Department of Biology
Biology is the study of life from both basic and applied perspectives across a broad range of analytical levels, from the molecule and cell to the organism and ecosystem. The major in biology provides a broad education directed toward an appreciation of the complexity of nature, and prepares students for careers in the biological, environmental, and medical sciences. The B.S. and B.A. majors in biology prepare students for careers in the health professions (including medical, dental, and veterinary) and in research or teaching in institutions of higher education, government, and private industry. Departmental majors gain a firm foundation in essential areas of biology through the core curriculum and have ample choices for study in various specialized subjects. A quantitative biology track in the B.S. major provides training in interdisciplinary computational approaches to studying biological questions. The department offers many opportunities for mentored undergraduate research and internships.
The biology department offers intensive advising services for our undergraduate students. The departmental advisor, Dr. Gidi Shemer (213A Coker Hall), will be happy to assist with course planning, career development, finding research opportunities, and any other question or concern with regards to the major. Biology majors interested in study abroad should contact Dr. Elaine Yeh to learn about opportunities and transfer credits. For general assistance with registration in courses and various forms, please contact the biology undergraduate student services registrar, Ms. Summer Montgomery in 213 Coker Hall.
The Department of Biology occupies parts of four buildings: Wilson Hall and its annex, Coker Hall, Fordham Hall, and the Genome Sciences Building. The department is served by the Kenan Science Library, located in Venable Hall, which provides research information services and resources for the basic sciences. In addition, the department has greenhouses on the fifth floor of the Genome Sciences Building, a microscopy facility that contains three confocal microscopes and associated support facilities, a P3 laboratory, a small-mammal facility, insect culturing rooms, and marine aquaria.
Graduate School and Career Opportunities
Those who plan careers in health sciences, including dentistry, medicine, veterinary medicine, and others, should consult with advisors in the Health Professions Advising Office in Steele Building. Special courses in marine science are offered through the Department of Biology and the Department of Earth, Marine, and Environmental Sciences at the Institute of Marine Sciences, Morehead City, NC.
Shawn Ahmed, Albert S. Baldwin Jr., Victoria L. Bautch, Kerry S. Bloom, John F. Bruno, Christina L. Burch, Sabrina E. Burmeister, Frank L. Conlon, Gregory P. Copenhaver, Jeffrey L. Dangl, Robert J. Duronio, Terrence S. Furey, Patricia G. Gensel, Robert P. Goldstein, Tyson L. Hedrick, Allen H. Hurlbert, Alan M. Jones, Corbin D. Jones, Joseph J. Kieber, Joel G. Kingsolver, Alain Laederach, Kenneth J. Lohmann, Amy S. Maddox, A. Gregory Matera, Ann G. Matthysse, Daniel R. Matute, Charles E. Mitchell, Mark A. Peifer, David W. Pfennig, Karin S. Pfennig, Jason W. Reed, Jeff J. Sekelsky, Maria R. Servedio.
Jill Dowen, Paul S. Maddox, Daniel J. McKay, Zachary Nimchuk, Stephen L. Rogers, Celia Shiau, Kevin C. Slep, Keith W. Sockman, Todd J. Vision.
Rob Dowen, Kacy Gordon, Toshihide Hige, Parul Johri, Sophie McCoy, Senay Yitbarek.
Corey S. Johnson, Gidi Shemer.
Teaching Associate Professors
Mara Evans, Catherine M. F. Lohmann.
Teaching Assistant Professors
Alaina Garland, Eric Hastie, Laura Ott, Lillian Zwemer.
Joerg Bauer, James Costa, Stephen T. Crews, Jean DeSaix, Joel Fodrie, Paul Gabrielson, Julie Horvath, William F. Marzluff, Joseph Ruiz, John Salmeron, Aziz Sancar, Alecia Septer, Barbara D. Stegenga, Bryan Stuart, Damon Waitt, Alan S. Weakley, Scott E. Williams.
Bryan Heck, Punita Nagpal, Robert K. Peet, Nathanael Prunet, Darrel W. Stafford, Jianke Tie, Michael Werner, Christopher S. Willett, Elaine Y. Yeh.
Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador Affiliated Faculty
Paul Cardenas, Jaime Chaves, Juan Guayasamin, Alex Hearn, Antonio Leon-Reyes, Maria de Lourdes Torres, Gabriel Trueba.
Edward G. Barry, Aristotle Domnas, J. Alan Feduccia, Sarah R. Grant, Albert K. Harris, William M. Kier, Gustavo P. Maroni, Steven W. Matson, Donald W. Misch, Edward D. Salmon, Lillie L. Searles, Alan E. Stiven, Peter S. White, R. Haven Wiley.
Course List and Description
Stated prerequisites are understood to mean “or equivalent” and may be waived by the course instructor for students who are adequately prepared. BIOL 101/BIOL 101L is the prerequisite for most advanced work in biology. Entering first-year students may earn By-Examination (BE) credit for BIOL 101/BIOL 101L by either
- scoring 3 or higher on the Biology Advanced Placement examination or
- taking and passing the Department of Biology placement test offered several times during the year.
Sophomores, juniors, and seniors can earn only placement credit (PL, 0 hours) for passing the departmental examination. Additional information is available on the department website.
Course numbers in the Department of Biology have been assigned according to the following principles:
- Under 100: first-year seminars
- 100 to 199: first-year courses
- 200 to 299: second-year courses
- 300 to 399: advanced undergraduates only
- 400 to 599: courses for advanced undergraduates and graduate students
- 600 to 699: courses for graduate students that are open to exceptionally well-prepared undergraduates
- 700 and above: courses for graduate students only
- 0–1 general topics courses
- 2 genetics and molecular genetics
- 3 molecular biology and biochemistry
- 4 cell and developmental biology
- 5 organismal and ecological courses
- 6 ecology courses
- 7 courses that fulfill the organismal biology requirement
- 8 special courses
- 9 special topics and research
Restricted to first-year students. Introduction, in a first-year seminar, to recent advances in genetics and cell biology, and discussion and debate concerning how these advances are changing medicine, agriculture, and other aspects of our lives.
