Biology

Careers

Career preparation starts your first year at Western. Visit Career Services in Library 120 and online at western.edu/career to discover your interests, define your goals and land your dream job.

Courses

For required courses and degree plans, visit the official University Catalog. Below is a general overview of courses at Western Colorado University related to this area of study.

 BIOL 130 - Environmental Biology (3 cred.)

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 150 - Biological Principles (with laboratory) (4 cred.)

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. A year of high school biology and a year of high school chemistry are highly recommended. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisites: University Entry-Level Expectations met for mathematics and English.

 BIOL 151 - Diversity and Patterns of Life (with laboratory) (4 cred.)

An overview of organismal diversity and evolution. Through a taxonomic survey, students are introduced to prokaryotic and eukaryotic diversity and evolution including microorganisms, fungi, plants, and animals. Fundamentals of evolution including the history of life, evidence for common ancestry, mechanisms of evolutionary change, and speciation are covered. Organismic structure, function, and ecology are also explored. Laboratories introduce students to the process and methods of science through investigative experiences. This course is designed for the science major. A year of high school biology and a year of high school chemistry are highly recommended. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisites: University Entry-Level Expectations met for mathematics and English.

 BIOL 301 - General Ecology (3 cred.)

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 310 - Cell Biology (3 cred.)

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

 BIOL 312 - Genetics (4 cred.)

A course in Mendelian inheritance, linkage, chromosomal aberrations, molecular genetics, gene regulation, genetic engineering, and population genetics. Prerequisites: BIOL 301, BIOL 310, CHEM 231, and CHEM 234; or CHEM 331.

 BIOL 495 - Senior Seminar (1 cred.)

An examination of biological subdisciplines through an investigation of the primary literature. The professional practices, procedures, and standards of the subdiscipline are discussed. This course may be repeated for credit and must be taken twice to fulfill the capstone course requirement. Prerequisites: Biology Nucleus; and MATH 151 or MATH 213.

 CHEM 111 - General Chemistry I (3 cred.)

An introductory course designed for science majors focusing on principles and applications of chemistry. Topics covered in this course are stoichiometry, bonding models, intermolecular forces, and periodic trends. Prerequisite or corequisite: MATH 140 or Accuplacer college-level mathematics test score of 85 or above, ACT math score of 24 or above, or instructor permission.

 CHEM 112 - General Chemistry Laboratory I (1 cred.)

An introduction to basic laboratory techniques of inorganic chemistry correlating with CHEM 111. Experiments emphasize techniques, instrumentation, and solution chemistry. Laboratory note bookkeeping and the safe handling and disposal of laboratory chemicals are also stressed. Additional course fee applies. Co-requisite: CHEM 111.

 CHEM 113 - General Chemistry II (3 cred.)

A continuation of CHEM 111. Topics covered are thermodynamics, kinetics, equilibrium, electrochemistry, and nuclear chemistry. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisite: CHEM 111 with a minimum grade of C-.

 CHEM 114 - General Chemistry Laboratory II (1 cred.)

A continuation of CHEM 112. An introduction to basic laboratory techniques of inorganic chemistry correlating with CHEM 113. Experiments emphasize techniques, instrumentation, and solution chemistry. Laboratory notebook keeping and the safe handling and disposal of laboratory chemicals are also stressed. Prerequisite: CHEM 112. Corequisite: CHEM 113.

 CHEM 231 - Introduction to Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry (3 cred.)

A descriptive survey course which introduces the essential topics and applications of organic chemistry and biochemistry. The course is designed for non-majors who need the second semester of a one-year chemistry core that includes general, organic, and biochemistry. This course may not be counted for credit toward the Chemistry Major or Minor. Prerequisite: CHEM 101 or CHEM 113.

 CHEM 234 - Introductory Organic and Biochemistry Laboratory (1 cred.)

An introductory laboratory to accompany CHEM 231. Experiments focus on reactions of organic functional groups, organic synthesis, and the chemistry of biological molecules. This course may not be counted for credit toward the Chemistry Major or Minor. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisite or co-requisite: CHEM 231.

