Mar 21, 2023  
2020-2021 Catalog 
2020-2021 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]


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Professors: Bernd, M. Campbell, Hales, Lom, Paradise (Chair), Stanback, Wessner
Associate Professor: El Bejjani, K. Smith, Sarafova
Assistant Professors: Barsoum, B. Thurtle-Schmidt, D. Thurtle-Schmidt, Wadgymar
Visiting Assistant Professors: Pollet, Starkloff, Whitson
Adjunct Assistant Professor: Melonakos
Lecturer: McNally
Affiliated Faculty: Heyer (Mathematics), Myers (Chemistry), Ramirez (Psychology)

Introduction to the Major

The Biology Department is committed to preparing students for success in graduate school, professional school, and as career candidates. Biology majors have faculty advisers in the department to help them select courses that will meet their individual goals. Additional information is available in the Biology Major Handbook.

BIO 111/113 and 112/114 serve as the entry courses to the major. The 200- and 300-level biology courses give students access to a broad range of biological knowledge and technical skills. Stressing problem-solving and critical thinking, these courses are appropriate for any student who has completed the prerequisites, but they are not limited to biology majors. Topical, discussion-based seminar courses (260s, 360-367, and 390s) and research courses (250s, 350s, and 370s) in some cases require permission to register.

The Biology Department recommends BIO 111-114 for students who are in pre-medical studies or plan to major in Biology or another science.  BIO 106-109 and 111-114 fulfill the Natural Science distribution requirement, BIO 102-104 and 263 fulfill the Liberal Studies distribution requirement, and BIO 240 fulfills the Mathematical and Quantitative Thought distribution requirement. BIO 107 credit is granted to students who score 4 or 5 on the AP Biology exam or a 6 or 7 on the IB Biology exam. For students in the classes of 2022 and 2023, credit for BIO 107 is awarded to students who scored a 4 or 5 on the AP Biology exam. Students who scored a 5 and plan to continue in the sciences, pre-med, and/or pre-health may receive credit for one of two introductory lab course requirements (BIO 111/113 or BIO 112/114) in place of the exploratory lab course (BIO 107) by consulting the Biology chair.

Major Requirements (B.S. Degree)

The biology major requires 11 courses. This total includes three introductory courses (CHE 115 and BIO 111/113 and 112/114) plus eight advanced biology courses numbered 200 or above. Of the eight biology courses numbered 200 or above, at least three advanced laboratory courses must be completed from the following list with at least one course from each group below:

  • Group A: BIO 201, BIO 202, 208, BIO 303*, BIO 306, BIO 307, BIO 333, BIO 309 + 343, or CHE 230*
    (*students may not receive credit for both BIO 303 and CHE 230
  • Group B: BIO 216, BIO 218, BIO 222, BIO 223, BIO 227, BIO 305, BIO 311, BIO 317, BIO 321, BIO 331, ENV 272

Seven of the 11 courses required for the biology major must be Davidson courses taught by Davidson College faculty members.

CHE 250 and 350; Mathematics 111/112, 113, 140, and/or 160; and Physics 120/130 and 220/230 are also strongly recommended for biology majors.


Pre-medical and pre-dental students should take the following courses: BIO 111/113 and 112/114;CHE 115, 220, 250, and 350; PHY 120/130 and 220/230. Some medical schools have a mathematics requirement and additional required and recommended courses such as statistics, social sciences, and English.

Pre-medical and pre-dental students, as well as students seeking a career in other health professions such as pharmacy, nursing practice, physical therapy, occupational therapy, physician assistant, etc., should consult with the Pre-Medicine and Allied Health program director Naila Mamoon by emailing, when choosing basic science classes. Prof. Mamoon prefers to meet pre-health students during their first semester to create tailored strategies to help individuals meet requirements and become competitive applicants.

Pre-veterinary students should consult with Prof. Naila Mamoon by emailing her at for advice on course selection.

Major With Engineering Dual Degree (3-2) Track

Students seeking to complete the dual degree engineering (3-2) track with a biology major are required to take the following courses to receive a B.S. degree in Biology from Davidson: three introductory courses (BIO 111/113, BIO 112/114, and CHE 115) plus six advanced biology courses numbered 200 or above. Of these advanced courses at least three must satisfy group A or B requirements with at least one group A and one group B course.   

Honors Requirements

The biology honors program is promotes individual excellence through directed independent study and research. Twelve courses are required in the major. Students should plan their programs with their faculty advisers such that the combination of courses and research meets, in general, the balance of courses specified for the major. A research proposal must be submitted for departmental action and research results must be presented in writing and orally by the deadlines specified in the Biology Department Handbook. The recommendation of the department regarding honors or high honors is based upon quality of the course work, research, and presentation.  Additional information and examples of past theses can be found at the Biology Student Thesis Information Site accessible via

Biology Courses

Biology courses numbered at the 100 level are entry-level courses that do not require any previous college coursework in the sciences and are open to all students. All 100 level BIO courses that include a laboratory component (BIO 105, 107, 108, 111, 112, 113, 114) satisfy the natural science distribution requirement (NSRQ). Courses numbered between 100 and 109 are intended for non-science majors; these courses may be topical and exploratory in nature. BIO 100-110 and 115-199 do not satisfy prerequisites for advanced biology courses or biology major requirements. BIO 111-114 are introductory courses with laboratory sessions designed for prospective science majors, pre-medical students, and allied health students that satisfy introductory course requirements in the biology major and serve as prerequisites for advanced biology courses at the 200- and 300-levels. BIO111-114 are organized in two parallel and interchangeable tracks such that students must take BIO 111 or 113 and BIO 112 or 114. BIO 111 and 113 examine life at molecular and cellular scales while BIO 112 and 114 examine life at organismal and ecological scales. BIO 111 and 112 share a common textbook and use case-based teaching strategies. BIO 113 and 114 share a different common textbook and use integrative concept-based teaching strategies. Students may complete their two introductory biology lab courses in any sequence and may take their two courses from the same track or one course from each track. 

Biology courses numbered at the 200 level are foundational courses that require successful completion of one or two introductory biology lab courses (BIO111-114). 200-level courses include seminars (BIO 260s), group investigations (BIO 250s), group A and B laboratory courses, methods courses, and other advanced biology courses without laboratory components. All 200-level biology courses may be applied to meet the requirements of the biology major.

Biology courses numbered at the 300 level are advanced biology courses that require successful completion of one or two introductory biology lab courses (BIO111-114) and often recommend or require additional advanced biology course experiences. 300-level courses include seminars (BIO 360s and 390s), group investigations (BIO 350s), group A and B laboratory courses, methods courses, courses without laboratory components, independent study courses (BIO 370s), and field study courses (BIO 380s). All 300-level biology courses may be applied to meet the requirements of the biology major.

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