UG Newsletter

Undergraduate Newsletter
Department of Biology
January 2023 Issue


Welcome back and all the best for 2023! We trust that you are recharged and ready for new endeavors.

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 20, 2023 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: Sessional Dates < Queen's University (

Are you planning to graduate in spring 2023?

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 20, 2023 ( You also need to be aware of the GPA requirements for graduation, please see Academic Regulation 16: Requirements for Graduation  (Academic Regulations < Queen's University (

Are you going into 4th year 2023-24?  Wondering about BIOL 537 and BIOL 5XX courses?

Mark your calendars and plan to join us!  We will be holding our annual Upper Year Information Session (in-person) on February 1st, 2023 @ 5:30pm - 7:30pm (EST) in the Bioscience Complex room 1101 (Auditorium)

Important Dates to Remember!

  • Majors Night is planned for Thursday, February 9, 2023, in the Biosciences Atrium?
  • BIPS Information Session is being planned with Psychology for early February 2023.  We will confirm in January.

BIOL 404 - Summer 2023

BIOL 404 will be offered this coming summer.  It will be offered twice, once in May and again in August. Don't forget to register. This course fills fast!

Please note that because these are two-week courses the add/drop dates are different from full-term summer offerings.

  • BIOL 404 – 001 @ May 1st – May 12th, the last date to add or drop the course is May 1st at midnight.
  • BIOL 404 – 002 @ August 14th - August 25th, the last date to add or drop the course is August 14th at midnight.

Course details can be found @

BIOL 404/3.0  →  Techniques in Molecular Biology
Intensive laboratory work (8h/day) to be carried out over two and a half weeks in May. Practical work includes DNA isolations, DNA cloning, PCR, production of proteins, biochemical and immunological analysis of proteins. NOTE Priority to students registered in BIOL Major and Specialization degree Plans. See course website for details.
LEARNING HOURS 112.5 (100Lb;12.5P)
PREREQUISITE (BCHM 218/3.0 or BIOL 330/3.0) and a minimum GPA of 2.0 in the Biological Foundations List.

Summer 2023 NSERC Research Award Opportunity

NSERC Undergraduate Summer Research Awards (USRA): Canada’s Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) underwrites these internationally-recognized 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.   

The new 2022-23 application forms and details are now available through Awards and OpportunitiesThe due date for applications is 3:00 pm, Friday, January 13, 2023.

The award is $6000.00 plus a supervisor top up and required fringe benefits (vacation pay is included). The top up typically enhances the entire award to match or exceed the amounts paid by other positions, such as SWEP.


•    Students must work 16 consecutive weeks (35 hours per week).

•    Students are not permitted to do thesis research while holding an award.

•    Students are not permitted to take courses during working hours throughout the term of their award.  


•    Must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada.

•    Must be registered in an honours degree program in BIOL at the time of application and must be in at least year 2 of study.

•    Must have obtained at least a “B” (or B-) (65-79%) average in their previous years of study.

•    If you are registered in health sciences (M.D., D.D.S., and B.Sc.N.) or have a higher degree in the natural sciences or engineering you are NOT eligible.   Graduating BIOL students are eligible providing they have not started a program of graduate studies.        

ASURF - The Arts & Science Undergraduate Research Fund

Another important source for funding undergraduate research endeavours is offered by ASUS.  As stated on the ASURF website, the “Arts and Science Research Fund (ASURF) was implemented to foster a community amongst undergraduate scholars and promote a greater investment in undergraduate research”.  Check out ASURF using the link below.  ASUS is readying the next round of applications for the Fall term (starting September 2022).


Queen’s Summer Work Experience Program (SWEP) – Career Services

Career Services operates the Summer Work Experience Program (SWEP), a unique Queen's program that helps faculty members create challenging and rewarding summer jobs. Open to all year levels, a SWEP position will get you engaged full-time in an active research program for up to 16 weeks during the summer months. SWEP positions are competitive, so make sure to do your research about the positions you are applying for, and to show your interest and enthusiasm. Keep updated with the details as they develop SWEP positions for next summer.  Bookmark the below link for convenient access.

Summer Work Experience Program (SWEP) | Career Services (

More Undergraduate Research Opportunities Through the Research Mentorship Courses BIOL538/539/540

Biology 538 (3.0), 539 (3.0) and 540 (6.0) offer individual students the opportunity to undertake a laboratory research practicum under the supervision of a Biology faculty member.  In addition to work in the host lab, students typically participate in specialized seminar series or lab-specific journal clubs and conduct research towards both a major paper and a seminar.  These mentorships offer flexibility to accommodate both students and faculty.  Further details is available at this link.

Research Mentorship - Queen's Biology Department (

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 2023 to April 2024) the amount available from this endowed account is approximately $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 February 24, 2023. 


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 about how many courses you can take from other Faculties and Schools towards your degree plan/program?

A maximum of 6.0 units from courses offered by other Faculties and Schools may be counted towards the Program and/or Plan requirements of any degree in the Faculty of Arts and Science, in addition to any such courses allowed as either Core or Option course requirements.
All course codes listed can be found on the Academic Programs page @

What is the “APR”?

The APR is the Academic Progress Report. It is a handy tool that reviews your degree requirements, track plan progression, and it tells you what you have satisfied and what you still need to complete for your core degree plan requirements. Click here to Run an APR: Students are expected to run their APR both prior to and after registration. The APR will help to flag potential concerns with respect to your registration and degree requirements.

Course Mapping Worksheet → This worksheet will help you set up a detailed road map for your courses so you can stay on track to meet your degree requirements.

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, & 341 (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.

Need help with your studies? 
Please visit Student Academic Success Services (SASS) at SASS offers academic support to students who wish to develop their skills in critical thinking, reading, learning, studying, writing, and self-management. 

Do you need to find a place to study on Campus? 
Check out this PDF layout of study spaces in the Biosciences complex!

Looking for a job?
Wondering about career options or maybe considering Graduate School…then you need to visit:

Wondering how to contact your course program associate regarding work associated with the lab component of core courses?

BIOL 102:

BIOL 103:

BIOL 200:

BIOL 205:

BIOL 206:

BIOL 212:

BIOL 300: 

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 opportunities?  Quick Link

BIOLOGY Undergraduate Office 
Monday to Friday 9:30am – 12:00pm & 1:00pm – 3:00pm
Rm. 3109d, BIOSC Complex

Past Newsletter Issues

January 2022

February 2022

March 2022

April 2022

May-June 2022

July-August 2022

September 2022

October 2022

November 2022

December 2022

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