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

Departmental Statement on Institutional Racism

We encourage you to watch the video below to learn about biology at WashU from our students’ perspectives. 

Welcome to Biology

Learn about the Department of Biology from Joseph Jez, chair of the department; Denye Mickens, Class of 2021 undergraduate student; and Erica Thomas, fifth-year graduate student.

No, autumn leaves are not changing color later because of climate change

No, autumn leaves are not changing color later because of climate change

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.

Department of Biology Outreach