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University Catalog

Department of Molecular Biology

Peter E. Thorsness, Department Chair
203 Animal Science/Molecular Biology Building, 6012 Agriculture Building
Phone: (307) 766-3300, (307) 766-2171 Fax: (307) 766-5098


DAVID FAY, B.S. Tufts University 1988; Ph.D. Yale University 1995; Professor of Molecular Biology 2010, 2001.
MARK GOMELSKY, B.S. Moscow Institute of Chemical Technology 1986; M.S. 1988; Ph.D. Institute of Genetics and Selection of Industrial Microorganisms 1991; Professor of Molecular Biology 2011, 1999.
DONALD L. JARVIS, B.S. Idaho State University 1978; M.S. 1980; Ph.D. Baylor College of Medicine 1986; Professor of Molecular Biology 2000, 1998.
PETER E. THORSNESS, B.A. Colorado College 1982; Ph.D. University of California-Berkeley 1987; Professor of Molecular Biology 2002, 1991.
DANIEL WALL, B.A. Sonoma State University 1988; Ph.D. University of Utah 1994; Professor of Molecular Biology 2019, 2007.
CYNTHIA WEINIG, B.A. Brown University 1991; Ph.D. Indiana University; Professor of Botany and Molecular Biology 2013, 2007.

Associate Professors

GRANT BOWMAN, B.S. University of Rochester 1997; Ph.D. University of Chicago 2004; Associate Professor of Molecular Biology 2019, 2012.
B.S. University of Colorado-Boulder 1995; Ph.D. University of Colorado-Aurora 2005; Associate Professor of Molecular Biology 2016, 2010.
B.S. University of New Hampshire 1994; Ph.D. Dartmouth Medical School 2007; Associate Professor of Molecular Biology 2019, 2012.
B.S. Indiana University-Indiana 1973; Ph.D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology 1980; Associate Professor of Molecular Biology 1994, 1987.
DANIEL L. LEVY, B.S. California Institute of Technology 2000; Ph.D. University of California San Francisco 2006; Associate Professor of Molecular Biology 2016, 2011.

Adjunct Professors

ALEXANDRE MATOV, M.S. Technical University of Varna 1998; Ph.D. Scripps Research 2009. Adjunct Professor of Molecular Biology 2019.
B.S. University of Washington 1980; M.S. 1982; Ph.D. 1987; Professor of Molecular Biology 2010, 2006.

Professor Emeritus

Dale Isaak, Randy Lewis, Nancy Petersen, Don Roth, Mark M. Stayton, Jordanka Zlatanova

Molecular Biology

Modern biology is based on a fundamental understanding of molecular processes. Recent advances in molecular biology have led to an explosion of knowledge about gene expression and the role gene products play in cell function. Undergraduate programs in molecular biology offer learning opportunities at the forefront of modern biology.

The molecular biology degree programs are designed to prepare students for the future by combining a foundation in basic sciences and humanities with a broad selection of courses in molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics and microbiology. Advanced undergraduates attend an outside speaker's program that includes some of the world's best-known scientists. Modern, well-equipped teaching and research laboratories contribute significantly to the educational experience of a student. All junior- and senior-level undergraduates are encouraged to participate in research projects with individual faculty members. Involvement in an active research program provides the student with an additional dimension of learning beyond what is assimilated in courses. A student learns to plan experiments, solve technical problems and experience scientific advances first hand. An undergraduate research project also promotes close interaction between the undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, staff and faculty.

Many molecular biology majors continue their education beyond the bachelor's level by going to graduate school or to medical, dental or veterinary school. Some students choose to use their education to gain employment in biotechnology, clinical or basic research laboratories. Other career choices include teaching, medical technology, law and business.

To obtain a B.S. degree in molecular biology, a student, with the aid of a molecular biology adviser, designs a program of study that includes courses from the Molecular Biology Core Requirements and Electives listed below. Additional course lists are provided as an aid in developing an individualized program of study in key Interest Areas such as Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Genetics, Computational Molecular Biology, Microbiology, and Preprofessional Health Sciences studies. Courses listed under the Interest Areas are optional and the student and adviser will design a unique curriculum suited to the student's personal interests. Flexibility in course selection also permits students to fulfill the various requirements for postgraduate and professional schools. Completion of a B.S. in Molecular Biology provides a student with the tools needed to open the door to exciting futures in science, medicine and agriculture.

