The biological sciences play a key role in human society from the conservation of biodiversity to medicine. The Department of Biology strives to cultivate an exciting academic environment to study, research, and contemplate the broad spectrum of the life sciences. Our teaching philosophy is founded on a belief in the value of a personal educational experience, achieved through small classes and laboratories, and opportunities for independent study and research. Faculty embrace the Teacher-Scholar model, and pursue varied research interests with student collaborators.
Our curriculum is designed to promote effective scientific communication, the understanding and use of the scientific method, the understanding of the major concepts in biology, the use of the tools and techniques of science, and an understanding of the scientific literature. An important aspect of science education at Washington & Lee is hands-on experience, including independent research experience. Many of our courses include laboratory and/or field work, often incorporating original research projects.
Our majors receive a broad education in the biosciences. Our graduates are competitive for entry to graduate programs, medical and other professional programs, and employment in all sectors of research, development and commerce.
We also provide opportunities for students in all academic programs to gain a greater appreciation for the nature of science and its impacts on society, in keeping with the liberal arts tradition of broadly educated individuals.
There are five vehicles for student research:
- Directed Individual Study (BIO401-403)
- Directed Individual Research (BIO422-424)
- Honors Thesis (BIO492-496)
- R. E. Lee Undergraduate Research Program, which enables students to spend the summer doing research full-time with the faculty scientists of their choice, and
- HHMI research fellows program, which provides students with a more significant research experience with funding for a two-year period
In addition to our in-house curriculum, students can take advantage of programs off campus. These include our popular fall semester program at St. Andrews University in Scotland, as well as the Marine Science Educational Consortium with the Duke University Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, NC. All credits earned in these programs apply to the biology major at Washington and Lee University.