Chairman Rolf Karlstrom's Message

State Flower


Biology Alumnus Newsletter
University of Massachusetts at Amherst

State Bird
State Fish

It is an exciting time to be a biologist, and a great time to study Biology at UMass. Over the last few decades, biologists have provided profound new insights into the very mechanisms that account for species diversity on this planet, have contributed to our understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms that make life possible, and have greatly added to our ability to understand and treat human disease. The current rate of scientific discovery in the life sciences is unprecedented. But not to worry, as each new discovery leads to a host of new scientific questions, there are a multitude of important issues for the next generation of biologists to tackle. Our department combines cutting-edge Life Science research with a strong commitment to excellence in teaching, making UMass an exciting place to study biology.

Rolf Karlstrom and Pat Wadsworth toast advancing faculty at a
Friday evening May 22, 2010 impromptu faculty get together
at the University Club (formerly the Faculty Club).

The Biology Department plays a leadership role in Life Science education on campus and is at the forefront of instructional innovation. Major grant funding from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Pew Course Redesign Project, and the National Science Foundation enhance and expand State-funded educational opportunities. Our curriculum emphasizes active learning approaches and problem solving, and is aimed at preparing students to be life-long learners in Biology. We have a full-time Undergraduate Program Office for student advising, and a Pre-Medical Advising Office. Undergraduates play a big role in research, with many students working in labs, completing Honors research projects, and participating in the Jr. Fellows Program for outstanding undergraduate researchers. The department is also the current home of the Massachusetts Academy of Sciences, which provides a variety of outreach and educational services to the community.

Research is a clear strength of the department, with external funding tripling over the last decade. Our faculty's research spans levels of biological organization, from evolutionary issues at the level of organisms in their environment, to the molecular and cellular level. Especially strong research clusters have been developed in the areas of Developmental Neurobiology, Plant Biology, Cell Biology, Functional Morphology, and Evolution. Graduate education is a big part of our mission and is centered on four inter-departmental graduate programs in Molecular and Cellular Biology, Neuroscience and Behavior, Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, and Plant Biology. These independently administered programs are largely housed in the Biology Department and provide a wealth of seminars and research opportunities.

Whether you are a prospective undergraduate or graduate student, one of our many esteemed alumni keeping in touch, or just visiting, we trust you will find the information you need on these web pages. If you are in the neighborhood, feel free to stop by and chat to get a better feel for the department.

Rolf Karlstrom
Chair, Department of Biology

biomay212010_318rolfpat.jpg394.11 KB
p.patens_image002.gif93.52 KB
epigaea_repens_s.jpg32.44 KB
chickadee.jpg60.17 KB
cod.gif5.53 KB