Program

Biological Sciences

The Department of Biological Sciences is committed to becoming Northern California’s premier facility for the education of students, the creation of insightful researchers, skilled professionals, and knowledgeable citizens who will have the capacity to meet biological challenges of the future and will continue contributing towards our understanding of life. We introduce our majors to current research and techniques in biological sciences and prepare them for employment opportunities, graduate education, or professional programs of study. Students are strongly encouraged to become involved in faculty research projects in the laboratory and the field.

Students who pursue a B.S. in Biological Sciences choose one of four options. The Cellular and Molecular Biology Option prepares students for professional programs, graduate studies in cellular and molecular biology, or entry level positions into the biotechnology industry. The Ecological, Evolutionary, and Organismal Biology Option prepares students for positions within environmental and resource management or graduate studies in ecology and evolutionary biology. The Plant Biology Option prepares students for positions in habitat restoration, field botany, forestry or range management, agricultural biotechnology or graduate studies in plant biology.

The General Biology Option is designed for those students who want a broad background in the biological sciences. For students who intend to become secondary school teachers, this option offers the necessary preparation for earning a single subject credential. This option also allows students to tailor a curriculum to specific needs.

Microbiology majors choose either the Option in General Microbiology or Clinical Laboratory Science. The General Microbiology Option is designed to prepare students for careers in biotechnology, environmental or industrial microbiology, pharmaceutical and biomedical research, or graduate studies. The Clinical Laboratory Science Option prepares students for an internship to become a clinical laboratory scientist or public health microbiologist.

Faculty and Facilities

The faculty represent diverse academic backgrounds and are vitally interested in their students. In addition to teaching and advising, faculty are actively involved in research and scientific publication and encourage undergraduates to be involved their research programs. Natural research sites such as Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve and the Eagle Lake Field Station also provide year-round research opportunities to undergraduates and graduate students. Summer course work is also offered at the field station.

The department has many well-equipped teaching and research facilities in addition to an electron microscope lab, natural history museum, herbarium, and several greenhouses.

Graduate Programs

The objectives of the graduate program are to develop research and analytical skills so that students are equipped to conduct independent research and teach as professional biologists upon graduation. The MS in Biological Sciences and in Botany combine course work and satisfactory completion of original research, presented in a thesis.

Career Outlook

The organizational, data-gathering, and written communication skills acquired by biology majors prepare students for a wide variety of careers. Students may prepare themselves for employment in laboratories, business, or teaching. Laboratory positions are available in university and governmental research centers, pharmaceutical and biological product manufacturers, biotechnology firms, and agricultural and food processing companies. Teacher shortage in the United States is critical, so a teaching career, especially in the sciences, has a bright outlook.

Students who emphasize field studies may prepare themselves for positions in private companies as well as state and federal agencies. Participation in internships or cooperative education programs enhances employability in these areas.