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Department Overview

At Swarthmore College, learning about biology is doing biology.

At all levels of our curriculum, students are engaged in learning about the functions and evolution of diverse biological systems as well as the methods by which biologists study nature. Almost every course has weekly laboratories, taught by full-time faculty members, where students learn to become biologists by making original observations, asking questions about life processes, and designing and performing their own experiments. Scientific communication skills are emphasized in all biology courses, as students read and evaluate research articles in scientific journals, write laboratory reports according to the standards of professional scientific writing, and participate in frequent opportunities for oral presentations and critical discussion.

The curriculum prepares students to pursue careers in research and medicine or to apply their biology interests to careers as diverse as governmental policy planning, science education, public health, museum exhibit design, and writing children's books. Our advanced seminars are centered on current research in eleven different fields that span the biological disciplines. In each seminar, students present and analyze current research papers and perform substantial research projects of their own design.  Students regularly present the results of their research to the campus community and at regional and national meetings.

Photos from Biology

Photos from Biology

the student designed biology tshirt for 2018

the student designed biology t-shirt for 2018

winning photos from the Robert Savage Image Award competition

winners of the Robert Savage Image Award competition

Bio faculty at year end picnic

The Intro Bio Science Associates

The Invertebrate Biology course trip to Friday Harbor

Measuring pea plants in intro bio lab!

The Invertebrate Biology class trip on the Salish Sea

student research in the animal behavior frog lab

Taking care of the frogs

Some Swarthmore biology students attended the Jennifer Doudna talk at Penn over spring break. Doudna is a leading figure in the "CRISPR Revolution" for her early fundamental work and leadership in the development of CRISPR-mediated genome editing. 

Bio 2 "diving" lab

Students acting out phrases in Bio 2's "Buzzword Bingo"

Grace Farley '17 presenting at the Society for Integrated and Comparative Biology

Grace Farley '17 presenting at the Society for Integrated and Comparative Biology meeting

Photos from Biology

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