BIOTA Program

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What is the BIOTA program?

General information | Who can participate? | Achieve your goals | What the BIOTA program can do for you | Graduation plans | The BIOTA team

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General information

The BIOTA program at UNC is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Talent Expansion Program (STEP) to enhance the success of all biology majors. The program's primary goal is to increase the four-year graduation rate of biology students. A secondary goal is to increase the number of students choosing biology as a major. To accomplish these goals, the BIOTA program provides a series of academic, career-development, and social opportunities to all biology majors (see below).

Who can participate in the BIOTA program?

All biology majors are considered part of the BIOTA program. If you have already declared your major as biology, you are a participant in the BIOTA program. If you are not a biology major and you want to join us, please contact the biology office (970-351-2921 or and we will help you declare your major.

Achieve your goals

The ultimate reason for this program is to help you achieve your life's goals, what ever they are.

Success in college!     Success in your career!     Success in life!

What the BIOTA program can do for you

Research experiences | Special courses | BIOTA communities | Social events
Peer mentoring | Unparalleled access | Customized advising | BIOTA invited seminars

To enhance your ability to graduate with a B.S. in biology within four years, the BIOTA program can do the following for you:

BIOTA undergraduate research experiences

Students who are interested in gaining research experience as part of their education can be paid to do so. For more information, contact your academic advisor or one of the BIOTA team.

If you are already working in a research laboratory in biology and you are interested in being paid an hourly wage, talk with your research advisor, and complete and submit the Application for an Hourly Wage form on the biology Forms Page. To be eligible for this funding, a student must be a citizen of the U.S. or a permanent resident of the U.S.

Special BIOTA courses

  • Success in biology curriculum: A specially-designed course (BIO 102) will help to bridge the gaps between high school, the university experience, and your future careers. These courses are open to all students and strongly recommended for incoming freshmen biology students.
  • Special applications classes: Supplemental classes (BIO 112, BIO 211 & BIO 221) will help you to make connections between the biology concepts that are covered in traditional courses and the application of those concepts in the real world. These courses are open to all students and strongly recommended for biology students.

BIOTA communities

  • BIOTA learning communities: One of the joys of attending UNC is being a part of the UNC community and making new friends who will be a part of your life for years to come. In the BIOTA program, building a community begins with the option of joining a learning-community of biology students who will take the same classes with you each semester.
  • BIOTA residential communities: Building a BIOTA community also includes the option of joining a living-community of biology students on the BIOTA floor of the new north wing of the West Campus residence hall. The BIOTA Residential and Learning Community includes biology freshmen, sophomores, and upperclassmen who enjoy the convenience and camaraderie of living within a community of biology students. For more information, please browse to the West Campus Residence Hall web link below. To request a BIOTA room, please contact Jenna Finley at the Residence Hall office (, 970-351-2721).

BIOTA residence hall information:

BIOTA social events

A number of social events are planned each year to bring students together with faculty and other biology people to interact outside the classroom. Past events have included chili-cookoffs, ice cream socials, pizza parties, and field trips to the mountains. We are always looking for good ideas, so please let us know what events you would like to see in the future.

BIOTA peer mentoring

Incoming biology freshmen are connected with junior and senior biology majors to help with making the transition to UNC and college life. Peer mentors are able to provide insight into the university experience from the perspective of those who have been there. A sentiment of some senior UNC students is, "I wish I had known that as a freshman!" Having a peer mentor is having an important source of knowledge.

Unparalleled access

You will have unparalleled access to your professors -- the people who actually do the teaching at UNC -- in the classroom, in the laboratory, and outside of regularly scheduled times. This is one of the hallmarks of UNC's attention to student-centered education.

Customized advising

You will have an academic advisor who will help you plan and register for the right classes to match your chosen emphasis in biology. Your advisor can also provide career counseling, and in other ways help you to stay on track to meet your career and life goals.

BIOTA invited seminars

Noted scholars from across the country are invited to present seminars on topics of interest to biology students. These seminars are offered each Friday afternoon during the academic year. Special seminars are also presented during evening events (e.g. home coming week) on topics with broad appeal to current, past, and future biology students. Among past seminars was "Live Bats" presented by Rob Mies, a nationally reknowned biologist and author, together with some of his bats.

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Four-year plans for graduation

As a participant in the BIOTA program you will be guided to graduation with a B.S. degree in the Biological Sciences using four-year plans that have been designed specifically for you. Each of the four-year plans is customized to the area of emphasis that you may choose to study:

  • Prehealth and Biomedical Sciences
  • Cellular & Molecular Biology
  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  • Secondary Teaching

Biology traditional and BIOTA four year plans

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The BIOTA faculty team

For more information about the BIOTA program, or for general questions about UNC biology, please contact one of the BIOTA faculty team members.