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Biological/Pre-Medical Illustration

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The interdepartmental undergraduate BPM I major is designed for students who want to combine their interests and aptitudes in science and art. Based on the theme of "communicating science through art," the major prepares students for careers in biological illustration or for graduate education in medical illustration elsewhere. Graduates enter fields such as biocommunications, environmental display design, free-lance illustration, museum display design, and various careers in the publishing industry.

Entrance into the BPM I program is by application to the BPM I Advisory Committee. Eligibility is based on an academic standard of at least 2.00 CGPA on 30 credits of university level work and a consideration of artistic ability as demonstrated through submission of a portfolio of representative drawings or other art work. Freshman and transfer students usually declare pre-BPM I as their major while satisfying the conditions for entrance into the major, although other majors can be declared.

The information below outlines the specific requirements for a BA degree in Biological/Pre-Medical Illustration (BPM I). There are four components to a degree in BPM I:

  • Liberal arts general education
  • Science core and advanced courses
  • Art core and advanced courses
  • Electives

Part 1. College Requirements

a. Communication Proficiency Requirements

ENGL 150Critical Thinking and Communication (grade of C or better)3
ENGL 250Written, Oral, Visual, and Electronic Composition (grade of C or better)3
LIB 160Information Literacy1
Choose one course from the following:3
Business Communication
Creative Writing: Playwriting
Two semesters of college-level world language0-8
Students with 3 years in high school world language are exempt
Total Credits10-18

B. Liberal Arts and Sciences Requirements*

Arts and Humanities **12
Natural Sciences and Mathematical Disciplines
MATH 104Introduction to Probability3-4
or MATH 165 Calculus I
or STAT 101 Principles of Statistics
or STAT 104 Introduction to Statistics
or more advanced
CHEM 163
College Chemistry
and Laboratory in College Chemistry
or CHEM 177
General Chemistry I
and Laboratory in General Chemistry I
CHEM 231
Elementary Organic Chemistry
and Laboratory in Elementary Organic Chemistry
Social Sciences ***9
Total Credits33-34

Part 2. Course Requirements for Major in BPM I (continued in Part 3)

A. Biological Sciences Core

LAS 293DSpecial Projects: General (F.)1
or LAS 101 Orientation for Open Option and Preprofessional Students
BIOL 211
Principles of Biology I
and Principles of Biology Laboratory I (F.S.)
BIOL 212
Principles of Biology II
and Principles of Biology Laboratory II (F.S.)
BIOL 255Fundamentals of Human Anatomy (F.)3
BIOL 256Fundamentals of Human Physiology (S.)3
BIOL 351Comparative Chordate Anatomy (S.)5
BIOL 356Dendrology3-4
or BIOL 366 Plant Systematics
or BIOL 454 Plant Anatomy
Total Credits23-24

B. Art Core

DSN S 131Drawing I (F.S.)4
ARTIS 230Drawing II (F.S.)3
ARTIS 233Watercolor Painting (F.S.)3
ARTIS 308Computer Modeling, Rendering and Virtual Photography (F.S.)3
ARTIS 330Drawing III: Life Drawing (F.S.)3
BPM I 323Scientific Illustration Principles and Techniques (F.)3
BPM I 326Illustration and Illustration Software (S.)3
BPM I 327Illustration as Communication (F.)3
BPM I 337Application of Scientific Illustration Techniques (S.)3
BPM I 497Illustration Internship1
Total Credits29

Beyond the core preparation, students must take 9 credits in the advanced science area and 12 credits in the advanced art area. The courses acceptable in these areas follow. Other courses in art and biological science may be acceptable. See BPM I advisers and/or the BPM I Advisory Committee.

