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.
For a 129-credit to 143-credit major in biology, students complete the following:
|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
|Core curriculum courses||12 credits|
|Subtotal:||34 to 36 credits|
|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|
|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|
|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
* 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
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:
Double counting is not allowed.
Please note many upper level biology courses require 4 semesters of Chemistry as prerequisites.
See Biology course descriptions from our catalog for more information
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.
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.
Get started by:
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:
Internships for biology majors have been established at:
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:
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.
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.
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
Undergrad: Biology, concentration in molecular biology
Current hometown: Meriden, Connecticut
Awards and Scholarhips: Science Institute Grant for summer research
Describe a favorite course and how it helped your academic growth?
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?
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.
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?
Describe a project completed through the program that you are particularly proud of.
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..