Biology is the study of living things at the molecular, cellular, organismal and ecosystem levels. It deals with fundamental questions such as the origin and evolution of plants and animals, interactions between living organisms and their environment, mechanisms of embryonic development, structure and function of the living cell and individual molecules within it, molecular basis of inheritance, biochemical and genetic basis of human diseases, and how the brain and the nervous system control behaviour. The study of biology also has vast practical applications. The knowledge, methods and concepts developed through research in the various fields of biology are applied extensively in agriculture, medicine, pharmaceutical development, biotechnology, genetic engineering, environmental protection and wildlife management.
The Department of Biology offers a Liberal Program, a Major Program, Joint Majors with Computer Science and with Mathematics, an Honours Program, a Minor Program and a Minor Concentration in Science for Arts students.
The programs in Biology offer students an opportunity to gain knowledge in more than one area of biology and they provide a broader training than the more specialized programs in Biochemistry, Microbiology, Physiology or Anatomy and Cell Biology. Nevertheless, or perhaps as a consequence, many of our graduates continue on to M.D. programs and successful careers in health care and delivery. A B.Sc. degree in Biology also prepares students for a wide range of employment opportunities, including entry to professional schools in veterinary science, dentistry, agriculture, nursing, education and library science. It provides a solid background for students who are interested in careers related to environmental protection, wildlife management, biotechnology and the pharmaceutical industry. A B.Sc. degree in Biology often leads to postgraduate studies at the M.Sc. and Ph.D. levels, and then on to research careers in universities, research institutes, hospitals, and industrial or governmental laboratories.
The Department of Biology has well-equipped teaching laboratories located in the Stewart Biology Building, and research labs located in the Stewart Biology Building and the new Bellini Life Sciences Building, which opened in 2008. Much of the Department's research space has been renovated or newly constructed in the last several years thanks to extensive support from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, the Ministère de la développement économique, innovation, et exploration du Québec, and the generosity of private benefactors. Our undergraduates are encouraged to take advantage of these facilities by pursuing independent research projects, either as 3-, 6- and 9-credit stand-alone courses or as part of the Honours Program. Department members carry out research in areas of molecular biology, cell biology, ecology, animal behaviour, developmental biology, bioinformatics, neurobiology, marine biology, plant biology and evolution. The Department also includes many associate faculty members, many of whom are located in McGill-affiliated teaching hospitals or in departments of the Faculty of Medicine, and others who are affiliated with the Redpath Museum, the McGill School of Environment, and remote sites such as the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama and the Bellairs Research Institute in Barbados. Field courses are given at STRI and Bellairs, at the nearby Gault Nature Reserve, and also at the Huntsman Marine Science Centre in New Brunswick. The Department is also a very active contributor to the Africa Field Study Semester.
The Biology Department Undergraduate Programs 2010-2011 booklet (“Blue Book”) describes in detail the content of each course and the level at which it is given, the aims and methods used, lectures, references, grading procedures, and other important information. The “Blue Book” also contains more information on registration, counselling, committee structure and the research interests and facilities that are provided in the Department. It is available at http://biology.mcgill.ca/undergrad/bluebook.html.
Inquiries about undergraduate programs should be directed to the Student Affairs Office, in Room W4/15, Stewart Biology Building, telephone 514-398-7045.
Requirements for the Major and Honours programs in Biology are 2 courses in elementary Biology, 2 courses in general Chemistry, 2 courses in Calculus and 2 courses in Physics (Mechanics and Electromagnetism). Students entering into the B.A. & Sc., the Liberal Program and the Biology Science Minor have the same Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics requirements. The Physics requirements will vary according to their future direction.
Students interested in advanced studies in any biological discipline are strongly advised to develop their skills in computing as appropriate. As an aid to students wishing to specialize, key and suggested courses are listed by discipline.
Understanding the diverse ways in which animals feed, mate, care for their offspring, avoid predators, select their habitats, communicate, and process information constitute the subject matter of behaviour. Several approaches are used to study these questions. Some focus on ecological consequences and determinants, some on physiological, genetic and developmental mechanisms, others on evolutionary origins.
