Biology major

Program Overview

The Biology Department at Fairfield University is dedicated to delivering an excellent, comprehensive education to our students. Throughout the program, students are given innovative classroom instruction along with hands-on experience in labs, providing them with a deep appreciation and understanding of the diversity of living things, their adaptations to the environment and their evolutionary and ecological relationships.

The Biology Department faculty is composed of a vibrant group of scholars and researchers committed to undergraduate education. Undergraduates are given the opportunity to attend seminars on a wide range of topics, conduct original independent and team research, co-author publications and pursue internships both on-and-off campus. It’s not uncommon to see our students conducting bird surveys at the Audubon Center or working with the staff of Boston’s Children’s Hospital. By studying biology at a multitude of levels, you will be equipped to understand the challenges faced by all living things. These fundamental understandings give you the tools to grasp and address the challenges which arise in graduate medical, dental, or allied health schools, and in careers in the life and medical sciences.

 

Requirements

For a 129-credit to 143-credit major in biology, students complete the following:

Year One
BI 170-171: General Biology I and II 8 credits
CH 111-112: General Chemistry I and II 8 credits
MA 119: Applied Calculus I or MA 171: Calculus I 3-4 credits

MA 120: Applied Calculus II or MA 172: Calculus II
or MA 217: Accelerated Statistics

3-4 credits
Core curriculum courses 12 credits
Subtotal: 34 to 36 credits
Year Two
BI 172: General Biology III 4 credits
CH 211-212: Organic Chemistry I and II 8 credits
PS 115-116: General Physics I and II* 8 credits
Biology block elective (see below) 3-4 credits
Core curriculum courses 12 credits
Subtotal: 35 to 36 credits

 

Year Three**
Biology block elective (see below) 6 to 8 credits
Biology electives*** 6 to 8 credits
General electives 6 to 8 credits
Core curriculum courses 12 credits
Subtotal: 30 to 36 credits
Year Four**
Biology electives*** 3 to 4 credits
Biology capstone elective 3 credits
General electives 12 to 16 credits
Core curriculum courses 12 credits
Subtotal: 30 to 35 credits

 

*Physics may be taken in second or third year.
**The sequence for biology block electives and general electives shown here are only suggestions. You may arrange them differently.
***Various upper-level courses may be double-counted toward the departmental concentrations in molecular biology or marine sciennce. 


The Biology Department has set forth learning goals for all students majoring in Biology.  This includes specific outcomes related to both biology content and skill sets. 

 

Biology Block Electives and Additional Requirements

During the sophomore (second semester) through senior years of the degree, a minimum of six biology courses and a capstone experience (described below) are required. To ensure breadth of exposure, at least one course must be taken from each of the following three blocks. The three remaining biology course electives may be any 200- or 300-level courses from the blocks listed below. Four of the six courses taken during the sophomore (second semester) through senior years must include a laboratory component.

Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology Block

BI 261: Genetics
BI 327: Cell Biology
BI 342: Developmental Biology
BI 352: Fundamentals of Microbiology
BI 354: Molecular Biology
BI 357: General Virology


Biochemistry and Physiology Block

BI 107-108: Human Anatomy and Physiology*
BI 251: Human Nutrition
BI 262: Human Physiology
BI 310: Community Nutrition
BI 314: Endocrinology
BI 315: Anatomy: Form & Function
BI 324: Biochemistry I
BI 325: Biochemistry II
BI 330: Nutrient Metabolism
BI 356: Immunology


Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Science Block

BI 260: Ecology
BI 218: Vertebrate Zoology
BI 319: Zoology Field Experience
BI 362: Marine Invertebrate Zoology
BI 364: Freshwater Ecology
BI 365: Evolutionary Biology
BI 366: Ornithology
BI 372: Environmental Toxicology


Biology Elective

BI 216: Principles of Epidemiology
BI 317: Applied Biostatistics

* BI 107 and BI 108 may be taken by students pursuing allied health programs, where this course is required. This full-year sequence will count as one Biochemistry and Physiology block upper-level elective with lab; however, they cannot count for the major if BI 262: Human Physiology has been taken previously and will instead be recorded as extra biology electives. Permission of the department chair is required.

