Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Program

The Best Way to Learn Science is to Do Science

Students in the Biochemistry & Molecular Biology program acquire practical experience with state-of-the-art biochemical analysis and recombinant DNA technology as they study structures and chemical processes of living cells. A capstone research project frequently results in professional presentations at scientific meetings and possible publication. The major will enable students for possible futures in the health professions, research in academics, the government, or private industry, education, or non-science related fields including law.

At the completion of the degree students should be able to:

  • Provide an explanation of the importance of the scientific method for understanding natural phenomena
  • Demonstrate understanding of biology at the level of molecules, cells, systems, organisms, and ecosystems
  • Explain key concepts in molecular biology and biochemistry
  • Demonstrate scientific quantitative skills, such as the ability to evaluate experimental design, read graphs, and understand and use information from scientific papers
  • Effectively communicate scientific data and ideas in both written and oral formats

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree requirement

AVILA CORE:  New Core Requirements (approximately 32 hours)

BI 111 General Biology Cells and Genes (4)
BI 112 General Biology Ecology and Evolution(4)
BI 318 Genetics (3);
BI 345 Molecular Cell Biology (4)
BI 493 Biology Laboratory Research (1) or BI 495 Internship
BI 499 Research Colloquium and Seminar (1)
CH 131 General Chemistry I (4)
CH 137 General Chemistry II (4)
CH 216 Organic Chemistry I (5)
CH 217 Organic Chemistry II (5)
CH/BI 342 Biochemistry I (3)
CH 344 Biochemistry II (3)
CH 321 Analytical Chemistry (4)
CH 350 Physical Chemistry for the Biological Sciences (3)
PHY 231 Physics I (5)
MA 241 Calculus I (5)



BI 111. General Biology: Cells and Genes. (4) A survey of cell theory (cellular structure and function) and gene theory (molecular genetics and Mendelian genetics) that illustrates the nature and limits of science and two of the fundamental concepts of the life sciences.  Elements of evolutionary theory will be discussed throughout the course and examples from all kingdoms of life will be sued.  The laboratory will introduce students to methods of experimental design, analysis, and communication of scientific information. 3 hours lecture, 3 hours laboratory per week.

BI 112. General Biology: Ecology and Evolution. (4) A survey of the diversity of organisms is performed that includes their ecology, evolution, cell, and molecular biology.  Examples from all kingdoms of life will be used, but the emphasis will be placed on the animal kingdom.  The laboratory will introduce students to methods of experimental design, analysis, and communication of scientific information.  3 hours lecture, 3 hours laboratory per week.

CH 131. General Chemistry I. (4) The principal theories of modern chemistry.  The topics studied will include atomic theory and structure, the periodic table, reaction types, chemical compounds, stoichiometry, solutions, acids and bases, and chemical bonding.  3 hours lecture, 3 hours lab per week.  Co-requisite: MA 120 or MA 125 or MA 241.

CH 137. General Chemistry II. (4) A continuation of the principal theories of modern chemistry taught in CH 131.  The topics studied will include thermodynamics, kinetics, chemical equilibrium, solubility, and selected descriptive chemistry.  3 hours lecture, 3 hours lab per week.  Prerequisites: CH 131, MA 120 or MA 125 or MA 241.

CH 216. Organic Chemistry I. (5) Principles, laws, and theories governing structures and reactions of hydrocarbons and alcohols are presented.  Stereochemistry and mechanisms of alkene reactions are also introduced.  3 hours of lectures, 5 hours lab per week.  Prerequisite: CH 131.

CH 217. Organic Chemistry II. (5) A continuation of the study of organic compounds begun in CH 216.  The principles and theories developed in CH 216 are applied to other common functional groups including alkyl halides and various classes of carbonyl compounds.  Common spectroscopic methods are also presented.  3 hours lecture, 5 hours lab per week.  Prerequisite: CH 216.

