Our outstanding faculty, state-of-the-art lab facilities, close proximity to field sites, and small class sizes provide our students hands-on experience across the full range of modern biology disciplines, from the sub-cellular level to the biosphere.
Plant Biology students at a quaking bog
The Department of Biology emphasizes both student participation and the development of critical analytic skills necessary to understand the changing biosphere and emerging technologies. Our curriculum contains core biology sequence course work, a wide range of elective choices, and the opportunity for independent research. Students can direct their upper level course work according to their own interests in several areas including (but not limited to) molecular genetics, neurobiology, conservation biology, organismal biology, and developmental biology. Biology majors are well prepared to engage in a wide variety of post-college careers including: professional and graduate programs, public policy, business, education, outreach, and academics. Please feel free to contact us for more information.
Neuroscience is an interdisciplinary field, drawing upon biology, psychology, and philosophy to understand the mind, how the brain functions, and the role of the nervous system in normal and abnormal behavior.
The Neuroscience major curriculum represents the interdisciplinary nature of the field. The core Neuroscience curriculum consists of seven courses that cover the biological, psychological, and philosophical roots of neuroscience, as well as three elective courses that majors select from an array of course offerings in the three core disciplines. In addition, Neuroscience majors complete a minimum of one semester of senior work, either as part of a small seminar class or by conducting research with a Neuroscience faculty member.
The Neuroscience curriculum offers extensive hands-on laboratory experience for students as part of the major's formal coursework, senior thesis work, and student-faculty research collaborations. Neuroscience researchers at Middlebury study a wide array of topics such as adult neurogenesis, the development of alcohol tolerance, the neural bases of cognitive flexibility, neural control of behavior, sex differences in spatial processing, the physiological bases of psychological trauma, and the bases of memory.
Neuroscience faculty and students utilize state-of-the-art facilities for both laboratory-based coursework and scholarly research.
The goals of the Biology department are to provide students opportunities to explore the diversity of life within the tradition of a liberal arts education.
To accomplish our first goal we require course work that spans the entire field of biology, as well as course work that provides depth in at least one sub-discipline. Students who choose to major or minor in biology complete a common core program which includes two introductory courses that have been designed to explore four critical fields in modern biology: ecology, evolution, genetics, and cellular biology. Course work beyond the introductory level provides depth by including taxon-based organismal courses, research methods courses, and a wide variety of upper-level courses that span the field of biology. We offer courses from across the breadth of the field each semester so that students can customize their major to achieve their own educational goals while providing preparation necessary to be successful in their future career.
As senior Alexa Warburton opens the door to the cephalopod lab, a pungent smell escapes into the third-floor hallway of Middlebury College’s McCardell Bicentennial Hall. “It smells like the ocean,” she comments. And it should. Warburton, a senior biology major from Hopkinton, N.H., is spending her summer studying a member of the cephalopod family, Octopus bimaculoides . Her goal is to study the way these saltwater creatures learn, thereby furthering the already-extensive body of research on invertebrate intelligence.
Helen Young (Biology) and her students have recently been exploring the effects of landscape on pollinator: How does the presence of forest around a field affect the number and diversity of bee pollinators? What about corn fields? Or roads and rivers and cities? This work has strong relevance in Addison County, an area heavily reliant on agriculture for its well-being. Once the researchers know what influences pollinator abundance, they will be able to include this information in city and county planning, and help farmers maintain (or even increase) their crop yield for insect pollinated crops.