The choice of block electives, advanced biology electives, and general electives inside or outside the department varies according to a student's career objective and interest. Students make their choices after consultation with appropriate department advisors. Students interested in molecular biology may, for example, take advanced courses to fulfill a concentration in molecular biology.

Students interested in graduate, medical, dental, or allied health schools may select electives that meet the requirements for admission to graduate or professional schools. Students interested in science writing or teaching in biology may choose to earn minors in English or education.

The Capstone Seminar

During their capstone experience, students connect the diverse experience and knowledge they have acquired as biology majors, focusing these skills on examining in depth, a specific topic. In a small class setting (10-12 students maximum), students and the professor delve deeply into the chosen topic, assessing the peer-reviewed literature and most current trends around the particular subject. Students bring their breadth of knowledge to the discussion, and apply what they have learned over the course of their academic training to critically analyze the arguments and experiments presented in the literature. In most cases, students will be responsible for presenting a paper to the class, driving the content of discussion and debate with their fellow students and instructor. The capstone is a reading extensive experience, and, by definition, shows that the biology major is able to synthesize and apply their knowledge to examine interesting questions.

To maximize the value of the capstone experience, students enroll in an upper-level seminar course (BI 399) during their senior year. See course descriptions for topics.

 

Biology Major with a Concentration in Molecular Biology

In addition to the requirements noted above, students take four courses from the molecular, cell, and developmental biology block. BI 325: Biochemistry II and BI 356: Immunology may also be accepted. Interested students should consult with Dr. Phyllis Braun for advisement and completion of appropriate paperwork.


Biology Major with a Concentration in Marine Science

In addition to the requirements noted above, students take four courses from the marine sciences. Interested students should consult with Dr. Diane Brousseau for advisement and completion of appropriate paperwork.

BI 78: Introduction to Marine Science
BI 362: Marine Invertebrate Zoology
BI 399: Senior Capstone Seminar

  • Principles of Aquaculture
  • Coral Reef Ecology
  • Ecology of the North Atlantic Coast

BI 391-396: Biology Research
BI 397-398: Biology Internship

Biology Major with a Minor in Educational Studies and the 5-year Teacher Education Program

Biology majors who elect a minor in Educational Studies and who have been admitted to the 5-year Integrated Bachelors-Masters Degree and Teacher Certification program should consult with Dr. Olivia Harriott, education advisor and Dr. Patricia Calderwood, director of the 5-year certificate program to insure that appropriate thought and reflection on their choices for upper division biology curriculum be made in assuring the best outcome for this unique 5-year program.


Minor in Biology

For an 18-20-credit minor in biology, students complete the following:

  1. BI 170, 171, and 172 General Biology (12 credits); and
  2. Any two 3- or 4-credit biology courses numbered 200 or greater from the biology block electives.

Double counting is not allowed.

Please note many upper level biology courses require 4 semesters of Chemistry as prerequisites.

