Can you major in this program? Yes
Can you minor in this program? Yes
Emphasis within the major: molecular ecology, nucleic acid metabolism, gene control of enzyme activity
Popular second majors: chemistry, biochemistry, integrative health science
This program focuses on the interface between biology and chemistry.
This fact sheet is also available as a PDF.
The molecular biology major at Stetson University is designed for students interested in the interface between the life sciences and physical sciences. Molecular biology is an interdisciplinary science that uses the techniques of biology and chemistry to examine genetic inheritance at the molecular level.
Molecular biologists concentrate on genes and how these genes regulate the metabolic activities of cells. The goal is to see cell activity in its totality, using the techniques of genomics and proteomics. Molecular biologists are using genomic and proteomic research and recombinant DNA to understand disease, increase food production, develop new pharmaceuticals, study ways to reduce pollution and discover more about cellular activities.
A Distinctive Program
Molecular biology at Stetson University focuses on the interface between biology and chemistry, looking at problems from an organism's view, in particular the role of evolution on the changes observed among organisms. A mandatory senior research project and the senior seminar give students opportunities to develop thinking, laboratory skills and communication skills valuable to future careers in molecular biology.
Academics and Research
At Stetson University you will work closely with a faculty member on a research project. You will be encouraged to participate in the Stetson Undergraduate Research Experience, as well as present data from your research project at the Stetson Showcase.
Recent senior projects in molecular biology have focused on phylogeographic studies of aquatic insects based on mitochondrial DNA, repair of UV damage to DNA in photosynthetic microorganisms, directed single-site mutations of a tumor protein from a tumor virus and the development of a DNA-based assay for a toxic cyanobacterium.
Facilities and opportunities
The major is administered through the biology department. Because of the close interaction among the biology, chemistry and physics departments at Stetson University, molecular biology majors have access to a wide variety of instrumentation, such as NMR, ESR, atomic force microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, light microscope with image analysis software, HPLC, gene sequencing and polymerase chain reaction. Students have the chance to earn an opportunity to attend and present papers at scientific meetings, such as the Florida Academy of Science, and to co-author a manuscript with faculty members.
Preparation for graduate study
The molecular biology program includes a biostatistics course that induces quantitative skill for use in experimentation. These quantitative skills are used in all the laboratory components of advanced courses and are excellent preparation for graduate-level work. Because of the mandatory senior research, students acquire skills in the design, development and implementation of a research project.
Awards and Recognition
Stetson University's faculty has experience in DNA metabolism, genomic studies, and genetic engineering. All faculty members in the department are excellent teachers. Two have been formally recognized for their teaching with Hague and McEniry Awards. One is an endowed Brown Faculty Fellow. Biology faculty members who focus on molecular biology in their professional research include:
- Derek Barkalow, Ph.D., Rutgers University; cell biology and physiology
- Melissa Gibbs, Ph.D., University of Delaware; developmental biology, spring fish ecology
- Michael King, Ph.D., University of Virginia; neuroscience/brain mechanisms underlying behavioral responses to taste input
- Alicia Schultheis, Ph.D., Virginia Tech University; molecular ecology, freshwater macroinvertebrates
- David Stock, Ph.D., North Carolina State University; microbial genetics and ornithology, DNA metabolism
Students are encouraged to begin their senior research over the summer between their junior and senior years, particularly as part of the Stetson Undergraduate Research Experience, which provides funding for equipment, room and board and travel.
Undergraduate awards and honors
Students have the opportunity to receive the Dorothy Fuller Outstanding Senior Award, the Biology Department Research Award and Maris Prizes for Stetson Showcase. Students can also be inducted into Beta Beta Beta, a national honor society.
Beyond the Classroom
Many of our students complete internships. Students may apply for summer research grants at universities throughout the United States.
Stetson University molecular biology majors are trained to be scientists. Most graduates pursue advanced degrees leading to careers in pharmacology, biochemistry, molecular biology, agricultural research or biotechnology. Others pursue careers in the health professions including medicine, veterinary medicine and dentistry.
Our students have studied at University of Chicago, University of Florida, University of Central Florida, University of Iowa, Kansas State University and the University of Pittsburgh, among others.