An endorsement can be added to your BIOL major in recognition of the fact that your studies have had a particular focus.
The biology endorsments reflect the three strengths of the School: Biodiversity (ecology), biosecurity and biotechnology.
At the University of Canterbury, Biotechnology in the broadest sense is an integral component of teaching and research at all levels of the Biological Sciences curriculum. Other Departments/Colleges, for example Chemical & Process Engineering, have interests and expertise in related fields such as bioprocessing that might be classified under a broader definition of ‘Biotechnology’, but this proposal has a specifically narrower focus.
The School of Biological Sciences has identified “Biodiversity, Biosecurity and Biotechnology” as important thematic strengths. Students at Honours, Masters and PhD can major in Biotechnology. It follows that an endorsement (biotechnology) to the undergraduate major in Biological Sciences will help students choose a course of study that will be broad enough to allow flexibility, but will provide students with pathways of study that will equip them for biotechnology developments in the 21st century.
Biotechnology covers many aspects. We focus on two key areas of biotechnology – environmental biotechnology and plant biotechnology.
According to both the Biotechnology Research Roadmap and the Environment Research Roadmap, environmental biotechnology includes fundamental research contributing knowledge about ecological and evolutionary processes; research underpinning biodiversity and biosecurity management in New Zealand; and research directed towards technology development with dual economic and environmental outcomes Consequently, biotechnology research has key roles to play in helping us characterise New Zealand’s indigenous genetic heritage through biosystematics, to protect New Zealand’s indigenous genetic heritage through the provision of tools to identify biosecurity threats, and, through research, to help counter the environmental impacts of farming in areas such as agricultural methane emissions and nitrogen fixers in pastures. Biotechnology can also be seen as both a threat and an opportunity - an opportunity as a source of new pest control and a potential threat to biodiversity by the release of genetically-modified organisms.
It is important to recognise, in addition to the overlap with environmental biotechnology, that plant biotechnology goes beyond genetic modification and includes a range of laboratory based plant tissue culture and plant breeding techniques such as the use of somatic hybridisation.
Universities have access to unique germplasm collections and genomics databases for research and much research focused on plant breeding is now regarded as ‘biotechnologyassisted’ and has developed beyond the need to genetically modify crop plants.
Biosecurity is an emerging issue of both national and international importance. In New Zealand this issue has become a major focus of government (with an estimated Government input of $37 million in 2006) and with increasing concerns over invasive organisms is likely to be so in the future. New Zealand is particularly well suited for studies related to Biosecurity as it is a small island nation vulnerable to exotic invasions.
Furthermore, on-going global climate change and its effects on ecosystems make understanding Biosecurity issues crucial. As our climate alters, the potential for organisms previously unable to colonise New Zealand, or unable to survive in our environment, may now become a threat to our land and water ecosystems.
At UC, biosecurity has been an integral component of teaching and research at all levels of the Biological Sciences curriculum. The School has identified “Biodiversity, Biosecurity and Biotechnology” as important strengths. Biosecurity as a topic is very broad, dealing with, for example the ecology of invading organisms (e.g. Didymo, wilding pines, sea squirts) to the molecular biology of genetically modified organisms and potential human threats (e.g. bird flu).
Biosecurity spans all three “Bs” of the School’s platform, as invading organisms have the potential to affect biodiversity and we need molecular tools and biotechnology as part of our research. The School of Biological Sciences has identified Biosecurity as a major theme in many of its courses and believes that an endorsement to its undergraduate major will help students choose a course of study that will be broad enough to allow flexibility, but will provide these students with a core understanding of Biosecurity issues.
The endorsement has a number of compulsory courses throughout the degree, but in particular, it has two compulsory “capstone” courses at level 3. BIOL 377 Global Change and Biosecurity, is an ecology course focusing on biological invasions and their effects on ecosystems and biodiversity. In addition it brings in the concept of global change. BIOL 332 Genetics and Evolution of Invasive Species focuses on molecular aspects of biosecurity.
Ecology is a broad topic encompassing studies on individuals, species, populations, communities and ecosystems, and including behaviour, evolution, physiology and increasingly, molecular biology.
In New Zealand, the study of ecology is especially important. As a small group of islands separated from larger land masses, the New Zealand flora and fauna evolved unique characteristics in the absence of mammals.
The invasion of New Zealand by humans, and the organisms (including mammals) that they introduced has drastically altered its ecology, leading to drastic reductions in numbers, or even extinctions of the original animals and plants. In addition, global climate change is affecting the ecology of New Zealand, altering the distribution of both native and introduced organisms.
In this rapidly changing environment it is vital that we continue to train competent and capable ecologists.
At the UC, ecology is a major part of the School of Biological Sciences reflecting its importance in New Zealand, and indeed in the world.
Over half of our academic staff regard themselves as ecologists and this is reflected in over half of our advanced undergraduate third year courses dedicated to the study of ecology.
An endorsement in ecology gives guidance to our students as they progress through their undergraduate courses and it sends a clear signal to potential employers that they have a thorough grounding in this subject.
Environmental Science Endorsement
Environmental Science is more that just a subject stream, we have determined that it is important enough to warrant it being an endorsement to the degree. What this means is that rather than just gaining a BSc in Biological Sciences you gain a BSc in Biological Sciences (Environmental Sciences). This tells prospective employers that you have a degree that is much wider than just biology and that it has a focus on environmental issues.
Environmental Science is bigger than just biology, it includes subjects such as law, chemistry, geography, geology and forestry. It is all about identifying aspects of the environment and having the right tools to manage it. So to graduate with Environmental Science you need to be much broader than a single subject area. more>>
Should you require further help, please contact one of our undergraduate supervisors.