All biology students take a core of 6 courses that prepares them to take the MCAT and Graduate Record exams. The core courses include the study of zoology, botany, microbiology, cell biology, genetics, evolution, and ecology.
Students who complete a biology degree will be prepared for a pre-professional program upon graduation from AU. Students who are called to medical, dental, optometry, physician assistant, pharmacy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, or veterinary school complete the biology core of classes in addition to specific program requirements that may include an additional semester of organic chemistry, physics, or biochemistry, among others. Upper-division biology courses complete the successful preparation. Students will need to do well on an entrance examination specific to their desired program.
AU faculty help students prepare with the advising process. AU biology alumni have been accepted to a wide range of professional schools and are successful in their chosen professions.
Students perform molecular techniques such as DNA and protein gel electrophoresis, DNA and protein purification, PCR, and gene cloning. Students work with fruit fly genetics, bacterial mutagenesis, enzyme assays, and various types of chromatography. Opportunities exist for independent research projects in normal gut flora of mice and properties of C. difficile, involving both aerobic and anaerobic bacterial cultivation. Advanced course options include performing Southerns and Westerns, working with tissue culture cells, and investigating the presence of genetically modified foods in their diet.
Students assess the water quality of the White River, using both a macroinvertebrate assay and a chemical monitoring assay. Students visit unique habitats in Indiana like a sedge meadow fen, the highest quality remaining wetland in the state of Indiana. Students visit the Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago while some students take their biology electives at the Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies where they practice hands-on skills in the areas of ecology and conservation.
Students complete both the biology major and secondary education teacher certification in four years in the TeachScience program. Students have the same experiences as all biology majors in addition to experiences in the middle school and high school classrooms. Working with the AU School of Education faculty, students will be observing in the classroom during their sophomore and junior years in preparation for student teaching their senior year. Graduates of the program have found success in both middle school and high school classrooms.