UG Newsletter


Undergraduate Newsletter
Department of Biology
January 2020 Issue

Welcome back and all the best for 2020! We trust that you are recharged and ready for new endeavours.

This January issue starts off the winter term with important reminders and career-building opportunities.  There will be more in the coming months, so keep this newsletter in mind.  As always, we are here to help, so please let us know.

Don’t forget…. January 17, 2020 is the last date to add a winter term course and the last date to drop courses without financial penalty, the complete list of important dates can be found at:

Are you planning to graduate spring 2020?
Don’t forget to check your degree plan status, and add courses if needed.  The last date to add a winter term course is:  January 17, 2020 (   You also need to be aware of the GPA requirements for graduation, please see Academic Regulation 16: Requirements for Graduation - pages 33 and 34.

Summer Research Award Opportunity
NSERC Undergraduate Summer Research Awards (USRA): Canada’s Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) underwrites these prestigious awards to stimulate student interest in research and to help cultivate tomorrow’s scientists. USRAs involve independent research and are taken up in NSERC-funded laboratories.  The awarding of USRAs is carried out internally through Queen’s Biology.  Requirements can be found at:

Process:    The selection process normally involves a combination of GPA and a statement on your interest in research.  You are welcome to discuss possible opportunities for supervision of summer research projects with Biology faculty members ahead of time and you should be aware that faculty members are under no obligation to make any promises to students until students have been nominated. Do not fill out the official NSERC application form until you are asked to complete it (you will only be asked if your application is successful - nominations will be made early to mid-February.  You will find a listing of biology faculty and their research interests at

Supervisor Eligibility:   The holder of a USRA must normally be supervised by a biology faculty member who holds an NSERC grant, either at the time of application or when the student holds the award.  

Application deadline: Completed Internal Application Forms (Part 1) must be submitted electronically to Julie French ( by 3:00 pm, January 17, 2020.  Successful candidates will be notified during the week of February 3rd (2020).  At the February 3rd stage, successful candidates will need to secure a supervisor and complete Part 2 of the Internal Application Form (which will be sent out with nomination letters) and the official NSERC application form by 3:00 pm March 2, 2020.

Are you going into 4th year 2020-21? Wondering about BIOL 537 and BIOL 500 courses?
We are in the process of setting up an information session in the new year.  Details will follow in an e-mail to all BIOL 3rd year students.  Save the date - February 4, 2020, from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm in Lecture Room 1103 Bioscience Complex.

Biology Field Courses – check these out!
Each year the Department of Biology offers several field courses spanning an incredible diversity of themes including winter ecology, ecology of amphibians and reptiles, lake ecology, avian communication, environmental impacts on aquatic ecosystems, and ecotoxicology. Field courses offer small class size with opportunities to travel across the globe, from the Queen's University Biological Station, just 50 km north of campus, to China, Mexico, Tanzania, and beyond. 

Field courses are numbered BIOL307/317/327 and are offered at various times of the year, primarily during the spring and summer, and also a few during the winter. These courses typically last 1-2 weeks and are led by various Queen's Biology faculty as well as our colleagues at Universities across Ontario, through the Ontario Universities Program for Field Biology (OUPFB) and other programs.  For more information and the application process please visit:

The Gray Family Student Initiatives Fund (GFSIF)
This Fund was established though a gift to Queen’s University by Gordon Gray, BCom’50 in January 2004.  The GFSIF was established to "provide annual support to any Arts and Science student, or group of students, who would like to write a report, attend a conference, do non-profit work, or other initiatives in the area of preservation of wildlife species.”.  The grant guidelines stipulate that “Grants are meant to enable students to participate in non-credit opportunities that will provide them with meaningful lessons realized by working with others in helping conserve wildlife.”.    

For the upcoming fiscal year (May 2020 to April 2021), we invite undergraduate students to apply to the GFSIF by submitting an application (up to two pages) with the following information: i) a description of their initiative; ii) how their initiative speaks to the intent of the grant; and iii) a budget outlining the amount requested.  An awards committee, with representation from at least three departments/schools within the Faculty of Arts and Science, will rank the proposals and suggest fund allocations, which will then be forward to the Dean of Arts and Science for approval.  Once approved by the Dean, the successful applicants will be notified in early March.

Please submit complete applications as a single PDF file to Brian Cumming, Department Head - Biology ( by February 14, 2020.

Wondering who to speak to regarding lab work?
For your convenience, here are the first contact email addresses for the listed core courses.

