Biology

Biology

Wolfson scholar Tania Benjamin narrates valedictory clip

For photos of Tania and other Biology majors who were honored, CLICK HERE.

Spotlight on Student Research

JR Clark and a giant sea bassBrian (J.R.) Clark is studying the mating behaviors of giant sea bass (Stereolepis gigas). The giant sea bass is the largest bony fish to inhabit the California kelp forest community. Giants have been targeted for both recreational and commercial fishing since the late 1800s, causing numbers to dwindle to the point that they are now on the IUCN Red List as a critically endangered species. Gill nets near shore have been banned, and line fishing for giants has been limited, so giants are now returning to Southern California waters. Remarkably little is known about the life history and behavior of giant sea bass. J.R.’s research on courtship is revealing when, where, and how mating occurs. At the Wrigley Marine Science Center, J.R. made daily SCUBA observations at the historical spawning aggregation site off Goat Harbor. He conducted surveys of giant density morning, afternoon, and evening, recording behaviors on HD video. Giant sea basswere most abundant at Goat Harbor during the afternoon. J.R. learned to sex the species and observed how courting proceeds when fish are in pairs. Soon, J.R. will be describe spawning both visually and acoustically. A thorough understanding of giant sea bass reproductive behavior is essential for the future management of this recovering endangered species.  more Spotlights...

Department Introspection

The Department of Biology is particularly proud of our lab and field courses. We offer a wide variety of hand-on opportunities in which students practice technique, gather data, and draw conclusions from those data. Many of these classes are very small. They use real laboratories and study organisms in their natural habitat. As a complement to these intimate classes, Biology majors also take a few large lecture classes, which are taught by rock-star lecturers. The faculty are remarkably open to exploring new and (hopefully) better teaching methods. For example, we adopted teaching with tablets and have done so as a group so as to make the tablet pay for itself thorugh savings on eTexts over paper books. Students often write reports and give spoken presentations. Reading the scientific literature is part of many classes. We believe in a tight interplay between teaching and research. The faculty are deeply involved in research training through doing research with students. The examination of our subject matter through our courses often inspires our research, and much of our research feeds back to make us better teachers. The variety and field-orientation of our course offerings are, we think, superior to those of any other university in the region. For example, we offer about 20 sections of field courses for majors per year, as well as one integrated field semester. Our graduates have had great opportunities to learn the skills used by professional biologists. Our newsletter tells more...