Biology

Biology students work under a fume hood in the lab

Biology is a broad area of science that includes the study of every aspect of living systems and their interrelationships. One of its purposes is to help people to understand themselves and their role in the biosphere. Students majoring in biology at Augustana are prepared for a wide variety of professional, cultural and vocational opportunities, including graduate study, the medically allied professions and teaching. Present-day biology makes liberal use of chemistry, mathematics and physics as tools, so our biology students acquire a sound background in these basic fields as well.

In addition to a comprehensive biology major, students may elect to study additionally in one of two emphasis areas:

  • Cell and molecular biology - This emphasis allows students to explore the emerging understanding of the complicated, yet effective inner workings of cells and systems that make up all organisms.  Courses in this area will allow students to master the general mechanisms of how macromolecules and cells interact to support the functions of living things, and thus would be especially helpful for students interested in learning about the molecular and biochemical underpinnings of health and disease.  Students will learn how cells function, communicate and make up tissues.  In addition, they will explore how we critically evaluate and make new cutting-edge discoveries in this field.  This emphasis supports the professional goals of students interested in a career in research or attending graduate programs for health professions, biomedical sciences or in basic research in cell biology, genetics, molecular biology, developmental biology, immunology, microbiology or physiology.  
  • Ecology - This emphasis allows students to explore the interactions between organisms and their abiotic environment.  Courses in this emphasis have a field-oriented focus, enabling students to learn and explore outside of the confines of the laboratory and will enhance understanding of the diversity of species, patterns of distribution and behavior of organisms, as well as human impacts on natural systems.  The emphasis supports the professional goals of students interested in attending graduate school in evolutionary, ecological or organismal biology, or developing a career in environmental, conservation, or resource management sciences.

Interested in learning more? Hear Dr. Mark Larson, associate professor of biology, talk about student-professor collaboration.