Graphic of a DNA double helix.

Biology

Discover the dazzling complexity of the living world.

The biological world is all around us—and we’re part of it, too.

We aim to open students’ eyes to the myriad wonders of the natural world: from the strange creatures inhabiting the depths of the oceans and the tops of the earth’s highest mountain peaks, to the plants and pollinators right here on Macalester’s campus, to the diverse array of microbes that thrive inside each one of us, to the ways our remarkable bodies function—and what happens when things go wrong. Our faculty will help you discover how the history of evolution led to the present moment, how humans are an integral part of this framework, and what climate change might mean for the future of life on our planet.

Why biology at Macalester?

The breadth of our faculty expertise is unusual for a college our size, and our curriculum reflects that. Our four-course intro series will take you deeper than traditional introductory biology courses, affording a sense of how life is connected at multiple scales. You’ll learn about:

  • Biodiversity and Evolution
  • Ecology and the Environment
  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology

As you work through the major, you’ll have the chance to go both broad and deep. Our upper-level courses cover diverse sub-disciplines within biology, and offer you the chance to study areas you love the most—whether that’s immunology, arctic ecology, developmental biology, evolution, or another track—guided by faculty doing real-world research in those fields.

Research

We believe the best way to learn biology is to do biology. That’s why each year, our professors welcome students into their labs or into the field, working side-by-side on original research, asking questions that no one has answered and looking for solutions that are yet to be discovered.

Our professors study:

  • What the genetics of microscopic worms can tell us about the earliest stages of development
  • How arachnid evolution might unlock secrets about the separation of the continents
  • How common household products might be linked to mysterious pain conditions
  • How plants store carbon in changing environments, and how they respond to climate perturbations
  • What the microscopic structure of bones teach us about how fossil animals (including dinosaurs) grew
  • How the microorganisms that inhabit our bodies affect our health
  • How stem cells can be used to regenerate tissues damaged by disease

Life after Macalester

We equip our majors with the knowledge and curiosity to pursue many directions after graduation. Some will go on to graduate or professional schools, pursuing master’s degrees, PhDs, and MDs. Other students will go on to work for health clinics, nature centers, hospitals, and research labs around the country and all over the world.

Biology in the Cities

Logo of Ordway Nature Center

A 300-acre field study lab is only 15 minutes from campus


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Student internships mentored by biology faculty recently (over 200 internship sites are within 8 miles of campus)

Access to multiple natural science museums, hospitals and health clinics, nature and wildlife centers, University of Minnesota, and public health agencies

The local ecosystem also offers ample subject material for study—from native prairie gardens right here on Macalester’s campus, to the 440-million-year-old fossilized reefs just a mile down the road along the Mississippi River.

Join our community

We won’t just introduce you to biology; our major is also designed to introduce you to your peers:

  • First-year courses bring together students who love biology
  • Intro courses that include hands-on lab sections and small upper-level classes that allow exploration of specialized topics
  • Tight-knit communities in research labs
  • Weekly biology seminar series featuring visiting scholars from across the country
  • Department tea times with students and faculty
  • A student-organized Bio Club and a chapter of TriBeta, the National Biological Honor Society

Congratulations admitted students!

Meet more Biology professors.