Most courses from the fields of behaviour, ecology, and evolutionary biology, most courses from these fields will be relevant for this concentration. Some courses that focus on a particular taxonomic group such as birds (Natural Resource Sciences WILD 420), amphibians and reptiles (BIOL 427) and marine mammals (BIOL 335) include a significant amount of behaviour.
The study of biological diversity deals with the maintenance, emergence and history of the inexhaustible variety of different kinds of organisms. It is deeply concerned with the particular characteristics of different organisms and therefore emphasizes the detailed study of particular groups and forms the basis of comparative biology. Our knowledge of diversity is organized through the study of systematics, which seeks to understand the history of life and the phylogenetic and genetic relationships of living things. Appreciation and knowledge of diversity and systematics are essential in ecology and evolutionary biology and underlie all work in resource utilization and conservation biology.
Other suggested courses: BIOL 240, BIOL 310, BIOL 324, BIOL 331 or BIOL 334D1/BIOL 334D2, BIOL 335, BIOL 350/ENTO 350, BIOL 352, BIOL 355, BIOL 377, BIOL 427, BIOL 428, BIOL 429, BIOL 465, BIOL 466 or BIOL 467, BIOL 468D1/BIOL 468D2, BIOL 469D1/BIOL 469D2, BIOL 540, BIOL 555D1/BIOL 555D2, BIOL 569, BIOL 571, BIOL 573, BIOL 594, REDM 400.
Conservation Biology is the study and protection of biological diversity. It is a scientific discipline closely connecting ecology and evolutionary biology with applications in public policy and management. Conservation biology focuses on keeping normal evolutionary processes working within a functional ecological context and deals with issues of how the wide variety of organisms and ecosystems can be maintained and prevented from declining. It considers population and habitat viability and complexity in the face of threats and perturbations. Cognizance of biological diversity, knowledge and expertise in both ecology and evolutionary biology, and appreciation for the political, social and economic contexts of the biodiversity crisis underlie all work in conservation biology.
Other suggested courses: BIOL 304, BIOL 305, BIOL 307, BIOL 324, BIOL 335, BIOL 350/ENTO 350, BIOL 355, BIOL 377, BIOL 413, BIOL 427, BIOL 434, BIOL 466, BIOL 467, BIOL 468D1/BIOL 468D2, BIOL 469D1/BIOL 469D2, BIOL 510, BIOL 540, BIOL 590, BIOL 594; ECON 225, ECON 326; GEOG 370, GEOG 380, GEOG 470, REDM 400
Ecology is the study of the interactions between organisms and environment that affect distribution, abundance, and other characteristics of the organisms. A strong analytical and quantitative orientation is common to all areas of ecology, and thus students wishing to specialize in these areas are strongly encouraged to develop their background in statistical analysis, computing, and mathematical modelling. Many of the ecology courses feature a strong analytical component, and students will find that background preparation in this area is very useful, if not essential. Ecology depends heavily on field research, and thus BIOL 331 and/or other field courses should be considered as vital to all concentrations in this area.
The concentration in general and applied ecology is designed to introduce the breadth of contemporary ecology, at the levels of the ecosystem, communities and populations, and at the level of the individual organism, with an accent on the application of this science to practical problems in environmental management, and the management of resources and pests. In addition to general courses dealing with general principles, there is a selection of courses dealing with particular groups of organisms. Since it is essential to know how knowledge is obtained, the concentration includes a field course in ecology.
Other suggested courses: BIOL 307, BIOL 324, BIOL 342, BIOL 377, BIOL 427, BIOL 428, BIOL 429, BIOL 432, BIOL 434, BIOL 441, BIOL 465, BIOL 466, BIOL 467, BIOL 468D1/BIOL 468D2, BIOL 469D1/BIOL 469D2, BIOL 510, BIOL 540, BIOL 571, BIOL 590, BIOL 594; GEOG 302.
Macdonald Campus: PLNT 460.
