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Genetics

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Alan M. Myers, Chair, Genetics Major Committee

Genetics is the scientific study of heredity. Understanding the basis of heredity is fundamental to all aspects of the life sciences, from the most basic molecular study to applied studies of agricultural species. At Iowa State University the study of the life sciences is interdepartmental, involving faculty in the basic, agricultural, and veterinary sciences. Faculty in 20 different departments are involved in genetics research. This large group of faculty presents a broad range of possibilities for students to learn from faculty who are at the forefront of research in many areas of genetics.

Undergraduate Study

Undergraduate study in genetics is jointly administered by three departments: the Roy J. Carver Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Molecular Biology; the Department of Genetics, Development, and Cell Biology; and the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology. Undergraduate degrees are offered through both the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Liberal Arts and Science. Programs of study for genetics majors leading to a B.S. degree are available.

Training in genetics may lead to employment in teaching, research, or a variety of health-related professions. Although some students find employment directly after their baccalaureate training, many students continue their education in graduate or professional programs. Students with the B.S. degree may find employment in the biotechnology, health, or food industries. Recent graduates have also developed careers in conservation biology, technical writing, science journalism, technical sales, and business.

The required course work and associated electives provide students with the foundation in basic life sciences, mathematics, chemistry, and physics that is essential for professions involving modern biological/biomedical sciences. As part of these courses students develop skills in problem solving, critical thinking, writing, and research-related activities in the biological sciences.

Specific entrance requirements for medical and health-related professions are established by the professional schools. Students interested in fulfilling pre-professional requirements for such professions as dentistry, human medicine, genetic counseling, optometry, pharmacy, physical therapy, physicians assistant, and veterinary medicine can major in genetics while fulfilling the pre-professional requirements.

Curriculum in Genetics - Requirements

Total Degree Requirement: 120 cr.

A maximum of 65 cr. from a two-year institution can be applied that may include up to 16 technical cr.; up to 9 Pass-Not Pass cr. of free electives can be applied; a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 is required for graduation. Program-approved lists can be found on the Genetics website.

1. Genetics and Life Sciences

A grade of C– or better is required in all Genetics and Life Science courses.

A. Courses required of all Genetics majors

GEN 110Genetics Orientation1
BIOL 211Principles of Biology I3
BIOL 211LPrinciples of Biology Laboratory I1
BIOL 212Principles of Biology II3
BIOL 212LPrinciples of Biology Laboratory II1
GEN 313Principles of Genetics3
GEN 313LGenetics Laboratory1
BIOL 314Principles of Molecular Cell Biology3
BIOL 315Biological Evolution3
One of the following:
The Genome Perspective in Biology
Bioinformatic Analysis
Introduction to Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
GEN 409Molecular Genetics3
GEN 410Analytical Genetics3
One of the following:
Evolutionary Genetics
Evolutionary and Ecological Genomics
Molecular Phylogenetics
GEN 491Undergraduate Seminar1
MICRO 302Biology of Microorganisms3
Total Credits29

B. Course required of majors in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences only

A minimum of 3 cr. of coursework in the area of environmental science from program approved list3
Total Credits3

2. Advanced Sciences Electives: 6 cr. from program approved list

A grade of C- or better is required in each course. No more than 3 cr. of GEN 490, 490R, 490H, 492, 496, 499, or 499H may be used to meet this requirement.

3. Mathematical Sciences

Complete at least one calculus course from MATH, minimum of 4 credits.4
Survey of Calculus
Calculus I
Calculus and Mathematical Modeling for the Life Sciences I
Complete at least one course from STAT, minimum of 3 credits.3-4
Principles of Statistics
Introduction to Statistics
Complete at least one additional course from MATH or STAT, minimum of 4 credits.4
Calculus II
Calculus and Mathematical Modeling for the Life Sciences II
Intermediate Statistical Concepts and Methods
Statistical Methods for Research Workers
Total Credits11-12

4. Supporting Sciences

CHEM 177General Chemistry I4
CHEM 177LLaboratory in General Chemistry I1
CHEM 178General Chemistry II3
CHEM 178LLaboratory in College Chemistry II1
CHEM 331Organic Chemistry I3
CHEM 331LLaboratory in Organic Chemistry I1
CHEM 332Organic Chemistry II3
CHEM 332LLaboratory in Organic Chemistry II1
PHYS 111General Physics5
or PHYS 221 Introduction to Classical Physics I
PHYS 112General Physics5
or PHYS 222 Introduction to Classical Physics II
Choose one of the following options6-7
Option 1
Biochemistry I
And one of the following:
Biochemistry II
Techniques in Biochemical Research
Quantitative and Environmental Analysis
and Quantitative and Environmental Analysis Laboratory
Chemical Thermodynamics
Option 2
Mammalian Biochemistry
And one of the following:
Techniques in Biochemical Research
Quantitative and Environmental Analysis
and Quantitative and Environmental Analysis Laboratory
Chemical Thermodynamics
Total Credits33-34

5. International Perspectives: 3 cr. from university approved list

This course can satisfy both the university requirement for International Perspectives and the college requirement for a General Education elective (item 8) if the selection appears on both lists of approved courses.

