Academics

Environmental Biology Minor and Certificate

The Biology Department offers a Environmental Biology Minor and a Certificate. Below are the requirements for the Environmental Biology Minor and the Environmental Biology Certificate:

Environmental Biology Minor

The minor consists of students taking at least 7 courses (23-26 credits) from 5 core areas:

Environmental Science

There is one course offered, Environmental Studies 101, Nature of Environmental Problems. 

100 Level Biology Core There are two courses offered, Biology 111 and Biology 112.
200 Level Biology Core There are two courses offered, Biology 252/254 and Biology 290. Please note, Math 130, Chemistry 115 and 117 are pre-requisites for the 200 level courses, which would add additional credits if not  already fulfilled for the students major. 
300 Level Biology Electives There are eight courses offered. Two of them also have laboratory sections that are recommended but not required and are Ecology (Biology 342) and Ecology Lab (Biology 343) and Evolution (Biology 352) and Evolution Lab (Biology 353).  Please note, Biology 334 Micorobiology has additional pre-requisites beyond Biology 252 and Biology 290. See below for individual course listings, course descriptions, and course pre-requisites.
Environmental Capstone There is one course offered, Environmental Studies 401, Environmental Problem Analysis and Policy Formulation.

Students are encouraged to pursue independent research opportunities in Biology, but it is not a requirement. The target audience for the minor is students majoring in a different department in the College of Science and Mathematics as they are likely to have the pre-requisites for the minor courses. Students outside of CSM will likely have to take the established pre-requisite course for the biology courses.

Environmental Biology Certificate 

The target audience for the Environmental Biology certificate is students majoring in Biology that are not eligible to have a minor in their degree. The minor consists of students taking at least 7 courses (23-26 credits) from 5 core areas. See the table above for further details on course requirements.

It should be noted that it is possible that Biology Majors pursuing the certificate would only have to take ENVSTY 101 and ENVSTY 401 to fulfill the certificate due to CSM allowing all 100 and 200 courses and one 300 level course to double count. In other words, if a Biology Major chose one of the 300 level courses listed below for their major electives, they would only need ENVSTY 101 and 401 to get an Environmental Biology certificate. Students are encouraged to pursue independent research opportunities in Biology, but it is not a requirement Students outside of CSM will likely have to take the established pre-requisite course for the biology courses.

Management of Minor and Certificate

Management of the Environmental Biology Minor and Certificate will be through the Biology Department. However, the minor and certificate are considered programs under the newly restructured Environmental Studies Program. The goal of that program is to offer individual departments across the university an opportunity to offer an “environmental” minor that incorporates civic engagement and responsibility as part of the offering through having all Environmental minors take ENVSTY 101 and ENVSTY 401. Both ENVSTY 101 and ENVSTY 401 incorporate civic engagement and responsibility in their curriculum.

Course Pre-Requisites and Descriptions

Environmental Science Requirements (1 Course Required for Both Minor and Certificate)

  • ENVSTY 101 Nature of Environmental Problems (3 Credits): An introduction to environmental issues and analysis emphasizing comparisons between the sustainable characteristics of ecosystems, both natural and human, and the human impacts on Earth’s life support system. Topics include: environmental science, environmental social sciences, fossil fuel resources, alternative energy resources, soil resources, water resources, atmospheric resources, biological resources.
    • Pre-Requisite = None. 

100 Level Biology Course Requirements (2 Courses Required for Both Minor and Certificate)

  • BIOL 111 General Biology I (4 Credits): An integrated course stressing the principles of biology. Life processes are examined primarily at the molecular and cellular levels. Intended for students majoring in biology or for non-majors who wish to take advanced biology courses. 
    • Pre-Requisite = None.
  • BIOL 112 General Biology II (4 Credits): An integrated course stressing the principles of biology. Life processes are examined primarily at the organismal and population levels. Intended for students majoring in biology or for non-majors who wish to take advanced biology courses.
    • Pre-Requisite = BIOL 111. 

200 Level Biology Course Requirements (2 Courses Required for Minor or Certificate)

  • BIOL252 or 254 Genetics (4/3 Credits): The basic principles of heredity, studied through an integrated presentation of molecular and classical (Mendelian) genetics. Topics include the nature of the hereditary material, structure of chromosomes, and patterns of inheritance. Note: Students (non-biology majors) who do not wish to take the laboratory portion of this course should register for BIOL 254. (No student may take this course after successful completion of BIOL 254.) 
    • Pre-Requisite = BIOL 112, CHEM 115 and 117. Corequisite of 130 or placement into Calculus by UMass Boston Placement Exam.
  • BIOL 290 Population Biology (3 Credits): This course examines evolution, and the growth of populations, developing principles and applying them to such issues as interaction among species, social behavior, presentation of genetic variation in domestic species, ecology of human pathogens, control of insect pests, and the organization of ecosystems. The course includes two field trips.
    • Pre-req = BIOL 112, CHEM 115 and 117, Co-requisite of 130 or placement into Calculus by UMass Boston Placement Exam.

