Biology is a rapidly expanding, multifaceted discipline, full of possibilities for undergraduate research and for stimulating graduate study and employment after graduation.
Our Mission Statement
As students progress from introductory courses through core courses, advanced electives, and mentored research in the liberal arts setting, they learn how to critically assess a scientific problem, collect and analyze data, write and speak about biology for general and technical audiences, and gain the skills needed for a competitive and rapidly changing job market.
What Sets Oxy Bio Apart
In their first year, students who take our unique core class, the California Environmental Semester, discover quickly that the unparalleled natural resources of Southern California offer numerous opportunities for students to conduct outdoor research. In the Biology Department at Occidental College, many undergraduate students participate in high quality mentored research with faculty members who are active scholars who publish papers and make an impact on their fields. Student research occurs both through upper-division research credits and through the college’s award-winning summer research program, which provides a stipend, housing, and research funds to participating students.
In our nationally recognized marine program, students take part in oceanic research on local coastal reefs and kelp forests with Dr. Dan Pondella, explore the mysterious life in the depths of the ocean with Dr. Shana Goffredi and Dr. Gary Martin, and study the lives of venomous cone snails with Dr. Joseph Schultz. Our soon-to-be-established Genomics Center will unite new DNA sequencing technologies with museum specimens from our world-renowned biodiversity collections including the largest collection of Mexican bird in the world curated by Dr. John McCormack and a stunning collection of shells curated by Dr. Schultz.
International opportunities for field research abound, including studying the physiology of tropical epiphytes with Dr. Gretchen North and the natural history of rainforests with Dr. Beth Braker in Costa Rica. Closer to home, our strong program in cell and molecular biology, with Dr. Renee Baran (developmental neurobiology), Dr. Cheryl Okumura (microbiology and bacterial infections), Dr. Roberta Pollock (immunology and bacterial diseases), and Dr. Kerry Thompson (degenerative neurological diseases and stem cell therapy), in addition to Dr. Goffredi and Dr. Schulz, provides students with research opportunities using state-of-the-art techniques to ask fundamental questions that prepare them for careers in research and medicine.
The Biology Department is deeply committed to interdisciplinary connections between the many different fields of biology and with disciplines outside of biology, as reflected in our involvement in the Biochemistry major and the Computer Science, Neuroscience, and Public Health minors.
Mentorship in the Department
Mark Gad ’18 came to Oxy knowing that science was his wheelhouse. As a sophomore, he took Vertebrate Physiology with associate professor of biology Joseph Schulz, who studies venomous cone snails. Gad “really enjoyed” the class, he recalls, and was eager to learn more about Schulz’s work: “That’s why I wanted to join his lab.”