University of Virginia
P.O. Box 400328
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4328
(434) 982-5474 Fax: (434) 982-5626
Overview The Department of Biology offers a diversified program that serves students with a breadth of interests and provides an education that ultimately enables them to pursue careers in many areas of the biological sciences, including teaching, medicine, and research. Biology is the study of life itself, at its many levels of organization: ecosystem, population, organism, cell, and molecule. Our universal fascination with life drives our exploration of this discipline, for in it there are questions and answers about us and all living systems. How does the fertilized egg develop into a multicellular organism? Why do some cells age while others continue to divide? How do cells communicate with one another? How does the monarch butterfly know when and where to make its astonishing migration? Questions such as these define the frontiers of biology. We approach these scientific problems with exciting new technologies and creative approaches undreamed of even a decade ago. During this “golden period” of biological research, we have been brought close to a complete understanding of many fundamental biological processes. Our dissections probe not only into cells, but to the very molecular fabric of living things. As we do so, we learn about our past and how we have evolved. We also gain an ever-increasing appreciation for living things and the delicate balance of the ecosystem that we share.
Faculty The 35 members of the faculty include professors who are nationally and internationally recognized in their fields. The research activities within the department are currently supported by over thirty-two investigator-initiated research grants totaling more than $7 million awarded annually from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and other government agencies or private foundations. Our commitment to excellence in research complements and enhances our dedication to outstanding teaching, and provides the resources to promote creative and original research by our students. The department participates in University-wide programs in biophysics, biochemistry, molecular biology and genetics, cell and developmental biology, and neuroscience.
Students There are currently about 500 students majoring in biology. Upon graduation, many biology majors have spent the better part of two years assisting in nationally funded research projects and carrying out their own experiments. Students collaborate with some of the best biologists in the country, conducting research using the most advanced equipment available. The department has expanded and modernized its research laboratories, making it easier for students to take advanced classes early in their academic careers. Students graduating with a degree in biology gain admission to the most outstanding graduate schools in the country, and the acceptance rate of our biology graduates to medical schools is exceptionally high.
Special Resources The department, in offering modern research facilities equipped with the most advanced instrumentation available for biochemical, biophysical, cellular, molecular, and behavioral research, creates an intellectual environment that fosters scientific creativity. The facilities include a world-class light microscopy facility, a high-performance liquid chromatography laboratory, and a range of instruments for molecular studies. A high-speed ethernet interconnects mainframe and micro-computers and provides access to the Internet. These resources in turn give ready access to scientific software, such as DNA and protein sequence analysis programs and sequence databases.
Mountain Lake Biological Station (www.mlbs.org) Information about undergraduate and graduate level summer courses may be obtained from the Director, Mountain Lake Biological Station, Department of Biology, 238 Gilmer Hall, PO Box 400327, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4327.