BS in Biology

Why Major in Biology?

Biology is the study of life. Although astounding in their diversity, living creatures are yet remarkably consistent in certain general principles; in systems of heredity and "Because of my time at Eastern, I am able to confidently communicate complex ideas, design creative experiments, and better love each and every person I interact with."    
       Allie (Oberholtzer) Greenplate '11
       Graduate Student at Vanderbilt
       University's Ph.D program in
       Microbiology and Immunology
biochemistry; in how creatures interact with each other and with non-living things, among other themes. A good foundation in Biology thus neither goes out of style nor limits one to only a single career track.  A competent, broad understanding of Biology will always be needed in medical, veterinary, nutritional and other careers working with the body. We need to eat, drink and breathe, so Biology will be forever relevant to producing food, and limiting contamination of our water and air. Every day, we live within a complex community of creatures large and small, including many living within us all our lives, and their health supports our health - but we are only recently learning how this occurs. Finally, there is biological research for the sheer beauty of discovery; for Christians, this humbles us and leads to greater awe of God’s hand as Creator.

The BS in Biology at Eastern University prepares students for immediate entrance into graduate programs or careers in biology. Students may choose one of the following tracks:

  • Medical (pre-med, pre-dental, pre-vet, and pre-PA)
  • Field biology (graduate and professional work in ecology and related disciplines)
  • General biology (individual course selection for specific interests)

Biology students at Eastern University take General Biology, a one year survey of major Biology principles, Ecology, Cell Biology, Genetics, a senior level course in Evolution and Christian integration, two years of Chemistry, and Calculus or Statistics. Students also must choose courses from a short list of important disciplines (such as Physiology, Entomology, Plant Taxonomy, etc.) and electives based on their career interests (including Marine Biology, Microbiology, Medical Botany, Environmental Regulation and Policy, Virology, and Medical Parasitology)

The BS in Biology is intended to prepare a student for immediate graduate studies, should that be the goal, or provide a good set of skills for an immediate entry-level position in Biology-related work, while still providing a good foundation for getting into graduate school later.

Why Major in Biology at Eastern?

Strong undergraduate program with good track record: With a broad foundation of required courses, the choice to focus among a shortlist of Biology core courses and electives, and two years of Chemistry, students completing the program are often successful moving directly into graduate studies, or work in industry or non-profit research.

Faculty Research and Service: Students can receive credit in directed research projects working with professors in their area of expertise, including researching: low-cost methods of controlling agricultural nematodes; drug resistance in the parasite, Toxoplasma gondii; Christian missions in agricultural development; ecosystem structure and human impacts; and how insect viruses interact with their hosts.

Personalized teaching: Our largest classes (60-80 students) are our two introductory courses. Otherwise upper level courses have approximately 20 students or less. Senior research and thesis classes are limited to 5 students. Eastern professors teach the labs as well as lectures. Adjunct professors only teach a few courses in which each brings a particular specialized expertise. Students have the opportunity for extensive faculty contact both during and outside of classes.

Christian faith integration: Science is limited to what can be measured. Morality, the spiritual world, meaning, and even defining life itself, are not measurable questions. We seek to integrate a Christian worldview - truth God has revealed in the Bible - with our study of the measurable. This includes wrestling with the best responses to new knowledge and technology, whether in global climate change or genetic predictions.

Labs and student research: Students have access to standard research equipment, such as laminar flow hoods for cell culture; fluorescent and scanning microscopes; thermal cyclers for PCR (polymerase chain reaction); and other tools for DNA and protein electrophoresis. In addition, Biology students have access to our Scanning Electron Microscope, one of the most heavily used laboratory instruments in cutting edge academic and industrial research areas today. The Biology Place is a study room with dedicated computers and software for our majors, where students to study or work in small groups.

Field biology labs and proximity to diverse ecosystems: A strength of our program is extensive field time in our environmental-related courses, at numerous off-campus locations.The 100 acre St. Davids campus itself offers forests and wetlands for study. Eastern is within two hours of Atlantic Ocean barrier islands, salt marshes and bird migration stopovers; the biologically unique New Jersey Pine Barrens; the Appalachian Mountains, and the Pocono Plateau, which includes glacial bogs. Our immediate Philadelphia area includes serpentine barrens, five biogeographical zones; a freshwater tidal marsh; diverse examples of urban ecology, including urban garden programs and environmental remediation; many arboreta including world-famous Longwood Gardens; the world famous Baltimore Aquarium. Field trips built into our courses allow students to directly observe and study these. ‘Tropical Biology’ includes 10 days in the field in Puerto Rico. We have standard field biology equipment, and a GIS site license for ecosystem mapping and analysis.

