Alumni Newsletter

Fall 2022 Issue

Table of Contents

Message from the Chair

The campus is full of students enjoying the crisp fall weather in St. Louis. As the leaves changed color, the university underwent its own transformation. In early October, Washington University in St. Louis unveiled its strategic plan, an 18-month effort to map out the university's path for the next decade. The plan, "Here and Next", aims to advance our community's education, research, and patient care efforts. 

Consistent with plans to elevate education and research, the Department of Biology was identified as a unit of strategic opportunity. Our vision is to see the department ranked in the Top-10 of all biology programs in the nation. However, with nearly 600 undergraduate biology majors, we need more teaching laboratories and faculty members to reduce class sizes. We are thrilled to announce that nine new modern teaching lab spaces are coming for Biology by the fall of 2024 to support the enthusiasm for research among our biology majors. The teaching labs will move to a different building, opening up substantial research space for six to eight new faculty hires. We hope that every student who comes through the department has the opportunity to engage in research -  this sets the WashU Biology experience apart from other schools. 

Biology has prioritized scientific research experiences for undergraduate biology majors for years and, as alums, many of you were shared in these experiences across WashU.

  • Nearly all of our advanced lab electives are course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) that provide students with hands-on research experiences in the classroom.  
  • Students also have the opportunity to work in a research lab during the academic year while receiving credit toward their major (read about the research our undergraduates are conducting).
  • Competitive summer programs offer students the opportunity to continue developing their research skills without combining their research experience with employment to cover living costs.
  • Biology has further committed to making undergraduate research accessible to all students with the hire of faculty member Dr. Janet Goins (learn more about Dr. Goins). In addition to her teaching responsibilities, she is charged with creating programmatic activities to support research opportunities for students at all levels and with diverse backgrounds.
  • Finally, we are committed to ensuring no student has to abandon a scientific research experience to prioritize employment to pay for school and living expenses. You can help us in this effort by contributing to the new Department of Biology Undergraduate Research Fund, where your contribution will help fund our students' research experiences. 

Looking ahead, Biology will be growing and changing in the next few years - there's a lot more to come! But, providing our students opportunities to make personal and professional discoveries and to go beyond what's in textbooks remains at the heart of our mission. 

We hope you can take a minute to update us on your personal and professional accomplishments. We also welcome you to share your memories of your time spent at Washington University. 

Connect with Biology 

Jasmine Brown, AB '18

Jasmine Brown is the author of "Twice as Hard: The Stories of Black Women Who Fought to Become Physicians, from the Civil War to the 21st Century."

Read more

Barbara Morgan Detjen, AB ’70

Barbara Morgan Detjen shares her journey from first-year biology to becoming an award-winning project manager at Pfizer.

Read more

Awards & Notables

Ursula Goodenough

Professor Emerita Ursula Goodenough was elected to the National Academy of Sciences

Read the Story

Miriam Silberman

Undergraduate Miriam Silberman was awarded the Professor Garland Allen Prize

Read the Story

Larissa Rays Wahba and Xiyun Zhang

Undergraduates Larissa Rays Wahba and Xiyun Zhang were awarded the Spector Prize

Read the Story

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