey James Memorial Scholarship

Mckenny, Casey James Memorial, Natural and Environmental Sciences Scholarship is Available to:

Full-time students at Western who are Juniors or Seniors (qualified Juniors shall be given preference over Seniors). Must be a declared major in Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences. Must maintain a GPA of 3.2 or greater. Recipients must follow Casey's example of academic promise, love for the outdoors and service to fellow students demonstrated by volunteering in the community and involvement in campus activities and service.

Scholarship Provided by:

Gifts by Bill and Monica McKenny, Casey's parents, as well as other family members and friends.

Amount: Award depends on funds available.

Scholarship Recipient Selected by:

Western NAES faculty in consultation with the Dean of Students and Bill and Monica McKenny.

Application: Contact the Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences for application and deadline information. (970) 943-2015 - Hurst Hall 128.

Find out more about Western's Physics Program at www.western.edu/physics

Find out more about Western's Biology Program at www.western.edu/biology

Find out more about Western's Chemistry Program at www.western.edu/chemistry

Find out more about Western's Geology Program at www.western.edu/geology

 Nauman, James D. Scholarship

Nauman, James D. Department of Environmental Sciences Scholarship is Available to:

Full-time, Colorado residents who have a major in a field within the Department of Natural & Environmental Sciences. Must have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 and demonstrated financial need.

Scholarship Provided by:

Dr. James Nauman, who attended Western from 1945-49.

Amount: Award depends on funds available.

Scholarship Recipient Selected by:

Sciences Scholarship Selection Committee.

Application: Contact the Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences for application and deadline information. (970) 943-2015 - Hurst Hall 128

Find out more about Western's Physics Program at www.western.edu/physics

Find out more about Western's Biology Program at www.western.edu/biology

Find out more about Western's Chemistry Program at www.western.edu/chemistry

 Walker, C. Ralph and Florence Memorial Scholarship

Walker, C. Ralph and Florence Memorial Scholarship (Biology, Chemistry, Physics) is Available to:

Full-time students at Western State Colorado University; must have declared a major in Biology, Chemistry or Physics.

Scholarship Provided by:

Gifts from members of the Walker family to perpetuate the memory and to commemorate the service and devotion of C. Ralph and Florence Walker who both served the College and the Gunnison community in an exemplary manner for many years. Professor Walker was Chairman of Western's then Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

Amount: Award depends on funds available.

Scholarship Selected by:

Sciences Scholarship Selection Committee.

Application: Contact the Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences for application and deadline information. (970) 943-2015 - Hurst Hall 128

Find out more about Western's Physics Program at www.western.edu/physics.

Find out more about Western's Biology Program at www.western.edu/biology.

Find out more about Western's Chemistry Program at www.western.edu/chemistry.

Faculty & Staff

Faculty

Professor of Biology
B.A., University of Texas at Austin, Ph.D., University of North Texas
Phone: (970) 943-3405
Office Location: Hurst Hall 143C
Professor of Biology
B.A., University of Vermont; M.A., Ph.D., University of Colorado.
Phone: (970) 943-3355
Office Location: Hurst Hall 222
Assistant Professor in Biology and Environment & Sustainability
B.A., Biology, University of California–Santa Cruz, 1995, Ph.D., Botany, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 2005
Phone: (970) 943-2565
Office Location: Kelly Hall 105
B.A., Colorado College, Ph.D., University of Colorado at Boulder
Phone: (970) 943-2543
Office Location: Hurst Hall 16D
Professor of Biology
B.S., St. Joseph’s University; Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University.
Phone: (970) 943-2094
Office Location: Hurst Hall 238B
Assistant Professor of Biology
B.A., University of Colorado; B.A., University of Colorado; Ph.D., University of Oregon
Phone: (970) 943-2552
Office Location: Hurst Hall 238C
Biology Laboratory Coordinator
B.A., Western State College of Colorado; M.S., San Francisco State University.
Phone: (970) 943-2437
Office Location: Hurst Hall 143B
Thornton Chair in Biology
B.S, Colorado State University. M.S., University of Missouri; Ph.D., University of Missouri.
Phone: (970) 943-7121
Office Location: Hurst Hall 143A
Associate Professor of Biology
B.S., Allegheny College; Ph.D., Dartmouth College.
Phone: (970) 943-3181
Office Location: Hurst Hall 238A
Lecturer in Environment & Sustainability, and Biology
B.S., Winona State University, M.S., University of Minnesota Duluth, Ph.D., University of Minnesota
Phone:
Office Location:
B.S., Louisiana State University, M.S., University of Kansas, Ph.D., University of Kansas
Phone: (970) 943-2015
Office Location: Hurst Hall 128
Lecturer in Biology
B.A., University of Boulder , M.A., University of Denver and Health Sciences, Ph.D., University of Denver and Health Sciences
Phone: (970) 943-2145
Office Location: Hurst Hall 218
Emeritus Professor of Biology
B.S., University of California-Davis; Ph.D., University of Idaho.
Phone:
Office Location: