The Animal Biology (ABI) major offers students training in the biological and natural sciences as they apply to animals. ABI students are encouraged to think beyond particular groups of animals in which they are interested and to consider science as a process and a way of advancing society. Emphasis is on biological principles that can be used in research or in solving societal problems associated with animals in agriculture, urban areas, or natural environments as opposed to animal care and husbandry. The major requirements provide students the opportunity to develop research and scientific writing skills; demonstrate critical thinking; work closely with faculty, staff, researchers, grad students, and/or professors; and be creative in a scientific environment.

The Program

The major consists of core biological science courses that build on animal biology from molecular foundations to the ecological and evolutionary levels of organization. After completing the core courses (usually at the beginning of the junior year), ABI students have the option of specializing in various interdisciplinary aspects of animal biology and plan their chosen emphasis of study in consultation with their adviser.

The program combines a research project (practicum) under the guidance of a faculty mentor together with supportive coursework. This gives the students a great deal of freedom in choosing classes and a research topic.

The ABI research experience remains unique among undergraduate science majors at UC Davis. By graduation, in addition to completing coursework on the principles of biology, every ABI student has designed and conducted a research project and written a final report of his/her findings.

Program Learning Outcomes

  • Ask and answer novel questions in biology, and derive new information and ideas using the process and principles of science.
  • Simply and effectively communicate complex ideas in biology in writing and speech to groups of people.
  • Mediate conflicts between the biosphere and human enterprise incorporating the most reliable biological fact and thought.
  • Distinguish between real scientific fact and progress in biology from bias-driven public-relations pseudoscience.
  • Using a team approach and the most contemporary thinking in biology, solve problems of a biological nature.


On the advising side, we pride ourselves on our ability to provide one-on-one support for each and every one of our students in the major. Because the practicum requires the student to choose courses related to his/her research topic, no two ABI students take all of the same courses. This gives us the privilege of meeting with and getting to know all of our students.

We are always available to answer questions through email so if you have questions about the program or classes, please feel free to contact us at:

152 Hutchison Hall
University of California, Davis
Phone: (530) 754-7277