A student wearing a backpack walks between leafy trees

About

In the Department of Biological Sciences, challenging science courses are just one part of a holistic approach to learning. Our curriculum integrates traditional study with individual mentorship in the lab and service learning and sustainable projects in the community, for a truly interdisciplinary experience.

 

 


"Perhaps the most exciting part of our work is the immediacy of it all. Never before has there been a greater need to understand wetlands ecosystems, as it might soon be too late.​​​"

Kathryn Norman

MS '18


Department News

An identified pollinator on campus (wasp).

Pollinators Find a Home at GW

Students are studying what kind of insects spend their days feeding off Foggy Bottom flowers to better understand how to support the local ecosystem. The CCAS research team aims to identify pollinators, such as this wasp, that frequent flower beds on the Foggy Bottom campus.
Women in the GW greenhouse

The Caterpillar’s Role in Ecological Systems

Professor of Biology John Lill and his researchers collect roughly 3,000 caterpillars each summer to study the relationship between the herbivore diet and survival. Caterpillars are susceptible to parasitoid insects like bees and wasps, and their place in the ecological structure can affect much larger organisms like the nearly wiped-out American chestnut tree[KB1] .

research team working together

Save the Honeybees

Almost half of America’s bees have disappeared in just a decade, and the root of the problem is still uncertain. Assistant Professor of Biology Hartmut Doebel led a team of undergraduate research assistants on the case. The team zeroed in on one suspect: a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids. Ricky Zhu, a biology major and lead research assistant in Doebel’s lab, said that he and his fellow student researchers felt proud ownership over the work. “We nurture it. It’s our baby.”
Phoebe Elizaga, BS ’20

On the Roof of Africa

Phoebe Elizaga, BS ’20, embarked on a six-day trek with fellow students to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and raise money for childhood cancer research. The biology major hiked through five different ecosystems, from rainforest to alpine desert to arctic snowcap, along the journey to scale the 19,341-foot mountain.

The web of a Laminacauda rubens spider from Robinson Crusoe Island.

A Living Laboratory in the South Pacific

Ruth Weintraub Professor of Biology Gustavo Hormiga’s lab includes several PhD students in biology. Hormiga takes regular expeditions to study spiders in the Juan Fernandez Islands off the coast of Chile. Since 2013, Hormiga has discovered 11 new spider species on the islands. His work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, BBC News and Science and received a $422,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.