University of Portland Bulletin 2018-2019


Amelia Ahern-Rindell Ph.D., chair

Faculty: Ahern-Rindell, Beadles-Bohling, Cesar, Dizney, Dyer, Favero, Flann, Greaves, Kenton, Mani, Murray, O’Reilly, Prestholdt, Taylor, Tower, Van Hoomissen, Weilhoefer, White, Wynne

The Department of Biology’s mission is to effectively develop students’ capacities to apply scientific thinking across a range of biological disciplines while providing a vibrant learning environment for all students. As they progress through the major, students investigate three sub-disciplines within biology including cell and molecular biology/genetics, field/population biology, and organismal biology. Students majoring in biology achieve comprehensive preparation for careers as research scientists and health care practitioners, as well as a wide range of technical positions in academia, industry, and governmental organizations. Biology majors acquire a breadth of knowledge and technical/analytical competencies, while reflecting on the interplay of science and society. Undergraduate research and service opportunities are available, thus developing students’ capacity for critical thinking, independent learning, and problem solving.

The department offers curricular options that culminate in a bachelor of science (B.S.) degree, a bachelor of arts (B.A.) degree, or a minor in biology. In addition, the department provides several courses that support students studying chemistry, education, engineering, environmental studies, nursing, and neuroscience. The department also serves a major role advising students from all disciplines who are interested in careers in the health professions. 

Because of the breadth within its curriculum and degree options, the Department of Biology oversees a comprehensive undergraduate program that prepares students for a wide range of careers or graduate and professional schools. Students from this program successfully enter graduate studies in areas as diverse as wildlife conservation, ecology, and biomedical research. Biology majors also are well prepared to pursue a variety of health professional graduate programs such as medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry, dental hygiene, pharmacy, occupational and physical therapy, optometry, and podiatry. The University offers courses that satisfy the admission requirements for all accredited U.S. medical and dental schools, and for most other health professions programs and graduate programs in the biomedical sciences. The University encourages students to pursue a major of their choice and take a broad spectrum of coursework while completing the specific requirements for a particular graduate program. 

Learning Outcomes for Biology Major

Biology graduates of the University of Portland will be able to:

  1. Competently engage in the evidence-based process of science by demonstrating the ability to:
    1. Pose problem-based questions based on observations.
    2. Generate hypotheses and design experiments to test hypotheses.
    3. Evaluate and interpret data and draw relevant conclusions.
  2. Competently engage in data analysis and interpretation by demonstrating the ability to:
    1. Perform basic mathematical computations and apply statistical methods to analyze data.
    2. Generate and interpret data in graphs and tables.
    3. Utilize mathematical modeling, bioinformatic and simulation tools appropriately.
  3. Competently use concepts from other disciplines individually and collaboratively to generate and interpret biological data by demonstrating the ability to:
    1. Appropriately apply physical and chemical laws to biological systems.
    2. Participate in team oriented projects effectively and productively.
    3. Evaluate the relevance of social contexts to biological issues ethically, and develop biological applications to address societal problems.
  4. Competently communicate biological concepts and interpretations of data, and their importance, to scientists in other disciplines and to non-scientists orally and/or in writing by demonstrating the ability to:
    1. Disseminate scientific findings appropriately to individuals within and outside the biological discipline.
  5. Competently demonstrate the ability to apply an understanding of the foundational areas of biology that include:
    1. Evolution: The diversity of life emerges over time by processes of mutation, selection, and genetic change.
    2. Information Flow, Exchange, and Storage: The growth and behavior of organisms are governed by the expression of genetic information in context.
    3. Structure and Function: Basic units of structure define the function of all living things.
    4. Pathways and Transformations of Energy and Matter: Biological systems grow and change by processes based upon chemical transformation pathways and are governed by the laws of thermodynamics.
    5. Systems: Living systems are interconnected and interacting.

Scholarship Requirements

As part of the biology requirements for the B.A. and B.S. degrees, as well as the biology minor, students are required to complete BIO 207/277 with a grade of C- or better before continuation to BIO 208/278. A grade of C- or better in BIO 207/277 and 208/278 is required of all biology majors and minors for entrance into upper-division biology courses.