Changes to the Biology major

The undergraduate degree programs in Biology at Brandeis will undergo substantial changes in curricula and in the requirements for the majors. The new rules will take effect for students matriculating in Fall 2013 or later.

A meeting to discuss the new changes in, and to answer questions students might have about, the Biology major will be held on Tuesday April 9 from 5-6 pm in Gzang 122.

The cornerstone of the new curriculum is the introduction of a new three semester set of courses: BIOL 14a (Genetics and Genomics), BIOL 15b (Cells and Organisms) and BIOL 16a (Evolution and Biodiversity). This sequence replaces the existing two semester sequence BIOL 22a/22b, and follows new pedagogical principles for teaching Biology.  At the same time, the expanded course sequence will help cover additional material that premedical students will need for the new MCAT exams that was not covered in core courses in the past.

The new set of courses can be taken in any order and is designed to be accessible to freshmen. By providing more flexibility and encouraging majors to take these courses early in their stay at Brandeis, students (and especially midyear entrants) will have greatly increased opportunities to take more advanced, specialized courses and to do research in their junior and senior years. BIOL 22a/22b will not be offered in 2013-2014, rather the new courses will commence in the fall.

There are two different degrees offered. The Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology provides students with a general background in biology and provides flexibility with fewer requirements for quantitative and physical science courses. The Bachelor of Science degree in Biology is an intensive biology option that provides students with a strong background in several areas of biology and is recommended for students pursuing a career in research.

Some changes of note: Physics I, II lecture and lab are required only for the BS, not for the BA.  BCHM 100 is no longer required for the BS.  The number of electives needed for the BA is 5, for the BS, it is 6;

Currently declared Biology majors will have the choice whether to pursue a degree under the old rules or the new rules – there is an online form to declare a choice, between current rules [the ones in effect when you matriculated] or the new rules, but there will be no mixing of rules.

With a new set of rules, advisors and students alike are grappling with how to handle the changes. Some documents prepared by the faculty may help:

How Life Works

how life worksAssociate Professor of Biology James Morris, together with several faculty members from Harvard, has recently written a new textbook, titled Biology: How Life Works, a book that seems likely to become a standard for teaching introductory biology to college students.

According to Morris,

“The last 20 years or so have seen remarkable and exciting changes in biology, education, and technology.  With these in mind, we re-thought what an introductory biology textbook could be.  Introductory biology is a student’s first exposure to college-level biology.  We wrote a book that provides a solid base on which to build and treats biology not as a list of terms and facts to be memorized, but instead as a 21st century science that is compelling and relevant to students’ lives..”

Courses for Spring 2013 (I): Advanced NMR spectroscopy

Course registration for Spring 2013 has opened. I asked faculty to share details about new (and old) exciting and different courses being offered this spring.

Tom Pochapsky (Chemistry) writes:
Product Details

We are offering our CHEM 146 “Advanced NMR spectroscopy” course again in the spring, appropriate for grads and advanced undergrads in physics, chem, biochem, biophysics.   Pre-reqs are Physics 10 or equivalent, Math 10 or equivalent.   There is a laboratory component this year (using the 800), intro to theory of NMR and practical applications.  The text for the course is our book [ed.: NMR for Physical and Biological Scientists (Thomas Pochapsky and Susan Sondej Pochapsky, authors)], now available as an e-book.


Teaching awards for Hickey & Thomas

Professor of Computer Science Tim Hickey and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Christine Thomas are among the 2012 winners of major Brandeis teaching awards.  Hickey won the Lerman-Neubauer ’69 Prize for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring. Thomas received the Michael L. Walzer ’56 Award for Teaching.

Among the comments from student nominators:

When I first met Professor Hickey in the fall of my first year during my COSI 2A class, he was incredibly knowledgeable, patient, encouraging and caring about our progress in his class…

Professor Christine Thomas might be the most dedicated, passionate teacher I have ever had…

See the full story at Brandeis NOW.

MRSEC Summer Courses 2012

The Brandeis Materials Research Science and Engineering Center announces two new one week summer 2012 courses:

  • Introduction to Microfluidics Technology (June 18-22, 2012)
  • Modern Optical Microscopy  (June 25-29, 2012)

Introduction to Microfluidics Technology will be taught by the director of the Brandeis Microfluidics Center. The course is based on strategies employed when teaching new users of the facility how to utilize microfluidic technology in research work.

Modern Optical Microscopy will be taught by Professor Zvonimir Dogic of the Physics department at Brandeis. It is based on a very successful one semester graduate course offered at Brandeis on the same topic. (see a review of this course from last year).

See the MRSEC website for application materials.

Teaching position open in Biology

The Biology Department at Brandeis University seeks a full-time faculty member to teach introductory genetics and cell biology lecture classes and additional undergraduates electives in biology, to begin Fall 2012. Candidate should have a Ph.D. in the area of molecular/cell/genetics, postdoctoral and/or teaching experience and be committed to undergraduate education. This will be a two-year, renewable appointment at the rank of lecturer and salary commensurate with experience.

Applicants should submit CV, statement on teaching philosophy and three letters of reference via email to or by post to

Heather Felton
Biology Department,Mailstop 008
Brandeis University
Waltham, MA 02454-9110.

For more information about Biology at Brandeis, please visit our website.

First consideration will be given to applications received by February 17, 2012.

Brandeis University is an equal opportunity employer, committed to building a culturally diverse intellectual community, and strongly encourages applications from women and minorities.

Protected by Akismet
Blog with WordPress

Welcome Guest | Login (Brandeis Members Only)