Biological Sciences

About the Department

 The Department of Biological Sciences is the largest and one of the most diverse on campus in terms of the research interests of its academic staff. This diversity has resulted in numerous collaborations among PIs as they discover common themes and approaches within their research programs. The Department currently has over 70 professors, 20 adjunct professors and 20 professors emeritus, along with a graduate student population of nearly 300 and 70 departmental support staff. Over 95% of the academic staff in the Department have NSERC or CIHR funding, with the average grant monies being in excess of $200,000 per investigator.

Our Research

Research in our department spans a wide range of themes in biology, including:

At the Executive level, the Associate Chair for Research administers the facilities and personnel in the Department along with an administrative secretary who deals with grant and contract applications.

This size and breadth of research interests has allowed the Department to build world-class facilities that would be difficult to maintain by a smaller unit. The Department has facilities for terrestrial, freshwater and marine field research at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre on the west coast of Vancouver Island. It has extensive collections in plants (Vascular Plant Herbarium), bryophytes (Cryptogamic Herbarium), vertebrates both current (Zoology Museum) and extinct (Laboratory for Vertebrate Paleontology) and insects (Strickland Museum) and provides excellent facilities, complete with support staff, in the FACS facility,Drosophila Unit, Limnology lab, Molecular Biology Service Unit, Biological Sciences Microscopy Unit, Low-Level Mercury Analytical Laboratory, Geographic Information Systems, Digital Teaching Resources Laboratory, and the Fermentation and Protein Production Unit, as well as a comprehensive facility (the Biotron) that supplies and maintains growth chambers for plants, animals, and microbes. The Department also has an extensive aquatic facility for freshwater and marine organisms under the auspices of Biological Sciences Animal Services.

Our Undergraduate Program

The Department of Biological Sciences offers more than 100 courses to undergraduate students with areas of concentration in Animal Biology, Cell Biotechnology, Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, Microbiology, Molecular Genetics, Physiology and Developmental Biology, and Plant Biology. These areas of concentration may be pursued through either an honors or specialization program within the Department. In collaboration with other departments, we also offer honors and specialization programs in Bioinformatics, Cell Biology, Immunology and Infection, Marine Science, and Paleontology. General program students in the Faculty of Science may choose from our rich selection of courses to pursue a major in biology.

Visit our undergraduate program website for more information

Our Graduate Program

The Department of Biological Sciences is one of the largest and most scientifically diverse departments of its kind in Canada. Six Research Interest Groups with overlapping memberships (Ecology, Microbiology and Biotechnology, Molecular Biology and Genetics, Physiology and Cell Biology, Plant Biology, and Systematics and Evolution) provide expertise in all areas of biological sciences. We offer research-orientated, thesis-based graduate programs at both the MSc and PhD levels. Study programs are tailored individually to graduate student needs and emphasize interdisciplinary thinking. All students accepted into our MSc and PhD programs have guaranteed funding for 3 and 5 years, at rates of ~CDN$18,500 and ~CDN$19,100, respectively. Teaching training is provided and is mandatory for all students on graduate teaching assistantships. With ~270 graduate students, >70 full-time faculty, excellent support facilities and ample research funding (totaling more than CDN$16 million in 2003), a vibrant and exciting learning environment is provided. Our students are highly productive (averaging 1.3 and 5.6 thesis-related refereed publications for MSc and PhD, respectively). They are also very successful in obtaining major scholarships and awards during their graduate programs (50 new major scholarships won in 2003), and have successful careers following graduation. Please explore our graduate program website further if you are interested in joining our graduate research experience.

Visit our graduate program website for more information