Discover the personal, social and ethical aspects of Biology and the major provides a challenging and versatile curriculum that yields a strong upper level biology training.
About the Major
From field courses to cutting-edge research opportunities, learning goes well beyond the laboratory to apply and further the unifying principles of biology and learn about our world's complex and dynamic living sphere. The Department of Biology offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology, Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, a Bachelor of Science degree Environmental Biology and a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
The department is recognized as providing a quality liberal education that leads to outstanding opportunities in graduate school, industry, education, and the health professions. Students learn the principles of diverse sub-disciplines in biology, develop basic skills in critical thinking, communication, and computer use, and acquire the ability to explore questions by means of laboratory, field and library research.
About the Minor
Students minoring in Biology must take at least 17 semester hours, including Introduction to Biology I and Introduction to Biology II. At least seven hours must be in courses numbered 300 or above. Only one non-laboratory course can count in the minor.
Secondary Teacher Certification Program
Teacher certification in Biology for grades 6-12 is available to biology majors. Students planning to teach biology in secondary schools should notify their advisor and contact the secondary education advisor in Tift College of Education.
A biology major may earn departmental honors by fulfilling the following requirements:
- Apply to the department for appointment of an honors advisor at the end of the semester in which she or he accumulates 75 hours of credit, including 21 hours in biology;
- Graduate with a B.S. or B.A. in biology with a grade point average of at least 3.50 in biology and 3.25 overall;
- In consultation with the honors advisor:
a) devise and carry out a field or laboratory research project, or
b) produce a museum-quality biology exhibit;
- Prepare a paper describing the honors project using an acceptable biological journal format;
- Present a seminar to students and faculty in the Department, describing the honors project; and
- Receive departmental approval upon completion of the project
Mercer hosts a chapter of the prestigious Beta Beta Beta, National Biological Honors Society. The Mercer Chapter, Beta Omega, was founded in 1954.Members of Beta Omega serve their department, college, and community through a variety of activities including science demonstrations at elementary schools, hosting of seminar speakers, and sponsoring field trips.
There is also a chapter of Alpha Epsilon Delta, the national health preprofessional honor society. Which is dedicated to the encouragement and recognition of excellence in preprofessional health scholarship. The Society offers opportunities for intellectual and professional development, provides a forum for students with common interests and extends a program of service to benefit the college/university community
The Biology Department offers two awards to outstanding biology students:
- The T.P. Haines Award was established in honor of T.P. Haines, a former professor and chair of the department, and is granted annually to a Biology student who has demonstrated both academic excellence and service to the department.
- The Graydon L. Ware Award was established in honor of Graydon "Fess" Ware, a longtime professor in the department, and is granted annually to both a rising junior and a rising senior who are pursuing the Biology major, in recognition of academic excellence, campus activity, and community service.
Outreach & Engaged Learning
Mercer biology students have multiple opportunities to participate in scientific research and study abroad courses. Course credit is available for research projects in diverse areas ranging from molecular biology to ecology. During the summer many Biology majors have participated in rewarding summer research opportunities in the department or at internships at the Mercer School of Medicine, as well as other reputable institutions around the country. Students have opportunities to share and apply their studies in the community by volunteering with Upward Bound high school students, bringing science to elementary students at a Title I school and tree-planting in local neighborhoods. Engaged learning projects have worked directly with cancer. Mercer On Mission allows global application with previous missions to Belize and Trinidad which included projects such as studying leatherback turtles and enhancing science education in primary schools, or working hands-on to reduce Mercury exposure to gold miners in Mozambique, Africa.
Undergraduate Research Opportunities
To get practical laboratory experience, many biology students engage in one-on-one research with faculty in the Biology or with the Basic Sciences Department of the Mercer University School of Medicine, or at other universities around the country. In addition, a wide range of opportunities exist for interested students to perform independent research projects in small, faculty-led lab groups.
In the Classroom
The faculty invests much effort and energy in the student learning experience. Its smaller class sizes include opportunities to interact with laboratory research. These interactive and hands on experiences integrate broadly across biology disciplines and along with disciplinary writing serve to enhance the class material. These faculty members, all of whom hold doctorates, are experts in various fields including:
- Bacterial genetics
- Invertebrate biology
- Vertebrate physiology
- High-throughput molecular genetics
- Vertebrate biology
- Eukaryotic cell biology
Faculty choose to be at Mercer because they want to teach biology in the context of a liberal arts college and because they enjoy the opportunity of assisting students one-on-one in the discovery of their field. Mercer's Biology faculty is known for the individual attention that they provide motivated students in the classroom, research laboratory and field.All faculty members teach their own laboratory sections, instead of relying on graduate student teaching assistants.
The need for well-trained Biologists is ever expanding in a broad spectrum of diverse fields. The employment opportunities are extremely diverse and seemingly endless. Mercer's Biology Department provides professional candidates who have broad training in the fundamentals of the biological sciences. In addition, the benefits of learning biology in the context of a liberal arts education are numerous. Many of students go on to successful placements in various professional and graduate schools, as well as careers in the biological sciences. Alumni are:
- Science educators
- GBI agents
- Hospital administrators
- Patent lawyers
- Environmental lawyers
- Research scientists
- Biological warfare field agents with the U.S. Army
- Employees of the Department of Natural Resources