This concentration is designed to introduce the principles of ecology as they pertain to aquatic ecosystems and aquatic biota. Since it is essential to know how knowledge is obtained, as well as what has been learned, one of the courses (Limnology) involves field work, and one of the courses (Biological Oceanography) a laboratory component, that stress the techniques used to study aquatic ecology. In addition, the concentration includes a field course in ecology. There is also a variety of courses in aquatic disciplines offered in other departments that complement the aquatic ecology courses offered in Biology.
This concentration is designed to offer students a broad introduction to marine biology and marine ecology, which will form the basis for graduate studies in the fields, or for employment in aquatic biology and oceanography.
For students intending to proceed to graduate work, one independent studies course (BIOL 466 or BIOL 467, BIOL 468D1/ BIOL 468D2, BIOL 469D1/BIOL 469D2) is recommended. Because of the importance of numerical analyses in all fields of ecology, courses in Biometry (e.g. BIOL 373) and Computer Science (COMP 202 or COMP 273) are recommended.
Evolutionary Biology is the study of processes that change organisms and their characteristics through time. Evolutionary biologists are concerned with adaptations of organisms and the process of natural selection.
Key courses: BIOL 304, BIOL 305, BIOL 307, BIOL 324, BIOL 331, BIOL 352, BIOL 373, BIOL 377, BIOL 435, BIOL 463, BIOL 466 or BIOL 467,' BIOL 468D1/BIOL 468D2, BIOL 469D1/BIOL 469D2, BIOL 555 D1/BIOL 555 D2, BIOL 569, BIOL 570, BIOL 571, BIOL 572, BIOL 573, BIOL 585, BIOL 594.
The courses recommended for students interested in Human Genetics are designed to offer a broad perspective in this rapidly advancing area of biology. Genetics is covered at all levels of organization (the gene, the chromosome, the cell, the organism and the population), using pertinent examples from all species, but with special emphasis on humans.
The discoveries that have fuelled the ongoing biomedical and biotechnology revolution have been derived from the fusion of a number of fields of biological investigation, including molecular biology, genetics, cellular and developmental biology and biochemistry. A substantial amount of this research has been conducted upon model eukaryotic organisms, such as yeast, the fruit fly (Drosophila), the nematode (C. elegans), and the mustard weed (Arabidopsis). In the molecular genetics and development concentration, students will obtain a comprehensive understanding of how these "model eukaryotes" have advanced our knowledge of the mechanisms responsible for cellular function and organismal development. Graduates from this concentration will be well prepared to pursue higher degrees in the fields of basic biology, biotechnology, and biomedicine or to assume a wide variety of positions in government, universities, and medical and industrial institutions.
Nervous systems are perhaps the most complex entities in the natural world, being composed of up to trillions of interconnected cells that must operate in a coordinated manner to produce behaviour which can range from the mundane (e.g., regulation of heart rate) to the magnificent (e.g., musical composition). The neurobiology discipline, one of the fastest growing areas of modern biology, seeks to understand the evolution, development, and operation of nervous systems. The neurobiology concentration addresses these issues by examining neural structure, function and development at levels of organization that range from the molecular to the organismal. As a result of exposure to a wide range of experimental and intellectual approaches, students receive a sound, broadly based education in biology.
Other suggested courses: ANAT 321, ANAT 322; BIOC 455; BIOL 300, BIOL 303, BIOL 466, BIOL 467, BIOL 468D1/BIOL 468D2, BIOL 469D1/BIOL 469D2, NEUR 310, NSCI 200, NSCI 201, PHAR 562, PHGY 311, PHGY 314, PHGY 425, PHGY 451, PHGY 556, PSYC 311, PSYC 318, PSYC 342, PSYC 410, PSYC 470, PSYT 500.
