Undergraduate Assistant: J.French
Graduate Studies Assistant: Joanne Surette
Director of Biological Station: S.C.Lougheed
Biology is the study of living systems and their interactions with the environment. The hierarchy of biological organization ranges from molecule to cell to organism to population to community to ecosystem to biome, and includes both plants and animals. Studies at each level require different techniques and approaches, but a basic knowledge of the various levels and the interactions between them is essential for an understanding of the discipline as a whole.
In their first two years, Queen's Biology students take a common set of courses to prepare them for more specialized courses in third and fourth year. Many of these early courses are shared with other science departments at the University, allowing undergraduates to move fairly easily between biology, life sciences, and other science programs.
Students have an opportunity to develop a broad knowledge of biology that is integrated with dynamic, high quality research programs in specialized areas including molecular biology, cell and developmental biology, genetics, animal and plant physiology, ecology, evolution and behaviour. Studies in these areas provide fundamental knowledge for a range of professions such as medicine, biotechnology, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, conservation and management of the environment.
Many courses in biology involve laboratory studies and field trips. The latter are provided in the unique environmental setting of the Biological Station on Lake Opinicon and around the world. The department occupies the recently completed BioSciences Complex which includes the most modern equipment and laboratories for leading edge research. Courses in chemistry, physics, biochemistry and mathematics are also a regular part of the biologist's training. All our programs incorporate modern computer resources and skills in a seamless fashion.
Academic policies of the Department of Biology are outlined on the Department’s website and course syllabi. Some Biology courses require students to cover the costs of laboratory manuals, field trips and material costs. Laboratory manuals may contain important information on issues specific to the course of study such as laboratory safety, the ethical use of animals, and academic integrity. All students are expected to read and follow these departmental policies, which complement the Code of Conduct and Academic Regulations described elsewhere in this Calendar and on the Biology website.
Advice to Students
Students have some flexibility in selecting courses that can be credited toward biology concentrations. However, judicious planning is required in order to avoid conflicts. For example, physics is optional for B.Sc. degree plans but is recommended in specific areas of biology. To avoid course conflicts in upper years, students are advised to plan their course of study in consultation with an Academic Adviser in the Department of Biology upon admission, and again at the beginning of second year. Academic Advisers are available for consultation and program approval.
To assist students in designing a Biology degree Plan, planners for four different course streams are described on the departmental website. These streams are (i) Genetics and Molecular Biology, (ii) Plant Biology, (iii) Integrative Animal Biology, and (iv) Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, each representing a sub-discipline within biology corresponding to teaching and research specializations of faculty within the Department of Biology. Students who wish to cater their degree Plan and specialize in one of these areas are encouraged to use the appropriate planner to help in mapping out course selections. Suggestions are given for courses to select from Biology as well as supporting courses that are offered by other departments. Course streams are not formal degree Plan options in Biology, and some students may prefer to sample broadly from across all four areas.
Students wishing to take a single elective course in Biology are advised to take BIOL 110/3.0, BIOL 111/3.0, or BIOL 350/3.0. Those wishing to take more elective courses in Biology are advised to consider that most courses have prerequisites, which include the core courses described in the following Plans.
Specialization in Biology and Psychology
An intensive course of study with approximately two-thirds of your courses within the discipline with a combination of courses within Psychology.
Specialization in Biology
An intensive course of study with approximately two-thirds of your courses within the discipline.
Major in Biology
A major is an intensive course of study in one discipline, with approximately half of your courses within the discipline with room for an optional minor in any other Arts and Science discipline.
Minor in Biology
A minor is a less intensive course of study in the discipline that must be combined with a major in another discipline.
General in Biology
A less intense course of study leading to a 3-year degree.
Biology - PhD
Biology - MSc
It is highly recommended that you take:
PLEASE NOTE: Physics is not required to complete a Biology Plan. But, if you don’t take first year physics, and you change your mind, you will find it much harder to change to a Chemistry, Geology, or a Life Science Plan in the future.
Biology equips students with a broad base of skills which apply directly to further education endeavours, but also apply to the demands of today's work force. Analytical, quantitative, computations, problem‐solving and communications skills are all tools that graduates of the Biology program come away with. A degree in Biology provides students with an awareness of the diversity of life and the function of living systems through a core knowledge base. The Queen's Biology Department places a particular emphasis on molecular biology, cell biology, genetics, biochemistry, physiology, ecology, and evolutionary biology - all great options for those wishing to pursuing medical school.
Some of our Biology grads work in the following professions:
Arts Concentrations: 4U Biology, Advanced Functions and Introductory Calculus, Chemistry or recognized equivalents strongly recommended
Science Concentrations: 4U Biology, Advanced Functions and Introductory Calculus and Chemistry or recognized equivalents required; 4U Geometry and Discete Mathematics, Biology, and Physics or recognized equivalent are recommended
BIOL 110/3.0 Human Genetics and Evolution
BIOL 110/3.0, when offered, is used as an elective course by upper-year students who are not currently, and have not previously, studied Biology. First year students should not enrol in this course.
BIOL 111/3.0 Ecology and the Environment
BIOL 111/3.0 is a course on Ecology and the Environment. Amongst first year students, it is taken primarily by students who wish to pursue Environmental Studies Plan in upper years, or who intend to take certain Environmental Science Plans. It is also used as an elective course by upper-year students. If you are intending to study Biology, Biochemistry, or Life Science in upper years, you should not take this course in first year.
