DNA Analysis Methods Track

The power of DNA-based methods influences all fields of Biology, such as medicine, forensics, evolutionary biology, ecology, and species identification. While still providing hands-on experience in DNA Forensics as practiced in criminal forensics, LHU has decided to widen the applications to include many applications in Biology. In the laboratories at LHU, students learn to isolate, quantify, cut, clone, copy, and sequence DNA from bacteria, fungi, plants and animals. Examples of student classroom and research projects include identification of new fungi from forests, the evolution of cell-signaling genes, identification of PA crayfishes using DNA barcoding, identification of breeding trout stock, the forensic individualization of cats, cloning the genes for glowing in the dark from a marine bacterium, the characterization of planarian genes, detection of MRSA bacteria, forensic identification of humans using crime laboratory methods, and DNA sequencing methods used by the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory. At LHU, every student can copy DNA using a forensic/medical-grade PCR thermal cycler, and then genotype or sequence DNA using the ABI 310 Genetic Analyzer, an automated capillary-electrophoresis instrument.  With DNA sequences in hand, students can search national DNA databases in our Wi-Fi-ready science building.  Our graduates routinely enter graduate programs or go directly to work in medical, research, and forensic laboratories.

Students in this option, which is within the B.S. Biology Major, will learn the theory and laboratory skills of modern DNA analysis methods, including DNA isolation and preservation techniques, PCR, automated DNA sequencing, and STR-based genotyping (Short Tandem Repeats--currently the world standard for human forensic identification). The DNA Analysis Methods students will take all the required General Education courses (including Calculus I), and the Area/Core courses in Physics, Chemistry, and Biology found in the Biology Program.   While all students are introduced to DNA methods early in their path, such as in Principles of Biology II, more formal introduction starts in the spring of the Sophomore year with DNA Methods in Biology, a one-credit class that gives students the overview of the use of DNA analyses in biology, including current techniques, terminology, regulations, and applications. In the Junior year in Cell & Molecular Biology and Advanced DNA Methods, students will learn all relevant molecular techniques, such as pipetting, DNA isolation (using phenol extractions, magnetic bead extraction, and FTA paper), restriction digestions, gel electrophoresis, Southern blotting, hybridization, PCR, DNA sequencing, and genotyping. Additional supporting courses in the Junior and Senior years include Microbiology, Biochemistry, and Immunology. Additional experience in DNA Analysis Methods will be seen in the final 17 hours of Biology Electives and Required Courses in the major (see below). All students who reach the Junior and Senior Year with a 2.5 GPA are encouraged to enroll in either an Independent Study or Internship to gain first-hand experience in DNA-based applications.


Possible Schedule for DNA Methods

Year/Semester Fall Semester Spring Semester
Freshman Year

Principles of Biology I (3)
Principles of Chemistry I (4)
Gen Ed (9)
Total = 16 s.h.

Principles of Biology II (3)
Principles of Chemistry II (4)
Calculus I (3)
Gen Ed (6)
Total = 16 s.h.

Sophomore Year

Botany (3)
Organic Chemistry I (4)
Physics I (4)
Gen Ed (3)
Total = 14 s.h.

Genetics (3)
Organic Chemistry II (4)
Physics II (4)
DNA Methods in Biology (1)
Gen Ed (3)
Total = 15 s.h.

Junior Year

Cell & Molecular Biology (4)
Microbiology (4)
Biology Electives (1)
Gen Ed (6)
Total = 15 s.h

Advanced DNA Methods (3)
Biochemistry (4)
Biology Electives (2)
Gen Ed (6)
Total = 15 s.h

Senior Year

Biology Electives (6)
Ecology (3)
Gen Ed (6)
Total = 15 s.h

Biology Electives (1)
Zoology (3)
Organismal Physiology (3)
Gen Ed (7)
Total = 14 s.h.

Other Suggestive Electives

MATH107 Statistics
CHEM317 Instrumental Analysis
For criminal forensic science oriented students,during Sophomore or Junior year, begin Criminal Justice courses:
CRJS102    Introduction to Criminal Justice
CRJS240    Introduction to Law Enforcement
CRJS310    Criminal Investigation