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Biology is the scientific study of living organisms. The disciplines range from studying the structure of biomolecules to the interaction of species with their environment.

The biology major at Holy Cross is designed to be flexible in meeting the needs and interests of students. The degree prepares students well for further education in master’s, doctoral, and professional programs. Students are introduced to the discipline in the two-semester introductory course, Principles of Biology. Beyond that students are encouraged to select across the breadth of the discipline from ecological aspects to molecular/cellular aspects. Supporting the biology courses are course in general chemistry, calculus and physics. All students are encouraged to seek an undergraduate research experience to supplement their coursework.


Program Focus

biology.labAt Holy Cross College, biology majors will experience biology within a Catholic educational environment. Coursework exposes students to core training in the sciences and mathematics, while integrating the curriculum within a liberal arts context. Courses are taught from an evolutionary perspective, which explains the unity and the diversity of life.

Depending upon the students’ interests and goals they may be advised to take supporting courses in chemistry, physics, biotechnology, or computers science. Biology majors interested in medical school will be advised to take the supporting courses: CHEM 212 (Organic Chemistry II), BIOL 256 (Anatomy and Physiology II), BIOL 308 (Molecular Biology), BIOL/CHEM 420 (Biochemistry) in addition to PHYS 152 (Physics II). Biology majors interested in areas of general biology will be advised to take BIOL 211 (Botany), BIOL 315 (Ecology) and BIOL 461 (Molecular Biotechnology Techniques).

Science students could easily achieve a minor in biotechnology or computer science to couple this broad training to additional areas of interests relevant to postgraduate studies or careers in the biological sciences. Non-science majors could easily obtain a minor in biology to complement their educational background and credentials. Those entering the biology field directly may work in natural resources, pharmaceutical industries, biotechnology, environmental testing and management, clinical laboratories, animal care and research, and many others.

Students will have the opportunity to diversify their biology education by being part of the tri-campus community of Holy Cross College, Saint Mary’s College and the University of Notre Dame. Students at Holy Cross are able to enroll in courses at the Notre Dame through the ND Co-Exchange Program as well as Saint Mary’s College via the Northern Indiana Consortium for Education (N.I.C.E.). Through these programs, students can experience the rich academic environment of the Notre Dame tri-campus community while attaining a personalized education at Holy Cross College.

Major Requirements

Sample of Classes Required In Major

Required Courses Must take all of the following: Credits
BIOL 151 Principles of Biology I: Ecology, Evolution, and Biodiversity (plus lab) 4
BIOL 209 Genetics (plus lab) 4
BIOL 255 Human Anatomy & Physiology (plus lab) 4
BIOL 312 Microbiology (plus lab) 4
BIOL 409 Biology Research/Independent Study 3
CHEM 151 Principles of Chemistry I (plus lab) 4
CHEM 152 Principles of Chemistry II (plus lab) 4
CHEM 211 Organic Chemistry I (plus lab) 4
MATH 210 Statistics & Probability 3
MATH 151 Calculus I for Science 4
PHYS 151 Physics for Science, Medicine, and Engineering I (plus lab) 4
IDST 400 Biology Internship 3
IDST 499 Biology Capstone 3
Must also take 19 biology elective credits.
Must also take 6 elective chemistry, computer science, and physics credits.
Must also take 8 open elective credits.
Must also take 37 core curriculum credits.
Total required for major 120

Minor Requirements

Sample of Classes Required In Minor

Required Courses Must take all of the following: Credits
BIOL 151 Principles of Biology I: Ecology, Evolution, and Biodiversity (plus lab) 4
BIOL 152 Principles of Biology II: Cell and Molecular (plus lab) 4
CHEM 151 Principles of Chemistry (plus lab) 4
Must take at least 10 credits of the following:
BIOL 209 Genetics (plus lab) 4
BIOL 211 Botany (plus lab) 4
BIOL 255 Human Anatomy & Physiology (plus lab) 4
BIOL 308 Molecular Cell Biology 3
BIOL 312 Microbiology (plus lab) 4
BIOL 315 Ecology (plus lab) 4
IDST 400 Biology Internship 3
IDST 409 Biology Research/Independent Study 3
Total required for minor 22

Biology-Health Profession

If the student’s goal is to obtain admission to professional school after completion of the bachelor’s degree, the advisor will work with the student to optimize the program of study so that both the bachelor’s degree is completed as well as the needed coursework for admission to the student’s program(s) of interest. Four year plans will consider what courses should be prioritized before national standardized admissions exams are taken after the junior year. Depending on career goals, exams may include the MCAT, DAT, GRE, LSAT, or others.

