Biology Major

Cellular and Molecular Biology Concentration


What is Cellular and Molecular Biology?


Cellular and Molecular Biology are fields of biology that focus on understanding living processes at a molecular level. Many of the most exciting biological discoveries in the past 20 years have occurred in these fields. These discoveries have identified some of the genes responsible for cancer, the events regulating how a cell divides and how organisms develop from a single cell. These discoveries have helped to drive the current boom in biotechnology.



Career Opportunities

Over 90% of CMB students obtain jobs in research or go on to graduate school.

Students graduating from this program will be well-trained for entry-level positions in many areas of industry. Biotechnology is used increasingly in the development and production of new drugs, agricultural products and diagnostic tests.

Graduate School
This program prepares students for graduate school in many disciplines of biology including biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, plant biology, molecular biology and immunology.

Medical School and Health Care
Medicine is becoming increasingly molecular in nature. As we discover the genetic causes of many diseases, new treatments and tests are developed. Future doctors and healthcare professionals will need to have a strong grasp of molecular biology to make diagnoses and prescribe treatments.

Environmental Applications
Many of the current testing methods used in environmental research use molecular techniques. These include research involving population studies, toxicology, endangered species and evolution.

During the school year there are several internships available at local biotechnology companies. In addition, students are encouraged to perform internships outside of La Crosse during the summer.



What does the Cellular and Molecular Biology Program at UW-L have to offer?


In their course work, students use state of the art equipment and learn current techniques employed in cell and molecular biology research labs. The curriculum provides a balance between classic fundamental concepts and the latest breakthroughs. In Genetics, students use PCR and other diagnostic tests as well as classical Mendelian experiments to understand inheritance. In Cell Biology, students use immunofluorescence microscopy and cell culture techniques to explore factors that regulate cell growth and development. Molecular Biology has a lab in which students perform the latest techniques to measure gene transcription in different tissues. New electives expose students to the latest molecular techniques used in medicine, plant biotechnology and human molecular genetics. Students in the Cellular and Molecular Biology Program are encouraged to perform independent undergraduate research either with cellular and molecular biology faculty at UW-L or at a variety of summer programs at other institutions that offer such opportunities. The combination of theory and application makes students competitive in both the job market and in acceptance to graduate programs.


Research Opportunities


The following faculty members currently perform research in cellular and molecular biology at UW-L:


Mike Abler- Molecular techniques and classical genetics to explore the roles of RNA-degrading enzymes in plant metabolism.


Scott Cooper- Molecular techniques to study the regulation of blood clotting in hibernating ground squirrels.


Anne Galbraith- Molecular biology, genetics, and some biochemistry to understand the roles of DNA replication proteins in yeast meiosis.


David Howard- Microscopy, protein biochemistry, and classical and molecular genetics to investigate how cells generate and regulate motility.


Tisha King-Heiden- Use of a variety of physiological, behavioral and molecular techniques to better understand how environmental contaminants influence development and health in fish.


Jennifer Klein- Molecular biology, biochemistry, biophysical spectroscopy and computational simulations to understand muscle and cytoskeletal protein dynamics.


Sumei Liu- Microscopy and molecular techniques to study the effects of stress on the intestinal nervous system.


Jennifer Miskowski- Genetics, microscopy, and molecular techniques to investigate the cellular processes involved in development of the worm, C. elegans.


Kathryn Perez- Molecular biology, genetics and organismal biology to understand the relationships between animal species.


Tony Sanderfoot- Molecular and bioinformatics tools to study the secretory pathway in green plants.


Brad Seebach- Electrophysiology, pharmacology and molecular approaches to study circuits in the developing, mammalian spinal cord that support walking.




Course work for the Biology Major, Cellular and Molecular Biology Concentration - 39 credits minimum (plus chemistry and mathematics requirements).


Core Course Requirements:

BIO 103 Introductory Biology or BIO 105 General Biology (preferred) 4 credits

BIO 203 Organismal Biology 4 credits or the following two courses:

BIO 306 Genetics 4 credits

BIO 307 Ecology 3 credits

BIO 315 Cell Biology 4 credits

BIO 435 Molecular Biology (non-lab) 3 credits

BIO 436 Molecular Biology Laboratory 1 credit OR BIO 468 Human Molecular Biology Laboratory 1 credit

BIO 440 Bioinformatics 2 credits

BIO 491 Capstone Seminar in Biology 1 credit

MIC 230 Fundamentals of Microbiology 4 credits



Remaining credits up to a minimum of 39 credits from the following:
BIO 202 Intro Bio Data Analysis Interp
BIO 312 Human Anat & Phys I
BIO 313 Human Anat & Phys II
BIO 337 Plant Phys
BIO 406 Parasitology
BIO 408 Developmental Biology
BIO 410 Human Cadaver Dissection
BIO 412 Mycology
BIO 424 Endocrinology
BIO 428 Adv Nut Hlth Prof
BIO 429 Evolution
BIO 432 Biology of Cancer
BIO 433 Radiation Biology
BIO 436 Molecular Biology Lab
BIO 443 Molecular Mechanisms of Disease and Drug
BIO 449 Microscopy and Biological Imaging
BIO 450 Internship in Biology *
BIO 463 Aquatic Animal Health
BIO 466 Human Molecular Genetics
BIO 468 Human Molecular Genetics Lab
BIO 479 Biology Laboratory Asst *
BIO 489 Independent Study *
BIO 495 Service Learn Biol *
BIO 499 Undergraduate Research *
MIC 230 Fundamentals of Micro
MIC 406 Immunology
MIC 420 Intro Virology
MIC 421 Virology Lab
MIC 427 Industrial and Ferment Microbiology
*A total of 2 credits of these courses can count toward the major.


Chemistry Requirements:

CHM 103 General Chemistry I  5 credits

CHM 104 General Chemistry II  5 credits

CHM 300 Survey of Organic Chemistry 5 credits or the following three courses:

    CHM 303 Organic Chemistry Theory I  3 credits, 

    CHM 304 Organic Chemistry Theory II  3 credits 

    CHM 305 Organic Chemistry Laboratory 2 credits

CHM 301 Analytical Chemistry 5 credits

CHM 325 Survey of Biochemistry 4 credits or the following two courses:

    CHM 417 Biochemistry I  3 credits and 

    CHM 418 Biochemistry II  3 credits.


Mathematics Requirements:

MTH 145 Elem Statistics
MTH 175 Applied Calculus OR MTH 207 Calculus I




Summer Research Programs


Many major universities around the country offer Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) Programs for students from universities like UW-L. In addition, there are a number of National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (NSF-REU) programs available for students to gain more research experience. So in addition to research opportunities at UW-L, these SURE and REU programs give students exposure to research in other dynamic settings during the summer months. Most of these programs can be accessed online by simply searching for "SURE" or "REU" summer programs, or by visiting the web site of a particular university to see if they have one of these summer programs available.




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