What is integrative biology?

Biology is a broad subject that covers everything from cellular and molecular aspects to ecosystems. Integrative Biology explores the interconnectedness of life through an integrative perspective of the structure and function of biological systems. The Integrative Biology track covers the breadth of biological topics, integrating concepts of biological diversity, ecological interactions, anatomical and physiological specializations, developmental and evolutionary mechanisms, and cellular and molecular processes.

What does your coursework look like?

Integrative Biology courses are designed to expose students to a diversity of disciplines that complement each other in order to understand the complexity of biological systems. Integrative Biology is the most flexible of the Biology tracks and is designed to allow students to explore their diverse interests, from molecular and cellular experimental methods, to organismal anatomy and physiology, to ecological theory.

  • Develop knowledge of the foundational concepts of biology
    • Field Investigations in Biology (BIOL 130)
    • Introductory Molecular Biology and Genetics (BIOL 133)

  • Develop a strong foundation of the basic molecular, evolutionary and ecological principles of organismal biology
    Three courses must be taken of the following list
    • Ecology (BIOL 210)
    • Evolutionary Biology (BIOL 213)
    • Genetics (BIOL 233)
    • Molecular Cell Biology (BIOL 233)
    • Molecular Methods (BIOL 243)

  • Develop practical experience communicating science
    • Senior seminar (BIOL 424)

  • Explore the diversity of topics and approaches in biology
    You can choose any BIOL course numbered 200 or above to fulfill the requirements of the track. Some examples of the courses you can take are:
    • Ornithology (BIOL 201)
    • Human Anatomy (BIOL 270)
    • Plant Ecology (BIOL 206)
    • Biochemistry (BIOL 236)
    • General and Human Physiology (BIOL 314)
    • Behavioral Ecology (BIOL 311)
    • Microbiology (BIOL 339)

What are the requirements for the degree?

Where do we work?

In the laboratory: Sewanee has several state-of-the-art molecular, neurobiological, and physiological laboratories. Students work with faculty members in these laboratories to address important questions about the natural world and the inner workings of organisms.

In the Sewanee campus: Many researchers do at least part of their research outside on campus and in the neighboring forests and lakes. This research permits observing directly the patterns of distribution and behaviors of the plants and animals of the region.

Yale Medical School: Through the Sewanee-at-Yale program, Sewanee students have the opportunity to spend one semester at Yale Medical School where they do research with a Yale faculty member and take advanced coursework.

Vanderbilt University: Through the Vanderbilt-Sewanee Undergraduate Research Experience (V-SURE) Sewanee students have the opportunity for a fully-funded, two summer program, in partnership with Vanderbilt University Medical Center, geared for students intending to pursue a career in medicine (MD/PhD) who are interested in both biomedical research and patient care.

What types of questions do our faculty address?

Pepe Iriarte-Diaz
I study the relationship between form and function in animals, especially how it relates to animal movement. In the lab, we use a combination of experimental and computational approaches to study how differences in morphology affect an organism’s ability to perform a specific function, such as the ability to perform maneuvers in birds or the ability to produce biting masticatory forces in primates. 

How do you get involved with research in the Biology Department at Sewanee?

Independent research projects are a great way to hone analytical skills, learn to synthesize information, and work collaboratively as part of a dynamic team. Students of all experience levels and career aspirations are encouraged to dive deeply into independent research projects through our tiered research program, which can culminate in an honors thesis.

Student-Faculty Research