BIOL 350/3.0 Evolution and Human Affairs
An exploration of how evolutionary thinking can affect our understanding of our lives, our species, and our ability to share the planet with other species
The Biology Department at Queen's is research intensive and an excellent place to pursue both the MSc and PhD degrees. We are one of the largest departments on campus with about 92 graduate students (49 MSc, 43 PhD) working with 30 faculty. Our graduate students receive a minimum guaranteed income for the first two years of the MSc and the first four years of the PhD. On average MSc students complete their degrees in 2.5 years and PhD students in 4.5 years.
NSERC SCHOLARS: Incoming students who hold an NSERC scholarship will receive a one time top-up from the university to assist with moving, and to thank you for choosing to come to Queen's. This one-time top-up is $5000 for MSc students and $7500 for PhD students.
Most professors receive many applicants each year so the majority are turned down. Overall we usually accept about 20 new MSc students, and 10 new PhD students each academic year. To initiate the application process, we suggest you send an email to potential supervisors, outlining your interests, skill, and relevant background. Do not make a formal application until at least one professor expresses strong interest in taking you on as a graduate student.
Applications are accepted at any time but most students begin their graduate work at the beginning of the fall term in September. The best time to start corresponding with potential supervisors is in Nov-Dec of the year before you would like to begin graduate work.
The Animal Physiology group in the Department of Biology has broad interests in neural, visual, muscular, cardiovascular and reproductive physiology. We emphasize an integrative approach to physiological questions, incorporating molecular, cellular and whole animal analyses where appropriate. Common themes in our research include the physiological impact of environmental stress and the evolution of physiology. (More Info on Animal Physiology research at Queen's)
The Cell and Molecular Biology group focuses on eukaryotic organisms with an interest in developmental and biochemical problems. Model systems (e.g. yeast, C. elegans, Drosophila, Arabidopsis) offer powerful molecular genetic methodology and genomics tools to study fundamental cellular functions such as signal transduction, cellular metabolism, and cell cycle regulation. In addition, studies on model organisms like Drosophila and Caenorhabditis concentrate on the regulation of gene expression during development using leading-edge molecular techniques. These projects complement research efforts within the Biology Department, particularly those from the physiology group, and within the Faculties of Medicine and Engineering. (More Info on Cell and Molecular Biology research at Queen's)
The Ecology and Evolutionary Biology group encompasses a broad range of research spanning molecular ecology, population genetics and phylogenetics, behaviour, the evolution of animal & plant reproductive systems, sexual and natural selection, mathematical biology and ecosystem ecology. Faculty and students interact extensively and have created a dynamic, highly interactive research environment (see also our Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour Seminar Series). Many members of the group conduct research at the Queen's University Biological Station. (More Info on Ecology and Evolutionary Biology research at Queen's)
A significant minority of our faculty are shared with or cross-appointed to the School of Environmental Studies. The multifaceted, interdisciplinary research work in Environmental Biology spans studies of climate change, lake acidification and recovery, ecotoxicology, conservation genetics and ecosystem rehabilitation. (More Info on Environmental Biology research at Queen's)
The members of QUFFAS conduct an array of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences research including zooplankton ecology, ecotoxicology, paleolimnology, fish physiology, neurobiology and reproductive biology. (More Info on Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences Biology research at Queen's)
The Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Laboratory is comprised of 30 research scientists, post-doctoral fellows, graduate students, and other researchers dedicated to using paleolimnological techniques to provide historical perspectives on environmental change. We use such data to define natural environmental variability, to generate and test hypotheses, and to evaluate computer models that aid in evaluation of global environmental change. (More Info on Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences Biology research at Queen's)
Our Biology Department is a centre of excellence in Plant Sciences. Many of the major advances in plant biology were developed or enhanced by the research of Queen's plant biologists past and present. The current research group employs leading-edge approaches to answer some of the most pressing questions in plant biology. These approaches range from new physiological techniques to mutant analysis to gene cloning to the genetic engineering of plants. Some of the research has also been developed into powerful technologies that now form the foundations of plant biotechnology companies. (More Info on Plant Sciences Biology research at Queen's)
Members of the Queen’s Mathematical Biology Group come from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, the Department of Biology and the Centre for Neuroscience Studies. As a group they are strong in both mathematics and biology. The derivation of mathematical equations, their application to various biological contexts, and a tight link with experimental biology is what unites our group.
(More Info on Mathematical Biology research at Queen's)
BIOL 307, 317, 327
The Department of Biology is an active participant in the Ontario Universities' Programme in Field Biology (OUPFB) and a leader among Canadian universities in providing unique learning experiences via one and two week modules locally and around the globe. Superb resources are available close to Kingston at our Queen’s University Biological Station and the Elbow Lake Environmental Education Centre, and recent courses have touched every continent except for Antarctica. Learn more about Field Biology at Queen's.
The Biology Department Student Council is your connection to the biology department and faculty. We run events for students like socials with Profs, BEWICS sports teams, the Biology Formal and Career Nights.
If you are interested in volunteering, have any questions, or just want to chat, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or come by during our office hours (Thursdays from 11:30-12:30).