C. Advanced Art Area

Select 12 total credits from below. At least 6 credits must be studio classes.
Pre-Med Illustration Area
ARCH 335Three-Dimensional Studio3
ARTIS 330Drawing III: Life Drawing3
ARTIS 408Principles of 3D Animation3
ARTIS 430Drawing IV (F.S.)3
BPM I 323Scientific Illustration Principles and Techniques3
BPM I 326Illustration and Illustration Software3
BPM I 337Application of Scientific Illustration Techniques3
BPM I 490Independent Study1-3
BPM I 491Portfolio Design and Professional Development (S.)2
BPM I 494Special Topics in Illustration1-3
General Art Area
ARTIS 213Studio Fundamentals: Painting (F.S.)2
ARTIS 227Introduction to Creative Digital Photography3
ARTIS 238Painting I (F.S.)3
ARTIS 329Creative Photography3
ARTIS 338Painting II3
ARTIS 407Principles of 3D Character Animation3
ARTIS 409Computer/Video Game Design and Development3
ARTIS 438Painting III (F.S.)3
BPM I 395Field Illustration (S.SS.)1-3
JL MC 306Broadcast Media Production (F.S.)3
JL MC 315Digital Storytelling (F.S.)3

D. Advanced Science Area

Select 9 credits total from below.
Pre-Med Illustration Science Area - required/recommended courses by most graduate schools
BBMB 316Principles of Biochemistry (F.)3
BIOL 313Principles of Genetics (F.S.SS.)3
BIOL 314Principles of Molecular Cell Biology (F.S.)3
BIOL 335Principles of Human and Other Animal Physiology (S.)3
BIOL 352Vertebrate Histology (S.)4
BIOL 423Developmental Biology (S.)3
B M S 329Anatomy and Physiology of Domestic Animals (S.)3
B M S 448Principles of Human Gross Anatomy (S.)4
GEN 340Human Genetics (F.S.SS.)3
General Science Area
A ECL 321Fish Biology (S.)3
A ECL 366Natural History of Iowa Vertebrates (S.)3
A ECL 457Herpetology (F.)2
A ECL 458Ornithology (S.)2
A ECL 459Mammalogy (S.)2
ANTHR 307Biological Anthropology (S.)3
ANTHR 319Skeletal Biology (F.)3
ANTHR 424Forensic Anthropology (S.)3
BBMB 301Survey of Biochemistry (S.SS.)3
BIOL 312Ecology (F.SS. )4
BIOL 313LGenetics Laboratory (F.S.)1
BIOL 315Biological Evolution (F.S.)3
BIOL 328Molecular and Cellular Biology of Human Diseases (F.)3
BIOL 336Ecological and Evolutionary Animal Physiology3
BIOL 350Comprehensive Human Anatomy (F.)4
BIOL 353Introductory Parasitology (S.)3
BIOL 354Animal Behavior (F.)3
BIOL 355Plants and People (S.)3
BIOL 356Dendrology (F.)3
BIOL 364Invertebrate Biology (F)3-4
BIOL 365Vertebrate Biology (F.)4
BIOL 366Plant Systematics (S.)4
BIOL 393North American Field Trips in Biology1-4
BIOL 394International Field Trips in Biology1-4
BIOL 402Introduction to Pathology (F.)3
BIOL 430Principles of Plant Physiology3
BIOL 436Neurobiology (F.)3
BIOL 454Plant Anatomy (F.)4
BIOL 455Bryophyte and Lichen Biodiversity3
BIOL 456Principles of Mycology (F.)3
BIOL 474Plant Ecology (S.)3
BIOL 488Identification of Aquatic Organisms (F.S.)1
BPM I 395Field Illustration (S.SS.)1-3
ENT 370Insect Biology (F.)3
ENT 374Insects and Our Health (S.)3
MICRO 302Biology of Microorganisms (F.S.SS.)3
MICRO 302LMicrobiology Laboratory (F.S.)1
MICRO 310Medical Microbiology (F.)3
NREM 301Natural Resource Ecology and Soils (F.)4
NREM 330Principles of Interpretation (S.)3
PSYCH 310Brain and Behavior (F.S.)3
V PTH 401Basics of Medical Terminology (F.)1

A minor in biological illustration is offered. A minimum of 17 credits must be taken, including 8 credits in biological science courses and 9 credits in art and design courses. The minor must include at least 9 credits that are not used to meet any other department, college, or university requirement.

The biological sciences must include:

BIOL 211Principles of Biology I3
BIOL 211LPrinciples of Biology Laboratory I1
BIOL 212Principles of Biology II3
BIOL 212LPrinciples of Biology Laboratory II1

The art and design courses must include:

BPM I 323Scientific Illustration Principles and Techniques3
BPM I 337Application of Scientific Illustration Techniques3
Advanced drawing, illustration, electronic media or painting course3

For more information, contact the BPM I adviser in 102 Catt Hall or view the website listed above.

