Yes, there is a lot of memory work, similar to how one learns history. Other people learn history by fixing stories to the dates. This is precisely how one learns Biology: make the information tell a story.
When you learn about a person, look up additional information about them. A good starting place for this is Wikipedia. This is how you learn about proteins and other biological compounds, as well. There are stories behind each and every theory or discovery. Learn as much as you can about them. Don't spend too much time on this, but just get some background to make it more interesting. A good biology book does this, already, so read your text. Write out the chapter outline, at the least.
Reword the text:
Try not to copy definitions and explanations from the text or any source, word-for-word. Try to restate the information reflecting what you understand. Do try to make sure you have all of the details reflected, even if you combine them into one sentence.
Learn the Vocabulary:
Words you don't know, concepts that have names (ie., Theory of Evolution)...write it all out as vocabulary words. Make sure you know what they mean, and either quiz yourself or have someone else quiz you. Draw pictures where you think it will help.
Draw as many pictures as you possibly can, and even if you've taken notes on the pictures, add notes from the figures in the book along with notes from the text, to your drawing. Be colorful.
Make your own matching games using index cards. Write your own quizzes. Do this when the information is fairly new, so that when you take the quiz, you can really test if you remember or not.