New physiology major announced for fall 2017

Annie Kennedy

Staff Writer

The University is introducing a new major in physiology in the fall of 2017. The major, housed in the biology department, is open to current and incoming first-year students.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
A NEW physiology major will be available for students at The University for the upcoming fall semester.

The major is also open to current exercise science first-year students. Because they take anatomy and physiology as first-year students, they will take general biology I and II in their sophomore year.

Students have already switched to the major. Stephanie Nativo, a first-year student, switched to the major to prepare herself to become a physician’s assistant.

I feel great knowing that I am one of the first students to graduate with this major and hope that it will inspire more students to follow their passions,” she said.

Terrence E. Sweeney, Ph.D., is the program director, chair of the biology department and the person who brought the major to The University. He first proposed the physiology major in June 2015, and then he introduced it to the department in the fall 2015 semester. Last month, the new major was approved by the department, the dean and the faculty senate. Additional faculty who helped develop the major include Gary Kwiecinski, Ph.D., Matthew Socha, Ph.D., Maria Squire, Ph.D. and Robert Waldek, Ph.D.

Sweeney explained that there are not many schools in the Northeast that offer a physiology major. He believes that this new major will help draw students to The University who may not have considered this school in the first place.

An article by Erik J. Henriksen, Ph.D., published in the review journal Physiology, discussed the growth of physiology majors at other universities in the country.

“The growth of these physiology programs has far exceeded the increases observed in overall undergraduate enrollments at these institutions,” Henriksen wrote.

Students who are not interested or who cannot switch their major to physiology can still take general physiology because the department plans to continue to offer many sections of this popular course. For those who are concerned that this major is too focused on physiology and will not provide enough of a background in biology, Sweeney explained that they have addressed this concern in two ways.

First, physiology majors will take general biology as first-year students, which will provide them with a broad background in all of biology. Second, they will be encouraged to take a broad variety of electives in their junior and senior years. Additionally, Sweeney noted that students who do not want this specificity will be encouraged to consider the biology major because the physiology major is designed for students who want a more specific approach to this field.

Students in the major begin their college career the same way as many other science majors: by taking general biology and general chemistry courses. In their sophomore year, students take advanced human anatomy and physiology I and II, and in their junior year, they take cellular and integrative physiology with lab. Additionally, in their junior year, students take a seminar designed to introduce students to the latest techniques used in physiology research. Finally, in the spring of their junior year and in their senior year, students take 12 credits of physiology electives in three domains: molecular and cellular physiology, systems physiology and comparative physiology.

If anyone has any questions about this major, he or she is encouraged to contact Sweeney at

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