UG Newsletter

Undergraduate Newsletter
Department of Biology
January 2022 Issue

Welcome back and all the best for 2022! 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 21st, 2022 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 2022?

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 21st, 2022 ( You also need to be aware of the GPA requirements for graduation, please see Academic Regulation 16: Requirements for Graduation - pages 33 and 34 (


Are you going into 4th year 2022-23?  Wondering about BIOL 537 and BIOL 500 courses?

Mark your calendars and plan to join us!  We will be holding our annual Upper Year Information Session by Zoom on February 2, 2022, 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm (EST).  An email advertisement with the Zoom meeting link will be sent directly to you a bit later in January. 


Queen's transitions to remote delivery for January-February 2022

Due to concerns with rising cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, and in consultation with KFL&A Public Health, Queen’s University will be transitioning most Winter 2022 academic activities delivered in Ontario to remote delivery until the end of reading week on February 28, 2022. This is a proactive measure to support the health and safety of the Queen’s and Kingston communities and align with Ontario’s accelerated booster dose rollout for all individuals aged 18 and over.

We recognize that these changes may also affect the mental health and well-being of our staff, students, and faculty members. Support for staff and faculty is available through the Employee and Family Assistance Program.  Additional wellness resources are available on the Human Resources website.  Students can contact Empower Me, 24/7 from countries around the world, Good2Talk, a 24/7 support line for post-secondary students, or Student Wellness Services. International students can also get support and advice from the Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC).  More information about how these changes will impact staff and faculty attending campus will be communicated in a separate email.


BIOL307 Field Course starting up for the spring-summer of 2022!

Dr. Shelley Arnott will be hosting two information sessions about the Ontario Universities Program in Field Biology (OUPFB) on Wednesday, January 12, 2022, starting 5:00 pm (EST) and Friday, January 14, 2022, starting 12:00 noon (EST).  The Zoom meeting links were circulated directly by email.  Let us know if you need a re-send.

The website for more information is here:

The Queen's Biology Field Course Opportunity Award is for Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour who wish to take any field course (BIOL307, BIOL407, BIOL327, including those in the Ontario Universities Program for Field Biology (OUPFB). The application is due Jan. 20, 2022. (application)


BIOL 321 shifting to Online through ASO

Due to circumstances beyond our control, a decision was made to MOVE the Winter 2022 offering of BIOL321 to the online onQ version for the entire term.  The online version of BIOL321 will be managed under ASO and taught by Dr. Laura Nagel.  In terms of enrolment, you do not need to take action.  All currently registered students have been migrated to the online onQ version. The course will become visible to you soon in your onQ account.  If you have questions about the migration, please contact  You are also free to contact the department (Rachel Batson and Ken Ko) for academic advising if needed since each of you have unique plans, such as graduating this year.


BIOL 350 has been cancelled for this Winter term.

Due to circumstances beyond our control, we are NOT able to proceed with the Winter 2022 in-person offering of BIOL350.  If you require help finding a replacement course, please contact

For students in the Biology Major and Specialization plans, feel free to contact the department (Rachel Batson and Ken Ko) for academic advising if needed since each of you have unique plans, such as graduating this year. Alternative 300-level biology courses that you may consider include BIOL316 (Fisheries Biology) or BIOL321 (Animal Behaviour).


BIOL 535 New Syllabus and Instructor (New Topic: Urbanization and Biodiversity)

The Winter Term 2022 in-person offering of BIOL535 (Selected Topics in Biology – Darwinism and Cultural Evolution) is no longer offered and replaced with another topic along with the instructor.  Due to circumstances beyond our control, a decision was made to SUBSTITUTE the Winter 2022 offering of BIOL535 with a different topic – Urbanization and Biodiversity.  The syllabus is available for review on the Biology website (Course Listings - Queen's Biology Department (  This topic will be taught by Dr. Fran Bonier.  The schedule and room location remain the same.  If you wish to consider other courses or join the course, the last date for add/drop is January 21, 2022.  If you have questions about the substitution, please contact us Rachel Batson and/or Ken Ko ( for academic advising if needed since each of you have unique plans, such as graduating this year.


BIOL538-541 and Independent Studies remain in-person and on-campus for Winter Term 2022

BIOL538/539/540 (Research Mentorship), BIOL537, BIOL541, and Independent Studies remain in the in-person mode at the start of the term


Summer 2022 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 be supervised by a biology faculty member. Supervisors are no longer required to hold an active grant when applying to supervise a USRA student. There is no restriction on who can supervisor a USRA student, provided the university deems the faculty member eligible to supervise students and providing they can support their portion of the student award.

Application deadline: Completed Internal Application Forms (Part 1) must be submitted electronically to by 3:00 pm, January 14, 2022. Successful candidates will be notified during the first week of February (2022). At the February 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 Monday, March 7, 2022.


The Gray Family Student Initiatives Fund (GFSIF)

This Fund was established through 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 2022 to April 2023), 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 (see able); 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 forwarded 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 completed applications as a single PDF file to Brian Cumming, Department Head - Biology ( by Friday February 18, 2022.  


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.

The courses listed in the document below are approved for students in the Faculty of Arts and Science.



Not sure if you have picked up the right courses for your degree plan?

It is important that you check your degree plan/program requirements before the September add/drop date to ensure you are on target. Please review your degree plan/program requirements using SOLUS. This is a great tool and will help keep you on track. January 21, 2022 is the last day to add winter classes or drop without financial penalty. 

What is the “AAR”?

The AAR is the Academic Advisement 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 AAR: Students are expected to run their AAR both prior to and after registration. The AAR will help to flag potential concerns with respect to your registration and 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. 

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

Explore opportunities through Queen’s University Biological Station
The Queen's University Biological Station (QUBS) is one of the premier scientific field stations in Canada. For almost 70 years, researchers and students have gathered at QUBS to conduct leading-edge research and participate in courses spanning ecology, evolution, conservation, geography, and environmental science.  Don’t forget to check out available awards for field-based undergraduate research experience.


Intercultural Training

QUIC invites students to participate in a five-part series of workshops which will help to recognize that gaining intercultural awareness requires a commitment to life-long learning. Within the training, participants will find opportunities to:

  • Describe the concept of culture and apply towards consideration of your own experiences;
  • Become familiar with several dimensions of culture that will help you to navigate new or unfamiliar cultural environments;
  • Learn techniques skills that promote a reflective approach when interacting with, or within, new or unfamiliar cultures;
  • Share your culture(s) and experience with your cohort.

Please visit for more information:


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: 

Important Links 
Updates on COVID-19: 

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

NOTE: Use email to correspond during COVID-19 as we are working remotely.

Past Newsletter Issues

February 2021

March 2021

April 2021

May 2021

June/July 2021

August 2021

September 2021

October 2021

November 2021

December 2021

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