Restricted to first-year students. The focus of this first-year seminar will be on the transition from hunter-gatherer, the interchange of crops, medicinal and psychoactive plants, and organic vs. industrial farming methods.
Restricted to first-year students. A first-year seminar focusing on the future of human diseases and genetic tests.
We are living in times of a genetic revolution. We have sequenced the human genome and are in a position to transform medical treatment in the world. In spite of the advances in DNA sequencing, there remain mysteries in terms of how the cell accesses genetic information and how our genomes are transmitted to progeny cells with such high fidelity. The principles governing chromosome organization have been discovered through advances in biology, physics, and statistics.
Restricted to first-year students. An examination of the biology and conservation of sea turtles, with an emphasis on how current scientific research informs conservation practices.
Restricted to first-year students. In this course we will examine the challenges of treating infectious disease in the developing world, and explore the root causes of global health care inequity. Honors version available.
The focus of this FYS will be on organisms living within moving fluids. The natural world is replete with examples of animals and plants whose shape influences flow to their benefit. For example, the shape of a maple seed generates lift to allow for long distance dispersal. The structure of a pinecone helps it to filter pollen from the air. A falcon's form during a dive reduces drag and allows it to reach greater speeds.
Restricted to first-year students. Pneumonia will be a lens to examine a thread of history of biology and medicine. Current research to understand the condition, discover treatment and enact prevention options will be examined.
This interdisciplinary first-year seminar examines the roots, ideas, questions and applications of evolutionary biology. What is evolution, how does it work, and how do we study it? How did modern scientific theories of evolution emerge from the traditions of natural philosophy and natural history? How does studying evolution inform us about adaptation, biological diversity, human origins, disease, aging, sex and culture? First-year seminar.
Successful biologists are necessarily entrepreneurs. This course will explore the parallels between biology and entrepreneurship. We follow these steps: generating ideas, marketing those ideas, testing them, and producing a product.
This is a special topics course; content will vary.
Open to all undergraduates. This course is the prerequisite to most higher courses in biology. An introduction to the fundamental principles of biology, including cell structure, chemistry, and function; genetics; evolution; adaptation; and ecology. (See department concerning Advanced Placement credit.) Three lecture hours a week. Honors version available.
An examination of the fundamental concepts in biology with emphasis on scientific inquiry. Biological systems will be analyzed through experimentation, dissection, and observation. Three laboratory hours a week. Students may not receive credit for both BIOL 101L and BIOL 102L.
This Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) lab introduces students to the process of science through collaboration on a research project, learning relevant techniques and scientific skills, and presenting research results. Three laboratory hours a week. This lab can be taken in place of BIOL 101L. Students may not receive credit for both BIOL 101L and BIOL 102L.
This class is designed for first- or second-year students beginning their study of biological sciences. The course will cover both biological concepts and scientific competencies necessary for a foundational mastery of genetics, molecular biology, and cellular biology. For biology majors, this is one of the three mandatory fundamentals courses required before taking relevant 200-level core classes and upper-level electives.
The biological diversity we see on Earth today encompasses a variety of genetic, species, and ecosystem level variation. This course will focus on the biological principles that push biologists to understand what produces and sustains the biodiversity of life on Earth. This class will address key questions about how we identify and measure biological diversity, how it changes over time, and why biological diversity matters as our planet continues to change.
What is research and how is it done? This course aims to give you a first-hand exposure to the scientific approach in real world situations. You will build your science skills toolkit--experimental design, data processing and interpretation, basic statistics, system modeling, interdisciplinary approaches, and science communication and policy--then use it to explore relevant societal issues like global warming, virus evolution and vaccine development, cancer therapeutics, machine learning, and more! Majors only.
For students not majoring in biology. Students who have taken any other course in the Department of Biology may not register for this course. Recent advances in the understanding of major principles in biology. Emphasis on genetics and medicine. Does not count as a course in the major. Three lecture hours a week.
Students will use mathematical and statistical methods to address societal problems, make personal decisions, and reason critically about the world. Authentic contexts may include voting, health and risk, digital humanities, finance, and human behavior. This course does not count as credit towards the psychology or neuroscience majors.
This course provides exposure to a variety of health professions, emphasizing ways health care teams work together (interprofessional interactions). Self-assessments will be utilized to examine articulation between strengths and interests and the skills and competencies required in healthcare careers. Throughout the course, practitioners will provide insight into their professions such as allopathic and osteopathic medicine, podiatric medicine, veterinary medicine, optometry, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing, social work, and occupational therapy. Does not count toward major.
This course will provide guidance to plan a path toward a profession of interest by selecting appropriate course, service, and research opportunities to include in a portfolio useful in completing applications. Application preparation and interview skills will be addressed for health professions programs such as allopathic and osteopathic medicine, podiatric medicine, veterinary medicine, optometry, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing, social work, occupational therapy, and many others. This does not count as a course in the major.
This course provides an introduction to the dynamic, creative, and open-ended process that is the scientific method. Through the analysis of news reports and primary scientific literature (covering a range of socially relevant biology topics), students will learn how to understand and interpret data, gain critical analysis skills, and begin to "think like scientists." Enrollment restricted to first-years and transfer students in their first year at UNC (transfer students, email instructor to be enrolled).
