Overview

What is a typical graduate school or career path for a biochemistry and molecular biology major at The College of Wooster?

Wooster prepares Biochemistry and Molecular Biology majors to respond to the ever-changing, fast-paced nature of the life sciences. The advanced learning and employment opportunities for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology graduates are wide-ranging, with many students considering a degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology to be a stepping-stone toward careers in research and medicine.

Approximately half of our majors go on to graduate school. Recent graduates are pursuing doctoral degrees at institutions including Stanford University, University of Michigan, University of Texas-Southwestern, and Johns Hopkins University, among others. Each year many other students go on to health professional schools including medical school (examples include Case Western University, The Ohio State University, The University of Cincinnati), as well as dental, pharmacy, or veterinary school. Other Biochemistry and Molecular Biology graduates have pursued careers in academic research laboratories, the biotechnology sector, or in science education.

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at The College of Wooster

A central component of the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology program at Wooster is the opportunity for students to conduct research using state-of-the-art equipment in dedicated student-focused laboratory spaces. The Ruth W. Williams Hall of Life Science features collaborative research and classroom laboratory spaces in which teams of faculty and students across the life sciences work together to investigate how life works. The Biochemistry and Molecular Biology curriculum takes a scaffolded approach to preparing each student to develop critical thinking and methodology in molecular biology and biochemistry. A unique feature of the major includes a research-based laboratory course where students apply current techniques in protein biochemistry and molecular genetics as part of a full-fledged inter-disciplinary research project.

Many Biochemistry and Molecular Biology students engage in summer research experiences, some as early as their first year at Wooster. Recent research opportunities to work with faculty members at Wooster have been funded by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, United States Department of Agriculture, among others. In addition, many students engage in external internships and off-campus research experiences at biotechnology companies, universities, and health professional schools prior to graduation.

Because the major is administered jointly by the biology and chemistry departments, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology majors enjoy great flexibility in conducting Senior Independent Study (I.S.) research with a variety of faculty members from either department.


Faculty

Mary Cornelius

Mary Cornelius

Administrative Coordinator - Chemistry, BCMB

mcornelius@wooster.edu

Paul Edmiston

Paul L. Edmiston

Theron L. Peterson and Dorothy R. Peterson Professor of Chemistry; Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Pre-Law Program

pedmiston@wooster.edu

Dean Fraga

Dean Fraga

Danforth Professor of Biology; Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

dfraga@wooster.edu

Sara Martin

Sara E. S. Martin

Assistant Professor of Chemistry; Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

samartin@wooster.edu

Bill Morgan

William Morgan

Theron L. Peterson and Dorothy R. Peterson Professor of Biology; Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

wmorgan@wooster.edu

Erzsebet Regan

Erzsebet Regan

Whitmore-Williams Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Biology

eregan@wooster.edu

Mark Snider

Mark J. Snider

Robert E. Wilson Professor of Chemistry; Program Chair of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

msnider@wooster.edu

Marie Southerland

Marie Southerland

Walter D. Foss Visiting Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Stephanie Strand

Stephanie Strand

Associate Professor and Department Chair of Biology; Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

sstrand@wooster.edu

James West

James West

Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Biology; Chemistry

jwest@wooster.edu


Major

Professor Dean Fraga and students engage in lecture in a Williams classroomThe Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (BCMB) Curriculum was created in 2001 from a well-established program in biochemistry, and is administered jointly by faculty from the departments of biology and chemistry. A major in BCMB consists of 16 courses. Below is a suggested course sequence to fulfill the major over the four years:

First Year:
  • BIOL 11100: Foundations of Biology
  • BIOL 20100: Gateway to Molecular & Cellular Biology and Lab
  • CHEM 11100: General Chemistry I
  • CHEM 11200: General Chemistry II with Lab
Sophomore Year:
  • BIOL 30500: Cell Physiology with Lab
  • BIOL 30600: Genes & Genomes with Lab
  • CHEM 21100: Organic Chemistry I with Lab
  • CHEM 21200: Organic Chemistry II with Lab
Junior Year:
  • BCMB 30300: Techniques in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Lab Course
  • BCMB 33100: Principles of Biochemistry
  • One additional biochemistry course from among:
    • BCMB 33200: Biochemistry of Metabolism
    • BCMB 33300: Chemical Biology
    • CHEM 33400: Biophysical Chemistry
  • BCMB 40100: Introduction to Independent Study
Senior Year:
  • BCMB 45100: Senior Independent Study Thesis (1st semester)
  • BCMB 45200: Senior Independent Study Thesis (2nd semester)

