Mathematical and Computational Biology Major


As biology and biotechnology become more important in the coming decades, so will the application of quantitative methods to biological science. Mathematical and computational components are vital to many areas of contemporary biological research, such as genomics, molecular modeling, structural biology, ecology, evolutionary biology, and systems analysis of neurobiology, physiology, and metabolism.

HMC students interested in the interface between biology, mathematics, and computer science may pursue the Mathematical and Computational Biology Major, which is jointly administered by the biology, mathematics, and computer science departments.

This major prepares students for graduate studies in areas including applied mathematics, bioinformatics, computational biology, as well as employment in industry.

HMC's core curriculum provides mathematical and computational biology majors with a strong multidisciplinary foundation, and the college offers many opportunities for students to engage in interdisciplinary research in biomathematics, computational biology, and quantitative biology.

Students who choose this major become immersed in the scientific and intellectual cultures of biology, computer science, and mathematics, and the major is sufficiently flexible to allow students to concentrate in a particular area of interest. Students in this major have one advisor from the biology department and one advisor from either the mathematics or computer science departments. The advisors will jointly help the student plan a program tailored to the student's interests and goals.

Requirements for the Degree

Introductory Sequence

  • Math 55. Discrete Mathematics
  • Bio 54. Biology Laboratory
  • Bio 154: Biostatistics (taken concurrently with Biology 54)
  • MCBI 118A: Introduction to Mathematical Biology
  • MCBI 118B: Introduction to Computational Biology

Biology Foundations

  • Any two of the following:
  • One biology seminar
  • One biology laboratory

Mathematical and Computation Courses

  • One of
  • One 3-unit mathematics course chosen with your advisor. Suggested mathematics course options include (but are not limited to)
  • One 3-unit computer-science course chosen with your advisor. Suggested computer-science course options include (but are not limited to)
    • CS 60. Principles of Computer Science
    • CS 70. Data Structures and Program Development
    • CS 81. Computability and Logic
    • CS 121. Software Development
    • CS 140. Algorithms
    • CS 133. Databases
    • CS 144. Scientific Computing
    • CS 151. Artificial Intelligence
    • CS 152. Neural Networks
    • CS 155. Computer Graphics
  • Five units of additional coursework in mathematics or computer science

Electives, Thesis, and Colloquium

  • One technical elective chosen with advisor

    Any course related to your interests in the major. Possible courses satisfying this requirement could be in biology, computer science, or mathematics, or in another field including (but not limited to), chemistry, bioengineering, cognitive science, neuroscience, biophysics, or linguistics.

  • Senior thesis or Clinic
  • Colloquium and Forum
    • Bio 191/192. Biology Colloquium
    • Mathematics 198. Undergraduate Mathematics Forum
    • One semester of “joint” colloquium (0.5 units).

      Students registered for joint colloquium must attend at least twelve colloquium talks during the semester in any field(s) related to their interests. The talks may be at any members of the Claremont Colleges consortium or a nearby university and may be in any of a wide array of fields including biology, mathematics, computer science, and other science and engineering disciplines including bioengineering, cognitive science, neuroscience, biophysics, linguistics. Students enrolled in the joint colloquium are required to submit a short synopsis of each talk that they attend. Joint colloquium will be administered by the computer-science department and, for purposes of scheduling, will be listed as occurring at the same time as the regular computer-science colloquium.

Sample Paths Through the Major

See the Math department's description of the major for several different sample schedules for students enrolled in the Mathematical and Computational Biology program.