Diverse course offerings: Some of our regularly offered signature courses include Molecular Biology; Techniques in Biotechnology; Medical Parasitology; Tropical Biology; Developmental Biology; Vertebrate Biology; Medical Botany; Animal Physiology; Ornithology; Entomology; Plant Taxonomy; Cardiovascular Physiology and Pathophysiology (through the Dept/Biokinetics); Marine Biology; Evolution, Creation and the Organization of Biology; Environmental Regulation and Policy, Structural Basis of Human Disease (through the Dept/Chemistry). Coming soon: Virology; Introduction to Geology.

Close to diverse research, internship and graduate study opportunities: Classes visit research programs at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, or the Museum of Natural History (NYC), or the New York Botanical Garden, or the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences. Greater Philadelphia has a large pharmaceutical industry, including GlaxoKlineSmith, DuPont, Cepahlon, AstraZeneca, Wyeth/Pfizer, Centocor, and many smaller firms. We are within 30 min to major research and teaching hospitals such as Thomas Jefferson Univ. Hospital, the Hospital of the Univ. of Pennsylvania, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia,Temple University Hospital, and within an hour of Fox Chase Cancer Center, Cooper University Hospital and Christiana Hospital, as well as numerous smaller hospitals and schools. The “seven county” area has more than 90 colleges and universities (more than Boston!), many with opportunities for undergraduate biology internships, research libraries Eastern students can use, and strong graduate programs in the sciences and/or medicine.  

Examples of Internships: Internships have been as diverse as the career goals of our students. For example, lab- and medically-oriented students have done internships at hospitals in the Thomas Jefferson Health System, at Fox Chase Cancer Center, at the Pennsylvania State University Medical College, various pharmaceutical companies, and in public health programs in Philadelphia and Angola, Belize and Bolivia. Students aiming toward work in field biology or sustainable development have done internships such as with the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection, Chincoteague Natl. Wildlife Refuge (VA), Jenkins Arboretum (PA), the Institute for Tropical Studies (Costa Rica), the Philadelphia Zoo, the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences, the New Jersey Aquarium (Camden), Cape Henlopen State Park (DE), Sequoia Natl. Park (CA), and sustainable agriculture research in Mexico, Haiti, Rwanda and Belize.

Off-campus Programs and the Au Sable Institute: Sixty Christian colleges and universities partner in offering high quality field courses in May term and Summer I and II, at locations in northern Michigan, Whidbey Island in Puget Sound, Costa Rica and India. Eastern was a founding member: courses taken at Au Sable are directly credited through Eastern. Sample courses: Aquatic Biology, Alpine Ecology, Marine Biology (in the Pacific), Marine Mammals, Conservation Biology, Tropical Agriculture and Missions, Ecological Agriculture, International Development and Environmental Sustainability.

International Programs (Spanish and Biology): Students with Spanish proficiency equivalent to two years of college Spanish or more can study abroad at Universidad de las Americas in Puebla, Mexico, one of the best schools in Latin America for laboratory biology, chemistry and medicine.  Students interested in ecology and tropical biology can study abroad in the Quetzal Education and Research Center (QERC) in Costa Rica.  QERC facilitates testing for Spanish aptitude level, and motivated students often progress enough in their Spanish to earn additional credits at semester’s end by taking Spanish competency exams.  The Latin American Studies Program in Costa Rica offers a tropical ecology track Spring semesters, combining field biology with greater depth in Spanish instruction, a 3rd study abroad option.  Eastern University offers the course: Concepts of Health and Sickness in the Hispanic World.  This is taught through the Spanish program and includes basic medical Spanish for the clinic, which may benefit students participating in these international programs.

International Programs and the Creation Care Study Program: Eastern helped found this program, offering study abroad Fall or Spring semesters in Belize, New Zealand or British Columbia. Courses, all built around the theme of environmental sustainability, fulfill core requirements in Humanities and Social Sciences for science majors, as well as providing a field biology elective. Internships are available in Belize.

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