 MATH 151 - Calculus I (4 cred.)

A study of differential calculus, including limits, continuous functions, Intermediate Value Theorem, tangents, linear approximation, inverse functions, implicit differentiation, extreme values and the Mean Value Theorem. This course also introduces Integral calculus including anti-derivatives, definite integrals, and the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus. Prerequisite: ACT math score of 27 or above; SAT math score of 630 or above; MATH 141 with a minimum grade of C-; or Accuplacer university-level mathematics test with a score of 95 or above. GT-MA1

 MATH 213 - Probability and Statistics (3 cred.)

A course in the use of statistical techniques to draw knowledge from data. Topics include exploratory data analysis, descriptive statistics, t-procedures, ANOVA, chi squared procedures, regression, and non-parametric tests. Statistical software is used extensively to analyze real data sets. Prerequisite: MATH 141 with a minimum grade of C-, or Accuplacer university-level mathematics test score of 85 or above; or instructor permission. GT-MA1

 PHYS 140 - Introductory Physics (with laboratory) (4 cred.)

A semi-quantitative introduction to the fundamental concepts of physical science, particularly the laws of physics as they relate to the structure of matter. Laboratory experiences play an important role in the investigations. This course may not be taken for credit toward the Physics Minor. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisite: ACT math score of 19 or above; SAT math score of 500 or above; MATH 099; Accuplacer Elementary Algebra test score of 85 or above.

Faculty & Staff

Faculty

Kevin Alexander, Ph.D. headshot
Professor of Biology, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs
Phone: 970.943.3405
Office Location: Taylor Hall 322
Robin A. Bingham, Ph.D. headshot
Professor of Biology
Phone: 970.943.3355
Office Location: Hurst Hall 222
Jonathan Coop, Ph.D. headshot
Associate Professor
Phone: 970.943.2565
Office Location: Kelley Hall 105
Brian Dalton, Ph.D. headshot
Lecturer in Biology
Phone: 970.943.2287
Office Location: Hurst Hall 132
Peter H. Gauss headshot
Professor of Biology
Phone: 970.943.2094
Office Location: Hurst Hall 238B
Shan Hays, Ph.D. headshot
Professor of Biology
Phone: 970.943.2552
Office Location: Hurst Hall 238C
Amy Honan headshot
Biology Lab Coordinator, Lecturer in Biology, Curator of Fungi
Phone: 970.943.2437
Office Location: Hurst Hall 128A
Derek  D. Houston, Ph.D. headshot
Thornton Chair in Biology
Office Location: Hurst Hall 143B
Chris Lee, Ph.D. headshot
Assistant Professor of Biochemistry
Phone: 970.943.2256
Office Location: Hurst Hall 218
Patrick Magee, Ph.D. headshot
Assistant Professor of Wildlife & Conservation Biology
Phone: 970.943.7121
Office Location: Hurst Hall 143A
Emily McMahill, Pharm.D. headshot
Ferchau Lecturer in Biology
Phone: 970.943.2311
Office Location: Hurst Hall 225
Cassandra Osborne, Ph.D. headshot
Professor of Biology
Phone: 970.943.3181
Office Location: Hurst Hall 238A

Scholarships

Program-Based Scholarships

Charlesworth, William Memorial Scholarship

Eligibility

  • Applied or accepted Western student
  • Student is pursuing a major in Mathematics or related Natural Sciences
  • Applicant has demonstrated a need for financial assistance
  • Demonstrated an interest and is active in inter-collegiate athletics
  • Preference should be given to entering freshmen, however all classes are eligible
  • Preference should be given to applicants whose study time is limited by family obligations or the need to earn income
  • No preference shall be given based on the sex of the applicant
  • Preference will be given to applicant from Delta County, CO. or the Western Slope of Colorado

Description

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

Award depends on funds available.

Selected By: The chair of Mathematics and Computer Science and 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 & Computer Science Department or the Athletic Department for application and deadline information.

