Biology Department

The purpose of the science department at The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science is to give students a broad overview of the sciences and to make them scientifically literate in each of the major subject areas: biology, chemistry, and physics. Emphasis is placed on mastery of basic concepts and laboratory skills through course lectures and discussions, laboratory investigations, field trips, tours, special projects, guest lecturers, and direct involvement with researchers at the college level. Students are given the opportunity to pursue their particular interests through elective courses and independent research.

Guidelines for required biology courses

Course selection may be determined by student interest and career plans. All biology courses are laboratory based and meet four or five days per week. AP courses may meet five days per week.

Requirements for graduation

All students are required to complete successfully one full year of biology for 1 full CU (two semesters).

Teacher and students disecting a brain

Requirements for graduation with a concentration in biology

The Concentration in Biology is designed for students who pursue an advanced plan of study in biology while attending MSMS. The Concentration in Biology helps colleges identify MSMS graduates with advanced preparation in biology and who might benefit from placement in higher level coursework at the college level. Students who shall have completed 2.5 approved biology Carnegie Units with a B-average in each course or higher while attending MSMS shall qualify. The Biology Department and Director for Academic Affairs shall determine which courses meet approval. The Concentration in Biology is awarded to qualified students whose applications are approved by the Director for Academic Affairs. The approved courses for the Concentration in Biology shall include:

  • 1.0 Carnegie Unit AP® Biology, University General Biology I and II

  • Additional 1.5 Carnegie Units (three semester courses) which may include Microbiology (0.5

    CU), Animal Physiology (0.5 CU), Plant Physiology (0.5 CU), Intro to Epidemiology (0.5 CU), or Introduction to Biochemistry (0.5 CU).

    Other course work may not be substituted. Students applying for the recognition and who meet the approved criteria will be awarded a seal on the MSMS Diploma indicating successful completion of the Concentration in Biology, and the final MSMS transcript will reflect graduation with Concentration in Biology.

Courses offered

Advanced Placement Biology is an intensive year-long course designed to equip students with the skills, knowledge, and abilities to achieve a high score on the College Board’s AP Biology Exam. AP Biology has at its core four central themes: Evolution, Cellular Processes: Energy and Communication, Genetics and Information Transfer, and Interactions. A minimum of 12 inquiry-based labs supplement and enhance the course material. Students should expect to spend at least 1.5 hours of study for every hour in lecture. This is typically a course for juniors. Seniors would need the permission of a faculty member to enroll.

This course involves the study of the biology of cells from the molecular to the microscopic level of organization. Prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells will be considered. Cellular architecture and physiology will be considered in the context of biological macromolecules and their building blocks. 

This course focuses on fundamental concepts of biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, and evolution. Concepts include important organic molecules, cell structure and function, metabolism and enzyme activity, cellular respiration and photosynthesis, DNA structure, meiosis and mitosis, Mendelian genetics, and molecular evolution. Text: Biology, Campbell and Reece, Chapters 1-25. 

This course explores fundamental concepts of biodiversity, the structure and function of organisms, and ecology. Concepts include molecular phylogeny, diversity of life, principles of plant and animal forms and reproduction, and ecological relationships at the population, ecosystem, and global levels Text: Biology, Campbell and Reece, Chapters 26-56. 

Microbiology is the study of microorganisms; this class focuses predominantly on bacteria emphasizing central themes of cellular biology and the scientific method. This course is a laboratory-based course (lectures are integrated with labs) in which the students learn the fundamental techniques of the discipline. In the latter part of the semester, the students are required to do an intensive independent project of their design that applies the techniques they have learned.

Plant physiology is a survey of various physiological processes in plants (primarily angiosperms). Topics include photosynthesis, plant metabolism, plant cell/water relationships, regulation of plant growth, and techniques in plant tissue culture. 

 Animal physiology is a survey of various physiological processes in animals (primarily vertebrates). Topics include muscle physiology, respiration and circulation, digestion, metabolism and nutrition, kidney function and system integration. 

This course is a study of the principles of heredity and the nature of genetic material. It is divided into three sections: Mendelian genetics, Molecular genetics, and Population genetics. This course is presented in the context of evolutionary biology. It also serves as an introduction to recombinant DNA technology and addresses the current social, legal, and ethical issues raised by these modern molecular techniques. AP® Biology students may not enroll in Genetics. 

This course examines environmental problems from an ecological perspective. Initially, the course considers the relationships between organisms and their environment; an introduction to the physiological bases for adaptations, population dynamics (both human and non-human), community organization; and the structure and function of ecosystems (including atmosphere, climate, and weather). Interdisciplinary methods of analysis will be used to explore natural systems while scrutinizing resource management strategies, pollution, economic factors (local and global), and the politics of environmental problems.

This course provides an introduction to public health and covers the sciences essential to public health practice. The fundamental scientific components span topics in the historical development of public health services, epidemiology, public health informatics and surveillance, health economics, public health laboratory science, and related fields. Students will be introduced to the world’s vast diversity of determinants of health and disease. They will analyze current and emerging global health priorities, including emerging infectious diseases, poverty, conflict and emergencies, and major global initiatives for disease prevention and health promotion. Students will be engaged in active, critical thinking skills through group discussion, class activities and laboratory work, and will end with a capstone project to be presented to a panel made up of peers, teachers, and administrators. A field trip to the CDC is tentatively planned. 

This is a senior-level course designed as an intensive survey of biological molecules-proteins, nucleic acids, lipids and carbohydrates. The major emphasis will be on proteins, but a portion of the course will also be dedicated to nucleic acid, lipid and carbohydrate structure, and metabolism. 

This course is designed to give students an opportunity for individualized learning in biology. The student will select faculty advisors and with their help, choose a particular biology problem of interest and pursue the problem.

Possible course sequences for biology.