Biological/Pre-Medical Illustration, B.A.
120 minimum credits required.

LAS 1011LIB 1601 
ENGL 1503Humanities3 
CHEM 1634BIOL 2123 
CHEM 163L1BIOL 212L1 
BIOL 2113ARTIS 2303 
BIOL 211L1Soc Sci Choice3 
DSN S 1314CHEM 231.231L or STAT or MATH3-4 
 17 17-18
Foreign Lang. or Humanities (ART 280)3-4For Lang or Social Sci3-4Consider study abroad or attending summer GNSI Workshops or a Biological Station to take advanced Biology Courses 
CHEM 231/231L or STAT or MATH3-4BPM I 3263 
BPM I 3233ARTIS 3303 
ENGL 2503Humanities3 
BIOL 2553BIOL 2563 
 15-17 15-16 0
BPM I 3273BPM I 3373 
Advanced Biology 3-4BIOL 3515 
ARTIS 3083Soc Sci3 
Humanities or Social Sci3ARTIS 2333 
Advanced Biology or Art or plant science3Humanities and Advanced Art3 
Work with BPMI advisory committee to plan senior project for portfolio   
If planning to attend graduate school, take GRE in Fall and prepare up to 20 portfolio pieces for submission in January   
 15-16 17
Advanced Biology3-5Advanced Biology3-4 
Advanced Art3-6Advanced Art3-6 
Humanities/Social Elective3Humanities/Social Sci/Elective3-6 
BPMI 4971ENGL 302-3163 
 12-17 12-19

Expand all courses


Courses primarily for undergraduates:

(Cross-listed with ARTIS). (0-6) Cr. 3. Repeatable.

Prereq: DSN S 131, ARTIS 230, or equivalent, and 3 credits in biological sciences; or permission of the instructor
Studio basics and professional techniques in black & white, continuous tone, and color. Introduction to professional practice and principles of communicating science through art. Emphasis on tools, materials, and rendering.

(Cross-listed with ARTIS). (0-6) Cr. 3. Repeatable.

Prereq: ARTIS 323/BPM I 323, or permission of the instructor
An introduction to digital illustration software. Application of painting, drawing and image making techniques using vector and raster based programs.

(Cross-listed with ARTIS). (0-6) Cr. 3.

Prereq: ARTIS 326/BPM I 326, or permission of the instructor
Investigation of illustration as a form of communication. Emphasis on problem solving, effective composition, and advancement of rendering skills.

(Cross-listed with ARTIS). (0-6) Cr. 3. Repeatable, maximum of 6 credits. S.

Prereq: ARTIS 327
Rendering techniques applied to different types of biological and scientific subjects emphasizing communication. The use of traditional and digital media. Term project required.

Cr. 1-3. Repeatable, maximum of 6 credits. S.SS.

Prereq: Permission of instructor
A combination seminar and field trip course emphasizing nature interpretation, field sketching techniques and preparation of a final illustration based on field experience.

Cr. R. F.S.SS.

Prereq: Permission of the program cooperative education coordinator, junior classification
Required of all cooperative education students. Students must register for these courses prior to commencing each work period.

(Cross-listed with IA LL). Cr. 2. SS.

Sketching plants, animals and terrain. Visual communication, development of a personal style, and integration of typographic and visual elements on a page will be emphasized.

(Cross-listed with IA LL). Cr. 2. SS.

Beginning to intermediate technical and compositional aspects of color photography of natural areas and their plants and animals.

Cr. 1-3. Repeatable, maximum of 3 credits.

Prereq: Written approval of instructor and advisory committee chair on required form in advance of semester of enrollment

Cr. 2. S.

Prereq: BPMI 337, junior or senior classification in the BPMI curriculum.
Portfolio and professional preparation including identity package development, writing and speaking. Career-readiness, professional practice, leadership, networking, exploring research subfields within scientific visualization. Creating print and digital visual materials, learning approaches for entering the field, and developing business practice skills. Final portfolio materials presented at the end of the term.

Cr. 1-3. Repeatable.

Intensive exploration of illustration techniques in a studio or field setting.

Cr. 1-6. Repeatable, maximum of 6 credits.

Prereq: Junior or senior classification in BPM I, written approval of supervising instructor and advisory committee chair on required form in advance of semester of enrollment
Offered on a satisfactory-fail basis only.