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Discover the world as it is. Imagine the world as it could be.

Explore the nature of life from multiple lenses with a major or minor in biology. You’ll have the opportunity to work closely with research focused professors in small classrooms. Then, you’ll apply that knowledge in hands-on laboratories, often taught by the same professors from your lectures. Your biology faculty advisers will work with you to best plan your educational path, which might include conducting summer research with faculty and studying biology abroad. You’ll leave HWS with a proficiency in biology, well-prepared for graduate school or the professional world.

Student Spotlight Collaborative Work on Display

Erika Sipos ’23 & Claudia Kalina ’23

Erika Sipos ’23 & Claudia Kalina ’23

Erika and Claudia spent the summer researching evolutionary relationships among plant species in Associate Professor of Biology Shannon Straub’s lab. They had the opportunity to present and defend their work at the Rochester Academy of Sciences’ fall conference.

Honors

and Research

Biology students looking to engage more in their work can study and complete Honors and research projects in their chosen topic with the guidance of a faculty mentor.

Past examples of Honors projects include:

  • Amelia Thornton Smith ’21: Investigating Lake Trout Diet in the Finger Lakes
    Susan Cushman, Adviser
  • Alessandra C. Bryan ’20: Effects of Urbanization on the Evolution of Coat Color in Eastern Gray Squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis)
    Bradley Cosentino, Adviser
  • Katherine A. Foley ’20: Competition for Food Resources between the Native Lake Sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) and Invasive Round Goby (Neogobius melanostomus)
    Susan Cushman, Adviser

Experiential Education Working in the Field

experiental learning

Perform water quality research on Seneca Lake with the Finger Lakes Institute, attend guest lectures on water access hosted by the Fisher Center for Gender and Justice or complete a medical internship with Finger Lakes Health.

At Hobart and William Smith, learning goes beyond textbooks and classrooms. You’ll gain high-impact practical experience that deepens learning and opens doors.

Global Education

No Borders: Global Education

Study aquatic life around the Great Barrier Reef in Australia or cell growth in the Netherlands.

Wherever you go, our nationally-ranked global education program will allow you to apply classroom knowledge, develop cultural understanding and build global connections that expand your personal capacity and sense of purpose.

Global Education

Belonging, Diversity and Equity

The biology department is committed to fostering diversity, inclusion and belonging at all levels. Faculty are always available for extra help and some courses include collaborative components with Haudenosaunee and indigenous centers to explore Traditional Ecological Knowledge. Courses also include readings and perspectives from underrepresented minorities in the sciences, shaping discussion about contributions to scientific knowledge and historical biases.

The Colleges also support and recognize racially and ethnically underrepresented students in the sciences with the STEM Scholars awards.

Gain the basics and then go deeper into subfields in human, animal and plant biology.

  • BIOL 167 Introductory Topics

    Learn the fundamentals of studying biology, including distinguishing between the scientific inquiry and other modes of inquiry along with concepts of biology, the central role of DNA and RNA and the inheritance of genetic information.

  • BIOL 238 Aquatic Biology

    Develop a working knowledge of the general biology and ecology of aquatic systems and of the organisms that make up aquatic communities.

  • BIOL 340 Neurobiology

    Examine concepts and experimental models in cellular and systems neurobiology to gain a better understanding of how the nervous system is integrated to produce simple and complex behaviors.

Facilities A Wealth of Resources

facilities

At HWS, you’ll study biology with some of the best equipment available, and that’s not just our word. Rosenberg Hall, where the biology department is located, was called “among the best –if not the best-designed undergraduate science teaching-learning, research facilities we have ever seen” by The Council on Undergraduate Research.

This includes 15 instructional laboratories, 12 student-faculty research laboratories, 3 instrument rooms, a sterile culture room, chemical storage rooms, greenhouse, and computer labs are light-filled and neatly appointed with soft woods, glass and polished steel.

Off-campus study can be completed in the Henry Hanley Biological Field Preserve, aboard The William Scandling research vessel on Seneca Lake or in cooperation with Cornell AgriTech. The Colleges also provide a perfect, central location to nearby natural resources for study including the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge and the Finger Lakes National Forest.

Alum Impact Carving a Path

Banan Otaibi ’18
Medical Student at Penn State College of Medicine

Banan didn’t just study biology at HWS. She participated in the full liberal arts experience - serving as a teaching assistant, completing a research project with a professor, completing an Honors project and serving as the chief of the Colleges’ Emergency Medical Service, just to name a few activities - which helped shape her path to medical school.

Thinking about a career in healthcare? HWS offers a specialty advising program to guide you on the road to medical, dental, veterinary or professional school. Minoring in Health Professions is also an option.

Businesses that employ our graduates

  • The Audubon Society 
  • The Carter Center 
  • Clean Harbors
  • National Fish & Wildlife Foundation
  • The Peace Corps
  • The Whitehead Institute
  • Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
  • The Audubon Society
  • The Carter Center
  • Clean Harbors
  • National Fish & Wildlife Foundation
  • The Peace Corps
  • The Whitehead Institute
  • Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Union College
  • University of Rochester

Universities where our graduates are studying

  • Boston University
  • Bowman Gray School of Medicine
  • Brandeis University
  • Case Western University
  • Cornell University 
  • Dartmouth University 
  • Duke University 
  • Emory University 
  • George Washington University 
  • Georgetown University 
  • Harvard University 
  • New York Medical College 
  • Johns Hopkins University 
  • Mount Sinai 
  • Northwestern University 
  • Penn State University 
  • Thomas Jefferson Medical College 
  • Tufts University
  • Tulane University 
  • Yale University