What  can I do with a biology degree from The College of Wooster?

Students who major in biology at Wooster benefit from small class sizes, extensive lab facilities, and faculty who work closely with undergraduates to help them pursue specialty interests. As a result, many graduates in biology enter the fields of medicine, veterinary medicine, environmental law, exercise physiology, fisheries management, public health and academia. About half the graduates of the program go on to graduate or professional schools, with a great track record of acceptance into top research universities in the United States. Wooster ranks among the top 50 U.S. institutions where women doctorate recipients in the biological and life sciences earn bachelor’s degrees, according to a 2019 report published by the Council of Independent Colleges and based on data from the National Center for Education Statistics and National Science Foundation. Wooster’s partnerships with hospitals, universities and cultural institutions give students a vibrant network and access to internships and jobs after graduation.

Biology  at  The College of Wooster

Faculty members in biology are focused on undergraduate teaching and research, and student are encouraged early on to make connections and build on their skills in experimental design and hypothesis testing. The Ruth W. Williams Hall of Life Science offers students updated research laboratories and includes a vivarium for animal studies and a greenhouse. The Fern Valley Field Station is a dedicated field research site available to biology students. All students at The College of Wooster complete independent study under the guidance of a faculty member, culminating in a thesis delivered in the spring semester of their senior year.

Faculty & Staff

Nick Brandley

Nick Brandley

Associate Professor of Biology


Hilary Edgington

Hilary Edgington

Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology/ Life Science Instruction Specialist


Dean Fraga

Dean Fraga

Danforth Professor of Biology; (On leave for AY 2023-24)


Jennifer Ison

Jennifer Ison

Associate Professor of Biology


Seth Kelly

Seth Kelly

Associate Professor of Biology, Department Co-Chair (On leave for Spring 2024)


Richard Lehtinen
Beth Lingenfelter

Beth Lingenfelter

Administrative Coordinator - Biology, Environmental Studies, Neuroscience


Sharon Lynn

Sharon Lynn

Horace N. Mateer Professor of Biology, Neuroscience


Jhony Mera

Electronics & Instrument Technician - Biology, Chemistry, Physics


Ferdinand Nanfack Minkeu

Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology


Julie Pringle

Julie Pringle

Animal Caretaker, Biology


Erzsebet Regan

Erzsebet Regan

Whitmore-Williams Associate Professor and Department Chair of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


Timothy Siegenthaler

Timothy Siegenthaler

Instrument and Lab Tech/Machinist - Biology, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Physics


Laura Sirot

Professor of Biology and Department Co-Chair


Stephanie Strand

Stephanie Strand

Associate Professor of Biology; Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


James West

James West

Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Biology; Chemistry


Head shot of Rebecca Williams

Rebecca Williams

Assistant Professor of Biology (On leave Fall 2024)


Latest Biology News

Sam Carmel ’25, Laura Sirot, professor of biology and Isabel Espinosa ’23 in the recording studio working on I Came for Science.

Biology professor launches reproductive science podcast through interdisciplinary collaboration with alumni and students

Under the direction of Laura Sirot, professor of biology at The College of Wooster, an interdisciplinary team of students and alumni have launched I […]

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Wooster Science Cafe’s spring season to feature talks on nutritional supplements, mRNA vaccines, and urban ecology

Wooster Science Cafe, a collaboration between The College of Wooster and The Ohio State University, will begin its spring season on Feb. 7 at […]

B-WISER Camp 2023

B-WISER summer camp offers girls opportunity to explore STEM fields

The B-WISER educational summer camp, a partnership between The College of Wooster and the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation, will take place June 10-15, 2024. […]


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Laura Sirot, professor of biology, and Brooke Krause, associate professor of economics and global & international studies, led 13 students from The College of […]

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Through its curriculum, the Biology Department seeks to develop students who:

  • comprehend foundational and unifying biological principles and their implications
  • retain the knowledge essential to a broad understanding of Biology
  • are familiar with scientific methods of inquiry and the philosophy of science, including methodologies for distilling biological information
  • are able to design and conduct an independent scientific investigation
  • can use scientific information to make reasoned decisions and critically evaluate the work of others
  • are able to communicate scientific information effectively
  • show evidence that they understand how knowledge changes
  • are motivated to think, study and learn independently

Biology majors take 14 courses related to their major, as well as foundational courses in the liberal arts and electives.  A sample of the course sequence for biology majors over four years:

First year

  • Foundations of Biology and Gateway to Molecular & Cellular Biology or Gateway to Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology
  • General Chemistry I
  • General Chemistry II

Sophomore year

  • Gateway to Molecular & Cellular Biology or
    Gateway to Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology
  • Research Skills in Biology
  • One or two 300-level electives

Junior year

  • Independent Study and Biostatistics (original research with a thesis proposal due at the end of the course)
  • Two 300-level electives

Senior year

  • Independent Study thesis
  • One or two 300-level electives
View Courses


To earn a minor in biology, students complete six courses, including:

  • Foundations of Biology
  • Gateway to Molecular & Cellular Biology
  • Gateway to Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology
  • Three elective 300-level biology courses, one of which must have a laboratory component
View Courses

Independent Study

The study of biology at Wooster culminates with three courses of Independent Study. Each student works one-on-one with a faculty member to develop a proposal, complete a yearlong research project, and write a thesis based on the results.

In these individualized research experiences, students develop the capacity for self-education, problem solving, and effective communication. Students commonly conduct their Independent Study research on campus, but many have worked off campus in conjunction with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, the National Institutes of Health and Mental Health, Cleveland Clinic, or in a variety of NSF-sponsored Undergraduate Research Experiences across the country.

Biology I.S. projects cover a wide range of topics, including the effects of air pollution on lichen populations, the role of the protein neurontin-1 in mediating hyperexcitation of cultured nerve cells, and the elucidation of gene function using RNA interference.

Wooster undergraduates have published their research in such journals as Evolution, Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology, Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, The Journal of Avian Biology, and the Journal of Neurology, and regularly present their results at professional meetings such as the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, the Ecological Society of America, the Endocrine Society, and the Society for Neuroscience, or at workshops and symposia.


Search the I.S. Database

Student Year I.S. Title Major 1 Major 2 Advisor
Please search to view results

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Wooster graduates with degrees in biology have chosen careers in a broad range of fields, from medicine, biological research, veterinary medicine, environmental law, exercise physiology, and cytotechnology, to art illustration, teaching, wildlife and fisheries management, evolutionary biology, and public health.

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Pelican Lecture

The Biology Department sponsors a bi-annual lecture in honor of Dr. Ralph Schreiber. Dr. Schreiber was a graduate of the College of Wooster, noted for his work on seabirds, including pelicans. His parents, the late Clare Adel and William Schreiber, were long term residents of and contributors to the Wooster Community and endowed this lecture in Ralph’s memory.

Lab Facilities

Vivarium at Ruth WilliamsThe Biology Department is housed in the Ruth W. Williams Hall of Life Sciences, providing modern, expansive space for classrooms, teaching laboratories, and research laboratories. The Biology Department shares numerous research labs, classrooms, and offices with the Departments of chemistry and psychology, and the Interdisciplinary Programs in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Neuroscience, and Environmental Studies.

Research facilities and equipment available to biology majors include advanced microscopy, aquatics, vertebrate animal facilities for birds and rodents, and a vertebrate animal facility for fish.

Advanced Microscopy

Ruth W. Williams Hall currently houses a suite of microscopes for both teaching and research. Four imaging stations are available for teaching purposes. Each station is outfitted with an IX73 Olympus epifluorescent inverted microscope, a digital camera, and laptop computer. A cryostat and vibratome are also available for making thin sections of tissue. Williams Hall also houses a research-grade Olympus Fluoview 3000 scanning laser confocal microscope in a dedicated microscopy room. The confocal is outfitted with multiple excitation lasers and software for deconvolution and image analysis. Additional resources are available (TEM, SEM, laser dissection, and additional confocal imaging) at the nearby Ohio State Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), which is also located in Wooster, Ohio.


