Close up of sprouts growing in the greenhouse.

Biology Research

The department is particularly excited about our new curriculum which encourages faculty-student collaborative research. Each faculty member has one semester each year to work with a small group of students (maximum of six per professor) focusing on a research area in biology where the faculty member has interest and expertise. The students in that research team - under the direction of their professor - work as a group to gain knowledge and training on original research. Up to five credit hours are awarded to each student for such work, which usually involves lab and field work, keeping a journal, reviewing literature, data analysis, and a public presentation of their work. Within the last year more than a dozen students have participated in student-faculty collaborative research and several students have or will present their findings at regional and national scientific meetings. Joint publication by these student-faculty teams in scientific journals is expected within the next year.

Senior students are encouraged to work on senior honors research under the guidance of a departmental faculty member. The rising senior student submits an honors proposal for research at the end of their junior year to the faculty Curriculum Review Committee, which evaluates it for approval. The senior student then completes a year of research under the guidance of the advisor. The results of the research is presented by the student as a scientific manuscript to a faculty committee (including the adviser) and defended in an oral defense, similar to that which graduate master's students complete. Upon successful completion, the bound manuscript is submitted to the Houghton library, and the student may be encouraged to submit the research for publication in an appropriate scientific journal. Twenty-three biology students have successfully completed honors research within the last decade and their topics across a wide field of biological sub-disciplines are listed below.

Faculty research within the biology department is supported through the faculty-student collaborative research curriculum as well as the Moreland Chair. Within the department, two faculty members are supported through the endowment of the Moreland Chair. This has translated into summer monetary support of the faculty and student assistants to do research. Over the last three summers, students have been given a monetary stipend and free housing to work on research supported by the Moreland Chair.