Congratulations, Biology Class of 2021!

Message from the Director of Undergraduate Studies


Congratulations for all that you have accomplished at Washington University. I thank you for being part of our academic community for the past four years. You have chosen various courses, research projects, internships, and community service to construct an education that is uniquely your own. Your instructors, mentors and fellow students have been much enriched by your insights.

I want to learn more about your personal experiences and accomplishments in biology. What classes or other activities were most important to your mastery of biology? How did you put your biological knowledge into practice? What would you say to a student starting  biological studies here? 

Please contact me ( to discuss these topics and others of your own choosing. I hope to hear from you. 

- Allan Larson

Oh, the things you will accomplish, the places you will see, the world you will be! 

Arpita Bose, Associate Professor of Biology

Dear Class of 2021

"Your time at Wash U began normally enough, but that ended suddenly with Spring Break  2020. I could say that you adjusted brilliantly, showing great courage and compassion, but really, what choice did you have? Humor, masks, and a word that rhymes with boom got us all through this, giving you stories to tell to those not yet born. For students in Behavioral Ecology, it was the Fall of the Spider. You did brilliantly, making the world a better place by adding 206, 000 words to 174 articles on spiders on Wikipedia. You backed these words up with 2060 new scientific references. You looked at Wikipedia spider articles 1.72 million times. You received recognition for your work in the form of Did You Know pages on spiders. Some of you achieved Good Article status for your writing. While others wondered what they could do for humanity in the time of a pandemic, each of you chose to fix one corner of the knowledge universe by telling the world about one spider.

Perhaps when the next crisis comes, we can all remember the world will always need knowledge and if there is not a spider needing explaining, perhaps there is something else! May your future be full of knowledge and spiders!" - Joan Strassmann, Charles Rebstock Professor of Biology

"Over these past four years, you have grown so much! You have learned about loss - both what was and what could’ve been – but you have also learned about perseverance. Here’s to taking that flexible, resilient mindset far into the future. I am so proud of you." -  Elise Walck-Shannon, Biology Lecturer 

Congratulations graduates!  Wishing you the joys of discovery and the wisdom from experiences to come. Now good luck getting some sleep. - Erik Herzog, Viktor Hamburger Distinguished Professor in Arts & Sciences

Good luck with whatever comes next. I am looking forward to hearing about your great future achievements. Congratulations! - Yehuda Ben-Shahar, Professor of Biology

Congratulations Class of 2021 - you have made it to the finish line for your undergraduate degree! I want to give a special shout out to all my advisees, my 2960/2970 lab students, and my microbiology lab students! I am very thankful for the opportunity to have met you, get to know you, and you will be missed very much. Good luck with your next life adventure and keep in touch! - Maggie Schlarman, Biology Lecturer

Congratulations graduates! It has been great working with you and watching you excel. A special shout out to my BIO334 students from this semester-- you guys rocked despite the challenges of the pandemic! All the best and stay in touch. -Ram Dixit, Professor of Biology

Congratulations to the class of 2021. You did it in a way no one has done before!  Special kudos to the survivors of Population Genetics! - David Queller, Spencer T. Olin Professor of Biology

“Congratulations Class of 2021!!  I appreciate and admire your resilience and flexibility during the past few semesters.  Thank you for joining in and participating even when you didn’t feel like it!  Thank you for helping the younger students adjust too.  Our college and campus are better because you were here.  Have an amazing summer and good luck on your next endeavors!” April Bednarski, Biology Senior Lecturer