Special topics in biology at an introductory level. This course does not count as a course in the biology major.
Laboratory in special topics in biology at an introductory level. This course does not count as a course in the biology major.
The research work must involve at least four hours per week of mentored research in a campus research laboratory. Does not count as a course in the major.
Principles governing the ecology and evolution of populations, communities, and ecosystems, including speciation, population genetics, population regulation, and community and ecosystem structure and dynamics. Three lecture hours and one recitation-demonstration-conference hour a week. Honors version available.
Structure and function of nucleic acids, principles of inheritance, gene expression, and genetic engineering. Three lecture hours and one recitation-demonstration-conference hour a week. Honors version available.
This course will provide a basic introduction to microbiology and microbial ecology and evolution, covering topics such as cell structure, energetics, genomics, evolution and gene flow, ecological interactions, population and community dynamics, and biogeochemical cycling.
Fundamentals of cell structure and activity in relation to special functions, metabolism, reproduction, embryogenesis, and with an introduction to the experimental analysis of cell physiology and development. Three lectures and one recitation-demonstration-conference hour a week. Honors version available.
Seminar based on current investigations at UNC. Students examine sources of scientific information, explore the logic of investigation, and develop proposals. Students with BIOL 211 credit may take a maximum of three hours of BIOL 395.
For students not majoring in biology. Introduction to the scientific study of biological evolution and its applications. The mechanisms that cause evolution and general patterns of evolution during the history of life. Does not count as a course in the major.
This Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) class teaches students how scientists use mathematics to approach questions in evolutionary biology and ecology. Students learn both biological and mathematical concepts, taught using an array of pedagogical approaches. There are two group projects over the course of the semester, one involving the development of an original mathematical model. Students may not receive credit for both BIOL 214H and BIOL 224H.
First-year transfer students only. This course combines human cell biology and classical botany elaborating the mode of action of plant metabolites in humans. Hands-on experience includes visits to a pharmaceutical company, a botanical garden, and maintaining the campus medicinal garden.
This intermediate-level biology course is geared towards advanced first years, sophomores, and juniors majoring in biology or in related fields. This is a comprehensive course for majors, covering transmission and molecular genetics; DNA replication, repair and mutation; the central dogma, gene regulation mechanisms, and manipulation of genes at the molecular level. We will also learn the impact of molecular genetics on development and disease. Honors section available. Honors version available.
In this Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) class, students will use forensic sciences (primarily DNA barcoding technology) to quantify seafood mislabeling. Students will learn the importance of food labeling as well as its impact on marine ecosystems and human health.
In this Course-based Undergraduate Research (CURE) lab, students will use forensic sciences (primarily DNA barcoding technology) to quantify seafood mislabeling. Students will perform experiments based on hypotheses formulated in the co-requisite lecture course.
All subdisciplines of biology deal with data. As the amount of data increases, automated methods of reading, manipulating and displaying data are necessary. This course covers the basics of practical computer programming to deal with this biological data. The emphasis is on learning techniques of reading, manipulating, analyzing and visualizing biological data.
An accessible treatment of classic mathematical applications to molecules, cells, development, genetics, ecology, and evolution, complementing the material taught in BIOL 201, 202, and 205. Three lecture hours a week. Students may not receive credit for both BIOL 224H and BIOL 214H.
An accessible treatment of classic mathematical applications to molecules, cells, development, genetics, ecology, and evolution, complementing the material taught in BIOL 201, 202, and 205. This lab component is programming-based.
Introduction to quantitative biology with emphasis on applications that use mathematical modeling, linear algebra, differential equations, and computer programming. Applications may include neural networks, biomechanics, dispersion, and systems of biochemical reactions. Three lecture hours a week.
Introduction to quantitative biology with emphasis on applications that use mathematical modeling, linear algebra, differential equations, and computer programming. Applications may include neural networks, biomechanics, dispersion, and systems of biochemical reactions. Three laboratory hours a week.
This course will cover both biological concepts and scientific competencies necessary for a foundational mastery of cellular biology. Honors version available.
This course will foster an understanding of how the science of evolutionary biology can be used to understand life on the planet. Topics to be explored include the causes of speciation and extinction, why humans get sick and age, and how genomes evolve. Students will learn how to interpret data from an evolutionary perspective, apply evolutionary principles to applications in medicine, conservation, agriculture and other disciplines, and prepare for more advanced work in biology.
This is a course of simulated laboratory measurements exercises using typical data derived from actual physiological measurements on human subjects. Only offered though continuing education. Students may not receive credit for both BIOL 251L and BIOL 252.
One biology course over 200 recommended. An introductory but comprehensive course emphasizing the relationship between form and function of the body's organ systems. Three lecture hours each week. Students may not receive credit for BIOL 252 and BIOL 251 or BIOL 251L or BIOL 352 or BIOL 353. Honors version available.
Organ level human structure and function. Three laboratory hours a week.
In-depth study of physiological mechanisms by hands-on experimentation. Students gain experience in collecting, analyzing, and presenting human physiological data. Does not count as a biology elective course for the major or minor.
In-depth study of physiological mechanisms at molecular, cellular, and system levels of organization. Students will develop analytical and problem solving skills. Intended for preprofessional students requiring a second semester of anatomy and physiology. Can be used as an allied science elective but not a biology elective course for the major or minor.
In this honors Course-based Undergraduate Research (CURE) class, students will learn how to do science. This includes reading the relevant scientific literature, formulating a research question, collecting data, performing statistical analysis, and presenting research results. Students will test new hypotheses in ecology and evolution for spectacular adaptations in organisms using field and laboratory experiments and observations. This course counts as a lab elective for Biology degrees. Honors version available.