|Paul F. Lasko|
|A. Howard Bussey; B.Sc., Ph.D.(Brist.), F.R.S.C.|
|Robert L. Carroll; B.S.(Mich.), M.A., Ph.D.(Harv.), F.R.S.C.|
|Ronald Chase; A.B.(Stan.), Ph.D.(MIT)|
|Jacob Kalff; M.S.A.(Tor.), Ph.D.(Ind.)|
|Donald L. Kramer; B.Sc.(Boston Coll.), Ph.D.(Br. Col.)|
|John B. Lewis; B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D.(McG.)|
|Graham A.C. Bell; B.A., D.Phil.(Oxf.), F.R.S.C. (James McGill Professor)|
|Gregory G. Brown; B.Sc.(Notre Dame), Ph.D.(CUNY)|
|Lauren Chapman; B.Sc.(Alta.), Ph.D.(McG.) (Canadian Pacific Chair in Respiratory Ecology and Aquatic Conservation)(on sabbatical)|
|Rajinder S. Dhindsa; B.Sc., M.Sc.(Punj.), Ph.D.(Wash.)|
|Siegfried Hekimi; M.Sc., Ph.D.(Geneva) (Strathcona Chair in Zoology; Robert Archibald & Catherine Louise Campbell Chair in Developmental Biology)|
|Paul F. Lasko; A.B.(Harv.), Ph.D.(MIT) (James McGill Professor) (Associate Member in Anatomy & Cell Biology)|
|Martin Lechowicz; B.A.(Mich. St.), M.S., Ph.D.(Wis.)|
|Louis Lefebvre; B.Sc., M.A., Ph.D.(Montr.)|
|Michel Loreau; M.Sc., Ph.D.(Free Univ., Brussels) (Canadian Pacific Chair in Theoretical Ecology)|
|Gerald S. Pollack; M.A., Ph.D.(Prin.)|
|Catherine Potvin; B.Sc., M.Sc.(Montr.), Ph.D.(Duke)|
|Neil M. Price; B.Sc.(New Br.), Ph.D.(Br. Col.)|
|Daniel J. Schoen; B.Sc., M.Sc.(Mich.), Ph.D.(Calif.) (Macdonald Professor of Botany)|
|Thomas Bureau; B.Sc.(Calif.), Ph.D.(Texas) (William Dawson Scholar) (on sabbatical)|
|Joseph A. Dent; B.Sc., Ph.D.(Colo.)|
|François Fagotto; Ph.D.(Neuchâtel) (Canadian Pacific Chair in Cell Biology)|
|Gregor Fussmann; Dipl.(Berlin), Ph.D.(Max-Planck-Institute) (on sabbatical)|
|Andrew Gonzalez; B.Sc.(Univ. Nottingham), Ph.D.(Imperial Coll., Univ. Lond.) (Canadian Pacific Chair in Biodiversity)|
|Frédéric Guichard; B.Sc.(Montr.), Ph.D.(Laval)|
|Andrew Hendry; B.Sc.(Vic., BC), M.Sc., Ph.D.(Wash.) (joint appoint. with Redpath Museum)|
|Robert L. Levine; B.Sc.(Brooklyn), M.Sc., Ph.D.(Yale)|
|Laura Nilson; B.A.(Colgate), Ph.D.(Yale) (Canada Research Chair in Developmental Genetics)|
|Richard Roy; B.Sc.(Bishop's), Ph.D.(Laval)|
|Frieder Schoeck; Dipl.(Erhangen), Ph.D.(Max-Planck-Institute) (on sabbatical)|
|Jacalyn Vogel; M.Sc.(E.Ill.), Ph.D.(Kansas) (Canadian Pacific Chair in Biotechnology)|
|Tamara Western; B.Sc.(Dal.), Ph.D.(Br. Col.) (on sabbatical July -December)|
|Monique Zetka; B.Sc., Ph.D.(Br. Col.)|
|Ehab Abouheif; M.Sc.(C’dia), Ph.D.(Duke) (on sabbatical)|
|Gary Brouhard; M.S.E., Ph.D.(Mich.)|
|David Dankort; B.Sc., Ph.D.(McM.)|
|Jonathan Davies; M.Sc.(Cape Town), Ph.D.(Imperial Coll., Lond.)|
|Irene Gregory-Eaves; B.Sc.(Vic. (BC)), M.Sc., Ph.D.(Qu.) (on leave)|
|Paul Harrison; B.Sc.(NUI), Ph.D.(Lond.)|
|Rudiger Krahe; Dipl.(Alexander Univ.), Ph.D.(Humboldt Univ.) (on sabbatical)|
|Brian Leung; B.Sc.(Br. Col.), Ph.D.(Car.) (on sabbatical)|
|N. Moon; B.Sc., Ph.D.(McG.)|
|Hugo Zheng; M.Sc.(Helsinki), Ph.D.(Oxf. Brookes)|
|Anatomy and Cell Biology: Craig Mandato|
|Anthropology: Colin Chapman|
|Bellairs: Judith Mendes|
|Biochemistry: Maxime Bouchard|
|Centre for Research in Neuroscience: Sal Carbonetto|
|Dept. of Human Genetics, Chair: David Rosenblatt|
|MCH: Feige Kaplan, Rima Rozen|
|MGH: Yong Rao, Donald Van Meyel|
|MNI: Robert Dunn, Kenneth Hastings, Stefano Stifani|
