Biology B.S. and Minor
What to Expect
With a Biology B.S. you will:
- learn how to use the scientific method to answer questions about the natural world
- be able to effectively communicate the rationale, methodology and evidence of scientific research
- be prepared for advanced study and careers in science
Biology majors can also elect to get on the "fast track" to complete both a B.A. and an M.A. degree in biology in five years. For those students planning to teach biology at the secondary school level, RIC offers a path to teacher certification. (See Secondary Education B.A.)
Upon completion of this program, students will be able to demonstrate:
- competency in general and advanced topics in biology
- proficiency in methods of inquiry-based research
- familiarity with a wide array of experimental tools and techniques
- the ability to synthesize and critically analyze scientific information
- quantitative, critical thinking and communication skills applicable to biology
Writing in the Discipline
In what ways is writing important to your profession?
Effective writing in biology is important to facilitate clear communication within and beyond the scientific community, and to enable forward progress of the discipline. Writing is important for all steps of the scientific process, such as experimental design, generating hypotheses, recording observations, describing results and drawing conclusions. Written communication in biology takes many forms, for example: field notes, correspondence, scientific posters, peer-reviewed articles, popular press articles, technical manuals, educational materials and grant applications.
Which courses are designated as satisfying the Writing in the Discipline (WID) requirement by your department? Why these courses?
The Biology Department has chosen Plant and Animal Form and Function (BIOL 213) and Biology Senior Seminar (BIOL 460) as the designated WID courses in the B.S. in biology program.
BIOL 213 is a required course that leads students over the bridge from 100-level introductory courses to upper-level courses that focus on specific areas of content. The laboratory component of this class has been designed to include a significant writing element so that all students moving forward in the program have acquired the knowledge and skills necessary to write research reports in the upper-level courses.
BIO 460 is the biology capstone course and is the venue for students to integrate their knowledge of biology and apply it to the interpretation of a current research article. Students demonstrate their success in this endeavor through both oral and written communication.
What forms or genres of writing will you learn and practice in your WID courses? Why these genres?
You will learn to write a research report in BIOL 213. The structure of this type of scientific document teaches you to break down the elements of discovery into its four essential parts: the research rationale, the methodology, the results and the analysis. Writing in this genre gives you the opportunity to sharpen skills that are essential in all scientific writing, namely to write cogently, precisely and succinctly.
In BIOL 460, you will focus your writing on a review paper. You will learn how to understand the scientific reasoning, methodology, observations and conclusions of a technical research article and reinterpret it for a general audience. This genre also requires you to do extensive reading of the relevant background scientific literature and to integrate the ideas into a cohesive and updated narrative.
What kinds of teaching practices will you encounter in your WID courses?
BIOL 213 includes explicit instruction on writing the scientific research report. In addition to drafting and finalizing the research report, weekly assignments will include readings from a writing textbook, work on editing and work on citations. Further, BIOL 213 uses both instructor and a peer review of report components.
BIOL 460 emphasizes writing using primary literature as the source material. You will share information and expand your knowledge in group discussions with your peers. You will develop a final review paper through a series of preliminary drafts and instructor feedback, with clear expectations for improvement with each draft.
When you have satisfied your department’s WID requirement, you should be able to:
- Produce scientific writing that is recognizable as such to scientists.
- Communicate scientific concepts in writing to audiences beyond scientists.
- Write cogently, precisely, and succinctly while properly citing ideas that belong to others.
Minor in Biology
Declaring a minor allows you to explore other areas of interest and make interdisciplinary connections. Minor areas at RIC complement and reinforce all major areas of study. By declaring a minor, you can set yourself apart as a candidate for job, internship and volunteer opportunities.