Mathematics & Computer Science Department: 970.943.2015 | Hurst Hall 128
Athletic Department: 970.943.2079 | Paul Wright Gym 201.

Ferchau, Hugo A. Memorial Scholarship

Eligibility

  • Full-time student
  • 3.0 cumulative GPA or higher
  • 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

Description

This scholarship is provided by the family and friends to honor Dr. Ferchau for the never-ending assistance he gave to students at Western.

Award depends on funds available (anticipated award $2400).

Selected by: Sciences Scholarship Selection Committee

Application:

Contact the Natural & Environmental Sciences Department for application and deadline information.

970.943.2015 | Hurst Hall 128

Lawrence, A. W. Memorial Scholarship

Eligibility

  • Students majoring in Biology or Chemistry

Description

This scholarship is provided by the family and friends of Aubrey W. Lawrence who served as Professor of Chemistry and Chairman of the Division of Natural Science and Mathematics.

Award depends on funds available.

Selected by: Science Scholarship Selection Committee.

Application:

Contact the Natural & Environmental Sciences Department for application and deadline information.

970.943.2015 | Hurst Hall 128

Light, Dr. Mason and Betty Scholarship

Eligibility

  • Recipient must be a full-time junior or senior
  • 3.0 GPA or higher
  • must be engaged in pre-medical studies

Description

This scholarship is 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.

Award depends on funds available.

Selected by: Donor Scholarship Committee (Family of Mason Light) in cooperation with Western Colorado University Foundation and the Director of Financial Aid.

Application:

Contact the Natural & Environmental Sciences Department for application and deadline information.

970.943.2015 | Hurst Hall 128

Mckenny, Casey James Memorial Scholarships

Eligibility

  • Full-time juniors or seniors (qualified juniors shall be given preference over seniors)
  • Must be declared major in the Natural and Environmental Sciences Department
  • Must maintain at least 3.2 GPA
  • 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.

Description

this scholarship is provided by the gifts by Bill and Monica McKenny, Casey's parents, as well as other family members and friends.

Award depends on funds available.

Selected by: Natural & Environmental Sciences faculty in consultation with the Dean of Students and Bill and Monica McKenny.

Application:

Contact the Natural & Environmental Sciences Department for application and deadline information.

970.943.2015 | Hurst Hall 128

Nauman, James D. Scholarship

Eligibility

  • Full-time Colorado residents who have a major in a field within the Natural & Environmental Science Department
  • Must have a cumulative GPA of 2.0 minimum
  • Demonstrate financial need

Description

This scholarship is provided by Dr. James Nauman, who attended Western from 1945-49.

Award depends on funds available.

Selected by: Sciences Scholarship Selection Committee.

Application:

Contact the Natural & Environmental Sciences Department  for application and deadline information.

970.943.2015 | Hurst Hall 128

Walker, C. Ralph and Florence Memorial Scholarship

Eligibility

  • Full-time students who have declared a major in Biology, Chemistry, or Physics

Description

This scholarship is provided by the 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 Western 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.

Award depends on funds available.

Selected by:Sciences Scholarship Selection Committee.

Application:

Contact the Natural & Environmental Sciences Department for application and deadline information.

970.943.2015 | Hurst Hall 128

Joseph A. Kastellic Scholarship

Eligibility

  • Full-time students who are majoring in Environment & Sustainability, Environmental Biology or a related field
  • Must be a junior level (60+ credits) 
  • Minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA
  • Preference given to students with financial need who are residents of the Western Slope of Colorado and have expressed interest in a career in park operations/park management or a career in the earth sciences

Description

This scholarship is provided by Barbara Kastellic and gifts from others to honor Joseph, who was the first Superintendent of the Black Canyon National Monument from 1975-1984.

Award depends on funds available.

Application: 

Complete and submit The Joseph A. Kastellic Scholarship application which is available in the Financial Aid Office.

 A recommendation and a one-page essay will be needed to complete the application.