In this Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) lab, students will learn how to do science. This includes formulating a question, collecting data, and statistical analysis, to presenting research results. Students will test new hypotheses in ecology and evolution for spectacular adaptations in the Venus flytrap and the scale-eating pupfish using field and laboratory experiments and observations.
Introduction to the new field of biodiversity studies, which integrates approaches from systematics, ecology, evolution, and conservation. Taught at off-campus field station.
This course is a survey of the field of ecology intended for undergraduates who are early in their studies of biology. The course will provide a broad and detailed understanding of the field of ecology, including major concepts, broad empirical patterns, important contemporary directions, and ecological applications. Students will read and discuss primary literature, analyze ecological data sets, and consider effective science communication strategies.
Designed for students with an interest in natural sciences. An introduction to the principles of botany including structure, function, reproduction, heredity, environmental relationships, evolution and classification of plants. Three lecture hours a week.
Designed for students with an interest in natural sciences. An introduction to the principles of botany including structure, function, reproduction, heredity, environmental relationships, evolution and classification of plants. Three laboratory hours a week.
Open to all undergraduates. North Carolina's flora: recognition, identification, classification, evolution, history, economics, plant families, ecology, and conservation. Three lecture and three laboratory hours per week.
The cultivation, propagation and breeding of plants, with emphasis on ornamentals. Control of environmental factors for optimal plant growth. Laboratory exercises include plant culture, propagation, pruning, and identification of common ornamentals. Two lecture, one recitation, and three laboratory hours a week.
Survey of major groups of plants emphasizing interrelationships and comparative morphology. Culturing techniques and field work included. Three lecture hours a week.
Survey of major groups of plants emphasizing interrelationships and comparative morphology. Culturing techniques and field work included. Three laboratory hours a week.
Introduction to the diversity, ecology, behavior, and conservation of living vertebrates. Three lecture hours a week.
Study of the diversity of vertebrates in the field. Three laboratory and field hours a week, including one or two weekend trips.
Introduction to animal behavior with emphases on the diversity and adaptation of behavior in natural conditions. Three lecture hours a week.
Techniques of observation and experiments in animal behavior. Three laboratory hours a week.
Permission of the instructor. An undergraduate course devoted to consideration of pertinent aspects of a selected organismal biological discipline.
Permission of the instructor. An undergraduate laboratory course covering aspects of a specific organismal biological discipline. Laboratory reports will be required. Research work is not included in this course.
Permission of the instructor. An undergraduate seminar course devoted to consideration of pertinent aspects of a selected biological discipline. Honors version available.
Permission of the instructor. An undergraduate laboratory course covering aspects of a specific biological discipline. Laboratory reports will be required. Research work is not included in this course.
Permission required. 3.0 or higher in course taught. Experience includes preparations, demonstrations, assistance, and attendance at weekly meetings. Apprentices will not be involved in any aspects of grading. May be repeated for credit.
Permission required. 3.0 in course taught. Experience includes weekly meetings, preparations, demonstrations, instruction, and grading. May be repeated for credit. Six hours per week.
Biology majors only. The sponsored, off-campus work must involve at least 135 hours. Does not count as a course in the major. Permission of the instructor.
Permission of the instructor. APPLES service-learning component for students enrolled in biology courses. Does not count as a course in the major. Honors version available.
This class is for students to pursue educational or social research related to the field of biology under the mentorship of a faculty member in the Department of Biology or another department on campus. Students mentored on projects by faculty outside the Department of Biology must identify a Department of Biology faculty member to sponsor their research. This course does not count as a biology elective in the biology major or minor.
Permission of the instructor. Extensive and intensive reading of the literature of a specific biological field directly supervised by a member of the biology faculty. Written reports on the readings, or a literature review paper will be required. Cannot be used as a course toward the major. Honors version available.
Required preparation, major in a natural science or two courses in natural sciences. Studies origin of ocean basins, seawater chemistry and dynamics, biological communities, sedimentary record, and oceanographic history. Term paper. Students lacking science background should see EMES 103. Students may not receive credit for both EMES 103 and EMES 401. Course previously offered as GEOL 403/MASC 401.
Special topics course. Content and topics will vary each semester.
Hands-on research in the laboratory and/or field involving the study of biology. Requires written paper (first semester) or research poster (second semester). Up to five total hours counts as a lecture course. Six total hours counts as a biology elective with laboratory. Majors only. Honors version available.
Advanced Undergraduate and Graduate-level Courses
We will explore the challenges of infectious disease in the developing world, focusing on tuberculosis, HIV, and malaria. We will also examine the economics of different approaches to health care.
Reproduction is the most ancient feature of life and a continued focus of cutting-edge medical technology. This interdisciplinary course examines our biological imperative and cultural quest to make babies. We examine reproduction from the perspectives of bioethics, reproductive medicine, behavioral economics, genetic engineering, disability studies, and gender studies. Teaching methods include traditional lectures, in-class discussions, group work, peer teaching, and occasional flipped-classroom. Students who previously took BIOL 89/490 with Dr. Zwemer may not enroll.
This is the lab component of ARTS 409 that brings together art majors and science majors to combine theory and practical learning in a biology laboratory, which focusing primarily on microscopic life and biological motion, with printmaking. Does not count as an elective towards the biology major. Permission of the instructor.
Sterile technique, bacterial growth, physiology, genetics and diversity, and bacteriophage. Research in bacterial genetics.
Bacterial form, growth, physiology, genetics, and diversity. Bacterial interactions including symbiosis and pathogenesis (animal and plant). Use of bacteria in biotechnology. Brief introduction to viruses.
Sterile technique, bacterial growth and physiology, bacterial genetics, bacteriophage, and bacterial diversity.
