Biology Department Changes Curriculum

The biology department recently introduced three different concentrations under the biology degree umbrella: cell/molecular biology, integrative biology and global health. Hannah Holliday | Cartoonist

By Pranay Malempati | Sports Writer

There are currently 1037 students at Baylor who are working towards a Bachelor’s of Science in biology. Until recently, they would all be completing the same degree requirements and taking the same classes. Now, there are three different concentrations under the biology degree umbrella, allowing students to focus their studies in a certain area of biology.

Biology department chair Dr. Dwayne Simmons said that the curriculum changes went into effect last year because students have to satisfy requirements and take certain courses before they can declare a concentration.

The three concentrations students are able to choose from are cell/molecular biology, integrative biology and global health. Integrative biology, which may be an ambiguous term, is for students who “desire a strong, diverse background in the biological sciences,” the biology department said.

Denver senior Manav Bains said that while he did not have this opportunity to choose a concentration when he came to Baylor in 2016, he is a fan of the new changes.

“Besides the tropical disease concentration,” Bains said, “there were no options to choose a concentration. I think it’s great to see the biology department evolve and give students more opportunities to get involved with different concentrations.”

Simmons said the new global health concentration replaces the old tropical disease concentration, which previously was the only one available.

While students are able to choose either cell/molecular or integrative biology concentrations after satisfying the requirements, they have to apply for the global health concentration.

The biology department defines requirements to be accepted. These include having a 3.5 GPA and “a written application demonstrating a commitment to understanding the biology of global health.” The global health concentration is for students considering “biomedical-related careers” such as public health, tropical medicine, and epidemiology.

Simmons said he had a vision of making this change for a while, but wanted the input of his professors to make it official.

“I could have just decided to make these changes,” Simmons said. “But I wanted the input of my staff and faculty. Even if it meant [straying] from my vision. . . In fact, the “integrative biology” name came from my professors.”

Now that the changes are in place, students have the opportunity to focus on the aspects of biology that they are more interested in or the ones they believe will help them best with their career goals.

Bains said he appreciates the biology department making an effort to adapt their curriculum in a way that lets students aim towards their future.

“What I enjoy about the department includes the idea that they are constantly evolving to change curriculums, add new classes, and new concentrations,” Bains said. “I think the creation of more concentrations will allow students to get a head start in whatever field it is they’re going into. Students will be able to take classes geared towards their interests within biology so I think that’s a great thing.”