I feel that the major principles of biology are the fundamental theories that make up some of the larger fields of biology. So to me, cell theory, gene theory and the theory of evolution are the major principles of biology. They are the basis for the fields of cellular/molecular biology, genetics, and evolutionary and developmental biology.
As a Longwood biology student, I have taken many classes on a variety of topics within the biological sciences. Biology majors are required to start with classes that introduce us to the major principles of biology with Introduction to Genetics and Cell Biology and Introduction to Ecology and Evolution. Then, as we progress through the major, we are able to pick upper-level courses that focus more specifically on the principles of biology. So while my understanding of the major principles of biology was only surface level at the start of my education here, I’ve had time to take advantage of all of the courses available to me and cover the theories more in depth.
Genetics: One of the first upper-level biology courses I took was genetics. This class explored the major concepts of gene theory by discussing Mendelian and non-Mendelian genetics as well as doing lab experimentation to discuss the role of promoting and deleting genes in gene expression. This class allowed me to fully appreciate the complexity of genetics as well as understand just how important genes are to understand. We discussed how genetic knowledge is applicable in many different scientific fields from medical fields to horticulture to evolution.
Evolution: Another one of the upper-level classes I’ve taken at Longwood was evolution. This course discussed every aspect of the theory of evolution in depth from how we think life began on Earth to the theory of natural selection to why it’s important the the theory of evolution be understood and accepted by all for the advancement of science. While I thought it was fascinating to discuss parts of evolution I hadn’t known before, like the origin of life, I also thought it was interesting to discuss why it’s important to accept evolutionary theory. I wrote a paper for this class on why students–especially religious students–should accept to theory of evolution and how to teach evolution to be compatible with religious beliefs.
Modern Genetics: One of the best examples of the major principles of biology was a 400-level modern genetics class which explored the real-world application of many bioinformatic sources such as SnapGene and NCBI’s BLAST database. In this class, we looked at all aspects of how the COVID-19 virus works. This included how it evolves, its genetics, and how it takes advantage of the mechanisms in host cells to reproduce. This class, I believe, did a great job of exploring all of the major principles of biology. Though viruses are not technically biological organisms, our class lessons and discussions focused on the applications of the principles with the real-world example of COVID-19. My final for this class was an oral presentation discussing the basics of how viruses such as COVID work to reproduce within cells, how the Delta and Epsilon variants of COVID evolved, and their significant genetic differences.
Link to Slides: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1aJ29nqyepYHggSLIbYOfkM_bzSwWX66W7P3PcyJ7Ix4/edit?usp=sharing