Biology

Chairperson: M. Bertagnolli

Professors: J. Beckstead, M. Bertagnolli, W. Ettinger, H. Lefcort, P. Pauw, R. Prusch, N. Staub
Associate Professors: K. AndersD. Boose, J. Haydock, B. Swanson
Assistant Professors: E. Addis, G. Chang, M. Poxleitner

The Biology Department offers a selection of courses and experiences that help students understand the unity, diversity and complexity of life at the molecular, cellular, organismal, and ecological levels using evolutionary principles as the unifying theme. Students in the biology program learn concepts in subdisciplines of biology and acquire scientific problem solving skills through lectures, discussions, laboratory exercises, and research. The program is aimed at preparing students for a broad range of biology-oriented careers, such as those in medicine, biotechnology, environmental science, research, and teaching.

The Bachelor of Science degree is designed for students preparing for a career in biology, including continued training in graduate programs in a broad range of subdisciplines of biology, as well as medical, dental, and veterinary school. Students interested in careers in biological research should consider the Research Option Concentration: see below. Students interested in biochemistry and molecular biology may consider several options. For a course of study with a more biological emphasis, students may consider a Bachelor of Science in biology and a minor in chemistry. For a more biochemical emphasis, students may consider the Biochemistry degree offered in the department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. The Bachelor of Arts degree, in coordination with the teacher certification program in the School of Education, prepares students to teach biology at the secondary level. The Bachelor of Arts degree may be suitable for certain graduate programs that do not require physics or more than two semesters of chemistry. A Bachelor of Arts degree allows students to take more elective courses in other departments at the university, thus gaining a broader liberal arts education. A minor in biology is offered for students interested in careers that integrate biological principals with other fields, including political science, engineering, business and scientific journalism.

Biology majors from Gonzaga University are well prepared for a variety of careers or post-graduate education.  Some go on to medical or dental school—recently our graduates have been accepted to Colorado State University, Creighton University, Georgetown University, Marquette University, Oregon Health & Science University, Tulane University, University of Colorado, University of Hawaii, University of Washington and Washington State University, to name a few. Many of our graduates go on to graduate school—students have been accepted into programs at the University of California at Berkeley, Yale University, University of California at San Francisco, University of California at Irvine, Oregon State University, University of New Mexico, and University of Wisconsin–Madison, to name a few.  Many of our students choose to participate in the Peace Corps or the Jesuit Volunteer Corps prior to pursing post-graduate education.  Others work in biotech or nature conservation fields after graduation, or earn their teaching credentials and work to make the world a more scientifically literate place.

The Biology Department also participates in the inter-disciplinary major and minor in environmental studies, which is open to all students in the College of Arts and Sciences. Biology faculty teach the science portion of the environmental studies curriculum, which includes either Human Ecology (BIOL 123/ENVS 103), Ecology for Biology majors (BIOL 206), or approved sections of Core Topics (BIOL 199), followed by Case Studies in Environmental Science (ENVS 200). Members of the Biology Department also advise environmental studies students, and collaborate in teaching the concentration’s capstone course, Symposium in Environmental Studies (ENVS 499).

The biology curriculum is designed to provide students with a broad background in biology. In the first year, all students receive a foundation in basic biological principles by taking Information Flow in Biological Systems (BIOL 105) and Energy Flow in Biological Systems (BIOL 106), classes that expose them to the core concepts of evolution, structure and function, information flow/exchange/storage, energy pathways and transformations, and systems.  The introductory laboratory (BIOL 105L) gives them an authentic scientific experience.  At the intermediate level, students take integrative courses in Physiology and Biodiversity (BIOL 205), Ecology (BIOL 206) and Genetics (BIOL 207) that build on the core concepts.  Courses in General Chemistry (CHEM 101) and Organic Chemistry I (CHEM 230) are required for students to understand the structure and function of biological molecules and how these molecules interact in living systems. Students earning the B.S. Major in Biology are also required to take Organic Chemistry II (CHEM 331), Intro. to Bioanalytical Chemistry (CHEM 240) and a year of physics (PHYS 101 and 102). Students are encouraged to choose, in consultation with their advisor, a set of upper division courses. Students must complete an Advanced Topics course (BIOL 399), preferably in their junior year. Students are required to complete the Senior Colloquium (BIOL 499) in their senior year, which provides practice in the application of students’ mastery of biological knowledge through discussion of a broad range of literature.

Some courses are specifically designed to fulfill requirements for non-science majors. These include courses that fulfill the laboratory science requirement for the core curriculum of the College of Arts and Sciences: Human Ecology (BIOL 123 and BIOL 123L), Field Botany (BIOL 140 and BIOL 140L), Field Studies in Biodiversity (BIOL 159), and Core Topics (BIOL 199 and BIOL 199L); and those that fulfill the mathematics or natural science requirement of the core curriculum of the College of Arts and Sciences: Biological Concepts (BIOL 100).

B.S. Major in Biology: 62 credits
Lower Division
BIOL 105, BIOL 105L Information Flow in Biological Systems
4 credits
BIOL 106 Energy Flow in Biological Systems
3 credits
BIOL 205, BIOL 205L Physiology and Biodiversity
4 credits
BIOL 206, BIOL 206L Ecology4 credits
BIOL 207, BIOL 207L Genetics4 credits
PHYS 101, PHYS 101L (or PHYS 103, PHYS 103L)4 credits
PHYS 102, PHYS 102L (or PHYS 204, PHYS 204L)4 credits
CHEM 101, CHEM 101L General Chemistry
4 credits
CHEM 230, CHEM 230L Organic Chemistry I5 credits
CHEM 240, CHEM 240L Intro. to Bioanalytical Chemistry4 credits
Upper Division*
CHEM 331, CHEM 331L Organic Chemistry II4 credits
BIOL 399 Advanced Topics2 credits
BIOL Upper Division Electives15 credits
BIOL 499 Senior Colloquium1 credit