This is a Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) combination course/lab. Using genetics and genome biology, students will study DNA repair and chromosome stability using yeast as a model system in a cutting edge research laboratory.
This is a Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) combination course/lab. Using genetics and genome biology, students will study DNA repair and chromosome stability using yeast as a model system in a cutting edge research laboratory.
Class emphasizes the creativity of the scientific process, using primary scientific literature as a framework to discuss topics in microbial ecology, including microbial diversity, distributions, genomics, and co-evolution; host-microbe and microbe-microbe interactions; nutrient cycling; and degradation of plant matter and biofuels.
Pedigree analysis, inheritance of complex traits, DNA damage and repair, human genome organization, DNA fingerprinting, the genes of hereditary diseases, chromosomal aberrations, cancer and oncogenes, immunogenetics and tissue transplants. Three lecture hours a week.
An introduction to the biology and pathophysiology of blood and the molecular mechanisms of some human diseases: anemias; leukemias; hemorrhagic, thrombotic, and vascular disorders; and HIV disease/AIDS. Honors version available.
Specifically, it addresses questions of human origins, population structure, and genetic diversity. This course investigates the facts, methods, and theories behind human population genetics, evolution, and diversity.
Historically viruses are microscopic disease-causing vectors that make headlines around the world as they emerge, spread, and evolve. More recently, viruses are being used as therapeutic agents to treat disease. The course will provide a historical perspective of viruses past to present. Students will learn virus history, molecular biology of viruses and infection, discovery and treatment of emerging viruses, and the impact of viruses on society.
The study of cellular processes including catalysts, metabolism, bioenergetics, and biochemical genetics. The structure and function of biological macromolecules involved in these processes is emphasized. Honors version available.
How diffusion, entropy, electrostatics, and hydrophobicity generate order and force in biology. Topics include DNA manipulation, intracellular transport, cell division, molecular motors, single molecule biophysics techniques, nerve impulses, neuroscience.
Advanced studies in molecular biology from an experimental approach.
Recent advances in plant molecular biology, genetics, development, and biotechnology, and their potential relevance to agriculture. The course will include lectures, reading and discussions of papers from the primary literature, and student presentations. Honors version available.
This course presents an introduction to signal transduction pathways used by higher eukaryotes. Several signaling paradigms will be discussed to illustrate the ways that cells transmit information. Three lecture hours per week.
Stem cells are important for a number of biological processes and have become topics of fascination in popular science and culture. This course will build from a solid foundation of genetics, cell, and developmental biology to give students a broad appreciation of stem cells in development, aging, disease, and bioengineering. Students will understand key concepts in stem cell biology like potential and immortality as well as understand stem cells' promise and limitations in therapeutic settings.
Principles of development with special emphasis on gametogenesis, fertilization, cleavage, germ layer formation, organogenesis, and mechanisms, with experimental analysis of developmental processes. Three lecture hours a week.
Descriptive and some experimental aspects of vertebrate development. Three laboratory hours a week.
In this class, we will read and discuss together the primary literature to understand how self-assembly in cell biology is harnessed in normal cells and goes awry in disease. A secondary goal will be for students to develop numeracy in cell biology so as to understand cell processes in a quantitative framework.
An experimental approach to an understanding of animals and plants. The approach covers developmental processes, molecular, genetic, cell biological and biochemical techniques, with an emphasis on the molecules involved in development.
This course investigates the biological causes behind human diseases via critical thinking and analysis of experimental research outcomes. It approaches topics from a research perspective similar to a graduate seminar. Topics covered include genetic/inherited diseases, metabolic diseases, immunological disorders, infectious diseases, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and neurological diseases.
Selected examples will be used to illustrate how basic research allows us to understand the mechanistic basis of cancer and how these insights offer hope for new treatments.
A survey of areas of current interest in cytology, embryology, and genetics with concentration on problems that remain unsolved but that appear to be near solution. Three lecture and discussion hours a week.
Modern methods in cell biology.
Modern methods in cell biology lab.
An advanced course in cell biology, with emphasis on the biochemistry and molecular biology of cell structure and function. Three lecture hours a week.
This course provides a general overview of the evolution, organization, and function of the immune system. Instruction will be inquiry-based with extensive use of informational and instructional technology tools.
Recommended preparation, BIOL 205. Survey of neurobiological principles in vertebrates and invertebrates, including development, morphology, physiology, and molecular mechanisms. Three lectures a week.
An examination of the physiology of animals using a comparative approach. Both invertebrate and vertebrate animals are discussed in order to elucidate general principles.
The fundamental principles of physiology are explored using physical models, animal experiments, and non invasive experiments on humans, reinforcing the understanding of concepts presented in lecture.
Course material covers host-microbe and microbe-microbe interactions found in marine ecosystems, including beneficial and parasitic relationships among viruses, microbes, marine animals, and humans. Limited to upper-level undergraduate science majors and graduate students. Course previously offered as MASC 446.
This class will cover the small molecules, enzymes, signaling proteins, and pathways that control metabolic processes and that are altered in metabolic disease. We will generally take an experimental approach to explore and understand the fundamental aspects of metabolism.
The roles of mutation, migration, genetic drift, and natural selection in the evolution of the genotype and phenotype. Basic principles are applied to biological studies. Three lecture hours a week.
The neurobiological basis of animal behavior at the level of single cells, neural circuits, sensory systems, and organisms. Lecture topics range from principles of cellular neurobiology to ethological field studies.
For junior and senior science majors or graduate students. Biology of marine photosynthetic protists and cyanobacteria. Phytoplankton evolution, biodiversity, structure, function, biogeochemical cycles and genomics. Harmful algal blooms, commercial products, and climate change. Three lecture/practical session hours per week. Course previously offered as MASC 444. Permission of the instructor.
