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Course Descriptions

Department of Biology

Degree Requirements

Mountain Lake Additional graduate courses are offered during the summer session at the Mountain Lake Biological Station. There is also a Mountain Lake Master's Degree Program. Further information may be obtained from the Director, Mountain Lake Biological Station, Department of Biology, Gilmer Hall, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4327,, or from the Director of the Summer Session, 238 Garrett Hall, PO Box 400327, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA.

Master of Arts and Master of Science The minimum residence requirement is one session and one full summer at this University, or three full summers. A master's degree candidate must successfully complete a minimum of 24 credits of course work at the graduate level, exclusive of 800-level and 900-level research courses.

Doctor of Philosophy Students who select biology as their major subject, in addition to meeting the regular University requirements, must have a general knowledge of related sciences, such as chemistry, mathematics, and physics, and a comprehensive knowledge of the various aspects of biology, as attested by the completion of prescribed courses and examinations. The department's additional requirements include the successful completion of a minimum of 20 credits of graduate-level-lecture or laboratory course work and involvement in a program of seminar courses. These requirements are subject to change from year to year, but a current list may be obtained from the biology department. The completion of residence requirements and class work does not guarantee a degree to any student; the preeminent qualifications are thoroughness in work, resourcefulness, initiative, creative ability, and intellectual drive.

229 Gilmer Hall
P.O. Box 400328
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4328
(434) 982-5474

Course Descriptions


Note BIOL 201, 202, 203, 204 or equivalent are prerequisite for all advanced courses.

BIOL 501 - (4) (Y)

Prerequisite: CHEM 241, 242 or instructor permission.
Studies the structure and function of the major chemical constituents of cells proteins, nucleic acids, lipids and carbohydrates and their relationship to cellular metabolism and self-replication. Lectures and discussion.

BIOL 505 - (3) (IR)
Temporal Organization of Living Systems

Prerequisite: BIOL 419 or graduate standing.
Studies biological cycles at several levels of organization. Explores the adaptive significance of biological cycles and the mechanisms that generate them, emphasizing unanswered questions and unresolved issues.

BIOL 508 - (4) (Y)
Developmental Mechanisms

Prerequisite: BIOL 301 and 311, or equivalent and BIOL 405 or instructor permission.
Analyzes the cellular and molecular basis of developmental phenomena, reviewing both classical foundations and recent discoveries. Emphasizes major developmental systems used for analyzing embryogenesis, concentrating on themes that pervade modern research in this area. Primary research literature is supplemented by textbook assignments.

BIOL 509 - (2) (SI)
Current Topics in Plant Molecular Biology

Prerequisite: BIOL 301 or instructor permission.
Weekly readings and student presentations focusing on current literature and topics.

BIOL 512 - (3) (Y)
Comparative Biochemistry

Prerequisite: Organic chemistry, BIOL 301, and instructor permission.
Examines the biochemical adaptations that have arisen in organisms in response to physiological demands. Topics drawn from recent advances made in elucidating molecular mechanisms of metabolic regulation.

BIOL 540 - (3) (IR)
Sensory Neurobiology

Prerequisite: BIOL 417/817, or the equivalent.
Examines the organization and physiology of the diverse sensory systems found in vertebrate and non-vertebrate animals. Focuses on the functional rationale for receptor organization and the manner in which the central nervous system processes incoming sensory information. Emphasizes visual, auditory, somatosensory, and electrosensory information processing, primarily in vertebrates.

BIOL 541 - (4) (Y)
Molecular Biology and Genetics

Prerequisite: BIOL 311.
Examines the structure and regulation of prokaryotic, eukaryotic and viral genes at the molecular level. Emphasizes experimental approaches to mechanisms of replication, transcription, RNA processing and translation, and current advances in genetic research.

BIOL 701- (3) (E)

Prerequisite: BIOL 301
Survey of new problems and approaches to large-scale (above the species level) ecological and evolutionary patterns. The course will emphasize modern conceptual issues and methodological advances. Laboratory work will involve computer applications in systematics and statistics.

BIOL 711, 712 - (1-4) (Y)
Independent Study in Biology

A biology faculty member supervises and approves all components of this course, designating the number of credits to be earned prior to enrollment. Students successfully complete one or more courses offered by the Department of Biology at the 300 level or above and, for each course, write a 10-page (minimum) paper on a relevant topic.

BIOL 723 - (3) (Y)
Animal Physiology

Uses diverse examples to identify general principles in physiological adaptation of animals to environmental challenges.

BIOL 801 - (2) (Y)
Colloquium in Developmental Biology

Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
A weekly conference in which students present reports covering various aspects of development. May be repeated for credit.

BIOL 802 - (2) (Y)
Colloquium in Physiology

Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
A weekly conference in which students present reports covering various aspects of physiology. May be repeated for credit.

BIOL 803 - (2) (Y)
Colloquium in Genetics

Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
A weekly conference in which students present reports covering aspects of genetics. May be repeated for credit.

BIOL 804 - (2) (Y)
Colloquium in Biology

Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
A weekly conference in which students present reports covering various topics that cross development, genetics, and physiology. May be repeated for credit.

BIOL 806 - (2) (IR)
Colloquium in Neurobiology

Prerequisite: BIOL 817 or instructor permission.
Readings and two-hour student seminar preparations focusing on a coherent topic (which changes annually). Examines topics of timely experimental and theoretical importance in the areas of membrane physiology, synaptology, simpler neuronal networks, cellular basis of behavior, sensory physiology, and developmental neurobiology.

