The academic catalog is currently being updated for the 2022-23 year. View the Catalog Archive to access the 2021-22 catalog as well as catalogs from previous years.
Kirk Larsen (department head)
Biology is the scientific study of living systems. The discipline ranges from studying the structure of biomolecules to the interactions of species with their environment. Courses are taught from an evolutionary perspective, which explains both the unity and diversity of life.
The biology major is designed to be flexible in meeting the needs and interests of students. Students are introduced to the discipline in three introductory courses, BIO 151 Ecology, Evolution and Biodiversity, BIO 152 Cells and Molecules, and BIO 201 Genetics. Beyond that, students are encouraged to select courses across the breadth of the discipline, from molecular/cellular to systemic to organismic to ecological aspects. Supplementing the biology courses are courses in general chemistry and calculus. Depending on students' interests and goals, they may be advised to take supporting coursework in chemistry (CHEM 202 or higher), physics (PHYS 151 or higher), mathematics (MATH 152 or higher), computer science (CS 150 or higher), or environmental studies (ENVS 134, ENVS 220, ENVS 320). Students are encouraged to seek undergraduate research opportunities and internship experience in addition to their coursework to better prepare them for their future career.
Required for a major:
All biology majors are required to attend a minimum of 12 approved biology colloquia. Biology colloquium meets approximately 10 times during the academic year for lectures and discussions led by visiting scholars, faculty, and student researchers. Declared biology majors are expected to attend as often as possible.
Plan 1 (non-teaching): Minimum of 32 hours in biology, including BIO 151, BIO 152, BIO 201, and BIO 490; 20 hours in biology numbered above 201 including at least one W course, one R course, 16 hours in biology lab courses and 4 hours in a biology course numbered 340-370; CHEM 151 and CHEM 152, or CHEM 201; MATH 141 (or higher) or BIO 256 or PSYC 350 (note: if BIO 256 is used to fulfill this quantitative/statistics requirement within the major, it does not count towards the 20 hours in biology numbered above 201). No courses numbered 185 may be used to fulfill the major. No more than 4 hours from biology 371-399 can be applied toward the major. Transfer students must complete at least four biology courses (four hours each) at Luther.
Plan II (teaching): Same as the major requirements in Plan 1 except that the 20 hours in biology numbered above 201 must include one course from each of the three categories listed below. See education department for secondary education minor requirements.
(W) Writing requirement for either major plan is completed with one of BIO 250, 251, 258, 260, 262, 354, 356, 358, 359, 363, 364, 365, 367, or selected special topics courses in biology.
(R) Research requirement for either major plan is completed with one of BIO 240, 243, 247, 249, 250, 251, 258, 260, 354, 356, 358, 363, 364, 365, or selected special topics courses in biology.
Required for a minor: A minimum of 20 hours in biology, including BIO 151, BIO 152, BIO 201, and two additional four hour courses in biology numbered above 201.
Affiliated programs are available in medical technology, cytotechnology, and nuclear medicine technology. Consult with the Biology department about the 3 + 1 options.
View program learning goals for an explanation of learning outcomes in Biology.
A study of relationships among insects, humans, and the environment. Using insects as a model, biological concepts such as evolution, form and function, genetics, development, natural history, biodiversity, and conservation will be covered. Includes a presentation of why insects are so successful, giving attention to their behavior and ecological roles in nature, impacts on human society as causes of famines, plagues and epidemics, and importance in human cultures. Laboratory includes field trips and an investigative approach to learning insect biology.
This course will provide an introduction to the human body as it functions independently and within broader environmental, cultural, and economic contexts. The course will explore the scientific method and human body systems to build a biological framework for understanding ethical and practical issues related to development, aging, and disease. This course is intended for students who wish to study human biology but do not expect to major in the discipline of biology. Students many not earn credits for both Bio 113 and Bio 114.
This course will provide an introduction to human biology through the study of organ systems' structure and function. This course is intended for students who wish to study human biology but do not expect to major in the discipline of biology. Lectures and laboratory. No prerequisites.
A basic gross anatomy course including dissection of the cat with reference and comparison made to human organ systems. For non-biology majors. Lectures and laboratory.