BIOL 102:
BIOL 103:
BIOL 200:
BIOL 205 and 206: and
BIOL 212:
BIOL 300:  Laura Nagel (

Program Associates for core courses
BIOL 102:  Barb Vanderbeld ( Rm: Biosci 2321B
BIOL 103:  Laura Nagel ( Rm. Biosci 2322A
BIOL 200:  Anna Rooke ( Rm. 2321A
BIOL 205 and 206: Fern Gauthier ( Rm: Biosci 3321
BIOL 212:  Barb Vanderbeld (, Fern Gauthier (, Anna Rooke (
BIOL 300:  Laura Nagel ( Rm: Biosci 2322A

Co-ordinator-Professors for core courses
BIOL 102:  W. Snedden
BIOL 103:  A. Chippindale
BIOL 200:  P. Grogan
BIOL 205:  I. Chin-Sang
BIOL 206:  J. Friedman
BIOL 212:  C. Moyes
BIOL 300:  P. Martin

Biology Degree Plans
Review your degree plan requirements and make sure you are selecting courses you need.  Degree plan requirements can be found at:

Biological Foundations List - IMPORTANT!
It is very important to keep this GPA requirement in mind throughout your program, starting with first year.  To be admitted to 400 and 500 level Biology courses, you will need a minimum GPA of 2.0 in any previously taken courses from Biological Foundations list.

The Biological Foundations List is BIOL 102, 103, 200, 212, (201, 202), 205, 206, 300, 330, 334, 339, and 341 (BIOL 302, 303).  

To be admitted to BIOL 400 and 500 level Biology courses you will need a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 in any previously taken courses from this list.

Helpful Links
Academic Resources - Study Skills & Habits:
Looking for a job?  Quick Link
Looking for study and travel opportunitiesQuick Link
Information on Applying for a Course Prerequisite Waiver
Arts and Science Academic Deadlines
Arts and Science Calendar
Frequently Asked Questions

QUBS Quick Links

Looking for a job?  Quick Link
Looking for study and travel opportunitiesQuick Link

BIOLOGY Undergraduate Office
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I've spent more time than many will believe [making microscopic observations], but I've done them with joy, and I've taken no notice those who have said why take so much trouble and what good is it?

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek

It's a parts list... If I gave you the parts list for the Boeing 777 and it had 100,000 parts, I don't think you could screw it together and you certainly wouldn't understand why it flew

Eric Lander

What is true for E. coli is also true for the elephant

Jacques Monod

The world becomes full of organisms that have what it takes to become ancestors. That, in a sentence, is Darwinism

Richard Dawkins

Shall we conjecture that one and the same kind of living filaments is and has been the cause of all organic life?

Erasmus Darwin

Nature proceeds little by little from things lifeless to animal life in such a way that it's impossible to determine the line of demarcation


Cells let us walk, talk, think, make love, and realize the bath water is cold

Lorraine Lee Cudmore

In the distant future I see open fields for far more important researches. Psychology will be based on a new foundation, that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation. Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history

Charles Darwin

It is my belief that the basic knowledge that we're providing to the world will have a profound impact on the human condition and the treatments for disease and our view of our place on the biological continuum

J. Craig Venter

Imagine a house coming together spontaneously from all the information contained in the bricks: that is how animal bodies are made

Neil Shubin

A grain in the balance will determine which individual shall live and which shall die - which variety or species shall increase in number, and which shall decrease, or finally become extinct

Charles Darwin

The stuff of life turned out to be not a quivering, glowing, wondrous gel but a contraption of tiny jigs, springs, hinges, rods, sheets, magnets, zippers, and trapdoors, assembled by a data tape whose information is copied, downloaded and scanned

Steven Pinker

We wish to discuss a structure for the salt of deoxyribose nucleic acid. (D.N.A.). This structure has novel features which are of considerable biologic interest

Rosalind Franklin

We are biology. We are reminded of this at the beginning and the end, at birth and at death. In between we do what we can to forget

Mary Roach

The systems approach to biology will be the dominant theme in medicine

Leroy Hood

I've always been interested in animal behavior, and I keep reading about it because it's so surprising all the time - so many things are happening around us that we neglect to look at. Part of the passion I have for biology is based on this wonderment"

Isabella Rossellini

Because all of biology is connected, one can often make a breakthrough with an organism that exaggerates a particular phenomenon, and later explore the generality

Thomas Cech

Nothing in Biology makes sense except in the light of evolution

Theodosius Dobzhansky

Biology is now bigger than physics, as measured by the size of budgets, by the size of the workforce, or by the output of major discoveries; and biology is likely to remain the biggest part of science through the twenty-first century

- Freeman Dyson

Nothing can be more incorrect than the assumption one sometimes meets with, that physics has one method, chemistry another, and biology a third

- Thomas Huxley