Recommended preparation, BIOL 201 or 475. A survey of plants and animals that live in the sea: characteristics of marine habitats, organisms, and the ecosystems will be emphasized. Marine environment, the organisms involved, and the ecological systems that sustain them. Course previously offered as MASC 442.
Recommended preparation, BIOL 205. An exploration of sensory systems and sensory ecology in animals. Topics range from neurophysiological function of sensory receptors to the role of sensory cues in animal behavior.
Content varies. Summer field biology at the Highlands Biological Station focuses on the special faunal and floristic processes and patterns characteristic of the southern Appalachian mountains. Five lecture and three to five laboratory and field hours per week, depending on credit.
Students will develop a comprehensive understanding of the field of ecology, including modern and emerging trends in ecology. They will develop literacy in the fundamental theories and models that capture ecological processes; emphasis will also be placed on the relevance of ecology and ecological research for human society.
Survey of the ecological processes that structure marine communities in a range of coastal habitats. Course emphasizes experimental approaches to addressing basic and applied problems in marine systems.
Application of ecological theory to terrestrial and/or freshwater systems. Lectures emphasize quantitative properties of interacting population and communities within these systems. Required laboratory teaches methodology applicable for analysis of these systems. Projects emphasize experimental testing of ecological theory in the field. Two lecture and six field hours a week.
Responses of plants, animals, and communities to climate and other global changes, emphasizing ecology, physiology, behavior, and evolution. Investigation of past responses and tools for predicting future responses.
We will explore global patterns of diversity of plants, animals, fungi, and microbes, and the insights gained by taking a statistical approach to describing these and other broad-scale ecological patterns.
This course surveys multiple dimensions of environmental microbiology, including methods and techniques for microbial genomics, transcriptomics, and metabolomics, ecological and evolutionary microbiology, the roles of microbes in ecological systems, and current applications of and issues in environmental microbiology.
BIOL 278 recommended but not required and can be taken concurrently. Behavior as an adaptation to the environment. Evolution of behavioral strategies for survival and reproduction. Optimality and games that animals play. Three lecture hours a week.
Introduction to mechanisms of evolutionary change, including natural selection, population genetics, life history evolution, speciation, and micro- and macroevolutionary trends. Three lecture hours a week.
Introduction to mechanisms of evolutionary change, including natural selection, population genetics, life history evolution, speciation, and micro- and macroevolutionary trends. Three laboratory hours a week.
Introduction to the taxonomy of vascular plants. Principles of classification, identification, nomenclature, and description. Laboratory and field emphasis on phytography, families, description, identification, and classification of vascular plant species. Three lecture and three laboratory hours a week.
Laboratory includes an opportunity for independent investigation of anatomy through dissection, virtual models, and/or 3D modeling.
An in-depth examination of the anatomical, evolutionary, and developmental history of mammals, including humans. Particular attention will be given to nervous, musculoskeletal and craniofacial structures.
Evolutionary history of the vertebrates. Emphasis on anatomical, physiological, behavioral adaptations accompanying major transitions: the move from water to land, the development of complex integrating systems. Honors version available.
Vertebrate comparative anatomy of organ systems and their evolution with emphasis on human anatomy. Three laboratory hours a week.
Required preparation, one additional course in biology. An introduction to the major animal phyla emphasizing form, function, behavior, ecology, evolution, and classification of marine invertebrates. Three lecture and three laboratory hours per week.
This lab serves as an introduction to the major animal phyla emphasizing form, function, behavior, ecology, evolution, and classification of marine invertebrates.
A study of avian evolution, anatomy, physiology, neurobiology, behavior, biogeography, and ecology. Three lecture hours a week.
Techniques for the study of avian evolution, ecology, and behavior with emphasis on North Carolina birds. Three laboratory or field hours a week, including one or two weekend field trips.
Topics in organismal biology at an advanced undergraduate or graduate student level.
Laboratory in topics in organismal biology for advanced undergraduates and graduate students.
This is a Burch summer honors course taught in London. We will examine three major discoveries relating to infectious disease (vaccination, transmission via water, and antibiotics) and one major epidemic (plague) which led to no scientific response and explore how the thought of the time influenced scientific research. Honors version available.
A consideration of the biology and evolution of epidemic diseases and the response of society and the scientific community. Plague, smallpox, cholera, influenza, polio, and COVID-19. Readings from recent scientific papers and history and literature. Students may not receive credit for both BIOL 480 and 481.
Permission of the instructor. Content will vary. Three lecture and discussion hours per week by visiting and resident faculty. Honors version available.
Permission of the instructor. Biology majors only. A continuation of the hands-on research in the laboratory and/or field that was started in BIOL 395. A final written paper is required each term. May be repeated. Does not count as a course in the major. Pass/fail credit only. Honors version available.
Permission of the instructor. A consideration and discussion of ethical issues in life sciences including cloning humans, genetic engineering, stem cell research, organ transplantation, and animal experimentation. Counts as a course numbered below 400 for biology major requirements.
The course examines the mechanisms by which organisms are built and evolve. In particular, it examines how novel and complex traits and organisms arise from interactions among genes and cells. Honors version available.
Many human diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, dementia, chronic kidney disease, obesity, and auto-immune disease differ in their pathology and treatment between males and females. The class will first cover the hormonal and genetic mechanisms of sex determination, and then build on this knowledge to understand sexual disparities in the development and potential treatments of disease. The course will be based on primary literature and discussions of experimental evidence.
There is great variety in how microbes colonize and live with their hosts. The course will summarize strategies of pathogenicity, symbiosis, commensalism and mutualism. Evolutionary, cellular, and molecular aspects will be analyzed.
