All Biology majors receive Academic Advising, the quality of which is unparalleled. Sr. Grace Mary Flickinger, a national-level winner for Academic Advising, recognized years ago the importance of one-on-one advising and nurturing of every student, not only for their smooth transition to Xavier as freshmen but also for their staying on track for their degree completion and their spiritual growth. Sister served as the Coordinator of Advising for many years, and generations of XU Biology majors have benefited from the highly regarded 'Open Door Policy' and other processes established by her over 30 years ago. These procedures have stood the test of time and continue to play a significant role in the many success stories here in Biology. Dr. Harish Ratnayaka currently serves as the Coordinator of Advising for the Biology Department. For suggestions on how to succeed as a Biology major, see Dr. Ratnayaka's website.
Biology Resource Center
The Biology Department has a free resource center for learning, the Biology Resource Center, that is managed by Ms. Bethany Stone. Both Biology and non-Biology majors can receive help and extra tutoring from peer-tutors (selected by a selections committee in Biology) in General Biology 1230 and Biology 1240 lecture and labs. Assistance in more advanced subjects such as 2000 and 3000 level subjects like Microbiology, Biodiversity and Genetics is offered by experienced instructors who offer one-on-one academic assistance as well as review/recitation sessions for students outside the regularly scheduled classes.
The department has taken the lead on re-designing and revising our pre-med curriculum to meet the changing 2015 MCAT and to address the growing and urgent national problem of declining African American professionals in the field of medicine. With the generous support of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) funding of $1 million dollars to the University, Dr. Ireland, Endowed Professor of Biology, led the efforts by working with faculty in Biology and other STEM disciplines to implement specific recommendations issued by the Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians (SFFP) committee. A joint venture between the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the HHMI, the SFFP's goal is to make students more active learners with demonstrated knowledge and ability to apply the principles of biology, mathematics and statistics along with those of computer programs, physics, chemistry and biochemistry to human health and diseases.
To accomplish this, the department introduced an array of innovative instructional approaches. Two new courses in Biology (Biol 1210L and Biol 1220L) were launched to address self-reported impediments for freshman level success and labs will be revised to include more discovery/research oriented projects such as those in Xavier's currently HHMI funded 'Phage Genomics' course offered in our department. Several additional pre-med courses have been infused with increased in-class activities, more interdisciplinary content, and exercises to hone students' computational and critical thinking skills with an emphasis on the application of knowledge as opposed to rote memorization. We believe that our new and improved curriculum will help all our majors to become more competitive and score well on whichever standardized admissions tests they end up taking (MCAT, GRE, DAT, PCAT etc).