6. U.S. Diversity: 3 cr. from university approved list

This course can satisfy both the university requirement for U.S. Diversity and the college requirement for a General Education elective (item 8) if the selection appears on both lists of approved courses.

7. Communications/Library

A. Courses required of all Genetics majors

Grades of C or better are required in ENGL 150 and ENGL 250 and advanced writing.

ENGL 150Critical Thinking and Communication3
ENGL 250Written, Oral, Visual, and Electronic Composition3
or ENGL 250H Written, Oral, Visual, and Electronic Composition: Honors
LIB 160Information Literacy1
One advanced English writing course from program approved list3
Total Credits10

B. Course required of majors in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences only.

A grade of C or better is required by the college.

SP CM 212Fundamentals of Public Speaking3
or AGEDS 311 Presentation and Sales Strategies for Agricultural Audiences
Total Credits3

8. General Education electives

Courses from college approved lists that also appear on university approved lists of U.S. Diversity or International Perspectives courses can be used to satisfy both requirements.

A. College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Humanities course from college approved list3
Social Science course from college approved list3
Ethics course from college approved list3
Total Credits9

B. College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Humanities courses from college approved list; one of these should be a Science/Humanities bridge course from program approved list12
Social Science courses from college approved list9
Students must have completed 3 years of a single world language in high school or take 4-8 credits of World Languages at the university level.
Total Credits21

Undergraduate Minor

The minor in Genetics may be earned by completing the following courses.  At least 9 cr. must be used only to fulfill the requirements of the minor and not be applied to any other major, college, or university requirement.

GEN 313Principles of Genetics3
GEN 313LGenetics Laboratory1
BIOL 314Principles of Molecular Cell Biology3
GEN 410Analytical Genetics3
GEN 409Molecular Genetics3
Two or more additional credits in Genetics at the 300 level or above.2
Total Credits15

Genetics, B.S.

Freshman
FallCreditsSpringCredits 
ENGL 150 or 2503ENGL 250 or Humanities Choice3 
GEN 1101LIB 1601 
BIOL 2113BIOL 2123 
BIOL 211L1BIOL 212L1 
CHEM 1774CHEM 1783 
CHEM 177L1CHEM 178L1 
Math/Stat choice or Social Science choice3-4Math/Stat choice3-4 
 16-17 15-16
Sophomore
FallCreditsSpringCreditsSummerCredits
BIOL 3133Humanites Choice3Consider Intership, Study Abroad 
BIOL 313L1BIOL 3143 
CHEM 3313CHEM 3323 
CHEM 331L1CHEM 332L1 
Social Sciences Choice3MICRO 3023 
Math/Stat Choice*3-4Math/Stat Choice or Social Sciences*3 
 14-15 16 0
Junior
FallCreditsSpringCreditsSummerCredits
GEN 4093GEN 4103Consider Research with Faculty 
PHYS 1115PHYS 1125 
GEN 4901-5BIOL 3153 
U.S. Diversity/Social Sciences Choice3International Perspective/Humanity3 
ENGL 302-3163GEN 4911 
 15-19 15 0
Senior
FallCreditsSpringCredits 
GEN 4901-5GEN 4623 
Elective or STAT 4013Elective or STAT 4013 
Humanitiy/Social Bridge3BBMB 4053 
BBMB 4043Social Sciences Choice or Elective3 
Elective0-3Elective0-3 
 10-17 12-15
Total Credits: 113-130
*

STAT 401 is best taken as a senior.

Expand all courses

Courses

Courses primarily for undergraduates:

(1-0) Cr. 1. F.


This course is intended for first year students and others new to the genetics major. Discussion of university policies and resources, requirements of the major, career opportunities, and other topics related to the first year experience.

Cr. R. F.S.SS.

Prereq: Permission of department cooperative education coordinator; sophomore classification
Required of all cooperative education students. Students must register for this course prior to commencing each work period.

(Cross-listed with BIOL). (3-0) Cr. 3. F.S.SS.

Prereq: BIOL 211, BIOL 211L, BIOL 212, and BIOL 212L
Introduction to the principles of transmission and molecular genetics of plants, animals, and bacteria. Recombination, structure and replication of DNA, gene expression, cloning, quantitative and population genetics. Students may receive graduation credit for no more than one of the following: Gen 260, Gen 313 and 313L, Gen 320, Biol 313 and 313L, and Agron 320.

(Cross-listed with BIOL). (0-3) Cr. 1. F.S.

Prereq: Credit or enrollment in BIOL 313
Laboratory to accompany 313. Students may receive graduation credit for no more than one of the following: Biol 313 and 313L, Gen 260, Gen 313, Gen 320, and Agron 320.

(Cross-listed with AGRON). (3-0) Cr. 3. F.S.