A survey of physiological systems and principles with specific reference to the human body. This course is intended for non-biology majors. Lectures and laboratory.
Genetics plays an ever increasing role in our society, and a basic understanding of this field is vital for making informed decisions on issues that impact our health, safety, and environment. This course aims to connect the concepts and approaches of genetics to societal issues relating to health, diversity, forensics, and evolution. The course will provide basic coverage of the science of genetics, including the structure, expression, and transmission of heritable information and the evolution of populations. Methods and techniques, such as gene cloning and DNA fingerprinting, will be covered to provide information on how scientists use genetic technology to answer questions. Also included will be discussion of some of the ethical and social questions surrounding issues as diverse as screening human embryos for genetic traits, evaluating the genetic basis of aggressive behavior, and creating genetically modified organisms. Lecture and laboratory.
Field study of the ecology of the arid Southwest, with a focus on adaptations of organisms to arid conditions and understanding the challenges of setting environmental policy. Course activities include hiking in the deserts, mountains, and riparian areas of Arizona; daily readings and discussions; a paper exploring the ethical dimensions of environmental policy; and a research project which may be qualitative. Students who earn credit for Bio 140 may not earn credit for Bio 240. Fulfills Paideia 450 when students with junior or senior standing enroll in Political Science 258 in the following term. Offered alternate years during January term.
An exploration of the diversity of life, its origins, and interactions among organisms and their environment. We introduce key concepts in evolution and ecology, provide an overview of the features of major taxonomic groups and their evolutionary relationships, and explore some of the practical and ethical implications of biodiversity. Through laboratory and field investigations, students develop their ability to make observations, analyze data, read primary literature, and communicate results. Designed as an introduction to biology; required for the biology major and minor.
Cells serve as the building blocks of all biological systems, so understanding cellular biology is critical to comprehension of life systems. This course examines the structural and chemical composition of cells, processes related to cellular metabolism and homeostatic control. Laboratory methods reinforce concepts and increase students' ability to design experiments, analyze data, and communicate results in written form. Designed as an introduction to biology; required for biology major and minor. Lectures and laboratory.
An introduction to the study of microorganisms with a focus on pathogens and infectious disease. Bacterial, eukaryotic, and viral diversity, structures, metabolism, and replication strategies are covered. Additional topics include principles of disease, mechanisms of pathogenicity, immunology, and control of microbe growth. Lecture and laboratory. Students may not earn credit for both Bio 190 and Bio 243.
A study of Mendelian genetics, gene structure, mechanisms of gene expression, mutagenesis, evolutionary genetics, and genomics. Lectures and laboratory.
An introduction to the theoretical and technical aspects of light and electron microscopy and digital imaging as tools for scientific study. Demonstrations supplement lectures with no formal laboratory. This first-seven-week course offered each fall is designed to provide a broad overview of microscopy theory and technique while giving students an introduction to the available on-campus instrumentation. A full semester companion laboratory, BIO 232, is open to students enrolled in BIO 231.
Students will develop a short-term project using at least one type of light or electron microscopy studied in Biology 231, including transmission and scanning electron microscopy as well as scanning laser confocal microscopy, fluorescent microscopy and various forms of enhanced contrast techniques. This course will also focus on specimen preparation as well as microscope operation and project design. Projects will likely support current research by biology faculty and will require a poster or oral presentation. Laboratory only with supplemental specimen preparation lectures.
Field study of the ecology of the arid Southwest, with a focus on adaptations of organisms to arid conditions and understanding the challenges of setting environmental policy. Course activities include hiking in the deserts, mountains, and riparian areas of Arizona; daily readings and discussions; a paper exploring the ethical dimensions of environmental policy; and a research project including statistical analysis of data. Students who earn credit for BIO 240 may not earn credit for BIO 140. Fufills Paideia 450 when students with junior or senior standing enroll in POLS 258 in the following term. Fulfills (R) research requirement in the biology major. Offered alternate years during January term.
An examination of the proximate and ultimate causes of behavior in animals. Topics include the development, control mechanisms, evolution, and ecology of behavior. In addition to lectures, this course includes films and behavioral studies of animals.
