The Biology track draws on discoveries in many subfields of Biology and is open to students pursing a major in any science. 

The track is ideal for:

  • Students majoring in science, especially those students majoring in Biology and Biotechnology 
  • Students who wish to develop their curricula and biological research interests in areas of faculty expertise
  • Any student in good standing in Honors (3.25 GPA) may apply for the Biology Track


Required Track Courses

General Biology I (BIO 1630)

Cell Biology (BIO 2050)

General Genetics (BIO 2060)

Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior (BIO 2490)

Honors Literature Seminar (BIO 3950)

Research methods in Biology (BIO 5330)

Honors Independent Study in Biology (BIO 4990)


How does the track operate? 

Students will follow a four-year plan (detailed below) that outlines a sequence of courses required for the track. Some courses will overlap with courses required for students majoring in Biology or Biotechnology. 

 Year 1

General Biology I (BIO 1630)

This course provides a background in biological principles. Similarities and differences between living organisms, both plant and animal, are discussed. Content includes molecular, cellular and sub-cellular structure and function, cellular respiration, photosynthesis, cross-membrane molecular transport, genetics, DNA structure, replication, transcription, and protein synthesis. 


Year 2

During their second year, students will focus on experimental design, data analysis, and statistical inference. Students will begin guided exploration into potential research areas under supervision of the track director. All students will apply for funds or funded opportunities relevant to their proposed research projects or areas. 


Cell Biology (BIO 2050)

A study of the physiological and biochemical processes that regulate and maintain cell function; cellular and sub-cellular structures are studied particularly as applicable to cell function. 

General Genetics (BIO 2060)

A study of some of the basic principles and laws of genetics as revealed by modern molecular-genetic approaches; the intention is to familiarize the student with the organization and properties of hereditary material (nucleic acids) and highlight some of the critical experiments that laid the foundations of our understanding. All sections of this course are technology intensive. 

Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior (BIO 2490)

Introduction to the study of ecology, evolution, and behavior; diversity and classification, history of life, evolutionary theory, population growth, and regulation, species diversity and community structure, energy flow and nutrient cycling, ethology, behavior genetics, evolution of behavior, sociobiology, behavioral ecology. 


Students will participate in research/internship activities on or off campus. 


Year 3

During their third year, students not funded for research in year 2 can edit and resubmit applications for research support, or modify projects and submit anew. Students will develop a final year independent study project, submit to I.S. committee, and make revisions to receive approval by April.


Junior Literature Seminar (BIO3950-01)

Students will develop their skills in engaging the biological literature across a range of biological disciplines, such as physiology, molecular biology, and ecology. After reading and critiquing several advanced papers, the student’s critical reading skills will be applied to a final course project in a research area of interest to the student. This can serve as a starting point for literature review required for the student’s Senior Honors Thesis.


Students will make progress in research toward independent study (fieldwork, data collection and analysis, etc.). 


Year 4

Research methods in Biology (BIO 5330)

A thorough examination of the methodologies, procedures, and issues of science, particularly as they apply to biology; emphasis is on design of research, statistical treatment of data and interpretation of results.


Capstone (BIO 4800)

Students will complete an independent study project which will include a summary of research findings. 



What are Biology thesis topics?

The Honors Biology Track supports thesis topics of many types, reflecting the diversity in modern biology. These can include field-based studies, laboratory work (including molecular studies and large-scale physiology projects), genetic and genomic projects, and computer modeling and analysis. All these types of research can be done under the supervision of William Paterson faculty members, who have expertise in all these areas. 


How do I enroll? 

To enroll in the Biology Honors Track, contact the Director, Dr. Joseph Spagna, at (973) 720-2793, You must complete the online track application and submit it to the Honors College. 


About the Track Director:

Dr. Joseph Spagna is the director of the Biology Track and associate professor of Biology. His research interests include systematics, evolution and biomechanics of arthropods. Students in Dr. Spagna's lab use high-speed video, movement analysis, genetics, and computer modeling to figure out how spiders and ants have evolved to move the ways they do.