Practical introduction to functional genomics experiments, such as RNA-seq and ChIP-seq, and computational techniques for the analysis of these data derived from high-throughput sequencing. Interpretation of results will be stressed. Basic knowledge of molecular biology, beginning level computational skills, and familiarity with basic statistical concepts are expected. Three lecture hours a week.
Computer lab will provide students with experience using computational software for analysis of functional genomics experiments. Basic knowledge of molecular biology, beginning level computer skills, and familiarity with basic statistical concepts are expected. One laboratory hour a week.
Introduction to computational principles underlying sequence alignment and phylogenetics, genome assembly and annotation, analysis of gene function, and other bioinformatics applications. Includes a one-hour computer laboratory. Honors version available.
Seminar in quantitative biology for advanced students. The course counts as a quantitative biology course for the major.
Laboratory in quantitative biology for advanced students. The laboratory will involve mathematical analysis and modeling of biological systems and processes.
Personalized medicine, specifically using genetic markers to improve outcomes and minimize side effects (pharmacogenomics) requires the development and application of advanced computational and quantitative techniques. Students will develop computational skills to address contemporary genomic and statistical problems.
Personalized medicine, specifically using genetic markers to improve outcomes and minimize side effects (pharmacogenomics) requires the development and application of advanced computational and quantitative techniques. Students will develop computational skills to address contemporary genomic and statistical problems in a lab setting.
Topics in clinical genetics including pedigree analysis, counseling/ethical issues, genetic testing, screening, and issues in human research. Taught in a small group format. Active student participation is expected.
This course examines recent insights into molecular and cellular processes obtained through modern experimental approaches. Extensive reading of primary literature, discussed in a seminar format.
Requires some knowledge of computer programming. Model validation and numerical simulations using ordinary, partial, stochastic, and delay differential equations. Applications to the life sciences may include muscle physiology, biological fluid dynamics, neurobiology, molecular regulatory networks, and cell biology.
Recommended preparation, BIOL 434. Experiments with bacterial phage, nucleic acid isolation and properties, recombinant DNA techniques, and DNA sequencing. Additional hours in laboratory will be necessary to complete assignments. Permission of the instructor.
Recent advances in biotechnology and synthetic biology, and their potential relevance to medicine, agriculture, and engineering. The course will include lectures, reading and discussions of papers from the primary literature, and student projects and presentations.
Introduction to various types of light microscopy, digital and video imaging techniques, and their application in biological sciences. Permission of the instructor.
An experimental approach to understanding cardiovascular development, function, and disease. It covers cardiovascular development (heart, blood vasculature, lymphatic vasculature) and cardiovascular function as linked to selected diseases. Focus on molecular, genetic, cell biological, and biochemical techniques used to study the cardiovascular system, with an emphasis on the genes and signaling pathways involved in cardiovascular development and disease. Most topics will be paired with a research paper from the primary literature. Honors version available.
This laboratory course offers students the chance to engage in cutting-edge biochemical and cell biological research related to ongoing cytoskeletal research projects in the labs of two UNC faculty members. The course is composed of lectures and laboratory research. Students will become involved in all scientific processes: analysis of prior work, hypothesis generation and testing, data analysis and quantitation, and the presentation of data and conclusions.
The course will explore topics that relate to how the brain and the gut communicate with one another. The course will also examine the connection between the brain-gut axis to the immune system and the microbiota at a molecular, cellular, and organismal level. Students will survey these emerging research topics and critically think, critique, and understand the experimental evidence for what we understand today about the gut and brain relationship. Honors version available.
This course is designed for undergraduate or graduate students who are interested in understanding how aging is controlled at an advanced level. Emphasis will be placed on molecular and cellular mechanisms of aging in metazoans. Emphasis will also be placed on healthy aging and on how progress and discoveries are made in the field of aging. This course is based on scientific research or review papers and has no textbook.
In this highly interactive, small-group course, we will read a series of scientific papers that elegantly demonstrate molecular events that are fundamental to synaptic plasticity, a key mechanism of learning and memory. Students will become familiar with this exciting neuroscience topic, and also learn how to interpret experimental data and read papers critically and objectively. We will also think about the future experiments suggested by each paper we read.
The structure and function of organisms in relation to the principles of fluid mechanics and solid mechanics.
Undergraduates need permission of the instructor to enroll. The study of the interactions among hormones, the brain, and behavior from how hormones shape the development and expression of behaviors to how behavioral interactions regulate endocrine physiology.
This course introduces analytical, computational, and statistical techniques, such as discrete models, numerical integration of ordinary differential equations, and likelihood functions, to explore various fields of biology.
This lab introduces analytical, computational, and statistical techniques, such as discrete models, numerical integration of ordinary differential equations, and likelihood functions, to explore various fields of biology.
This course covers various mathematical tools and techniques for modeling the various elements and phenomena that comprise the nervous system and brain.
An introduction to the fossil record of plants, investigating how plants originated and changed through geological time to produce the modern flora. Both macrofossils and microfossils will be considered. Three lecture hours a week.
The laboratory involves learning how to locate, collect, prepare, and analyze fossil plants; it also provides fossils that illustrate topics covered in lecture. Students will be involved in field trips to fossil sites and museums to learn about fossil curation and display of fossils for public education. Three laboratory hours a week.
Description of the major vegetation types of the world including their distribution, structure, and dynamics. The principal causes for the distribution of plant species and communities, such as climate, soils, and history will be discussed.
Introduction to the application of quantitative and statistical methods in environmental science, including environmental monitoring, assessment, threshold exceedance, risk assessment, and environmental decision making.
