Our department has primary responsibility for undergraduate education in the biological sciences, and all of our faculty participate in that mission. A large number of our students have a strong interest in medicine, and we have developed a range of opportunities to prepare our majors for medical school and beyond.Undergraduate Program
Our focus is to help undergraduate students succeed in the classroom and in their future career goals. All of our faculty members serve as advisors for undergraduate biology majors and welcome undergraduates interested in research to work in their labs.Undergraduate Research Opportunities
Our research addresses a wide range of biological questions, across and between the sub-disciplines of biology: from single molecules to systems, and from steady state equilibria to dynamic remodeling over milliseconds to millions of generations. We invite graduate students enrolled in the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences to explore the diverse research areas our faculty members study.Research Areas & Resources
About the Department
How do microbes make drugs? How do plant cells perceive forces? What do electric fish communicate? How has Earth's biodiversity changed over time? Why do we sleep? How do pathogens manipulate their hosts? These are a small sample of the questions our scientists are asking to understand fundamental biological processes and to discover new treatments for diseases. Some of these questions address societal challenges – climate change, environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity – facing the current and next generations of biology students. These challenges are opportunities for scientists to lead, finding the answers to guide future solutions. Preparing the next generations to think deeply and critically is the mission of the research and teaching efforts of the biology department.
Studying biology at Washington University in St. Louis means:
• learning in a supportive environment from faculty nationally and internationally recognized for their teaching and research
• obtaining a degree that opens many professional doors; two-thirds of our undergraduates attend medical school while others pursue professional schools, teaching, public policy, the biotech business, or science communication
• doing cutting-edge scientific research with an interdisciplinary hub of scholars working in plant and microbial biology, neuroscience, cellular development, evolution, ecology, and biodiversity
• learning at a university committed to being a national leader in sustainability and building the bioeconomy
• belonging to a community with an active commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the classroom, field, and laboratory
We encourage you to watch the video below to learn about biology at WashU from our students’ perspectives.
Seedy, not sweet: Ancient melon genome from Libya yields surprising insights into watermelon relative
The oldest known seeds from a watermelon relative, dating back 6,000 years to the Neolithic period, were found during an archaeological dig in Libya. An investigation of these seeds led by biologist Susanne S. Renner at Washington University in St. Louis reveals some surprises about how our ancestors used a predecessor of today’s watermelon.Read more
Retraction with honor
On July 2, 2022, we retracted a paper we published last year in Evolution. The reason I wanted to write this post is to explain what happened and how we dealt with it and thereby to help normalize honest retractions which should probably be more common. I’ll give a little detail on the experiment and then focus on the human side.Read more
The Department of Biology is well known for the diverse scientific interests of its faculty member, students, and postdoctoral scholars. We are committed to making the field of science more inclusive by sharing this knowledge with the wider community. We invite you to learn more about the outreach events that our department participates in.