B.A. Major in Biology: 40 credits
Lower Division
BIOL 105, BIOL 105L Information Flow in Biological Systems4 credits
BIOL 106 Energy Flow in Biological Systems3 credits
BIOL 205, BIOL 205L Physiology and Biodiversity4 credits
BIOL 206, BIOL 206L Ecology4 credits
BIOL 207, BIOL 207L Genetics4 credits
CHEM 101, CHEM 101L General Chemistry
4 credits
CHEM 230, CHEM 230L Organic Chemistry I5 credits
Upper Division*
BIOL 399 Advanced. Topics2 credits
BIOL Upper Division Electives9 credits
BIOL 499 Senior Colloquium1 credit

Minor in Biology: 28 credits
Lower Division
BIOL 105, BIOL 105L Information Flow in Biological Systems4 credits
BIOL 106 Energy Flow in Biological Systems3 credits
BIOL 205, BIOL 205L Physiology and Biodiversity4 credits
BIOL 206, BIOL 206L Ecology4 credits
BIOL 207, BIOL 207L Genetics4 credits
CHEM 101, CHEM 101L General Chemistry
4 credits
Upper Division*
BIOL Upper Division Electives5 credits

* A prerequisite for BIOL 205, 206 and 207 is a C- grade or better in BIOL 105, BIOL 105L and BIOL 106.  For upper division biology electives, a minimum of 10 credits (BS), 6 credits (BA), or 4 credits (Minor) must be biology classes taken from Gonzaga faculty: students participating in School for Field Studies programs or other study abroad programs should make note. All classes should be chosen in consultation with a faculty advisor.

B.S. or B.A. in Biology with Research Option

The Research Option is a challenging track within the biology major. Its goals are to make research experiences available to more students, to show students the value of science education outreach through experiential learning, and to provide students with a more solid foundation in biological mathematics and science communication. It consists of a number of courses and experiences designed to prepare students to pursue research in some venue (graduate school, industry, government, medical school, or science education) after graduation. Students can enter the program at anytime, although we anticipate most students will enter the program as sophomores and juniors.

To complete the Research Option, the following requirements are added to the requirements for the B.S. or B.A. degree in biology:

  • Participate in a significant research experience. This means working on an independent research project for the equivalent of 4 credits.  Most students can fulfill this requirement in one summer of full-time research or four academic semesters of research while enrolled in other classes.  Enrolling in the Research Option does not guarantee a research experience.  It is the student’s responsibility to secure a research position.  This requirement can be fulfilled in the lab of a GU faculty member, or with prior permission, at a different institution. 
  • Present the results from the independent research (in oral or poster format) to the scientific community at a venue outside of the Gonzaga campus.
  • Write-up the research results as part of the requirement for BIOL 499, Biology’s capstone course.  This course is already required of all biology majors but will have a variety of writing options for different students.
  • Participate in science education outreach for 16 hours one semester.
  • Take BIOL 484 Research Seminar (1 credit) and attend a minimum of 12 biology-related seminars (including those in BIOL 484), and upload a Seminar Evaluation Form for each seminar.
  • Take a college calculus course (Survey of Calculus (MATH 148) or Calculus and Analytic Geometry I (MATH 157)).
  • Also, complete a statistics course or biological mathematics course.



The core curriculum or common body of knowledge of the College of Arts and Sciences consists of 59 to 62 credits which are common to and required of all degree programs in the College: the first 31 credits (of which there is a more complete description in the General Degree Requirements and Procedures section of this catalogue) form the University Core, while the remaining 28 to 31 credits are common to all Arts and Sciences degrees.
Students should attempt to spread the core curriculum over their entire fours years at Gonzaga.

  1. Thought and Expression (7 credits): ENGL 101, SPCO 101, and PHIL 101 (preferably in the same semester).
  2. Philosophy (9 credits): PHIL 201, PHIL 301, and  PHIL  400 level elective.
  3. Religious Studies (9 credits): RELI 100, 200, and 300 levels: one course from each level.
  4. Mathematics (3 credits): one MATH (not CPSC) course on the 100 level or above; NURS 320 is substituted for a MATH course for BSN students; MATH 203 fulfills this requirement only for students who graduate with certification in Elementary Education.
  5. English Literature (3 credits): ENGL 102 or 103H or 105 or 106.
  6. History (6 credits): HIST 101 and either HIST 102 or HIST 112 in their first year. If they are unable to complete all six 100-level HIST credits in their first year, HIST 201 or 202 may be substituted for one 100-level course after the first year.
  7. Fine Arts (3 credits): one course in either VART, MUSC, or THEA from courses approved by Dean of Arts and Sciences.
  8. Laboratory Science (4 credits): one course with laboratory in either BIOL, CHEM, or PHYS.
  9. Mathematics or Natural Science (3 credits): one course in either MATH, CPSC, BIOL, CHEM, PHYS, or ITEC.
  10. Literature (3 credits): one British or American literature course (ENGL 201 - 285).
  11. Social Science (6 credits): CRIM 101, ECON, SOCI, POLS, or PSYC: two courses from these departments.
  12. Foreign Language or Culture (3 credits): one course in any foreign language (classical or modern) or one (foreign culture) course approved by the Dean of Arts and Sciences.  Foreign-language speaking students from foreign cultures who have completed the nine English core credits at Gonzaga prior to their fourth year (last thirty credits) may petition the Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences for a waiver of the foreign language or Culture requirement..
  13. Social Justice (3 credits): One course on Social Justice issues related to experiences of difference (like race, class, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation), from courses approved by the Dean of Arts & Sciences; (may be combined with other core or major requirements).