Department of Biology

According to the US Department of Education, the Biology Department leads the nation in graduating African American Biology majors, many of whom move on to professional careers in science and medicine. 

The Biology Department is the largest department in the College of Arts & Sciences at Xavier with a total of 750-800 majors each year. There are 24 full-time faculty members ready to serve all students, including three former XU-Biology graduates. Introductory Biology classes are kept small and are taught only by full-time faculty rather than by students or adjunct instructors as at some other institutions. 

Biology faculty members have been strategically hired for their expertise in diverse areas ranging from evolution, developmental biology, histology, botany and zoology to immunology, genetics, microbiology, molecular biology, stem cell biology, biochemistry, physiology, anatomy, pathology, cancer biology and bioinformatics, to name a few. 

All Biology majors receive regular academic advising, the quality of which is unparalleled, and many Biology majors are involved in mentored research projects both in the department and throughout the state. 

The department has taken the lead on re-designing and revising our pre-med curriculum so that our students will excel on the redesigned 2015 Medical College Admissions Test and to address the growing and urgent national problem of declining numbers of African American professionals in the field of medicine.

Academic Advising

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.

Curriculum

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).

Research Opportunities

Biology majors routinely perform research with faculty members during the semesters or during summers or both. Each student involved in research undergoes rigorous training in safety and ethics, along with literature review and scientific writing in addition to training in the actual techniques that their project requires. Approximately 40-50 students are involved in one or more research based projects each year. Some work as volunteers, some are in funded programs, yet others receive payment for the hours they spend in the lab. Each Biology faculty member who works with students is committed to present their findings at regional or national level conferences and eventually publish the results, just like in real world.

BIOLOGY STUDENTS MAY RECEIVE RESEARCH FUNDING FROM THESE AND MANY OTHER SOURCES

Student Research Opportunities

Biology majors routinely perform research with faculty members during the semesters or during summers or both. Each student involved in research undergoes rigorous training in safety and ethics, along with literature review and scientific writing in addition to training in the actual techniques that their project requires. Very early on, students learn to distinguish between the 'real world' research which is not always glamorous versus what they think it might be, where everything just works out immediately and great results are obtained. Approximately 40-50 students are involved in one or more research based projects each year. Some work as volunteers, some are in funded programs, yet others receive payment for the hours they spend in the lab. Each Biology faculty member who works with students is committed to present their findings at regional or national level conferences and eventually publish the results, just like in real world.

BIOLOGY STUDENTS MAY RECEIVE RESEARCH FUNDING FROM THESE AND MANY OTHER SOURCES

ADDITIONAL RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES AT XULA AND THROUGHOUT LOUISIANA






ADDITIONAL RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES AT XULA AND THROUGHOUT LOUISIANA

Organizations

Beta Beta Beta - the Biology Honor Society at Xavier

Beta Beta Beta (TriBeta) was founded in 1922 at Oklahoma City University. It is both an honor and a professional society for students of the biological sciences. The society seeks to encourage scholarly attainment in biological sciences by reserving membership to those who achieve superior academic records. It desires to cultivate intellectual interest in the natural sciences and to promote a better appreciation of the value of biological study.

The Sigma Kappa Chapter was chartered at Xavier University on May 1, 1977 through the leadership of Sr. Grace Mary Flickinger, SBS who served as its first advisor. Post-Katrina, the chapter went four semesters without inducting new members. Since 2007, the Sigma Kappa Chapter has reestablished itself. As in the past, new inductees are expected to be outstanding both academically and in service.

Additional Organizations


For more information about the Department of Biology, click here.


Contact Us

Biology

504-520-7527

biology@xula.edu