Professors emphasize direct involvement in the scientific method, encouraging students to learn through experience and experiment. The program is classroom- and lab-intensive, combining a broad academic foundation in general biology with ample opportunities for research in specific areas of interest. Student research areas have included seasonal hormone cycles of the Eastern red-spotted newt, biodiversity changes in soil, and effects of herbicides on human cervical cells.
Because Sewanee focuses on undergraduates, biology majors have unmatched opportunities to collaborate with faculty researchers on projects. Each year, undergraduates present their research at conferences and publish in scientific journals.
The biology department offers the following three majors:
- Biology explores life at scales ranging from molecules and cells to populations and ecosystems.
- Biochemistry is offered in collaboration with the chemistry department and addresses the molecular basis of life, exploring the interface of biology and chemistry.
- Ecology and Biodiversity is offered in collaboration with environmental studies and integrates biology with other disciplines, engaging students in both applied and theoretical aspects of environmental challenges (see the catalog section on Environmental Studies for requirements).