Broad Exposure to and Understanding of the Natural World

Denison’s Department of Biology gives students a broad exposure to and understanding of the natural world, and provides a solid preparation for graduate and professional schools. Our graduates pursue successful careers in education, research, medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, pharmaceutical and nutritional fields, forest and park services, and conservation, including those that require additional training through graduate or professional programs (e.g. DDS, DVM, MD, MPH, MS, PA, PhD).

Through our biology curriculum, we help students develop critical skills that will allow them to contribute to the scientific and world communities regardless of their academic or career path. In all biology courses, we teach students to make rigorous observations about the natural world, to construct testable hypotheses, to design experiments that test those hypotheses, to collect and analyze data from experiments (especially the appropriate use of statistical tests), and to critically evaluate their results and experimental design in the process of making conclusions supported by evidence. We instruct students on how to find, read, and evaluate papers from the scientific literature as well as information from non-scientific sources.

Through class discussions, written assignments, and oral presentations that are targeted for a range of audiences, we challenge students to communicate knowledge effectively. Our “diversity” course requirement ensures that our students can apply their knowledge and skills to a particular taxonomic group for a deep understanding of the biology and evolution of those organisms. Particularly for BS students, required science courses outside of the biology curriculum ensure that students experience different perspectives on the natural world and gain a stronger knowledge of how scientific disciplines are intertwined.

Small class sizes (with an average ≤ 24) throughout the biology curriculum foster active learning and facilitate close student-faculty relationships that lead to sustained advising and mentoring and in some cases, research collaborations. The department provides opportunities for students to engage in research with faculty members as a supplement to their coursework. These research experiences allow students to gain independence and hone their problem-solving abilities; in some cases, they even result in presentations at professional conferences and/or peer-reviewed publications. Research can be conducted in a laboratory setting, in the greenhouse, and/or in the field (in particular, the 350-acre Biological Reserve).

The department is currently composed of thirteen permanent and two visiting faculty members. The faculty are trained in a wide variety of biological specialties and all conduct active research in their fields. 

Off-campus opportunities for study and research include semester and summer programs at the Duke University Marine Biology Laboratory, the Semester-at-Sea, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, the School for Field Studies, and the Oak Ridge National Laboratories, among others.

Denison students can choose to major or minor biology. Students who major in biology can choose to earn either a B.A. or a B.S depending on the courses they select.

Students can also become further involved in the life of the department as members and officers of the Denison University Biological Society.