Biology

Website: biology.sewanee.edu/

Associate Professor Zigler, Chair

Professor Jones

Professor Palisano

Professor Berner

Professor Evans

Professor Haskell

Professor McGrath

Associate Professor A. Summers

Assistant Professor Kikis

Assistant Professor Cecala

Assistant Professor Moore

Visiting Assistant Professor Edwards


The study of biology at Sewanee — the study of life — can mean anything from studying cells and molecules to studying ecosystems. Breadth is a hall mark.

As part of the liberal arts program, the department helps prepare students from all areas to be better able to address present-day challenges which our society faces. The department also offers a wealth of courses and experiences to prepare majors and minors through an emphasis on learning through experimentation and/or field work. Biology students at Sewanee have unmatched opportunities for research in collaboration with faculty. Each year some students are able to publish their results in scientific journals and to present research at conferences.

Through the clasroom, laboratory, and field experiences the biology department seeks to encourage students to solve problems, think critically, work collaboratively, and communicate well. Faculty and studens together are challenged to develop the ability to empathize with other organisms, to work ethically, and to act responsibly.

The biology department offers the following three majors:

Biology explores life at scales ranging from molecules and cells to populations and ecosystems (the requirements are more fully described below).

Biochemistry is offered in collaboration with the chemistry department and addresses the molecular basis of life, exploring the interface of biology and chemistry (see the catalog section on Biochemistry for requirements).

Ecology and Biodiversity, offered as part of the Environmental Studies Program,  integrates biology with other disciplines, engaging students in both applied and theoretical aspects of environmental challenges.

The biology department will allow an AP test score of 5 or a Higher Level IB test score of 6 or 7 to substitute for Biology 133 (Introductory Cell and Molecular Biology). Students should be advised that mastery of the material covered in Biology 133 is important as majors will be tested on it during their comprehensive exams.

Major in biology: The Department of Biology requires eight courses for a major in biology: Biology 130 and 133, and five additional biology courses at the 200 or 300 level, three of which must be laboratory courses. Students may receive college credit for more than three 200- or 300-level biology courses taught by the same professor. However, no more than three may be counted among those required for the major. One-hundred-level courses with numbers lower than 130 do not count toward the major. Students who have completed and passed a) the Island Ecology summer program or b) the specific combination of the two half courses Biol 241 and Biol 251 may count either a) or b) as one laboratory course in the major. For purposes of calculating GPA within the major, the grade for the Island Ecology program will count as the equivalent of one Biology class. Additional requirements are (1) Math 101 or 102; (2) Chem 120 or equivalent; and (3) Phys 101 and 102, or 103 and 104, or equivalent. Students may substitute laboratory biology courses for one or both of the physics classes. However, students considering professional careers in medicine should be aware that all medical schools specify courses in physics and organic chemistry among their entrance requirements. Students contemplating a career in research should consider taking courses in statistics and computer science.

Minor in biology: The requirements for the minor in biology may be met by choosing one of the following two options: 1. Successful completion of Biology 130 or 131, 132 or 133, and three additional biology courses at the 200 or 300 level. 2. Successful completion of four courses at the 200 or 300 level. No comprehensive examination is required for a minor in biology. Biology majors or minors who propose taking any of their required courses in biology elsewhere must seek prior approval for each such course taken after matriculating in the college. No student may take more than one of the following courses for credit: Biology 100, 105, 106, and 116; and credit for even one is not granted for a student who has already completed 131 or 132.