Ripon College offers a major and minor in biology. Biology is a vast discipline that begins with an understanding of the richness of the molecules of life — nucleic acids, proteins, carbohydrates, lipids — and culminates with an examination of the enormity of interactions of life within the biosphere. While professional biologists usually concentrate on a specific area within the broader field (e.g., human or veterinary medicine, molecular biology, forestry, or wildlife ecology), we believe that undergraduate biology students should begin by exploring as much of the subject as they can.

With this philosophy in mind, Ripon students completing a major in biology will explore the discipline by taking a variety of courses of their choosing. All biology majors take four courses, a foundational introductory course, BIO 121, a scientific writing course, and capstone courses BIO 501 and 502. BIO 121 introduces the central concepts of biology to majors and non-majors. In BIO 501 and 502 students prepare a portfolio of their past work, read and analyze papers from the primary literature, and design, carry out, and report on original research projects. In between these two experiences, majors take at least six subject specific courses in three different areas of biology. In all these courses, students develop skills as practicing scientists. That is, they learn firsthand by doing the science of biology. In our labs and discussions students come to know the discipline by posing problems that are meaningful to them, solving problems through observation and experimentation, and presenting their findings to their classmates and professors.

A Biology major can prepare students for further study in graduate or professional schools, and also trains students for careers in industry, education, or government.