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Biochemistry Program Description

We believe that the Biochemistry program at Geneseo is truly special.  On national assessment exams, our graduates perform well and several students have scored in the 90th percentile or above.  Our graduates routinely sought-after by graduate schools and employers. We believe that Geneseo students do well partly because of the interaction Geneseo students have with professors and with each other. Participants take many classes together and study together in the Biology and Chemistry buildings, so a great deal of camaraderie develops among the biochemistry majors. The atmosphere is very supportive. Another plus is that the students work with faculty on their own research projects. Students obtain hands-on experience with sophisticated equipment, much of which is usually found only in graduate school, and they are encouraged to present their work at local or national meetings/symposia.

Biochemistry students are required to take courses in General Biology, Genetics, Cell Biology, Molecular Biology/Techniques, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, and Biochemistry.  In addition, Biochemistry students are required to complete two semesters of Calculus, two semesters of Analytical Physics, and one semester of statistics.  Senior Biochemistry students are required to take a seminar course that is rich in reading the primary literature and oral/written communication.  Typically, the Biochemistry program has between 90-130 majors and ~30 students per year graduate with a BS in Biochemistry. For the full program requirements, download the current online Undergraduate Bulletin, then click on Biochemistry on the left hand side. To view the basic program requirements, visit Biochemistry Requirements

A few examples of the projects students are currently working on include:

  • genetic mechanisms of retinal development and regeneration in zebrafish (Dr. Bailey)
  • the compound resveratrol in grape juice and wine (Dr. Boiani)
  • gene comparisons in Antarctic sea stars (Dr. Bosch)
  • grape-ripening genes in New York State grapes (Dr. Chang)
  • synthesis and property analysis of gel materials (Professor Geiger)
  • production of monoclonal antibodies for catalysis (Dr. Helms)
  • the molecular basis of movement in green algae (Dr. Hoops)
  • genetic analysis of sexual development in the fungus Neurospora crassa (Dr. Hutchison)
  • chromosome organization in the giant bacterium Epulopiscium sp. type B (Dr. Hutchison)
  • the mechanism of anti-atherosclerosis drugs (Dr. Johnson)
  • mechanism by which small molecules such as polyaromatic hydrocarbons bind to DNA (Dr. McKnight)
  • the presence and function of modified bases in DNA and RNA (Dr. Militello)
  • bioinformatics - study of mitochondrial DNA sequences (Dr. Pogozelski)
  • design and testing DNA strands for use in biomolecular computing and nanotechnology (Dr. Pogozelski)
  • real-time PCR quantification of mitochondrial DNA deletions in the disease Pearson's Syndrome (Dr. Pogozelski)
  • DNA damage induced by radiation (Dr. Pogozelski and Dr. O'Donnell)
  • molecular and Biological functions of Selfish Genetic Elements (SGEs) and novel genes (Dr. Reinhardt)
  • how proteins fold (Dr. Yokoyama)
  • Alzheimers's disease (Dr. Yokoyama)

The degree is interdepartmental, stressing basic sciences and analytical skills. Extensive laboratory experience is acquired, making use of advanced instrumentation and techniques. Many students do research projects, either over the summer or in directed studies throughout the school year. Students are also given the opportunity to be tutors or teaching assistants in the chemistry or biology departments, thereby gaining additional useful experience. Graduates are well prepared for employment or further study in the fields of Biochemistry, Medicine, Pharmacy, Biotechnology, Cell Biology, Genetics, and Molecular Biology. Alumni have also entered fields of Bioinformatics, Immunology, Bioorganic Chemistry, Bioinorganic Chemistry, Pharmacology, Education, and Biochemical Engineering. The program is designed to give students the flexibility to choose electives that most closely mirror their interests.

Here are some of the programs graduates have gone to in the past few years:

  • Monroe County Crime Laboratory (forensics employment)
  • Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (Biotech employment)
  • SUNY Buffalo (M.D.)
  • SUNY Upstate (M.D. and M.D./Ph.D.)
  • Virginia Tech (M.D.)
  • The Ohio State University (M.S.)
  • The University at Buffalo (PharmD)
  • Boston College (Ph.D.)
  • Cornell University (Ph.D.)
  • Johns Hopkins University (Ph.D)
  • Rockefeller University (Ph.D.)
  • The University of Chicago (Ph.D.)
  • The University of Rochester (Ph.D.)
  • The University of Texas AM (Ph.D.)
  • The University of Washington (Ph.D.)
  • University of Pennsylvania (Ph.D., biochemistry)
  • Yale University (Ph.D., neuroscience)
  • Cornell (Ph.D., biochemistry)
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (M.D./Ph.D. program)
  • University of Buffalo (M.D.)
  • Upstate Medical (M.D./Ph.D.)
  • Penn State (Ph.D., biochemistry)
  • University of Wisconsin (Ph.D., biochemistry/biological chemistry)
  • Washington University (St. Louis; Ph.D., immunology)
  • University of Minnesota (Ph.D., biochemistry)
  • University of Rochester (Ph.D., immunology)
  • Cornell (veterinary school)
  • Dartmouth (Ph.D., biochemistry)
  • SUNY Stony Brook (Ph.D., biochemistry)

Effective Fall 2013 Admission: Minimum Competency Requirement

Policy:  Students will not be able to continue with the Biochemistry major unless they have achieved a combined C+ average or better in their first two required program lecture courses at SUNY Geneseo.  Required lecture courses for the Biochemistry program are:

  • BIOL 117
  • BIOL 119
  • BIOL 222
  • BIOL 300 

For most freshman students, the first two required lecture courses would be BIOL 117 and BIOL 119.  For freshman students with a 5 on the AP Biology exam, it would be BIOL 222 and BIOL 300, unless they elect to retake BIOL 117 and BIOL 119 here.

This policy will apply to transfer students as well.  They may be further along in the required sequence (e.g. they could have credit for BIOL 117, BIOL 119), in which case the first two required lecture courses would be BIOL 222 and BIOL 300.  If they already have credit for both BIOL 222 and BIOL 300, they would need to achieve a grade of C+ in BIOL 300 before they could be accepted as a Biochemistry major.

Please note a student may only repeat a required Biochemistry program course, or related requirement, once for major credit; the repeated course must be taken at the next offering of the class.  It may be advisable for transfer students to take other science courses (e.g. Biology courses not required, but electives, for the major, or chemistry or physics courses) their first semester here in order to get acclimated to SUNY Geneseo rigor before taking the courses that are evaluated for advancement to the major.

Students performing poorly may choose to withdraw from a required lecture course before the deadline rather than earn a grade that will make it difficult to achieve a C+ average, but this may make it difficult to graduate in eight semesters.