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Message from the Department Chair

L. Rockwood

Welcome to the Department of Biology.

Effective July 1, 2014, the former “Biology Undergraduate Program” is now the Department of Biology. In this reorganization, faculty members from the School of Systems Biology and the Department of Environmental Science and Policy have moved into the Department of Biology. Over the past four years we have grown from a “program” of eight faculty and four staff, to a department of 22 faculty and 7 staff. Curriculum in the Department of Biology is further enriched by 44 faculty from other departments and schools.  These include, among others, members of the School of Systems Biology (SSB), the Department of Environmental Science and Policy (ESP),  the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences (AOES), the Department of Geography and Geoinformation Systems (GGS), Deans from the Colleges of Science and Humanities and Social Science, the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, and New Century College.

Our faculty are known for their teaching excellence. Drs. Madden, Kocache, Otto, Forkner and Rockwood have all received teaching awards from the College of Science and/or the University within the past three years. Biology is the largest major in the College of Science; around 1300 students major in one of the Biology Degree Programs and we grant degrees to more than 300 students per year. The College of Science moved into a new building, Exploratory Hall, in July of 2013. As a result, all Biology teaching laboratories and almost all offices are found in this new building.

The Department of Biology offers BA and BS degrees in Biology, and a BS in Medical Laboratory Science. Our faculty are involved in graduate programs such as the MS in Biology, the MS in Environmental Science and Policy, the Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Policy, and the Ph.D. degree in Biosciences. We offer a broad curriculum with concentrations available in: A) Biopsychology; B) Biotechnology and Molecular Biology; C) Environmental and Conservation Biology; D) Microbiology; E) Biology Education (with Licensure). The bachelor degree programs in biology provide a sound liberal arts education with substantial experience in quantitative and analytical thought, along with preparation for a related profession. All of our core (required courses) include a recitation, a laboratory, or both. We also require additional laboratory experiences beyond our core.

In addition to ensuring the strong background necessary for graduate study in the Life Sciences, the broad range of courses available at Mason allows students to develop careers in a wide variety of disciplines, including secondary school teaching, environmental management, microbiology, molecular biology, biotechnology, genetics, wildlife management, fisheries biology, and marine science. Finally, our curriculum prepares student for careers in the Health Sciences including medicine, dentistry, veterinary science and related allied health disciplines. The BS degree in Medical Laboratory Science prepares students for careers in doctor’s offices, and hospitals, as well as biotechnology and industrial laboratories.

The Department offers research experiences through our Research Semester and through the INOVA Biomedical Internships – in Neuroscience and in Chronic Diseases. Within the past year Drs. Edwards, Schwebach, Crerar, Luther, Forkner and Weeks have been awarded grants from the National Science Foundation for educational and scientific research and most of these grants provide opportunities for student research. Our faculty work closely with the Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities, & Research (OSCAR), the 4VA Consortium, the STEM Accelerator Program and the Smithsonian Mason School of Conservation to provide additional resources and faculty to support student research in Biology.

In summary, the faculty and staff of the Department of Biology are very excited about our new department and we welcome you to work with us in developing educational and research opportunities for students in the Biological Sciences. On a personal note, I have seen Mason grow and develop since 1974 and, with the new University and College of Science leadership teams, I am optimistic that the College and the Department of Biology, in particular, will provide you with a truly great educational experience.

Thank you for stopping by.

Larry Rockwood

Important Dates for Students

First day of classes: 8/25/14
Welcome Week Event: 8/27/14 11:00am-1:30pm in Exploratory Hall Rm 1200
Labor Day (GMU is closed): 9/1/14
Columbus Day recess: 10/13/14
(Monday classes/labs meet Tuesday. Tuesday classes do not meet this week).
Last day of classes: 12/6/14
Reading days: 12/8/14-12/9/14
Final exams: 12/10/14-12/17/14

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