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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.

Immortal under the edge of knife: The astonishing abilities of planarians

Work on planarian behavior by Professor Eva Maria Collins and her students was featured in The Atlantic


Singer Hall, Our New Home

In response to a 40% increase in students enrolled in biology, engineering, and psychology from 2000 to 2016, the College committed to creating a new home for these three departments. That home, Maxine Frank Singer Hall, is one of very few science buildings named for a woman on an American college campus

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The Corpse Flower LiveStream Video

It's an event nearly a decade in the making for the Biology Department! The Amorphophallus titanum - commonly referred to as a Corpse Flower - in the Singer Biology Greenhouse has broken its dormancy cycle by growing a flower at rapid rate! Track its bloom with this daily livestream.