MA 241. Calculus and Analytic Geometry I. (5) Functions and their graphs, limits of functions, continuity, slope, and rate of change, derivatives, formulas, and rules of differentiation, applications of the derivative, the theory of indefinite and definite integrals, and applications of integration.  Prerequisite:  Appropriate ACT or placement score, o MA 121 or MA 125 with a grade of “C” or better.


BI 318. Genetics. (3) Principles of hereditary nature, transmission, and function of genetic material; and genetics of populations are studied.  3hours lecture with integrated laboratory experiences.  Prerequisites: BI 111 or BI 112 or equivalent or permission of instructor.

BI 345. Molecular Cell Biology. (4) Structure, function, and biochemistry at the cellular and subcellular levels, including the biosynthesis and catabolism of fats.  Also considered are the chemistry, replication, and transcription of nucleic acids and some topics dealing with recombinant DNA.  3 hours lecture, 3 hours laboratory per week.  Prerequisites: BI 111 or equivalent and CH 216.

CH 321 Analytical Chemistry. (4) Principles of chemical measurements with a focus on instrumental analysis, including spectrophotometry, mass spectrometry, and separations. The laboratory develops quantitative skills and provides experience with chemical instrumentation. Prerequisites: CH 137 NEW COURSE

CH/BI 342 Biochemistry I. (3) Introduction to the chemistry of life processes.  The chemistry of amino acids, proteins, and carbohydrates is examined and applied to biosynthesis and catabolism of carbohydrates through glycolysis, gluconeogenesis, the citric acid cycle, and electron transport.  This is a Communication Intensive course.  3 hours lecture per week.  Prerequisite: CH 216

CH 344 Biochemistry II. (3) The study of metabolic pathways begun in CH 342 is continued through biosynthesis and catabolism of fats and proteins.  The chemistry of nucleic acids and its relationship to replication, transcription, and translation of genetic information and recombinant DNA is considered.  3 hours lecture per week.  Prerequisite: CH/BI 342.

CH 350 Physical Chemistry for the Biological Sciences. (4) Introduction for students of the biological sciences to the area of physical chemistry, an approach to the use of thermodynamics, equilibria, electrochemistry, kinetics, quantum mechanics, and spectroscopy as applied to the field of biochemistry.  Three hours lecture, three hours lab.  Prerequisites: MA 241 and CH 137  NEW COURSE

BI 493. Biology Laboratory Research. (1-6) Students perform and report on an individual student research project in the laboratory or field.  Prerequisite: Biology or pre-health professions major with 12 hours or 200 or 300 level biology courses who qualify for honors.  Students may enroll in BI 493 only with an invitation from the Biology faculty. Students may count up to 3 hours in research per semester toward major requirements.  Required for graduation with honors in biology.

BI 495. Internship. (1-2) A carefully monitored work or service experience, occurring off-campus at an institution or agency specializing in an area relevant to the student’s ultimate career goals.  The student will meet the intended learning outcomes for the experience.  Students will be notified of their eligibility by the Research and Internship Coordinator.

BI 499. Colloquium and Seminar. (2-3) Students share their experiences from BI 492, BI 493, or BI 495 in written and oral form.  This course fulfills the capstone requirement in the major.  Prerequisites: BI 495 or BI 492 or BI 493 or permission of the Research and Internship Coordinator.


Research Facilities

The Biochemistry and Molecular Biology program facilities are located in O’Rielly Hall, a state-of-the-art science and teaching complex.

The building houses four biology laboratories, three research laboratories, a common core research facility, chemistry and physics facilities, and lecture rooms. 

Equipment includes state-of-the-art microscopes, surgical stereo microscopes, PCR thermocyclers, biochemical and molecular biology equipment, incubators, an autoclave, a culture hood, a fluorescence microscope, videomicroscopes, -80 °C freezer, two high-speed preparative centrifuges, microfuges, water baths, incubators, neurophysiology equipment, HPLC, NMR and spectrophotometric apparatuses. 

The third phase of a three-phase renovation has just been completed making O’Rielly Hall a state-of-the-art science and teaching complex.

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