The SOU Biology Department provides excellent, unified, and integrated education to prepare students for a life of continued learning and informed participation in a democratic society, as well as for careers in life science, health professions, and environmental education. We emphasize environmental questions, taking advantage of our unique biogeographic setting, and integrate up-to-date field Biology with laboratory work using molecular and biochemical techniques through coursework and undergraduate research. In keeping with the increasing integration of biological science, the Department emphasizes the unity of life processes at all levels of organization, from molecules and cells, to whole organisms, to ecological systems and evolutionary lineages. The Department strongly supports Environmental Studies, Nursing, science teacher preparation, other science majors, general education, and nonscience majors.

image of trees



Department of Biology Vision Statement

The biology department is committed to broadening its recognition for excellence in teaching, research, and service in our region and beyond. We will maintain a high quality and diverse curriculum and expand both our undergraduate program and our distinctive masters program in environmental education. We will enhance student learning through improvement of existing facilities and by establishing a field station, an arboretum, and a new science building. We will continue to integrate modern environmental biology with molecular techniques to meet the scientific challenges our students and society will face in the future. We will increase our integration with the environmental studies program and continue to seek partnerships with government agencies, non-profit organizations, and businesses in our region.


Department of Biology Student Learning Goals (Exit Outcomes)

Student learning goals are segregated into three basic areas: Literacy, Content Knowledge and Skills, and Process.


I. Literacy (language, critical thought, and communication)
A broad vocabulary in biology together with an effective ability to communicate through writing, speech and visuals underscores scientific literacy. Therefore, students will be able to

  • Comprehend a broad vocabulary in biology
  • Critically evaluate diverse forms of biology-related literature or conversation (academic discourse, scientific reports, and public opinion)
  • Effectively communicate biological ideas, concepts, and findings to the general public and the scientific community through speech, writing and visual displays.

II. Content Knowledge and Skills
Biology majors will understand the foundational principles of biology, understand the perspective of three approaches to the study of biology, and be proficient in the techniques and practical applications of modern field and laboratory biology.

A. Understand foundational principles

  • Evolutionary history and mechanisms
  • Energy transformations in living systems
  • Structure and function of cells
  • Heredity from perspective of Mendelian and molecular genetics
  • Mechanisms and patterns of growth, reproduction, and development
  • Structure and function of organisms
  • Ecological relationships among organisms, populations, communities, and their physical environment
  • Biological diversity and familiarity with a broad range of taxonomic groups

B. Understand three major perspectives of biology

  • Ecology and evolutionary biology
  • Organismal biology
  • Cell and molecular biology

C. Have technical skills and practical proficiency in biological methods.

III. Process
Biology Majors will be able to conduct scientific studies of biological systems and present their findings in scientific formats. Students will demonstrate their competence in the following ways:

  • Read and interpret biological literature relevant to specific research questions.
  • Formulate scientific hypotheses concerning biological systems and propose specific observations or experimental treatments to test the predictions of their hypotheses.
  • Carry out proposed studies or experiments.
  • Analyze and interpret the results of scientific investigations, including use of quantitative and statistical methods.
  • Write scientific reports that are correct in style and cogent in organization, presentation, analysis, and conclusions.
  • Deliver oral presentations that describe scientific studies.