We expect that our graduating students will have a strong foundation in basic science, biochemistry and molecular biology that will enable them to:

  1. understand the basis of multiple molecular mechanisms central to gene expression;
  2. utilize basic molecular and microbiological laboratory techniques in future jobs or programs, and to develop a basic research project and trouble-shoot experimental challenges, especially if the student has participated in an undergraduate research project;
  3. apply for graduate programs in molecular biology, microbiology or other life sciences;
  4. begin employment as a laboratory research assistant in academia or the medical or agricultural biotechnology industries;
  5. utilize a background in biochemistry, cell and molecular biology to promote success in the basic science curriculum in medical school or other health professional schools;
  6. integrate a background in biochemistry, cell and molecular biology into career development in professions such as law, genetic counseling, or public health policy;
  7. employ evidence-based scientific reasoning skills in evaluating the use of molecular genetics in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of medical disorders.

Requirements for Molecular Biology Majors

General Requirements Hours
Total credits (college requirement) 120
3000-level or above (university requirement) 42
Fulfillment of University Studies Program (consult adviser) 
Fulfillment of molecular biology general science, core and elective requirements  listed below
1. MOLB Requirements (General Science Requirement) Hours
LIFE 1010 4
MOLB 2021 4
LIFE 3050 4
CHEM 1020 and 1030 8
CHEM 2420 and 2440 8
PHYS 1110 and 1120 8
MATH 2200* 4
STAT 2050 4
Total 44

 *The alternative math courses MATH 1450 or 1400 and 1405 may be substituted with adviser approval.

2. MOLB Core Requirement
MOLB 3000 3
MOLB 4600 and 4610 6
MOB 4320 4
MOLB 4485 1
MOLB 4050 and 4051 or 4052 2
Total 16
3. MOLB Advanced Core Requirement Hours
MOLB 4440 or 4450 or 4670 3
Total 3
4. MOLB Elective Requirement (10 hours)
Courses from the following list that were not used to fulfill
the MOLB Advanced Core Requirement may be applied to the
MOLB Elective Requirement; a maximum of 3 credits of
MOLB 4010 may be counted toward the MOLB Elective Requirement.
MOLB 4010 1-3
MOLB 4100 4
MOLB 4260 1
MOLB 4400 4
MOLB 4440 3
MOLB 4450 3
MOLB 4460 3
MOLB 4540 4
MOLB 4670 3
MOLB 5650 3
Total 9

Molecular Biology Interest Areas

After discussing individual interests with a molecular biology adviser, a student should enroll in additional courses that will enhance preparation for a chosen career objective. Listed below are recommended courses that are not required but will further develop a student's skills and understanding in five Interest Areas.

Biochemistry Hours
CHEM 2230 4
CHEM 3550 or 4507 and 4508 3-6
CHEM 4230 4
CHEM 4400 3
CHEM 4560 3
CHE 4100 3
COSC 1010 or 1030 or 1100 3-4
MOLB 4010 6
MOLB 4460 3
MOLB 5650 3
Cell and Molecular Genetics Hours
MOLB 4010 6
MOLB 4260 1
MOLB 4440 3
MOLB 4450 3
MOLB 4670 3
ZOO 4280 3
ZOO 4340 4
Computational Molecular Biology Hours
COSC 1010 or 1030 or 1100 3-4
COSC 2030 4
IMGT 1400 3
IMGT 3400 3
MOLB 4010 6
MOLB 5650 3
BOT 4550 4
CHEM 4560 3
STAT 3050 3
STAT 4255 3
STAT 5380 4
Microbiology Hours
MICR 2220 4
MICR 4130 3
MICR 4220 3
MICR 4360 4
MOLB 4010 6
MOLB 4400 4
MOLB 4440 3
MOLB 4460 3
MOLB 4540 4
MICR 4710 3
Preprofessional Health Sciences
MOLB 4010 3
MOLB 4100 4
MOLB 4400 4
MOLB 4450 3
MOLB 4670 3
MICR 2220 4
MICR 4710 3
PHCY 3450 4
PSYC 1000 3
PSYC 2210 or 2340 3
SOC 1000 3
SOC 3550 3
ZOO 2040/ZOO 2041 3-4
ZOO 3115 4
ZOO 4125 5
ZOO 4280 3
ZOO 4340 4

Recommended Course Sequence

In order to fulfill course prerequisites in a timely manner, the following sequence of courses relevant to the MOLB BS degree requirements is recommended. A complete sequence of recommended courses fulfilling all university and MOLB degree requirements is listed in the Molecular Biology 4-year plan, available on the web or by request from the department. In consultation with a student’s advisor, electives should be selected to fulfill University Studies requirements and to enhance a student’s educational background.

Note that this example course sequence does not include specified credits for undergraduate research, summer courses, or study abroad experiences. Many students opt to complete their undergraduate courses in five years in order to take full advantage of the educational and undergraduate research opportunities in the Department of Molecular Biology.