Course Offerings

See Biology course descriptions from our catalog for more information

  • BI 15: Fundamentals of Biology I 
  • BI 16: Fundamentals of Biology II
  • BI 18: Human Biology: Form and Function 
  • BI 70: Science, Technology, and Society 
  • BI 71: Identity and the Human Genome
  • BI 73: Contemporary Nutrition: Food for Thought
  • BI 74: Biology of Food 
  • BI 75: Ecology and Society 
  • BI/CH 76: Environmental Science 
  • BI 78: Introduction to Marine Science
  • BI 95/PH 216: Philosophy and Biology of Evolutionary Theory 
  • BI 96: God and Modern Biology 
  • BI 107/108: Human Anatomy and Physiology 
  • BI 151: Elements of Microbiology 
  • BI 170: General Biology I (Majors)
  • BI 171: General Biology II (Majors)
  • BI 172: General Biology III (Majors)
  • BI 201-206: Biology Teaching Practicum
    BI 216: Principles of Epidemiology
  • BI 218/BI 218L: Vertebrate Zoology
  • BI 251: Human Nutrition
  • BI 260: Ecology
  • BI 261: Genetics
  • BI 262: Human Physiology
  • BI 296: Special Topics in Biology 
  • BI 310: Cummunity Nutrition
  • BI 314: Endocrinology
  • BI 315: Anatomy: Form & Function
  • BI 317: Applied Biostatistics
  • BI 319/BI 319L: Zoology Field Experience
  • BI/CH 324: Biochemistry I
  • BI/CH 325: Biochemistry II 
  • BI/CH 324-325L: Biochemistry Lab 
  • BI 327: Cell Biology
  • BI 330: Nutrient Metabolism
  • BI 342: Developmental Biology 
  • BI 352: Fundamentals of Microbiology 
  • BI 354: Molecular Biology 
  • BI 356: Immunology 
  • BI 357: General Virology
  • BI 362: Marine Invertebrate Zoology 
  • BI 364: Freshwater Ecology 
  • BI 365: Evolutionary Biology 
  • BI 366: Ornithology 
  • BI 372: Environmental Toxicology
  • BI 375: Biochemical Ecology 
  • BI 391-396: Independent Research I, II, III, IV, V, VI 
  • BI 397-398: Internships
  • BI 399: Senior Capstone Seminar

Faculty

The College of Arts and Sciences at Fairfield University is home to a vibrant community of engaged faculty, dedicated staff and budding scholars devoted to the process of invention and discovery and excited by the prospect of producing knowledge in the service of others. Meet the innovative members of our Biology Department.

Research

Biology Webpage Research Photos

Faculty research specializations provide opportunities for qualified students to participate in laboratory research or library investigations in their chosen interest areas under a professor's guidance. These opportunities expand and enhance the biology program's numerous possibilities for individualization.

Students intending to continue their studies in graduate school should consider participating in two or more semesters of research. All on-campus research experiences require pre-arrangement with a faculty research advisor. Off-campus research experiences require an on-campus faculty mentor and approval from the department chair or research director. Prior consultation is required to assure that the particular activity meets the requirements of the biology major curriculum. Students will register for BI 391, BI 392, BI 393, BI 394, BI 395 or BI 396 Biology Research with a faculty Research Director. Research and internship experiences are extra courses and do not count towards the biology major degree requirements.

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Internships

Internships provide the opportunity for practical experience in a career field related to your major. Most departments offer credit for internships in appropriate agencies and business firms. This experience is optional in the senior year for qualified students and may be undertaken for a maximum of 6 academic credits for a year-long program. Research and internship experiences are extra courses and do not count towards the biology major degree requirements.

The purpose of the internship program is to provide you with the opportunity of earning experience in the public or private sector which has relevance to your academic major. It is expected that the internship will be mutually beneficial to both you and the organization in which you are involved. As a cooperative effort, the internship experience should allow you an opportunity for the practical application of the principles and theories you are learning in your major field of study.

Your progress will be monitored by both an on-the-job supervisor and a faculty member. If you're interested in an internship, you should discuss arrangements as early as possible with a member of the faculty.

To be eligible for an internship, you must:

  • Have completed your junior year of study
  • Be in good academic standing as defined by the department in which you're pursuing your major
  • Obtain approval to register for an internship from the designated faculty member and departmental chair

Internships for biology majors have been established at:

  • St. Vincent's and Bridgeport hospitals
  • Hartford, Danbury, Norwalk, Waterbury and Stamford hospitals
  • The Hospital of St. Raphael in New Haven
  • Fairfield County Rehabilitation Center
  • The Maritime Center in Norwalk
  • Bridgeport Regional Aquaculture School
  • Bridgeport Hydraulic Company
  • Stratford Conservation Commission
  • Connecticut Audubon Society
  • Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo
  • Earthplace
  • Environment CT and ConnPIRG 
  • The offices of various medical practitioners

Life After Fairfield

Of course, many students majoring in biology follow the pre-med concentration and have become surgeons, family physicians, psychiatrists, dentists, and veterinarians. In addition to medicine and advanced study, career paths chosen by graduates of recent years include allied health fields:

  • Chiropractic
  • Epidemiology
  • Mortuary science
  • Nutrition
  • Medical lab technology
  • Optometry
  • Osteopathy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Physician assistants
  • Public health
  • Podiatry

Several have gone to law school with the aim of specializing in forensics or environmental law. Others have found positions in government agencies where knowledge of biology is a qualification and some have taken business positions in hospital administration or with pharmaceutical companies. Those entering graduate schools have specialized in at least 20 different fields of modern biology.