300 Level Biology Course Electives (1 Course Required for Minor or Certificate)

  • BIOL 331 Biology of Marine Invertebrates (5 Credits): Essential background for those planning to concentrate in organismic biology, evolution, ecology, or applied environmental science. The course covers life histories, ecological roles, adaptations, morphologies, evolution, and classification of marine invertebrate animals. Laboratory includes field trips to local marine communities. Note: Students who do not wish to take the laboratory portion of this course should register for BIOL 333. (No student may take this course after successful completion of BIOL 333.)
    • Pre-Requisite = BIOL 252/254 and BIOL 290.
  • BIOL 334 Microbiology (4 Credits): The study of viruses, bacteria, algae, fungi, and protozoa, to include their characterization, classification, and relationship to humans and the environment. Lecture topics include microbial biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, taxonomy, pathogenic bacteriology, food and industrial microbiology, and ecology. The laboratory emphasizes aseptic techniques to isolate, culture, observe, and identify bacteria. 
    • Pre-Requisite = BIOL 210/212 and BIOL 252/254 and CHEM 104 or 116 & 118.
  • BIOL 336 Ecosystem Ecology (3 Credits): The cycling of elements and energy through ecosystems. Special emphasis is placed on the responses of ecosystem properties and biogeochemical cycling to human-caused global changes.
    • Pre-Requisite = BIOL 290.
  • BIOL 340 Marine Mammal Biology (3 Credits): This upper-level course covers the biological ecology of marine mammals (Pinnipeds, Cetaceans, Sirenians), with emphasis on applied population ecology, and conservation issues. Topics include adaptations to marine environments, effects of human exploitation, case studies of population recovery, and multispecies interactions. Many topics make use of mathematical equations.
    • Pre-Requisite = BIOL 252/254 and BIOL 290.
  • BIOL 342 Ecology (3 Credits): A course in population and community ecology. Topics include theory and case studies of population dynamics, competition, predation, niche concepts, life history strategies, behavioral interactions, energetics and productivity, community structure and organization, and biogeography. 
    • Pre-Requisite = BIOL 252/254 and BIOL 290.
  • BIOL 343 Ecology Laboratory (2 Credit): BIOL 343 Ecology Laboratory: Field trips to local terrestrial and marine communities, laboratory studies of population dynamics and interactions between species, and analytical approaches to ecological data. Some field trips may be scheduled on Saturdays. (Course offered in even-numbered years, fall term.)
    • Pre/Co-Requisite = BIOL 342.
  • BIOL 352 Evolution (3 Credits): Evolution is a fundamental and unifying concept in biology. The course is designed to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of evolutionary patterns and processes. We begin with a basic understanding of natural selection and use that to explore the tools, mechanisms and questions addressed by contemporary evolutionary biologists. Topics include the history of life as inferred from the fossil record, mass extinctions, population genetics, molecular evolution, adaptation, the evolution of sex, sexual selection, kin selection, life history evolution, speciation, macroevolution and the use of phylogenetic analyses to infer evolutionary relationships.
    • Pre-Requisite = BIOL 252/254 and BIOL 290.
  • BIOL 353 Evolution Laboratory (2 Credits): Laboratory investigations of evolutionary processes, including simulations of population genetics, biometric analyses of adaptive morphological features in natural populations, experiments on mimicry, field trips to systematic museum collections and local natural habitats, and phylogenetic analysis of land snails. Concepts of experimental design and statistical analysis are emphasized. (Course offered in the spring semester of even-numbered years).
    • Pre/Co-Requisite = BIOL 352.
  • BIOL 384L Game Theory, Evolution and Ecology (3 Credits): Fundamental concepts of evolutionary game theory and their application in biology. Topics include: the strategy and payoff matrix, the game tree, strategic and extensive form games, symmetric games, Nash equilibria. Evolutionary game theory concepts are discussed for two-strategy games (Prisoner’s Dilemma, Hawk-Dove) and three-strategy games (Rock-Scissors-Paper). Biological examples are studied, such as blood sharing in vampire bats, competition in bacteria, or the evolution of altruistic punishment.
    • Pre-Requisite = BIOL 290; MATH 135 or 140; or permission of the instructor.

Capstone Core Options (1 Course Required for Minor or Certificate) 

  • ENVSTY 401 Environmental Problem Analysis and Policy Formulation (3 Credits): Capstone course in which students analyze a particular environmental problem, typically at the university or greater Boston community level. Students examine the science and social aspects of the problem, determine whether policy changes or other initiatives are necessary, and develop a plan of action. Civic engagement and responsibility and soft skills are infused in the process as students work with stakeholders to provide a potential solution to an environmental problem.
    • Pre-Requisite = completion of 100 and 200 level courses.

For more information about the minor, certificate or the Environmental Studies Program in general, please contact the ESP Director, Dr. Alan D. Christian:

Director, Dr. Alan D. Christian
Associate Professor of Biology
Wheatley Hall, 3rd Floor, Room 010
Email: alan.christian@umb.edu
Phone: 617.287.6639

Biology Office
Phone: 617.287.6600
Wheatley, 3rd Floor, Room 021

Mailing Address:
Dr. Alan D. Christian
Biology Department
University of Massachusetts Boston
100 Morrissey Boulevard
Boston, MA 02125