About the department

We are particularly proud of our lab and field courses in the Department of Biology. We offer a wide variety of hand-on opportunities in which students practice technique, gather data, and draw conclusions from those data. Many of our classes are small, and include laboratories or field studies of organisms in their natural habitats. As a complement to these hands-on classes, Biology majors also take a set of core lecture courses taught by dedicated faculty. The faculty are remarkably open to exploring new and (hopefully) better teaching methods. For example, we adopted teaching with tablets and have done so as a group so as to make the tablet pay for itself thorugh savings on eTexts over paper books. Students often write reports and give spoken presentations. Reading the scientific literature is part of many classes. We believe in a tight interplay between teaching and research. The faculty are deeply involved in research training through doing research with students. The examination of our subject matter through our courses often inspires our research, and much of our research feeds back to make us better teachers. The variety and field-orientation of our course offerings are, we think, superior to those of any other university in the region. For example, we offer about 20 sections of field courses for majors per year, as well as one integrated field semester. Our graduates have had great opportunities to learn the skills used by professional biologists.