Molecular Biology/Biotechnology Option – B.S.
Tremendous progress in our understanding and ability to manipulate molecules such as DNA and proteins was witnessed during the final quarter of the last century and has led toward the elucidation of the molecular pathways regulating cellular function. This relatively new discipline, molecular biology, has had a tremendous impact on many diverse fields such as genomics (i.e. the human genome project), agriculture, medicine, forensics, and the study of evolution. For example, molecular biology has been critical in our ability to fight genetically based diseases such as cancer and diabetes, and in the development of genetically modified organisms such as golden rice which may help reduce diseases related to malnutrition.
Molecular biology is the area of biology that involves use of a specialized set of tools and techniques to answer basic questions concerning how living organisms work. While some of those questions involve the molecular basis of life, molecular techniques are also used to answer questions at higher levels of biological complexity, e.g. to understand the mating patterns of mammals, and the evolutionary relationships among bird species. As biologists trying to understand living organisms at all levels of organization, from global patterns of distribution to the pattern of the genetic code itself, we find molecular biology to be a valuable source of new information and insight at all levels of biological complexity.
Our philosophy is that undergraduates should first be competent biologists and then specialists within their area of particular interest. Thus, our program allows students to concentrate in molecular and cellular biology while obtaining a broad background in biology and in the liberal arts. The curriculum is designed to be rigorous and challenging and to prepare students both for careers in research and production associated with molecular biology and for admission into graduate and professional schools (A number of students planning on attending professional school, e.g. medical or veterinary medicine, choose to follow the molecular biology curriculum). Students in the Molecular Biology Option complete advanced courses in biochemistry and in molecular and cellular techniques; many take advantage of opportunities to complete independent research projects in genetics, developmental biology, virology, cell and molecular biology, or endocrinology. Because biology is a science that is built on our understanding of the physical world as revealed by the physical sciences, all the programs in Biology require extensive coursework in Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics.
Our goal is to prepare our students to meet the challenges of today’s world and to be ready for the unknown challenges of the future. Thus, we strongly believe that the best training for the future is to become a lifelong learner. The Biology faculty at Millersville is a group of such learners who attempt to teach students how to become critical thinkers. We help our students learn to write and speak well and to become proficient in analyzing and solving problems as well as acquire the technical expertise they need to become sources of knowledge and skill sought by employers and society. We attempt to help our students develop their intellectual skills to their full potential.
We strongly believe that scientific research is an extremely valuable educational experience for students. Therefore, the members of the Biology Faculty maintain active research programs specifically geared to the participation and training of undergraduates. Not only do these activities provide useful training and experience for our students, but they help keep the faculty abreast of and participating in the advancement of biological knowledge.
Incredible advances in molecular biology have stimulated a fast-growing industry and greatly expanded career opportunities for scientists with the specialized skills of molecular biology. Although many of the molecular biology graduates matriculate to medical school, others find employment as research associates, technical representatives, laboratory technologists, quality control managers, molecular/pharmaceutical sales representatives, scientific editors, and others. The long list of employers of graduates of the Molecular Biology program includes Smith-Kline Beecham, Merck, Wyeth Ayerst, Amersham Pharmacia, Genelogic, Memorial Sloan Kettering, University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins University, the American Red Cross, the National Institutes of Health, Hershey Medical Center, University of Pennsylvania, Fox Chase Cancer Center, and other private firms.
Graduates of the molecular biology program have completed or are now working toward advanced degrees at a number of highly respected graduate programs including Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, Penn State, and Georgetown University. Biology graduates have been highly successful at Rutgers, Wake Forest, Michigan, Duke, Miami, Purdue, Maryland, Delaware, Florida, Dalhousie, Pittsburgh, Georgia, and Boston Universities, Penn State, and others. We are quite proud of our Molecular Biology graduates. Many of our graduates have become highly respected scientists in cancer research and molecular genetics.