Learning Objectives

The Molecular biology program, jointly sponsored by the Biology and Chemistry departments, offer students in depth training in Molecular Biology.  Since students begin by taking introductory level courses in both Biology or Chemistry, the Molecular Biology learning goals build upon those of these two departments. (see learning goals for Biology and Chemistry majors).

Learning Goals

  • Students will understand the scientific process, in the context of learning the fundamental biological and chemical ‘facts' of molecular biology.
  • Students will gain skills required to effectively do scientific research. More specifically, students will learn to implement the scientific method by proposing hypotheses to explain biological phenomena, designing and conducting experiments to test these hypotheses, and critically interpreting the resulting data.
  • Students will learn to effectively communicate their results, both orally and in writing. In addition, they will be able to critically evaluate scientific literature and the current state of research progress in their area of interest.

Due to the extensive training they receive in scientific investigation, most Molecular Biology graduates subsequently enroll in graduate school, medical school, or a combination of the two.

The courses required to fulfill the major are highly prescribed. The introductory Biology and Chemistry courses introduce students to the concept of the scientific method. The upper division courses place special emphasis on the primary literature, including interpreting, evaluating and presenting scientific data. Most of these classes contain a laboratory component, involving students in true investigative research projects.  The design and assessment embedded in individual courses are highly consistent with the goals of the molecular biology program: students will graduate having a good understanding of the molecular biology field, a solid understanding of the scientific method, and the ability to apply this knowledge in the context of a senior thesis exercise.

The Molecular biology program values scientific research and as such requires all students to undertake a full year experimental senior thesis. In addition, most majors take advantage of summer research opportunities at Pomona. The senior exercise culminates in a final oral presentation, and a written thesis that follows the format of scientific research papers.