|RVH: Hugh J. Clarke, Daniel Dufort, Teruko Taketo|
|Redpath Museum: David Green, Hans Larsson, Claire de Mazancourt (Program Coordinator for Joint Major in Biology and Mathematics), Virginie Millien, Anthony Ricciardi|
|IRCM: Michel Cayouette, Frédéric Charron, Artur Kania, Marie Kmita|
|NRC Lab: Malcolm S. Whiteway|
|STRI: Eldredge Bermingham, Rachel Collin, Hector Guzman, Edward Allen Herre, Haris Lessios, Mark Torchin|
|U. of Montreal: Pierre Drapeau, Louis St-Amant|
|Joint Major in Biology and Mathematics Program Coordinators|
|Claire de Mazancourt; Bacc.(École des Mines), D.E.A., Ph.D.(Paris VI) (Biology)|
|Frédéric Guichard; B.Sc.(Montr.), Ph.D.(Laval) (Biology)|
|Stephen W. Drury; M.A., Ph.D.(Cant.) (Mathematics)|
|Axel Hundemer; M.Sc., Ph.D.(Munich) (Mathematics)|
The Minor Biology may be taken in conjunction with any primary program in the Faculty of Science (other than programs offered by the Department of Biology). Students are advised to consult the Undergraduate Adviser in Biology as early as possible (preferably during their first year), in order to plan their course selection. Six credits of overlap are allowed ...
For more information, see Minor Biology (25 credits).
Students may complete this program with a minimum of 45 credits or a maximum of 47 credits depending on their choice of complementary courses.
For more information, see Liberal Program - Core Science Component Biology (47 credits).
The Major requires 58 or 59 credits depending on a student's choice of complementary courses. Students in the Major Program are permitted to take a maximum of 9 credits of research courses.
For more information, see Major Biology (59 credits).
This program is built on a selection of mathematics and biology courses that recognizes mathematical biology as a field of research, with 3 streams within biology: Ecology and Evolutionary Ecology, Molecular Evolution, and Neurosciences.
For more information, see Major Biology and Mathematics (76 credits).
Students may complete this program with a minimum of 71 credits or a maximum of 75 credits depending on their choice of complementary courses. The Honours program in Biology is designed expressly as a preparation for graduate studies and research, and provides students with an enriched training in biology and some research experience in a chosen area. ...
For more information, see Honours Biology (75 credits).
For more information, see Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) - Major Computer Science and Biology (73 credits)
The program is a joint venture between McGill University and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama. For more information, see Field Studies and Study Abroad > Panama Field Study Semester. You can also visit the following website for details: www.mcgill.ca/science/internships-field/field.
The Department of Geography, Faculty of Science, coordinates the 15-credit interdisciplinary African Field Study Semester; see Field Studies and Study Abroad >African Field Study Semester.
Also available is the Minor in Computational Molecular Biology (Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) - Minor Computational Molecular Biology (24 credits)). For more information, see Computer Science (COMP).