Application of modern statistical analysis and data modeling in ecological and evolutionary research. Emphasis is on computer-intensive methods and model-based approaches. Familiarity with standard parametic statistics is assumed.
The application of biological science to the conservation of populations, communities, and ecosystems, including rare species management, exotic species invasions, management of natural disturbance, research strategies, and preserve design principles. Honors version available.
Advanced consideration of the evolution of form and function. May include issues in life-history evolution, evolutionary physiology, evolutionary morphology, and the evolution of complexity. Three lecture hours per week.
Recommended preparation, one course above 400 in ecology or evolution. An advanced class covering the causes and consequences of infectious disease at the levels of whole organisms, populations, communities, and ecosystems.
Permission of the instructor. An examination of the field biology of selected fungi, plants, or animals of the Appalachian Mountains. The morphology, taxonomy, ecology, life history, and behavior of the organisms will be explored both in the laboratory and in the field.
Special topics in biology for advanced undergraduate students and graduate students.
Laboratory at an advanced level in special topics in biology. Students should have had considerable previous laboratory experience.
The goal of this course is to help students who intend to become professional ecologists or biologists acquire critical skills and strategies needed for achieving their career goals.
This class is designed to 1) enhance students' ability to present scientific material to their peers in a comprehensive, cohesive manner, 2) familiarize students with scientific concepts and technologies used in multiple disciplines, 3) expose students to cutting edge research, 4) prepare students to gain substantial meaning from seminars and to ask questions, and 5) enhance students' ability to evaluate scientific papers and seminars.
Required preparation, participation in an ongoing laboratory research project. Permission of the instructor. A seminar course designed to introduce students to approaches and methods needed in carrying out an independent research project in a particular focus area of biology. For advanced undergraduates and graduate students.
A seminar course designed to introduce students to how to read and write scientific papers. For advanced undergraduates and graduate students.
Required preparation, a course in microbiology, a course in molecular biology numbered above 300, or research experience in microbiology or molecular biology. Molecular genetics of bacteria. The emphasis will be on pathogenic and symbiotic interactions of bacteria with eukaryotes, although other aspects of bacterial genetics will be considered.
Genetic principles of genetic analysis in prokaryotes and lower eukaryotes.
Principles of genetic analysis in higher eukaryotes; genomics.
Permission of the instructor for undergraduates. Genetic and molecular control of plant and animal development. Extensive reading from primary literature.
Permission of the instructor for undergraduates. Current and significant problems in genetics. May be repeated for credit.
Required preparation for undergraduates, at least one undergraduate course in both biochemistry and genetics. DNA structure, function, and interactions in prokaryotic and eukaryotic systems, including chromosome structure, replication, recombination, repair, and genome fluidity. Three lecture hours a week.
Required preparation for undergraduates, at least one undergraduate course in both biochemistry and genetics. The purpose of this course is to provide historical, basic, and current information about the flow and regulation of genetic information from DNA to RNA in a variety of biological systems. Three lecture hours a week.
This seminar course will provide graduate and advanced undergraduate students information on career opportunities and culture in the field of biotechnology. The instructor and guest lecturers will present examples of global challenges addressed by modern biotechnology, and how research and development are carried out in the industry. Students will develop and present their own plan for a new biotechnology venture.
Permission of the instructor. May be repeated for credit. Current and significant problems in plant molecular and cell biology are discussed in a seminar format. Can count as BIOL elective credit in the major if combined with other 600-level courses for a total of three credit hours.
An advanced course in cell and molecular biology integrating genetic, biochemical, and structural aspects of the cell cycle. Principles derived from a variety of biological systems. Extensive reading of classic papers as well as recent literature.
Permission of the instructor. A consideration of various aspects of palynology, including the morphology, structure, development, systematics, evolution, preparation techniques, and analysis of living and fossil pollen grains, spores, and other palynomorphs. Two lecture and six laboratory hours a week.
May be repeated for credit. Can count as BIOL elective credit in the major if combined with other 600-level courses for a total of three credit hours.
For advanced undergraduates and graduate students. The goal of the course is to gain an in-depth understanding of animal cognition in the context of evolution and neurobiology with an emphasis on recent research.
For graduate students; undergraduates need permission of the instructor. Marine ecosystem processes pertaining to the structure, function, and ecological interactions of biological communities; management of biological resources; taxonomy and natural history of pelagic and benthic marine organisms. Three lecture and one recitation hours per week. Two mandatory weekend fieldtrips. Course previously offered as MASC 504.
Permission of the instructor. Advanced studies in evolutionary biology. Can count as BIOL elective credit in the major if combined with other 600-level courses for a total of three credit hours.
Consideration of terrestrial, vascular plant ecology including environmental physiology, population dynamics, and community structure. Laboratory stresses collection and interpretation of field data. Three lecture and three laboratory hours a week.
May be repeated for credit.
Permission of the instructor. The course will cover topics and experimental approaches of current interest. Students will learn intellectual and practical aspects of cutting-edge topics in biology. It will meet for one hour per week, in a lecture and discussion format.
Permission of the instructor. Special topics in biology with an emphasis on recent research. For advanced undergraduates and graduate students.
Preparation of a written and oral presentation of honors thesis research. Research must continue in the same laboratory used in BIOL 395. Senior biology majors only (first or second majors). Required of all candidates for Highest Honors or Honors. Can be taken in either the fall or spring semester of their senior year. Approval of the Biology Honors Director required. Permission of a faculty research director and three credit hours of BIOL 395 in the same laboratory required.
Department of Biology
Coker Hall, 120 South Road, CB# 3280
Departmental Advisor, Abbey Fellow
Director of Undergraduate Studies
Director of Undergraduate Studies
Jason W. Reed
Biology Study Abroad
Assistant for Undergraduate Services