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Our Programs

Biological Sciences encompass the study of living organisms and life processes at all levels:  ecosystems, populations, individual organisms, tissues, cells, subcellular structures, and molecules.  The Department of Biological Sciences offers courses and programs of study that address all of these levels.  The department offers three majors and a minor, as well as many opportunities for students to engage in faculty-led research projects for course credit.  For more information about the majors and minors offered by the department, the honors track of each major, and research opportunities open to undergraduates, click here or contact either our Director of Undergraduate Studies or our Director of Honors Program.

Introduction to Biological Sciences: BSCI 1510/1511

When Should You Take BSCI 1510/1511 and the companion lab BSCI 1510L/1511L?

If you are taking this year long course only because it is required for your pre-medicine or engineering curriculum, then taking BSCI 1510/1511 and 1510L/1511L in either your freshman or sophomore (or even later) year does not matter. The decision should be based on other factors that are relevant to the timing of your classes.  If you consider, for whatever reason, taking BSCI 1510/1511 and 1510L/1511L in your freshman year and/or you are interested in Biological Sciences as a possible major, please read the paragraphs below.

If you have any thoughts that Biological Sciences might eventually be your major, then you should give serious consideration to taking BSCI 1510/1510L as a freshman.  Chemistry 1601/1602 is a pre- or co-requisite for BSCI 1510/1511 and 1510L/1511L, and thus you would also need to take CHEM 1601/1602 your freshman year and perhaps postpone calculus to a later year.

While it is not mandatory for future Biological Sciences majors to take BSCI 1510/1511 and 1510L/1511L in their freshman year, it simplifies things in the following way.  It allows earlier access to and lets you participate for more semesters in independent research, which many of our majors are interested in and enjoy.  It also makes it easier to do Honors in Biological Sciences, a semester abroad, and allows for an easier accommodation of a second major.  All of these things are possible if you take BSCI 1510/1511 and 1510L/1511L in your sophomore year; it is just that more attention will need to be paid to making sure it all fits.

Students who have recently taken biology in high school (junior or senior year), or who have taken AP biology should feel comfortable taking BSCI 1510/1511 and BSCI 1510L/1511L in the freshman year.  This is especially true if your biology class exposed you to molecular aspects of biology (molecular genetics, cell biology, biochemistry).

Students who have not had biology since their freshman or sophomore year of high school, or those whose exposure to biology was primarily organismal or ecological, may find it helpful to take a full year of chemistry in their freshman year prior to taking BSCI 1510/1511 and 1510L/1511L in their sophomore year.  Students in this category that wish to take BSCI1510/1511 and 1510L/1511L in their freshman year should review the molecular aspects of biology during the summer prior to entering Vanderbilt, by reading from the text used in BSCI 1510 or by some form of on-line self study in college level introductory biology.

No matter what your background, the key for everyone once the class begins is keeping up and consistently studying each and every day of the semester.

Research Opportunities for Undergraduates

Click here for information on research for course credit and for potential mentors.

Click here to view presentations of recent undergraduate research projects.

Click here to find out about summer programs for undergraduates

Undergraduate Awards for Research View past award winners.

Undergraduate Teaching Opportunities Click here.

Undergraduate Program Contacts

Director of Undergraduate Studies

Professor Mark Woelfle
tel: (615) 343-4508

Director of Honors Program
Professor James G Patton
2527 Stevenson Center                         
tel: (615)-322-4738