Prereq: BIOL 212
Transmission genetics with an emphasis on applications in agriculture, the structure and expression of the gene, how genes behave in populations and how recombinant DNA technology can be used to improve agriculture. Credit for graduation will not be allowed for more than one of the following: Gen 260, 313, 320 and Biol 313 and 313L.

(Cross-listed with BCBIO, BIOL). (3-0) Cr. 3. F.

Prereq: BIOL 212
Genome sequencing, assembly, structural and functional annotation, and comparative genomics. Investigating these topics will develop skills in programming and scripting (Perl and/or Python), the use of biological databases, sequence alignment, homology search, identification of sequence patterns, construction of phylogenetic trees, and comparative genomics.

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.S.SS.

Prereq: BIOL 313 or GEN 313
Fundamental concepts and current issues of human genetics. Human chromosome analysis, pedigree analysis, gene mapping, the human genome project, sex determination, genetics of the immune system, genetics of cancer, gene therapy, the genetic basis of human diversity, eugenics.

(Cross-listed with BIOL, MICRO, V PTH). (2-0) Cr. 2. S.

Prereq: GEN 313 or GEN 320
Analysis of genome, RNA, and protein data using computer technology to answer biological questions on topics ranging from microbial diversity to human health. An introduction for students in the life sciences to the fields of genomics, bioinformatics and systems.

Cr. R. F.S.SS.

Prereq: Permission of department cooperative education coordinator; junior classification
Required of all cooperative education students. Students must register for this course prior to commencing each work period.

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.

Prereq: BIOL 313
The principles of molecular genetics: gene structure and function at the molecular level, including regulation of gene expression, genetic rearrangement, and the organization of genetic information in prokaryotes and eukaryotes.

(3-0) Cr. 3. S.

Prereq: GEN 409
The principles and practice of genetic analysis. Mendelian genetic analysis, mutational, transgenic, and genomic analysis of gene function, linkage and gene mapping, chromosomal aberrations, aneuploidy and polyploidy, extrachromosomal inheritance, analysis of genetic pathways.

(Cross-listed with BCB, BCBIO, BIOL, COM S, CPR E). (4-0) Cr. 4. F.

Prereq: MATH 165 or STAT 401 or equivalent.
Broad overview of bioinformatics with a significant problem-solving component, including hands-on practice using computational tools to solve a variety of biological problems. Topics include: bioinformatic data processing, Perl programming, genome assembly, database search, sequence alignment, gene prediction, next-generation sequencing, comparative and functional genomics, and systems biology.

(Cross-listed with BIOL). (3-0) Cr. 3. F.

Prereq: BIOL 315
The genetic basis of evolutionary processes in higher organisms. The role of genetic variation in adaptation, natural selection, adaptive processes, and the influence of random processes on evolutionary change.

Cr. 1-5. Repeatable, maximum of 9 credits.

Prereq: GEN 313, junior or senior classification, permission of instructor
Independent study in any area of genetics. Students may use no more than 9 credits of university-wide 490 credits (including Gen 490) toward the total of 120 credits required for graduation.

(1-0) Cr. 1. F.S.

Prereq: GEN 409
Communication within the discipline based on comprehension, discussion, presentation, and critical evaluation of original research literature; survey of career paths within the genetics disciplines and approaches to obtaining positions; exposure to research publication and grantsmanship processes; ethical issues in genetics research; outcomes assessment activities.

Cr. 1-2. Repeatable, maximum of 9 credits. F.S.

Prereq: GEN 313, junior or senior classification, permission of instructor
For students registering to be undergraduate laboratory assistants. Offered on a satisfactory-fail basis only. No more than 2 credits of GEN 490U or GEN 492 may be applied toward the Genetics advanced course requirement.

(1-0) Cr. 1-3. Repeatable, maximum of 3 credits. F.S.

Prereq: GEN 313; permission of instructor
Content varies from year to year. Genetics students may use no more than 9 credits of university-wide 490-499 credits toward the total of 120 credits required for graduation.

Cr. 1. Repeatable, maximum of 3 credits. F.S.

Prereq: GEN 313, junior or senior classification, permission of instructor
Attendance and critique of departmental seminars in BBMB, GDCB, or EEOB. Offered on a satisfactory-fail basis only. Genetics students may use no more than 9 credits of university-wide 490 - 499 credits toward the total of 120 credits required for graduation.

Cr. R. F.S.SS.

Prereq: Permission of department cooperative education coordinator; senior classification
Required of all cooperative education students. Students must register for this course prior to commencing each work period.

Cr. 1-5. Repeatable, maximum of 9 credits. F.S.SS.

Prereq: GEN 313, junior or senior classification, permission of instructor
Independent research in any area of genetics. Genetics students may use no more than 9 credits of university-wide 490-499 credits toward the total of 120 credits required for graduation.

Cr. 1-5. Repeatable, maximum of 9 credits. F.S.SS.

Prereq: GEN 313, junior or senior classification, permission of instructor
Independent research in any area of genetics; for Honors students only. Genetics students may use no more than 9 credits of university-wide 490-499 credits toward the total of 120 credits required for graduation.