Western Kentucky University

Biology

Biology (Emphasis in Biotechnology)

Biology is the study of life (Latin word: "Bios" = Life and "logos" = study of). But, what is Biotechnology? When we use life or living forms and cells ("Bio" = life) to create a technology to benefit mankind, it is termed biotechnology. To make bread, we use a fungus called yeast (the life form) and mix it in dough (a plant product) to make bread (better food) through a simple chemical reaction (chemistry) in an oven (an instrument created by engineers through principles of physics and mathematics). As a unique scientific discipline, you can see from this example that biotechnology is a combination of basic biology with applied technical aspects of basic physics, analytical chemistry, simple mathematics and computer science as related to life forms.

In the program at WKU-O, you will begin your curricula learning about the basic aspects of biology, biochemistry and biophysics, and then trace your academic journey through advanced courses and lab sessions in genetics, recombinant DNA technology, molecular biology, plant biotechnology, biochemistry, cell biology, microbiology and bioinformatics.

The opportunity to be exposed to cutting-edge biotechnology research presents itself at the Owensboro Centre for Business and Research that is a colloquium of various life science research labs and biotechnology companies in the form of a research incubator. Lecture and lab sessions at the WKU-O plant biology research lab located in the research incubator enable students to have direct access to modern research labs and have continued interactions with the research and business leaders within the research incubator.

The research incubator is part of an ambitious partnership of the Emerging Ventures Life Sciences research opportunity by the Greater Owensboro Economic and Development Council (GOEDC). At present, Dr. Chandra Emani, Assistant Professor of plant molecular biology in the WKU-O biology program has research projects at the incubator on utilizing sorghum plants for biofuels, basil plants for treating cancer and bamboo plants as non-human models to understand cancer disease with funding from the WKU Office of Research's Research and Creative Program (RCAP). He has undergraduate students with their own research grants under the auspices of WKU office of research's Faculty Undergraduate Student Exchange (FUSE) initiative. For more information, you can contact Dr. Chandra Emani at (270) 852-6406 or e-mail him at chandrakanth.emani@wku.edu to know more about the biology program and the research opportunities in his lab.

 

What are the career and academic opportunities that result from this major?

Biotechnology is a rapidly growing commercial and academic field, and at present United States is the world leader in research, development and commercialization of biotech products. Several entry-level and advanced positions are available for students majoring in the field are:

  • Research and Development: Lab assistant, Technician, Research Associate, Research assistant, Greenhouse Assistant, Plant Transformation Specialist, Plant Molecular Biologist
  • Quality Control: Quality control analyst, Environmental Health and Safety Specialist, Quality Assurance Auditor, Validation Technician
  • Clinical Research: Clinical coordinator, Biostatistician, Clinical data Specialist, Drug Experience Coordinator, Clinical Research Associate, Technical Writer
  • Manufacturing and Production: Product Planner Scheduler, Manufacturing Technician, Packaging Operator, Manufacturing Research Associate, Instrument Calibration Technician, Process Development Associate, Assay Analyst
  • Regulatory Affairs: Documentation Coordinator, Documentation Specialist
  • Information Systems: Bioinformaticist, Scientific Programmer Analyst, Science Library Assistant, Marketing and Sales, Market Research Analyst, Systems Analyst, Sales Representative, Customer Service Representative, Technical Service Representative
  • Administration: Technical Recruiter, Human Resources Representative, Patent Agent

 

Coursework

For a listing of the coursework for this program follow this link to the academic plan.

 

WKU-O Requirements

120 college-level undergraduate semester hours including the following:
- 39 semester hours of General Education, or General Education Certified/Associate or Arts/Science degree from KCTCS
- 42 semester hours of upper-division credit (300-400 level courses)
- 30 hours must be earned in residence (at WKU), at least 16 of which must be completed after the semester in which the student earned a cumulative total of at least 90 hours.

 

Internship

Internships and volunteering provide more for students than just networking, wages (if applicable) and work experience. These opportunities provide students a chance to take a career path for a "test drive." Internships and observations give students the opportunity to compare career expectations to work life reality and take control of making life decisions about their career. Please contact WKU-Owensboro Career Services at (270) 684-9797 for more information or email david.powers@wku.edu for an appointment.

 

 Last Modified 5/30/14