UG Newsletter

Undergraduate Newsletter
Department of Biology
December 2018 Issue

On behalf of all in Biology, Julie and Ken wish you the best for the December 2018 exam period and beyond!  December is undoubtedly a stressful time of the year, so keep basic stress-busters in mind - sleep well, eat well, manage your time appropriately, and talk to others.  We are always here if you need to chat about various things.  

This year-end December issue is also a forward looking issue with career-building endeavours to consider for 2019.  Check them out and let us know if you need guidance or further information.

Follow us on our new MeWe BIOLOGY UNDERGRADUATE OFFICE network!

You can follow us on matters related to your studies and careers, either on your computer and/or using the MeWe app!

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.”.    

In the upcoming fiscal year (May 2019 to April 2020) the amount available from this endowed account is $16,000 .  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 Feb 15th, 2019.

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.    The 2019 process will begin mid-December to early January.  An e-mail will be sent to let you when the forms become available.  In the meantime, 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.  

Are you going into 4th year 2019-20…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 the next newsletter and will also be sent out to all BIOL 3rd year students via an e-mail.  Tentative date is Feb 4th 5:30pm to 7:30pm….but we will confirm in January.

Did you know?  
In order to encourage students to explore subject matter outside their program of study and to promote interdisciplinary study, all upper-year Arts and Science students will be permitted to designate up to 6.0 units of degree-credit courses for pass/fail grading, thereby minimizing any risk to the students’ GPA.  Such courses designated for pass/fail grading will be referred to as Personal Interest Credits (PICs).

Wondering who to speak to regarding lab work?
Here is the list of core course lab program associates (lab managers)

BIOL 102 and 103:  Barb Vanderbeld ( Rm: Biosci 2321B

BIOL 201:  Dale Kristensen (  Rm: Biosci 5603

BIOL 202 and 300:  Laura Nagel ( Rm: Biosci 2321A

BIOL 205 and 206: Fern Gauthier ( Rm: Biosci 3321

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!
The Biological Foundations List is BIOL 102, 103, 201, 202, 205, 206, 300, 330, 334, 339, 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

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

July 2018 Newsletter
Aug 2018 Newsletter
Sept. 2018 Newsletter

Oct. 2018 Newsletter
Nov. 2018 Newsletter
Dec. 2018 Newsletter

BIOLOGY Undergraduate Office
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Rm. 3109d, BIOSC Complex

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