College of Integrative Sciences

Professors: Petra Bonfert-Taylor, Mathematics; Manju Hingorani, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry; Danny Krizanc, Computer Science; Ishita Mukerji, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry; Donald Oliver, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry; Francis Starr, Physics; Greg Voth, Physics; Michael Weir, Biology

Associate Professors: Ed Moran, Astronomy; Barbara Juhasz, Psychology; Dana Royer, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Assistant Professor: Brian Northrop, Chemistry

Department/Program Description.

The College of Integrative Sciences (CIS) offers students a curricular and research experience that enables new ways of thinking at the frontiers of science. To do so, the college promotes an interdisciplinary and integrative approach to scholarship and learning in the life and physical sciences. A key component is an emphasis on research, allowing students to pursue and experience modes of inquiry leading to expertise in their fields of study. By forging deeper connections between emerging research areas within these disciplines, CIS  graduates liberal arts students who are equipped with creative and quantitative skills to discover and develop solutions for current global challenges. These challenges, which are far-reaching and multifaceted in nature, require cross-disciplinary problem solving approaches for which CIS students are ideally prepared. By encouraging creative synergies between faculty and students of disparate disciplines, the CIS academic structure complements existing departments, for continual evolution in science education to meet the needs of a changing world.

Students interested in the college are advised to follow a course of study that emphasizes a core science background, as achieved by pursuing a major in one of the departments or programs in Natural Science and Mathematics (NSM). The College of Integrative Sciences itself offers a linked major, to supplement or enhance the learning achieved within the major discipline. The linked major promotes study of areas that complement the discipline of the main major. The advantage of such an approach lies in the integration of the intellectual depth in one area (the major) with breadth achieved through courses and research in the linked major.

Major Description.

In addition to majoring in one department or program in NSM, CIS students take the following courses for a minimum of six, and a maximum of nine credits.

Outline of the linked Major

  • CIS221/222: Research Frontiers Seminar (0.5 credits/semester). This is a sophomore-level course designed to introduce students to ongoing research projects in the NSM division. All students interested in applying to the college are required to attend the course for at least one semester. The course involves weekly visits from different faculty members and their students from across the division to discuss their research programs. Potential CIS students are encouraged to take the course during their entire sophomore year to get exposure to the variety of research conducted in the NSM division.

  • Two Upper-level Electives (2.0 credits). Upper-level courses should provide core-skills from a discipline outside the primary major. Accordingly, these courses typically should be hosted by a department other than that of the student's foundational major.  The course catalogue contains a list of courses identified as interdisciplinary and appropriate for the college. Courses not on this list may potentially be used to fulfill elective requirements, based on consultation with the CIS academic advisor.  In general, the specific electives used to fulfill this requirement must be determined in consultation with a student’s CIS linked-major advisor. 

  • Two semesters of a Journal Club or Seminar (0.5-1.0 credit). The two journal clubs/seminar series must be in different disciplines.  CIS221/222 cannot be used to fulfill this requirement.

  • Senior Capstone Colloquium (0.5 credits). Two semesters of the capstone colloquium are required. In this course, senior CIS fellows present their research to their peers/junior CIS fellows.

  • Research (2.0-4.0 credits). Research credits normally come by enrolling in Advanced Research Seminar or Senior Thesis Tutorial.  Two credits of research is the minimum requirement.  Four  research credits are achieved by taking research for a full credit each semester in the junior year and the senior year. Students are strongly encouraged to write a thesis based on their research during their senior year.  In unusual cases, the two-credit minimum can also be satisfied through (paid) credits for summer research.

  • One Summer Research Experience. All students are required to spend at least one summer performing research, preferably the summer after their sophomore year, immediately following acceptance to the college.  Students are supported during the summer by a CIS fellowship (unless doing the research for credit).