All pre-medical and pre-dental students need pre-calculus algebra and trigonometry knowledge. Some medical schools (5 of the 142 MD schools) and dental schools (3 of the 66 dental schools) require Calculus I, but most do not. Almost all optometry schools (18 of the 21 OD schools) do require calculus, and pharmacy schools do too. Typically, only biochemistry, chemistry, energy science, math, and physics majors will need more than one semester of calculus. Statistics and Probability (Math 210) is recommended for students planning on taking the MCAT. Students interested in working in a bioscience, forensic science laboratory or attending graduate school in Genetics, Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, Biology, or Chemistry should consider taking Bioinformatics (BIOL 235) and Molecular Biotechnology Techniques (BIOL 461).

Visit our Health Professions page to learn more about specific classes Holy Cross offers.


br jesus 2
Br. Jesus Alonso, C.S.C., Ph.D.
Chair, Division of Natural Sciences
Vice President for Strategic Initiatives

While at St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX, I was awarded a Presidential Award in my last year as an undergraduate. I have a doctorate in microbiology, and I have worked with Ebola and Marburg viruses as a researcher at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute in San Antonio, TX, under the direction of Jean L. Patterson. In 2013, I published two peer-reviewed articles on my virus research.

When working with students, my main goal is to challenge them to become problem solvers. Facts in all fields of study are in continuous evolution, and students therefore must understand that texts provide the basis for future discovery. As an educator, I require my students to think about contemporary challenges in science which in turn would help them understand how they too can become contributors to scientific thought and understanding.

Lynne Csiszar-Cary, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biology

Br. Lawrence Unfried, C.S.C., M.S.
Adjunct Professor of Biology

Martin Sulkanen
Martin Sulkanen, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Physics

My Ph.D. in physics from Cornell University led me to a post-doctoral fellowship at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and a career in astrophysics with companies and organizations such as NASA Marshall Flight Center, Michigan Research and Development Center, and Leidos, Inc. Because of my lifelong fascination with the profound consequences of the basic principles of physics on our universe, I have studied binary star systems, galactic radio jets, and worked on NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory Project Science Team.

As a professor of physics and mathematics, I encourage my students to develop an intuitive understanding for physics to guide the understanding of further mathematical analysis: “don’t get lost in the equations!” My students have gone on to a variety of careers in places such as at Yale University, the International Space Station and the the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Yuhui Lu
Yuhui Lu, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Chemistry

The study of chemistry is necessary for students who want to pursue a career in natural science, medical science, and engineering. It also helps liberal art students to improve their reasoning skills, understand scientific methodology, and gain deeper insight between human-nature relationships. I challenge all my students, regardless of background, to engage in logic, diligence, and self-discipline.

I have earned Ph.D.s in both chemistry and electrical engineering. I use this combination of disciplines to research nanoelectronics and single molecular devices with colleagues at the University of Notre Dame. I have also been a principal investigator of grants with the National Science Foundation, and undergraduate research supervisor. I am currently pursuing a variety of research opportunities for Holy Cross students.

Robert Minvielle, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Computer Science

The landscape of education is changing, especially in the ever-evolving field of computer science. Students require an education that fosters flexibility, growth and adaptation. I believe pursuing a degree in computer science is an excellent way to hone the skills to become an active and productive member of an increasingly technological society. Tempered by the Catholic mission, I hope to inspire students to use their skills in dialogue with the tenets of service.

I have earned degrees in both physics and computer science, and I earned my Ph.D. in computer engineering. My education has led me to a variety of experiences, including authoring open source software, designing and building power amplifiers for musical instruments, and organizing the implementation of entire computing infrastructures. Having a diverse education equates to a willingness to step outside of the box and be curious, and students’ curiosity should be nurtured to better prepare them for challenges they will encounter in the working world.

Elvira Baumgartner, M.S.

Mary Merrill, M.A.
Assistant Professor of Mathematics

Department Contact

Lynne Csiszar-Cary, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biology
(574) 239-8409