Biology for First-Years

First Year & Sophomore Students


First Year and sophomore students interested in the Biological Sciences can get to know our program a number of ways.

Visit the Office of Biology Undergraduate Education

The BUE Office is a great starting point for students interested in learning more about the many concentrations and co-curricular happenings in the Biological Sciences. Our Academic Advisors have student hours weekly. First year and sophomore students are welcome to make appointments through the
advising calendar. The BUE Office is located on the first floor of Arnold Lab at 91 Waterman St.

Connecting with Brown’s Biology Community 

Connect with Biology Undergraduate Education at Brown on Facebook. This is one place we announce news, events, and opportunities.

Join one of our Departmental Undergraduate Groups (DUGs). You can find our current DUG leaders on the BUE
People page. DUGs host events throughout the academic year. These are typically posted on our Facebook page and announced via email and [email protected] You can join on our email list here or email the DUG leaders directly.

Reach out to a Peer-Advisor. We have an active peer advising program with seniors from many of our concentrations. Reach out to a peer advisor directly at any time. 

We hold a joint Sophomore Declaration Day and Senior Research and Capstone Event together every spring. This is Biology’s largest undergraduate event and is a great way for students in every class to spend time with one another and the faculty.

First Year & Sophomore Seminar Courses
First year and sophomore seminars are a great way to engage with Biology faculty and peers in small course settings. Our first year and sophomore seminar courses are noted as FYS and SOPH on the
Biology Course page.

Gateway Courses into the Biological Sciences
The Program in Biology has two gateway courses that many students take in the first two years. 

BIOL 0200 Foundations of Living Systems is offered in spring and serves a prerequisite for many additional courses in Biology. BIOL 0200 offers a broad overview of biological systems, emphasizing patterns and processes that form the basis of life. The course explores essentials of biochemistry, molecular, and cellular biology and their relationship to the larger issues of ecology, evolution, and development. BIOL 0200 examines current research trends in biology and their influence on culture. 

BIOL 0210 Diversity of Life is offered in fall and is open to all students. This course explores biological diversity from the perspectives of ecology and evolutionary biology. It draws on examples and case studies from the geological record, functional morphology, the evolution of organ systems in vertebrates, genomics, behavior and sexual selection in birds and invertebrates. Overarching themes will emphasize that taxonomic diversity is an emergent property of complex life on Earth, and the importance of diversity of biological functions and processes in generating and maintaining taxonomic diversity.

Undergraduate Research in Biology
We have lots of information about undergraduate research in Biology on our
Research page - including specific tips for pre-declared students. 

In fall semesters the BUE and PLME Offices team up to offer the evening workshop How to Find, Secure, and Succeed at Research. This is always well attended by first year and sophomore students. Be on the lookout for the announcement in [email protected], on our Facebook page, and via email from BUE. 

STEM Course Exam Planner
Every semester the HHMI Gateway STEM Course Initiative gathers exam times for large-enrollment STEM courses that are typically taken simultaneously by many of our entry-level science students. The goal is to provide instructors, students, and advisors with this information so they can be aware of exam time conflicts and plan accordingly. Access the STEM Course Planner

Pre-Health Career Students
Many students interested in pursuing a health career choose to study in one of the Biological Sciences concentrations. If you are interested in a health career after Brown check out the Office of
Health Careers Advising page for First Year & Sophomore Students

Which is the right choice for me, the ScB or AB?
STEM students often ponder this question as they move toward declaring a concentration. Check out the Brown Daily Herald article
A.B. and Sc.B. degrees split STEM concentrators over breadth versus depth to learn more. A quote from the article reads, "Across a variety of departments, students and professors repeatedly voiced the idea that the name of the degree itself matters far less than the work students pursue as undergraduates." We echo this in Biology. We advise our students to consider their full range of academic interests, extracurricular passions, and career goals when selecting a concentration.

The A.B. programs in Biology offer students the most flexibility in and out of the concentration. Students aiming to pursue a second concentration, to study abroad, or those who want to delve deeply into a specific sub-discipline of Biology may benefit from the A.B. While research is not required, students pursuing the A.B. in Biology or Health & Human Biology can, and do, develop independent research projects with campus and hospital-based faculty mentors. Many of these students go on to complete a senior honors thesis.

Our Sc.B. programs offer students more depth of study in the physical sciences and the core subdisciplines of Biology. Students pursuing the Sc.B. in one of the several Biology concentrations develop analytical competencies and inquiry-based skills through required lab coursework and independent research. Many Sc.B. students develop senior honors theses with guidance from campus and hospital-based faculty mentors.

Biology students in A.B. and Sc.B. programs pursue a diversity of professional paths including careers in medicine, life science research, business, education, and law. Academic advisors in the BUE Office are available to help students determine which concentration is the best fit. Students can also seek advice from peers in the various Biology Departmental Undergraduate Groups as well as alumni who can be located through BrownConnect

Read Making the Most of College by Richard Light
Students in BIOL 0100
Living Biology at Brown and Beyond are required to read, discuss, and write about Richard Light’s book Making the Most of College. We recommend you read this too! BIOL 0100 students appreciate the tips in this book and many say they wished they had read it the summer before arriving to campus. One tip Light offers is to get to know one new Professor every semester. The BUE Office has copies you can borrow so stop by and check one out.