A basic introduction to the study of microorganisms and the principles of immunology and virology. Laboratory includes the study of basic cell processes and the identification and culturing of typical forms. Lectures and laboratory. Fulfills (R) research requirement in the biology major.
An introduction to the biology of coral reef and other marine environments of the Caribbean. Daily snorkels, SCUBA dives, and lectures introduce students to the identification, ecology, behavior, and conservation of marine organisms and environments. Students develop and complete research projects. Several days are spent on the Luther campus for pre-trip orientation and post-trip completion of projects. Consent of instructor required. Fulfills (R) research requirement in the biology major.
A field study of the natural history of the southern boreal forest ecosystem in northern Minnesota, including the physiological and behavioral adaptations of organisms to extreme cold. Course activities will include skiing and snowshoeing excursions in remote natural areas, assigned readings, observations of natural history, and research projects. Fulfills (R) research requirement in the biology major. Students who earn credit for ENVS 249 may not earn credit for BIO 249.
This course is an introduction to restoration ecology and conservation biology, with a primary focus on ecological principles used in restoring human-altered landscapes and conserving natural habitats. Secondarily, it considers basic policy and non-governmental avenues for the protection of biodiversity. Class is a combination of lecture, discussion, and lab. Discussion includes scientific literature and case-studies. In lab, students put theory into practice to develop restoration and conservation plans for local sites in a semester-long project. Requires sophomore standing or above. Fulfills both (W) writing and (R) research requirement in the biology major.
An introduction to the biology and diversity of insects, particularly the life histories, form and function, ecology, and behavior of various insect groups found in various habitats. Students interested in developing field biology skills should take this course during their sophomore or junior year. Fulfills both (W) writing and (R) research requirement in the biology major.
A study of the anatomy, physiology, and evolution of the major groups of plants with an emphasis on field identification of seed plants. Students intersted in developing field biology skills should take this course during their sophomore or junior year. Lectures and laboratory. Laboratory includes field trips that require hiking.
An in-depth exploration of physiological systems in the human body, beginning at the cellular level and proceeding to physiological systems and their role in homeostatic control. Students may not earn credit for BIO 255 and BIO 262. Lectures and laboratory.
This course considers the application of statistical inference to the life sciences; numerous examples will be taken from the health sciences and environmental sciences. Emphasis will be on hypothesis testing and the importance of experimental design. Lectures and laboratory.
A study of the classification, natural history, and distribution of the vertebrates. Laboratory emphasizes identification and field study of species typical of this geographical area. Lectures stress principles of vertebrate biology. Fulfills both (W) writing and (R) research requirement in the biology major. Offered alternate years.
This course will use a variety of experimental techniques and model systems commonly used in neuroscience research to explore concepts fundamental to the development and systems organization of the human nervous system. Students will be exposed to immunohistochemistry, structural analysis, behavioral assays, neuroanatomy, and electrophysiology. Concepts such as experimental design, data analysis, and research ethics will also be discussed. Fulfills both (W) writing and (R) research requirement in the biology major.
A study of gametogenesis, fertilization, organogenesis, and the formation of the body. Both organismal and molecular aspects of these processes will be discussed, ending with a discussion of organ formation, especially the limb, the eye, and gonadal develpment. Questions such as how sperm and egg interact to create a new organism and how a single cell gives rise to the diverse group of cells that make up the adult body are central to this course. Laboratory will include observation of and experimentation with invertebrate and vertebrate systems.
This course will examine the homeostatic control mechanisms of organ systems across species lines. Additionally, the course will focus on the molecular, cellular and systems adaptations that allow animals to live in particular environments. Lectures and laboratory. Students may not earn credit for BIO 262 and BIO 255. Fulfills (W) writing requirement in the biology major. Offered alternate years.
This is a reading-intensive course designed to provide an in-depth examination of a topic in biology. The topic may vary, but will cut across several scales of biological organization, from cells to ecosystems. The goals are to learn about the diversity of approaches used to investigate the biological world and to identify and explore questions that remain open to scientific inquiry.