Learn more about how Fairfield's Career Planning Center can support your post-graduate goals, and how Fairfield's tight-knit alumni network can build career and mentoring opportunities that last a lifetime.

Biology Lecture Series

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‌This lecture series is dedicated to the memory of Donald J. Ross Sr., Professor Emeritus, who passed away in August 2008 and was one of the founding members of the Fairfield University Biology Department. Teaching was Dr. Ross’ first priority, whether it was in the classroom or laboratory. Hundreds of his students over his 58-year teaching career went on to earn M.D.s and advanced degrees in biology or related fields. This series continues his work of educating and engaging students in scientific inquiry.  For powerpoints and audio recordings of each lecture, please click here.   

All lectures will take place in the DiMenna-Nyselius Library in the multimedia room at 12 noon.

2017-2018

September 27, 2017  J. Alan Clark, Ph.D.  Associate Professor, Dept. of Biological Sciences, Fordham University   
Coloniality, Socially Facilitated Behavior, and Conservation: A Focus on Penguins

October 25, 2017  Joshua Cordeira, Ph.D.  Assistant Professor, Dept. of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Western CT State University
Staying Up All Night is Not Alright: Understanding the Cognitive Consequences of Sleep Loss

November 29, 2017  Julianna Ansari, Ph.D.  Labratory Supervisor, Fairfield University
Fragments of Life: Detecting Microbes and Disease by Molecular Signatures

January 31, 2018  Meghan Dancho Addorisio ’06, Ph.D.  Research Associate in Biomedical Science, The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research-Northwell Health   
Neuronal Control of Inflammation, Presenting Sponsor: Richard T. and Christine Ross Earls '79, P'11, P'15

February 28, 2018  Andrea Ward, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Biology Dept., Adelphi University  
Fish Out of Water: How Body Shape Affects Terrestrial Locomotion in Aquatic Vertebrate

March 28, 2017  Shannon Gerry, Ph.D.  Associate Professor, Biology Dept., Fairfield University
Evaluating Form-Function-Fitness Relationships in Polyphenic Bluegill

Student Profiles

Maria Galluzzo Picture

Maria Galluzzo

'15

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Undergrad: Biology, concentration in molecular biology
Current hometown: Meriden, Connecticut
Awards and Scholarhips: Science Institute Grant for summer research

Why Biology?

From a young age I was interested in science. As I grew up I became more and more intrigued in how things worked. To fuel my passion for science, specifically topics such as zoology at the time, my parents would take me to library so I could check out books on different animals. When I entered high school my interests switched from zoology to general biology. One specific class in high school, called Biotechnology, aided me in finding my specific niche in science. It was a class of six people and consisted of a year of performing scientific research. I could honestly say that this class allowed me to find out what I wanted to do as a future career. From that day on I knew that I wanted to go into scientific research. I started college as biochemistry major and it wasn’t until my sophomore year that I switched to a biology major. I had decided that I wanted to focus purely on biology instead of balancing both biology and chemistry. It was then that I discovered my interest in molecular biology and I am currently working on a concentration in molecular biology. Even though my interests have changed to molecular biology a part of me is still interested in topics like zoology and the natural world. I keep up these interests by taking ecology classes and doing research with great professors. No matter how many times my interests changed I always knew that I would want to do something in science.
       

 

Describe a favorite course and how it helped your academic growth?

