Biology majors at Willamette University graduate with a broad understanding of a multi-faceted discipline. Students learn alongside our faculty about topics ranging from signal transduction in cells to the symbiotic interactions among organisms. Hallmarks of our program include the investigative research opportunities available on and off campus, a seminar series that brings in nationally recognized scientists, and the close mentoring that occurs between faculty and students.
Our core courses introduce the connections between major subdisciplines: Cell Biology and Genetics: the Physiological Dynamics of Animals and Plants; and Ecology, Evolution, and Diversity. However, students are also encouraged to pursue their own interests within the framework of the major requirements. Each faculty member teaches a research methods course in their area of expertise — molecular genetics, plant systematics, or animal physiology.
The biology program emphasizes active participation and hands-on learning in classroom, laboratory and field settings.
Opportunities for Research with Faculty
Opportunities for research with faculty include the Science Collaborative Research Program (SCRP), Carson Grants and the year-long Wilson-Berg Scholarship in Cell and Molecular Biology.
Field-oriented courses take advantage of the tremendous biodiversity in the Pacific Northwest. Coastal tide pools, carnivorous plant bogs, and ancient forests are all within driving distance of the capital city of Salem.
Willamette University is also a charter member of the Malheur Field Station and Wildlife Refuge in Oregon's high desert region. Post-session courses are available in Ecuador and Hawaii.
On-campus resources include computer and student research laboratories, animal care and behavioral facilities, climate-controlled greenhouses, and two electron microscopes. These are complemented by the Martha Springer Botanical Garden, an extensive library support network, and numerous opportunities for research or internships in state-of-the art programs throughout the state (e.g., Oregon Health Sciences University, the Hatfield Marine Science Center, the Oregon Zoo, and the Oregon Department of Agriculture). Many graduates participate in off-campus study programs, and many successfully pursue graduate or professional degree work in the sciences. Others may apply their knowledge of biology to careers in fields as diverse as teaching, law, and news media or to volunteer work in the Peace Corps or Nature Conservancy.