Studying Biology at Warren Wilson

Warren Wilson College offers a Bachelor of Science degree with a major or minor in Biology through a broad and rigorous academic study of the living world within the context of a liberal arts education. Courses emphasize the process of gathering scientific information and building knowledge based on critical evaluation of experimental observation.

All students majoring in Biology follow a program of study that provides a broad, fundamental understanding of all areas of life sciences. However, students are strongly encouraged to specialize by taking additional courses in a selected area. Majors in biology must take courses in chemistry, physics, and mathematics. Concurrent training in education or environmental studies is possible.

Biology majors graduate prepared for employment in a wide variety of disciplines including conservation biology, forestry and natural resources, horticulture, laboratory assistance or management, public health, sales, industrial quality control, nutrition, animal science, and biotechnology. Graduates are also qualified to enter postgraduate professional programs in medicine, physical therapy, veterinary medicine, dentistry, public health, law, forensic science, forestry, or industrial hygiene, as well as graduate studies in molecular genetics, plant pathology, immunology, infectious diseases, animal science, botany, or zoology.


JJ Apodaca, Ph.D. – Conservation Biology
Paul Bartels, Ph.D. – Invertebrate Zoology & Animal Behavior
Amy Boyd, Ph.D. – Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Mark Brenner, Ph.D. – Aquatic Ecology
Robert Eckstein, DVM, Ph.D. (Department Chair) – Applied Animal Behavior
Liesl Peterson Erb, Ph.D. – Wildlife Ecology and Conservation
Jeff Holmes, Ph.D. – Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
Alisa Hove, Ph.D. – Plant Evolution & Ecology

Student Research

Natural Science Undergraduate Research Sequence

NSURS student Laura Miess sampling for invertebrates in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.
NSURS student Laura Miess sampling for invertebrates in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.

Students pursuing degrees in the Natural Sciences gain undergraduate research experience through Warren Wilson College’s Natural Science Capstone Program. The Natural Science Capstone Program is comprised of a three-semester sequence. In the capstone program, students gain first-hand experience in scientific investigation and scientific communication in a dynamic, collaborative research environment. Each student is matched individually with a Warren Wilson College faculty mentor, who provides training, mentorship, and support during the research process. In addition to a primary faculty mentor, each student selects two faculty members to serve as on their research committee. Committee members provide additional feedback and expertise during the research process.

During their junior and senior years, students in the capstone program take the following sequence of courses:

  • Research Design (SCI 390) – In this course, students attend weekly meetings, special seminars, and explore the scientific research process. Students in this course focus primarily on identifying faculty mentors, identifying a research topic, familiarizing themselves with the peer-reviewed literature in their chosen field, and developing an independent research project.
  • Natural Science Research (SCI 486-489) – During this semester, students implement their research projects while working closely with their faculty mentor. The aims of this semester include gaining proficiency with appropriate data collection methods, data visualization, and quantitative data analysis.
  • Natural Science Seminar Communication (SCI 493) –  This semester provides the forum for the presentation and evaluation of student research. Each student presents a 20-25 minute oral presentation on his/her research project and submits a formal thesis for the College archives.


Genetics Laboratory – Located in Witherspoon Hall, the Warren Wilson College Genetics and Plant Physiology Lab functions as a working research lab for faculty and for students working on capstone projects. The facility features instrumentation for DNA extraction, PCR, electrophoretic analysis, and a computer work station equipped with state of the art analytical software. The facility also houses a LiCor 6400XT gas exchange analyzer and a Scholander pressure chamber. Students working in the lab have the opportunity to receive training to develop a variety of field, laboratory, analytic, and communication skills. The lab was created by professors JJ Apodaca and Alisa Hove in 2012.


Special Opportunities

Honors Program

Graduation in Biology with honors is possible for qualified students. For more information on requirements and courses see WWC catalog