The department of Biology is located in the state of the art Science and Technology building.
Many of our Biology courses have a weekly laboratory component, where students translate theory into practice and acquire hands-on experience with the subject matter. The laboratory facilities include:
- Six teaching labs
- Room T444: dedicated laboratory for Biol 1115, General Biology I
- Room T436: dedicated laboratory for Biol 1215, Genetal Biology II
- Room T441: dedicated laboratory for Ecology and Biol 1116, Human biology
- Room T434: dedicated laboratory for Biol 1190 and 1191, Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II
- Room T415: dedicated laboratory for Biol 2370/2470 Microbiology, Biol 2330 Introductory Genetics, and Biol 2430 Molecular genetics
- Room T430: dedicated laboratory for Biol 2415 Cell Biology, Biol 2350/2450 Vertebrate and Invertebrate, and Bio 2340/2440, Nonvascular and Vascular Botany
- Room T440: Biology preparation Lab and Lab staff offices
- Room T431: dedicated laboratory for student research and projects
- Room T413: autoclave and faculty research lab
- Room T435: Biology storage room
- 6th floor: greenhouse
- Langara Community Garden (Run by several faculty in Biology department)
Laboratories & Animal Use
The Biology department at Langara College strives to provide an exceptional educational experience for first- and second-year biology students. The practical, hands-on laboratory component of all biology courses enables students to learn valuable skills that will help in their advancement in further scientific studies and in various industries. Although dissections are performed in some labs, vivisection is NOT practiced in any way at Langara College.
Presentation of live specimens for study is an integral part of most biology courses. Students observe bacteria, plants, single-celled organisms, as well as invertebrates and fish as part of their coursework, giving them a valuable, in-depth appreciation of the beauty and complexity of life. These live specimens are cared for in the most humane and ethical manner.
In some cases, behavioral, non-invasive experiments are conducted on live specimens. Once these experiments are completed, the animals are cared for in the lab, released back into the wild, or in the case of Betta fish, they are adopted by the biology students as pets.
In three Biology courses, preserved and non-preserved specimens are used for dissection. Dissection teaches students valuable fine motor skills that require practice to perfect. Learning to differentiate between different anatomical structures and tissues first hand is unmatched as an educational tool as it requires the integration of the visual and the tactile experience. The ability to perform proper dissection techniques is a skill that is used throughout the biological sciences, from organismal biology to molecular biology, and having experience with dissection gives the students at Langara a marketable skill when competing for positions such as those working as laboratory technicians, field technicians, and even when applying for graduate, veterinary, or medical school.
In addition to having a greater understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the animal, most students come away from dissection with an enhanced appreciation for the complexity of living organisms, the extensive variation of form between individuals of the same species and how the anatomy of different organisms relates to differences in lifestyle.
Every effort is made to ensure that the specimens used for dissection are obtained in a humane and ethical manner. Preserved specimens are purchased from biological supply companies that are bound by legislation that governs the sourcing of biological specimens. At Langara, the Biology Department has always minimized the number of specimens used for dissection by performing dissections in groups. This approach allows all members of the group to participate in the dissection to the extent that they feel comfortable, while still being able to learn from the experience. Students who object to dissection do not have to participate but are still required to learn the material. These students can self-identify at the beginning of the semester to discuss their specific concerns and work out appropriate accommodations with their instructor.
In one of the courses, students dissect rat and quail specimens. These animals are sourced locally from breeders that provide rats for reptile husbandry and quail for human consumption. Once these animals have been dissected in the lab, they are donated to Orphaned WildLife Rehabilitation Society (OWL) as a food source for injured owls, eagles, and other birds of prey. In this way, the animals have served a dual purpose, first as an educational tool, and second, as food for animals that have been injured by human activity as part of their rehabilitation to be released back into the wild.
In a typical year, the department uses 550 total animal specimens, of which the largest groups are invertebrates (35%) and fish (33%). Non-rodent mammals are the smallest group at 2%.