All of the classes I have taken at Fairfield University have helped me in some way, but if I had to choose one class that really helped my academic growth I would have to say it was my Immunology class with Dr. Phyllis Braun. This was my second class with Dr. Braun and before taking any classes with Dr. Braun I was a quiet student that would never raise my hand in class. It wasn’t until my first class with her, Molecular Biology (which consisted of three students including myself), that I was required to speak in class. By my second class with Dr. Braun I became more comfortable with speaking in class and I can say that I am now confident enough to not be afraid of being wrong in class. Dr. Braun is a professor that should be seen as a wealth of knowledge and has much to offer to her students. She was able to take what is a very challenging subject and make it manageable by giving us handouts with diagrams and constantly going over, as she would say “the characters of the story.” Not only did this class challenge me to think in different ways then would be considered the norm, but it also helped me to become more confident in my own knowledge. I have grown as a student greatly under the guidance from Dr. Braun and my academic skills have grown immensely after taking her classes. I look forward to taking more classes with her.  

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Alexa Annunziata

'16

 

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Undergrad Degree: Biology major with a concentration in marine biology. Minor in environmental studies
Hometown:
Eastchester, New York
Extracurricular Activities:
Resident Assistant in the Service for Justice Residential College; Member of NRHH, Front Desk and Equipment Assistant at the RecPlex
Awards and Scholarships: 
Bellarmine Merit Scholarship

Why did you choose to study your major at Fairfield University?

I choose to major in biology because science is my true passion and after carful consideration I realized that Fairfield University had a strong biology program with a lot to offer including diverse classes, research opportunities, and internships.

 

How have you been inspired in pursuit of your academic interests?

After completing the general biology classes and being exposed to various topics I found I had a strong interest in marine biology. I sought out the academic advisor for the marine biology concentration Dr. Diane Brousseau and she guided me in terms of courses and other extracurricular activities. She introduced me to the BASE Camp program where I became an assistant counselor. All of these experiences have helped affirm my decision to pursue a career in marine science. 

After living in the Service for Justice Residential College my sophomore year I learned about various walks of life and the impact the environment has on those lives. This inspired me to pursue a minor in Environmental studies.   

 

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Caterina Aiello

'14

 

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Undergrad: Biology/Pre-Med, Minors in Italian and French
Current hometown: Glen Ridge, NJ
Extracurricular Activities: Operation Smile, French Club, Alpha Mu Gamma, and National Society of Collegiate Scholars

How/why did you select your major/minor?

Selecting a major was simple for me – I knew I wanted to go to medical school, and so I chose Biology/Pre-Med. My biology degree prepared me for graduate school, where I earned a master’s degree in Biomedical Sciences, as well as medical school, where I am currently in my third year. While at Fairfield University, I also had two minors, Italian and French. I already spoke both languages, and since medical schools value well-rounded students, I knew it would be beneficial to pursue these two minors (and it was!).
       

 

Describe a project completed through the program that you are particularly proud of.

The breast cancer research I conducted alongside Dr. Phelan for my senior capstone was very fulfilling work, and it also prepared me for the research I completed as a graduate student.

 

What attributes regarding the faculty did you find particularly helpful/encouraging?

I can only say positive things about the faculty at Fairfield. Having been a biology major, a foreign language minor, and a student in the Honors Program, I was exposed to many different academic departments in the College of Arts and Sciences. Whether it was Dr. Miecznikowski spending time outside of office hours to answer our inorganic chemistry questions, or Dr. Orlando having an end-of-semester dress-up party, where we dressed as our favorite characters from the books we had read in her Victorian City honors course, every professor I had went above and beyond to make sure that we not only understood what we were learning, but that we enjoyed it as well.

 

Describe the ways that the University’s Jesuit mission and identity had a positive influence in your academic and personal experience.

Fairfield’s Jesuit mission and identity influenced my academic and personal experience not only as an undergraduate, but even today as a medical student. The Jesuit idea of cura personalis, or care of the whole person, is so important in the field of medicine. As I tell the patients I see every day, it is vital to take care of the mind, body, and spirit in order to lead healthy and fulfilling lives. The Jesuit motto of men and women for others has also greatly influenced my experience in the medical field. Every day, I am encouraged to learn more and further my education so that I am better prepared to help patients. The more information I learn, the more knowledge I can use to help others.

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