The Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Major 2012-13
The biochemistry and molecular biology major constitutes an integrated curriculum of basic instruction in biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics, followed by the opportunity to pursue advanced study in specialized areas of interest. In modern, well-equipped laboratories, distinguished faculty are engaged in frontline research. The Departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Molecular, Cell, and Developmental (MCD) Biology host a very active seminar series of national and international scholars in which advanced undergraduates are encouraged to participate.
Study and Research Opportunities
- Students are required to participate in at least one small upper-division research lab course focused on teaching valuable research skills that help prepare students for graduate school and careers in biotechnology.
- Opportunities for faculty-mentored research and independent study.
High School Preparation
In addition to completing the courses required for UC admission, high school students who intend to major in biochemistry and molecular biology should take courses in biology, chemistry, physics, and advanced mathematics (precalculus).
Junior transfer students who plan to major in biochemistry and molecular biology must complete the introductory requirements for the major prior to transfer, in particular a complete year of calculus, general and organic chemistry, introductory biology, and calculus-based physics. Students who transfer with the necessary preparation will be on track to enroll in the advanced degree requirements and have time in their senior year to take advantage of undergraduate research opportunities.
To declare the biochemistry and molecular biology major, transfer students must have completed courses equivalent to the following with a cumulative GPA of 2.50 or better:
- Chemistry 1B, General Chemistry
- Chemistry 1C, General Chemistry Biology 20A, Cell & Molecular Biology
- and one of the following calculus courses,
- Applied Mathematics & Statistics 15A, Case-study Calculus I
- Mathematics 11A, Calculus with Applications
- Mathematics 19A, Calculus for Science, Engineering, & Mathematics
California community college students should follow the prescribed course work in the UCSC transfer agreements available at assist.org. Students at other institutions should compare courses at their school with the degree requirements at undergrad.pbsci.ucsc.edu/programs/bioc/index.html and the UCSC General Catalog course descriptions to ensure courses will qualify for transfer.
The Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC) will not provide transfer students with enough mathematics and science courses to allow them to complete the program at UC Santa Cruz in two years. Prospective transfer students should visit the Physical and Biological Sciences Undergraduate Affairs web site for further information (see the More Information section).
- Biomedical engineering
- Cell biology
- Chemical manufacturing
- Clinical chemistry
- Environmental chemistry
- Genetic engineering
- Government regulation
- Medical research
- Medical technology
- Molecular biology
- Pharmaceutical research
- Public health
- Scientific writing
- Veterinary medicine
These are only samples of the field’s many possibilities.
Harry Noller, the Robert L. Sinsheimer Professor of Molecular Biology and director of the Center for Molecular Biology of RNA, is widely recognized for his studies of ribosomes. In 2003, he won the first Lifetime Achievement Award from the RNA Society. Manuel Ares, a professor of molecular, cell, and developmental biology, used a $1 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to form the Hughes Undergraduate Research Laboratory, which focuses on genomics.
Dr. Joseph DeRisi (B.A., biochemistry and molecular biology, ’92) is well known for his contributions in discovering the SARS virus. His breakthrough creation of a viral detection platform for malaria and other infectious diseases has helped advance biomedicine’s ability to detect both existing and new viruses and may contribute to a cure for malaria. In recognition of his contributions, Dr. DeRisi, who is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and professor of biochemistry at UCSF, won a MacArthur “genius” award grant in 2004 and a Heinz Award in 2008. Dr. DeRisi is also known for his commitment to free and open-access scientific publishing.
Program Planning Notes
Students who do not begin the lower-division requirements during their first year may have difficulty completing the program within four years. Transfer students must complete their introductory courses prior to transfer to enter the major at the junior level and allow time to complete the advanced requirements. Physical & Biological Sciences Undergraduate Affairs works closely with students interested in pursuing the major to insure that they begin the program immediately and follow the appropriate steps to completion.
It is strongly recommended that students avail themselves of the opportunities to obtain firsthand research experience through either faculty-mentored research or independent study. Students interested in participating in research should in their junior year meet with their adviser and/or the BMB director for help selecting a faculty mentor to sponsor their senior research and/or thesis.
Students have the following options for fulfilling the comprehensive requirement:
- by completing a senior thesis
- by completing a senior essay
- by receiving a passing grade in an independent research laboratory:
- BIOC 110L, Advanced Biochemistry Laboratory
- BIOL 100L, Advanced Biochemistry Lab
- BIOL 105L, Eukaryotic Genetics Lab
- BIOL 105M, Microbial Genetics Lab
- BIOL 109L, Yeast Molecular Genetics Lab
- BIOL 110L, Cell Biology Lab
- BIOL 115L, Eukaryotic Molecular Biology Lab
- BIOL 121L, Environmental Phage Biology Lab
- BIOL 186L, Undergraduate Research in MCD
- BIOL 187L, Molecular Biotechnology Laboratory
- BME 122, Environmental Virus Bioinformatics Lab
- METX 119L, Microbiology Lab;
- by achieving a graduate record examination (GRE) score at or above the 50th percentile on the biology subject test or the biochemistry, cell, and molecular biology subject test;
- by obtaining a medical college admission test (MCAT) score at or above the 50th percentile on the biological sciences section.
Physical and Biological Sciences
387 Thimann Labs
University of California, Santa Cruz
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, California 95064