Freshman Year: Fall Hours
LIFE 1010 4
CHEM 1020 4
USP First-Year Seminar 3
MATH 2200 4
Freshman Year: Spring Hours
MOLB 2021 4
CHEM 1030 4
STAT 2050 4
Sophomore Year: Fall Hours
MOLB 3000 3
CHEM 2420 4
Sophomore Year: Spring Hours
CHEM 2440 4
Junior Year: Fall Hours
MOLB 4600 3
PHYS 1110 4
MOLB 4485 1
LIFE 3050 4
Junior Year: Spring Hours
MOLB 4610 3
PHYS 1120 4
MOLB 4320 4
MOLB 4000-level 3
Senior Year: Fall Hours
MOLB 4000-level 6-7
MOLB 4050 1
Senior Year: Spring Hours
MOLB 4000-level 3-6
MOLB 4051 1

Requirements for Undergraduate Minor in Molecular Biology

Students wishing to minor in molecular biology should discuss their plans with an adviser in the Department of Molecular Biology. Formal declaration of molecular biology as a minor requires 1) submission of a form that must be approved by the Department of Molecular Biology and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Dean's Office, 2) appointment of a minor adviser from the Department of Molecular Biology.

To receive a minor in molecular biology, a student must complete courses listed in the following areas:

1. Science Foundation course requirements: Hours
LIFE 1010 4
LIFE 3050 4
CHEM 1020 and 1030 8
CHEM 2300 or 2420 and 2440 4-8
MATH 2200 or MATH 1450 or MATH 1400 and 1405 4-6
2. MOLB course requirements Hours
MOLB 2021 4
MOLB 3000 3
Lab course MOLB 4320 or 4010 3-4
MOLB 3610 and 5 additional MOLB credits or  MOLB 4600 and 4610 and 3 additional MOLB credits (excluding MOLB 4010, 4050, 4051, 4052 and 4850).

Graduate Study

The Department of Molecular Biology offers the Ph.D., M.S. and M.A. degrees for students who wish to do graduate work in molecular biology, in preparation for careers in academia, the biotechnology industry, medicine, or other professions. Prospective graduate students should visit the Molecular Biology Departmental web site ( or the Graduate Program in Molecular and Cellular Life Sciences web site ( for more information.

Program Specific Admission Requirements

A prospective student must apply to a Molecular Biology Department faculty member with whom they wish to work ( Once a mentor has been identified, the student should apply to the graduate program of choice.

Candidates for all molecular biology graduate programs must have attained minimum entrance requirements, as specified by:
 (1) Department of Molecular Biology graduate admission requirements, posted at, and
 (2) University of Wyoming Graduate Student Regulations and policies, posted on the Office of the Registrar website:

Instructions for applying to the Molecular Biology Graduate Degree Programs are posted at

Program Specific Degree Requirements

Throughout the degree program, a graduate student is guided and evaluated by the research adviser and graduate committee. Here we provide only general descriptions of degree programs. Details of coursework and other requirements for obtaining a Ph.D., M.S. or M.A. degree in Molecular Biology are specified in the Departmental Policies for the Graduate Programs, listed by date of program entrance on the departmental website (

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Molecular Biology

The Ph.D. is a research-intensive degree. The student conducts a guided research project in the laboratory into which they have been accepted. The faculty research adviser is responsible for financial support of the student. A student will conduct a research project that is expected to result in multiple publications in research journals as well as presentations in the department and at scientific meetings. Student performance is monitored by a dissertation committee that will evaluate a student’s research proposal, preliminary examination, seminar presentations, written dissertation, final public seminar, and final oral defense of the dissertation. In consultation with the faculty research adviser, a student may elect to be a teaching assistant. Students pursing the Ph.D. degree in Molecular Biology usually complete their program in about five years.

Master of Science in Molecular Biology (M.S.)

An M.S. degree student will conduct a research project that is expected to result in publication in research journals as well as presentations in the department and at scientific meetings. Student performance is monitored by a thesis committee that will evaluate a student's research proposal, seminar presentations, written thesis, final public seminar, and final oral defense of the thesis. In consultation with the faculty research adviser, a student may elect to be a teaching assistant. A student should not have expectations of financial support, however funding may be negotiated on an individual basis and is at the discretion of the faculty research adviser. Students pursuing the M.S. degree in Molecular Biology usually complete their program in about two years.

Master of Arts in Molecular Biology (M.A.)

Students interested in graduate study but who intend to apply for a post-graduate professional program such as medical or law school, should consider an M.A. program of study. An M.A. degree candidate will negotiate with their faculty adviser to formulate an appropriate research project. Student performance is monitored by a thesis committee that will evaluate a student's written thesis, final public seminar, and final oral defense of the thesis. A student pursuing an M.A. degree should not have expectations of financial support. Students pursing the M.A. degree in Molecular Biology usually complete their program in two academic semesters plus two summers.

Molecular Biology (MOLB) Courses

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