Todays Department of Biological Sciences dates from 1966, but variants of this name have been used off and on since 1904. Today, the objective of the department [of biological sciences] is to provide the undergraduate student with a broad background in the biological sciences and adequate supporting strength in the physical sciences. Todays department also offers a Bachelors degree in the Arts and Sciences, a Masters degree, a B.S./M.S. combination program, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree. Undergraduates can take interdisciplinary programs in both human biology and biochemistry and molecular biology. Graduate students have the option of taking the Biodiversity, Conservation, and Policy program, or the Forensic Molecular Biology program. PH.D. degrees are offered in two main areas; Molecular, Cellular, Developmental and Neural Biology, along with Ecology, Evolution and Behavior. A joint seven-year biology/optometry program with SUNY-Optometry is also available to students who wish to get a Doctor of Optometry degree.
The Executive Committee of the New York State Normal School at SUNY Albany started teaching in 1845, under the heading of Natural Science. On March 15, 1845 the first faculty member of the department was employed at the school. Merritt G. McKoon was appointed assistant teacher of Natural Science. Due to the schools purpose of training teachers for grades one through eight at this time, all sciences were taught under the rubric of Natural Science (also called Natural Philosophy). Unfortunately for Professor McKoon, he abruptly resigned on June 9, 1845, on account of the extreme sickness of his family. With Professor McKoons sudden departure, William W. Clark to took over teaching the course while still a student at the school. He was paid $60 for his services. Clark was kept on as a teacher of both natural philosophy and chemistry after he graduated on August 27, 1845.
The first class on physiology was taught in 1846 by the schools principal, David Page. Between 1851 and 1861, due to a rapid series of resignations, there were nine different teachers who taught natural philosophy. Beginning in 1854, and lasting throughout the rest of the nineteenth century, the professors who taught natural philosophy were technically known as Professors of Natural Science; both being general science. In 1868 botany was added as a course, to go along with physiology and natural philosophy. These three courses remained the staple of the biology program until 1890 when zoology was added to the curriculum. This expansion of classes caused the school President, on January 12, 1889, to expand the number of faculty members for the department from one to two. Miss E. Helen Hannahs, an 1884 graduate from the Normal School at Albany, became the first female teacher in the field of natural science at Albany. In 1890 the school changed from teaching both subject matter and methods of teaching to strictly methods of teaching. In 1891 the word science first was used, replacing natural philosophy.
In 1898 Charles S. Gager became the first professor to be hired under the newly introduced heading of Biology Professor. In 1904 the school reintroduced subject matter to the curriculum, and the Department of Biological Science was formed. Eight biology classes were offered during this year, with Dr. Gager teaching six of them. The initial reintroduction of subject matter as opposed to pedagogy was confirmed in December 1905 when the Normal College was made a four-year liberal arts college for teachers with the same standards as other New York colleges of good standing. In 1914 biology was listed as an available minor for the first time in the Annual Circular. That same year the first Masters thesis cataloged as a biology thesis, titled Theories of Immunity, was accepted from Alice M. Adams. She was awarded a Master of Arts in Education degree. In the mid-1930s the first graduate class in biology was offered, and in 1944 an official list of graduate classes required by the department was made available.
In 1960, the SUNY Master Plan placed priority on the Masters and Doctoral programs at Albany. In 1962, the Masters program in biology was opened up to anyone who had the credentials to take it. Previously it had been restricted to teachers. In 1965 a Ph.D was offered in biology for the first time. Joseph T. Tupper received the first PH.D in 1970 with his thesis Microelectrode Studies on the Electrical Properties of Isolated Mitochondrial Membranes. The B.S./M.S. combination program and the honors program were first listed in the schools undergraduate bulletin as being offered for the 1983-84 school year. The interdisciplinary program of human biology was first offered in the school bulletin in 1990. In 1992 the biochemistry and molecular biology program was first listed as available. In 1997 Albany began offering a joint seven-year biology/optometry program with SUNY-Optometry for students to gain a Doctor of Optometry degree. The Masters program has also expanded over time. Beginning in 1998 graduate students could take courses leading to a degree in Biodiversity, Conservation, and Policy. In 2001 a sequence in Forensic Molecular Biology was made available. In the fall of 2003 the first students enrolled in this program upon its changing to a regular M.S. program. In the rapid moving field of science, the biology program at SUNY Albany is continually evolving to meet the needs of society.
|1912-1913||Biological and Earth Science|
|1914-1933||Biology and Physiography (included geology, mineralogy, etc.)|
|Department Chairmen, Chairs, and Chair Persons|
|1909-33||Clifford A. Woodard, Chairman|
|1933-43||Carleton E. Power, Chairman|
|1943-51||Ralph G. Clausen, Chairman|
|1951-57||Minnie B. Scotland, Chairman|
|1957-63, 1964-1967||Paul C. Lemon, Chairman|
|1963-64||Edward Berg, Acting Chairman|
|1967-72||Robert D. Allen, Chairman|
|1972-73, 1975-76||Frederick H. Truscott, Chairman|
|1973-75||Corrado Baglioni, Chairman|
|1976-78, 1978-82||Leonard S. Lerman, Chairman, Chair|
|1982-86||Henry Tedeschi, Chair|
|1986-91, 1997-99||John Jacklet, Chair, Chair Person|
|1991-95, 1995-97||Joseph Mascarenhas, Chair, Chair Person|
|1999-2003||David A. Shub, Chair Person|
|2003-||Albert Millis, Chair Person|
The collection includes biology seminar reports, 1936-1966; laboratory manuals, 1983-1988; proposals for departmental program development, 1967-1972; and staff meeting minutes, 1965-1973.
The collection is unprocessed and is likely disorganized. Individual items may be difficult to find.
These records were deposited in the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany.
Processed by: Orson Kingsley, History 599 Intern
Collection record created by: This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on
Published: 2017-04-14 12:50:36 -0400
Encoded in EAD by Gregory Wiedeman, 2015
Archival materials can be view in-person during business hours in our reading room, located on the top floor of the Science Library on the Uptown Campus.
We can also deliver digital scans for remote research for a fee.
Access to this collection is restricted because it is unprocessed. Portions of the collection may contain recent administrative records and/or personally identifiable information. While it is likely that portions of the collection may be viewed, access must be managed by an archivist.
The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of copyright. Whenever possible, the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives will provide information about copyright owners and other restrictions, but the legal determination ultimately rests with the researcher. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the Head of Special Collections and Archives.
Preferred citation for this material is as follows:
Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, Department of Biological Sciences Records, 1936-1988. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as the Department of Biological Sciences Records).
|Web-Archive 1||http://www.albany.edu/biology/index.shtml - University Archives collection||2013 May 8-2016 September 17|
|WARC 1||WARC file for http://www.albany.edu/biology/index.shtml, (please see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_ARChive for more details)||2013 May 8-2016 September 17|
Conditions Governing Access
WARC files are very large and difficult to work with. Your request may take time to process, and we may be unable to deliver your request remotely. Please consult an archivist if you are interested in researching with web archives.
|Web-Archive 2||http://www.albany.edu/biology/index.shtml - Internet Archive collection||2009 July 25-2016 September 17|