Institutional Scholarships

Common Scholarships

Western offers approximately 70 common scholarships for which a wide variety of students are eligible (e.g., locals, veterans, transfers). Apply for any number of these common scholarships using Western’s Common Scholarship Application, which is due April 1. For more information, visit western.edu/scholarships.

Early Action Credit

If a student is accepted to Western by Nov. 1 and qualifies for a merit scholarship, the student will receive an additional $500 for the first year. Use our Net Price Calculator to determine whether you qualify for a merit scholarship.

Mountaineer Alumni Recommendation Scholarship

Western Colorado University alumni can nominate prospective students for a $500 scholarship ($250 per semester) for first year only. Application deadline is typically June 1. For more information, visit western.edu/mars.

Neighboring States Program

Students with a permanent address from one of the seven contiguous neighboring states to Colorado who have demonstrated financial need are automatically considered for a special $1,000 per year grant, totaling $4,000 over four years.

The Western Neighboring States program can be added to WUE, CP or merit scholarships. So, if you are a permanent resident of one of those seven states—and show financial need—you are eligible.

For more information about the Neighboring States program, visit Western’s Tuition Discount Programs Page.

Presidential Promise

The Presidential Promise is guaranteed to students who have received a scholarship through the Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF) and/or GearUp—and are eligible for a Pell Grant.

For students who meet these criteria, Western will cover the cost of tuition and fees through the combination of federal, state and institutional aid. For more information on the Presidential promise, visit western.edu/scholarships.

Tuition Discount Programs

Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) or Central Plains (CP) tuition represents a substantial savings relative to normal, out-of-state tuition. Students eligible for the WUE or CP program will be charged 150% of Western’s total in-state tuition. For 2018-19, total in-state tuition was $8,934. WUE/CP tuition was $13,401. The WUE/CP discount is valued at $4,695.

For more information about the WUE and CP geography-based programs, visit Western’s Tuition Discount Programs Page.

Western Merit Scholarship

Immediately upon acceptance at Western, every student is considered for a merit scholarship worth between $2,500-$4,500 per year for in-state students and $8,000-$10,000 for out-of-state students. The amount is based on the student's GPA and ACT/SAT scores. Visit our Net Price Calculator at western.edu/cost to determine whether you qualify for a merit scholarship. 

For more information about merit scholarships at Western, visit western.edu/scholarships.

Get Involved

A college education is more than just taking courses. Meet new people, apply your skills and stretch beyond your comfort zone. Make your education an experience.

  • Pre-Health Club: Brings together students with a common interest in health fields to network and to provide career preparation, advice and peer support. 
     
  • Research Assistantships: Many professors conduct externally-funded research and are always looking for student help.
     
  • Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory: Western biologists and students collaborate with the world-renowned research station seven miles north of Crested Butte.
     
  • Thornton Biology Research Program: Students can receive funding and work with faculty on original research.
     
  • Tri Beta and The Wildlife Society: Student-run club that helps provide internships such as lynx tracking and watching wildlife. 

Biology bridges the physical and social sciences in the study of the interactions between living systems and the non-living world. The Biology standard major provides broad training in the biological sciences and the rapidly advancing knowledge at the discipline’s forefront.

General Biology students work closely with their advisers to select from a variety of upper-division elective courses and supporting science courses to create a self-designed major in areas such as botany, zoology, molecular ecology and integrative biology. This allows students to integrate the study of structure and function at all levels of biological organization from molecules to ecosystems.

Learn More

Reach out for more information about the program.

Robin_Bingham
Professor of Biology
Phone: 
Office Location: 
Hurst Hall 222

Related Programs

Cell & Molecular Biology

Read more

Chemistry

Read more

Environmental Biology & Ecology

Read more

Education

Read more

Honors Program

Read more

Pre-Medicine

Read more

Pre-Nursing

Read more

Pre-Physical Therapy

Read more

Wildlife & Conservation Biology

Read more
Read more

M.S. in Ecology 3+2

Read more

M.S. in Exercise & Sport Science: High Altitude Exercise Physiology (HAEP) 3+2

Read more