An in-depth gross anatomy course that includes dissection of a human cadaver. Skeletal, muscular, nervous, digestive, cardiovascular, respiratory, and urogenital systems will be covered. Lectures and laboratory. Requires junior or senior standing.
An exploration of current questions in evolutionary biology through lecture, lab, and discussion of the primary literature. Topics include the role of natural selection and drift in human evolution; inferring the origins of new diseases; the effects of genomic conflict on speciation; and the challenges that hybridization poses to understanding the tree of life. Fulfills both (W) writing and (R) research requirement in the biology major.
An introduction to the principles of genome science and the application of genomic data in diverse biological fields. We explore topics such as high-throughput sequencing technologies, genome projects, genome structure and function, genome expression and the transcriptome, and evolution and genome change. We also discuss social impacts and ethical implications of the increased use of genomic data, with topics ranging from direct-to-consumer personal genomics to paleogenomics. Students gain hands-on experience with some of the popular tools and databases available for bioinformatics analysis, as well as basic Unix and R coding. Students complete a semester-long research project to generate, analyze, visualize, and interpret high-throughput sequence data. Fulfills both (W) writing and (R) research requirement in the biology major. Lectures and laboratory.
This course examines how the cells and molecules of the human immune system develop and how they work together in providing defenses against invading microorganisms. A portion of the course will emphasize reading, evaluation, and presentation of primary and secondary immunological literature. A non-lab course.
This course covers the principles of toxicology, the study of poisons. Topics include molecular and cellular sites of toxicant action, physiological effects of toxicants in mammalian systems and ecological systems, and the application of toxicology to public health and policy. Central toxicology concepts such as dose-response, mixtures, gene-environment interaction, and endocrine/reproductive toxicity will be explored in the laboratory culminating in student-designed research projects and scientific papers. It is recommended that students have completed CHEM 152 or 201 before enrollin in this course. Fulfills both (W) writing and (R) research requirement in the biology major. Lectures and laboratory.
The course explores the means by which neurons function and how they form circuitry related to sensory input, motor control and higher cognitive functions. A second component of the course is devoted to the role of primary literature within the field of neuroscience, including how hypotheses are formulated, tested and the results conveyed to the scientific community. A non-lab course.
This course examines molecular functions, gene expression, and regulation from an evolutionary perspective emphasizing structure-function relationships. Laboratory emphasis. Lectures and laboratory. Fulfills both (W) writing and (R) research requirement in the biology major.
A study of the biochemical and structural basis of cell activity. Close attention is given to protein structure and function as well as organelle activity. The laboratory stresses the use of biochemical and cytological techniques to study living systems at the cellular and molecular levels of organization. Lectures and laboratory. Fulfills both (W) writing and (R) research requirement in the biology major.
A study of the complex patterns and processes in the natural world. We examine questions about the distribution and abundance of species and communities, the transfer of matter and energy in ecosystems, and how these relate to biodiversity. Lectures and laboratory. Laboratory includes field trips requiring hiking and directed research projects. Fulfills both (W) writing and (R) research requirement in the biology major.
This course will emphasize the role of hormones in maintaining homeostasis. We will examine the chemical messengers most relevant to human biology, and explore the structure, sites of synthesis and the mechanisms by which hormones exert their effects. Finally, through laboratory exercises, students will directly utilize current research methodologies to examine the role of hormones in physiologic control systems. Fulfills (W) writing requirement in the biology major. Offered alternate years.
Registration in the following internships only by permission of the biology department and the cooperating institution. At least 40 interning hours are required for one credit during the semester or summer. To earn two J2 credits during January term, the internship must be full-time for a minimum of three weeks. Students keep a journal and submit reflective essays and an academic paper to earn credit. A. Environmental Biology Internship: A work-study program in soils, conservation, forestry, fisheries, wildlife, or outdoor education. Field work to be completed in cooperation with conservation agencies, zoos, nature centers, and other environmental agencies. B. Health Career Internship: A work-study program in the various health professions in cooperation with area health care delivery institutions. C. Research Internship: A work-study program at a major research institution or in an industrial setting. This would usually include participation in a specific research project.