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September 17, 2001

New majors offered in bioinformatics, neuroscience and behavior, astrophysics, and plant sciences

By Tim Stephens

UCSC is offering several new undergraduate majors in science and engineering in the 2001-02 academic year. The new majors include bioinformatics, neuroscience and behavior, astrophysics, and plant sciences.

The bioinformatics major, leading to a bachelor of science (B.S.) degree, is administered by the Computer Engineering Department. Bioinformatics combines mathematics, science, and engineering to explore and understand biological data from "high-throughput" experiments, such as genome sequencing and gene expression chips. The program builds on the research and academic strengths of the faculty in the Center for Biomolecular Science and Engineering. The engineering school is admitting students to the new major starting in fall 2001.

Both bachelor of arts (B.A.) and bachelor of science (B.S.) degrees are now offered in neuroscience and behavior. The new major will replace the existing psychobiology B.A. program, which will be phased out by the 2004-05 academic year. The neuroscience and behavior major provides students with more rigorous preparation for graduate studies and research than the psychobiology major. The brain and determinants of behavior are studied at all levels--from biological molecules, to individual nerve cells, to functioning organisms, to social behavior.

The Departments of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology will jointly administer the neuroscience and behavior major. Students can select the new major starting in fall 2001.

The plant sciences major (leading to a B.S. degree) will also be jointly administered by the two biology departments. Students will be admitted to the plant sciences major starting in winter 2002.

The Physics Department will administer the astrophysics major with support from the Astronomy and Astrophysics Department. The new major, leading to a B.S. degree, builds on the strengths of both departments. It provides students with a solid understanding of math and physics and prepares them for advanced studies in astronomy and astrophysics. Students will be admitted to the astrophysics major starting in winter 2002.

A combined major in Earth sciences and anthropology, leading to a B.A. degree, is also being offered for the first time in fall 2001. The combined major, administered by the Earth Sciences Department, is intended for students interested in archaeology or paleoanthropology who desire more intensive training in the natural sciences, and for Earth sciences students who wish to study anthropological problems.

The Earth Sciences Department is also now offering a concentration in planetary sciences for students pursuing a B.S. degree in Earth sciences. The planetary sciences concentration is designed to provide students with a quantitative background appropriate for career pathways in the interdisciplinary study of planets.

Additional information about majors offered at UCSC is provided in the UCSC General Catalog, which is available online.

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