Biological Sciences

Biology professor Sarah Bacon.

Biology is the study of life. It is an integrative discipline encompassing topics ranging from molecules and cells to organs, organisms, and ecosystems. The Department of Biological Sciences at Mount Holyoke College offers students courses spanning this entire range. Students can also explore related interests through affiliated programs such as neuroscience and behavior or biochemistry.

Biology at Mount Holyoke operates within an interconnecting Science Center housing state-of-the-art facilities. The department has 12 full-time faculty whose research ranges from cytoskeletal dynamics during development and antiviral immune responses to AIDS, to the biomechanics of animal movement and invasive species ecology. Hands-on laboratory experience is central to our curriculum, and many of our students also engage in independent research with a faculty member before graduating.

Learning Goals
Our goal in the Department of Biological Sciences is to stimulate students’ curiosity about the natural world and help them see themselves as scientists, whether they become biology majors or not.  Our learning goals for the major are for students to develop fluency with four core concepts of biology:  evolution by natural selection; the relationship between structure and function; information flow, exchange, and storage; and the interconnections between living things, and between living things and their environment.  Students develop the abilities to closely observe natural phenomena, use evidence in scientific reasoning, and test their own hypotheses about the natural world. They develop biological literacy, following the trains of scientific discovery (and conflict) in the primary literature, and use quantitative methods—including statistics and modeling--to better understand natural phenomena. 

Biology majors will explore the full range of the discipline and gain ample research and laboratory experience. Ultimately, they are provided with the foundations for success in diverse careers, including medicine, biotechnology, environmental conservation, and public policy.