In addition to the above courses, BCMB majors take the following two courses. The timing of these courses depends on each student’s specific plans, with most taking these during the sophomore or junior years:

One quantitative methods course from among:

  • MATH 10500: Introduction to Calculus (full semester)
  • MATH 11000: Applied Differential Calculus (½ semester)
  • PHYS 10700: Algebra Physics I with Lab
  • PHYS 11100: Calculus Physics I with Lab

One computational methods course from among:

  • CSCI 10000: Scientific Computing
  • CSCI 10200: Multimedia Computing
  • BIOL 34500: Computational Biology with Lab
  • BIOL 39907: Computational Genomics with Lab

 

View Courses

Independent Study

The College of Wooster is nationally recognized for its program of Independent Study, and for more than 50 years the College has required that every graduate complete a significant Independent Study project. The projects provide all students the opportunity to engage in an activity both personally meaningful and appropriate to their individual fields and interests. It is not reserved for the few. Independent Study is the culmination of a Wooster education and provides the basis for a lifetime of independent learning.

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology majors start Independent Study in the spring semester of their junior year when they enroll in BCMB 401: Introduction to Independent Study. During the first few weeks of the semester each student explores potential I.S. project possibilities and advisors and is paired with a faculty advisor associated with the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology program who will serve as mentor, guide and critic. Throughout the spring semester each student develops their specific ideas for their senior thesis project by writing a formal research proposal and by presenting and receiving feedback on their ideas from their peers and faculty mentors.

For both semesters of the senior year, each Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major engages in the independent laboratory work that culminates in their thesis and formal presentations of their results given to general and scientific audiences. Along the way, each student works closely with their advisors through regularly scheduled conferences designed to assist, encourage, and challenge the participants and to afford both students and advisors an opportunity to share the excitement of discovery in fields of mutual interest. Learning is approached as an exploration shared by student and advisor alike, neither having all the answers, but each enjoying immensely the opportunity to search for solutions.

 

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Wooster graduates with degrees in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology have chosen careers in a broad range of fields, from medicine, biological research, veterinary medicine, environmental law, exercise physiology, and cytotechnology, to art illustration, teaching, wildlife and fisheries management, evolutionary biology, and public health. Over half our graduates go on to continue their education at professional schools such as medical, veterinary, dental, or nursing schools.


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Lab Facilities

Severance Hall and the Ruth W. Williams Hall of Life Sciences

Facilities for the Interdisciplinary Program in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology are focused primarily on the first floor of the Ruth W. Williams Hall of Life Science, a modern and highly visible teaching and research lab facility for all the life sciences (including Biology, Neuroscience and Environmental Studies) that is integrated on three floors with Severance Hall, the home of the Department of Chemistry. Adjacent to the Knowlton Commons and Café, the BCMB program facilities include two teaching labs with connecting classroom and several collaborative study rooms for students and faculty from all over campus to share. Research lab facilities for use by multiple faculty-mentored research teams and Independent Study, with multiple adjoining rooms for shared instrumentation and student desk space, are also part of the facility.

Some of the key instrumentation within the BCMB program includes:

  • PCR, Realtime-PCR, and Digital-droplet PCR thermocyclers
  • Gel electrophoresis and digital imaging stations
  • Benchtop and large-scale high-speed centrifuges
  • House-steam autoclaves, incubator shakers, growth chambers, and biosafety cabinets for work with yeast and bacteria cultures, including biohazard level-2 pathogens
  • Mammalian and plant tissue culture room
  • Electroporation systems for transforming a variety of cells
  • Epifluorescence microscopes
  • Fluorescence stereo microscope equipped for motion analysis
  • UV-visible spectrophotometers and plate readers
  • Fluorescence spectrophotometer
  • High Performance Liquid Chromatograph (HPLC) with diode array detector
  • Fast Protein Liquid Chromatographs (FPLCs)
  • Isothermal Titration Microcalorimeter (VP ITC)
  • Stopped-flow UV-vis spectrophotometer in an anaerobic chamber for studying rates of rapid biochemical reactions under controlled oxygen levels
  • Scintillation counter for use with radioactive isotopes
  • Opentrons-2 lab robot for automating high throughput projects

and easy access to other key instrumentation in Biology and Chemistry, including:

  • 400 MHz Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectrometer with 1H, 13C, 31P probes and autosampler
  • Liquid Chromatograph – Triple Quad Mass Spectrometer (LC-MS) and Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometer (LC-TOF-MS)
  • Confocal microscope