Aquatic Facility

Ruth W. Williams Hall has an Aquaneering Zebrafish Housing system which consists of a seven-shelf double-sided rack that allows for a flexible arrangement of tanks from 1.4 to 9.5 liters in size. All tanks are maintained on a self-contained water filtration system that controls water pH, conductivity, and temperature. Water parameters in the aquatic facility can be controlled remotely through mobile monitoring. The aquatic facility can support research in a variety of disciplines, including genomics, developmental biology, animal behavior, and organismal physiology, among others.

Vertebrate Animal Facility for Birds and Rodents

Ruth W. Williams Hall has a vertebrate animal facility for birds and rodents with a total of 16 separate holding, testing and storage rooms. These include two free flight rooms and one colony room for zebra finches, multiple large flight cages, two rodent colony rooms, three testing rooms with video capture technology and associated computers and software, four additional flexible testing/holding spaces, a separate surgical suite with an Isoflurane anesthesia system, and a cage washroom with an automated Lynx cage washer. The Neuroscience program and Biology department share a full-time animal care technician. For behavioral assays, we have several large tubs that can accommodate Morris water maze and water radial arm maze, in addition to a Barnes maze, open field, elevated plus maze, three Med Associates rodent nose poke chambers, and a pair of Columbus Instruments PACS boxes. The Neuroscience program has a license for Noldus EthoVision 14 to digitize all videos for maze analysis.

Ruth W. Williams Greenhouse

plants populate a greenhouse at The College of WoosterThe top floor of the Ruth W. Williams Hall of Life Science houses a four-season greenhouse to support teaching and research at the College of Wooster. The greenhouse is named ‘Ibby’s Place’ in memory of Dr. Elizabeth ‘Ibby’ Coyle, Danforth Professor of Biology and teacher of Botany from 1926-1972. Daily operations and equipment for the greenhouse are made possible through a generous donation from Paul and Carol Lamberger, members of the class of 1959 and 1960, respectively, and their son, David Lamberger, class of 1992.

The greenhouse has three separate climate-controlled chambers, a plant potting area, and storage space. Each greenhouse chamber has moveable benches, an irrigation system, a heating and cooling system, and supplemental lighting.

Fern Valley Field Station

Fern Valley Field Station Annual Report

The Fern Valley Field Station is the College of Wooster’s outdoor facility to encourage scientific research, environmental education, and nature study. Graciously donated to the College by Betty and David Wilkin in 2012, Fern Valley is a 56 acre tract of wooded land in northern Holmes Co., Ohio and has already hosted visits from hundreds of students, faculty and researchers. Classes from the Biology and Geology Departments at the College frequently visit the site for field experience.

The property is located in a primarily agricultural landscape and one with many Amish neighbors. One of the primary features of the property is a second-order stream and several smaller streams that feed into it. The hilltops, valleys and ravines associated with these streams provide much of the topography associated with the property.

The forest is older second growth with an unusually high number of Ohio Buckeyes (Aesculus glabra). Other common trees include: Black Cherry (Prunus serotina), American Beech (Fagus grandifolia) and Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis).

Ongoing long-term research from faculty in the Biology and Earth Sciences Departments at the College of Wooster include general biodiversity surveys, studies of salamander ecology, invasive plant impacts, and the effects of deer browsing.

Facilities and Resources

The short access road leads to a small parking area. Nearby is a small cabin (constructed in 2015) that can be used for research or educational purposes. Basic field equipment and facilities for collecting and processing samples are available on site. Long-term data on climate at the Station and water flow in the streams are regularly collected. A list of known woody plants and vertebrate species from Fern Valley is also regularly updated. A number of established and marked trails are available (with more under development).


Parties interested in visiting or conducting scientific research at the Fern Valley Field Station should contact the Director, Dr. Rick Lehtinen.

View a research poster on the Geologic History and Hydrology of Fern Valley