BIOL 807 - (2) (IR)
Colloquium in Population Biology

Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
A weekly conference arranged around a current topic. May be repeated for credit.

BIOL 814 - (2) (SI)
Developmental Genetics

Analyzes the role of genes in development and an examination of the idea of differential gene action during development.

BIOL 817 - (4) (Y)

Analyzes nerve and muscle function. Includes Nernst and Goldman theories of biological membrane potentials; Hodgkin-Huxley theory of the nerve impulse; passive electrical properties of nerve and muscle membranes; analysis of function in restricted neural networks; and mechanisms in neuronal development.

BIOL 820 - (3) (Y)
Structure and Regulation of Eukaryotic Genes

Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
Studies the structure, regulation, and evolution of eukaryotic genes, reviewing current literature and ideas in this field.

BIOL 825, 826 - (1) (Y)
Scientific Presentations and Papers

Oral presentations and analysis of research articles. Required of all first-year graduate students in biology.

BIOL 849 - (2) (IR)
Advanced Drosophila Genetics

Prerequisite: BIOL 311 or equivalent
Examines genetic techniques available in Drosophila: segregation and use of translocation heterozygotes in the generation of segmental anueploids; segregation and use of compound chromosomes, including their use in the half-tetrad analysis of gene conversion events; methods for making mosaics; methods for P-element induced mutagenesis, including site directed mutagenesis; P-element mediated transformation; and using enhancer traps.

BIOL 880 - (2) (SI)
Selected Topics in Genetics

A weekly conference with reports from recent literature on genes and gene action.

BIOL 881 - (2) (SI)
Selected Topics in Evolution

Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
A weekly seminar on current problems with reports from recent literature.

BIOL 882 - (2) (SI)
Selected Topics in Developmental Biology

Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
A discussion of current problems.

BIOL 884 - (2) (SI)
Selected Topics in Physiology

A discussion of current problems.

BIOL 885 - (2) (SI)
Selected Topics in Molecular Genetics

A weekly seminar on current problems with reports from recent literature.

BIOL 886 - (2) (SI)
Selected Topics in Cell Biology

Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
A discussion of current problems.

BIOL 887 - (2) (SI)
Selected Topics in Developmental Genetics

Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
A discussion of current problems.

BIOL 888 - (2) (SI)
Selected Topics in Biochemistry

Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
A discussion of current problems.

BIOL 890 - (3) (SI)
Selected Topics in Developmental Botany

Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
A discussion of current problems.

BIOL 897 - (3-12) (S)
Non-Topical Research, Preparation for Research

For master's research, taken before a thesis director has been selected.

BIOL 898 - (3-12) (S)
Non-Topical Research

For master's thesis, taken under the supervision of a thesis director.

BIOL 901, 902 - (1-12) (S)
Research in Genetic Development

BIOL 903, 904 - (1-12) (S)
Research in Yeast Genetics

BIOL 907, 908 - (1-12) (S)
Research in Molecular Genetics

BIOL 909, 910 - (1-12) (S)
Research in Developmental Biology

BIOL 911, 912 - (1-12) (S)
Research on Protein Structure

BIOL 915, 916 - (1-12) (S)
Research in Biochemistry

BIOL 923, 924 - (1-12) (S)
Research in Neuroethology of Electric Fish

BIOL 925, 926 - (1-12) (S)
Research in Population Biology

BIOL 927, 928 - (1-12) (S)
Research in Plant Physiology

BIOL 929, 930 - (1-12) (S)
Research in Plant Biology

BIOL 933, 934 - (1-12) (S)
Research in the Circadian Organization of Vertebrates

BIOL 935, 936 - (1-12) (S)
Research in Cell Structure and Function

BIOL 937, 938 - (1-12) (S)
Research in Gene Expression During Development

BIOL 939, 940 - (1-12) (S)
Research in Behavior Neuroendocrinology

BIOL 945, 946 - (1-12) (S)
Research in Evolutionary Biology

BIOL 947, 948 - (1-12) (S)
Research in Neurophysiology and Developmental Neurobiology

BIOL 951, 952 - (1-12) (S)
Research in Cell Structure and Function

BIOL 963, 964 - (1-12) (S)
Research in Drosophila Neurobiology

BIOL 965, 966 - (1-12) (S)
Research in Ecological Genetics

BIOL 967, 968 - (1-12) (S)
Research in Animal Cell Growth

BIOL 977, 978 - (1-12) (S)
Research in Molecular Aspects of Development

BIOL 979, 980 - (1-12) (S)
Research in Development and Function of Neuronal Networks

BIOL 981, 982 - (1-12) (S)
Research in Developmental Genetics and Morphogenesis

BIOL 983, 984 - (1-12) (S)
Research in the Neurophysiological Basis of Circadian Rhythms

BIOL 991, 992 - (4) (Y)
Rotation Research

Required of all first-year biology graduate students.

BIOL 996 - (1-12) (S)

BIOL 997 - (1-12) (S)
Non-Topical Research, Preparation for Doctoral Research

For doctoral research, taken before a dissertation director has been selected.

BIOL 999 - (1-12) (S)
Non-Topical Research

For doctoral dissertation, taken under the supervision of a dissertation director.

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