Biology Major

Study living organisms in the laboratory, classroom and field.

As a biology major or minor, our curriculum will give you a broad background in biology while providing for specialization in your particular interest. 

You’ll also gain extensive experience in testing your own hypotheses and designing your own experiments. You will carry out scientific investigations in the lab, the field and the classroom.

Biology majors pursue graduate work in biology or the health professions, or enter careers in government, business, law, journalism, secondary school teaching, environmental consulting, conservation organizations or biotechnology.

In class with Professor Daniel Martinez
In class with Professor Daniel Martinez
In the lab with Professor Jonathan Moore
In the lab with Professor Jonathan Moore
Professor Nina Karnovsky and a student at Bernard Field Station
Professor Nina Karnovsky and a student at Bernard Field Station
Seaver West, one of two facilities housing Biology
Seaver West, one of two facilities housing Biology

What You’ll Study

    • Evolution and ecology
    • Genetics, cell biology and bioinformatics
    • Animal and plant physiology, developmental biology, animal behavior and conservation biology
    • The process of biological inquiry
    • Field and laboratory research methods
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Students who conducted research in biology in summer 2015

Researching at Pomona

Alexandria Long ’22

Collecting Insects

Alexandria Long ’22 learned to collect and identify insects in her Insect Ecology and Behavior course. She put those skills to use in her internship at the Michigan Aerospace Corporation, where she created collections of insects invasive to the Michigan watersheds.

Andreah Pierre ’22

Doris Duke Conservation Scholar

Andreah Pierre ’22 was a named a Doris Duke Conservation Scholar which gave her the opportunity to spend two consecutive summers researching and learning all about conservation and marine biology.

Alejandro Tovar ’22

CRISPR/Cas-9 and Eggshell Formation

Alejandro Tovar ’22 spent a summer in Prof. Sara Olson’s lab using CRISPR/Cas-9 techniques to explore the role that a newly discovering gene, B0513.4, had on eggshell formation in the model organism Caenorhabditis elegan, or C. elegan

Sofia Dartnell ’22

Climate Change and Bees

Sofia Dartnell ’22 spent summer of 2020 at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, working on a long-term bee phenology project and studying the effects of climate change on parasitic bees and their hosts.

Jacob Ligorria

Studying Plant Physiology

Jacob Ligorria ’23 analyzed current scientific literature regarding telegraph plants, plants that move their leaflets very quickly, and identified the most prominent gaps in our understanding of leaflet motion to suggest future avenues of investigation.

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Sofia Dartnell ’22
Sofia Dartnell ’22

The Biology Department’s sense of community and collaboration is instilled from the first day of Introductory Genetics. We are encouraged to work together on problem sets and to help each other understand class concepts. Professors have made an incredible effort to get to know me, asking me about life outside of class and even remembering some of my family members’ names after only a few conversations.

Faculty & Teaching

The Biology Department’s faculty members are actively engaged in research with students. The type of questions they ask are: 

Why do some organisms have a modified genetic code? Which proteins are responsible for Drosophila development? How do microbes function in inhospitable environments? What are the effects of habitat fragmentation on plant-pollinator interactions? How do plants withstand drought? How do neurons find their synaptic targets? How is climate change impacting marine food webs? How does biology influence gender identity? What genes control cnidarian development?  How are invasive species influencing local plant and insect communities? How do embryos build protective extracellular barriers? How does the immune response differ in mice that are susceptible to Mouse AIDS from those that are resistant?  How has selection influenced the physiology of organisms that have made the transition from marine to terrestrial life? 

Professor Nina Karnovsky

In biology classes, students become scientists and develop their own hypotheses and carry out studies to test those hypotheses. They learn how to tackle unsolved problems, analyze data, write scientific papers and present their results. Students gain a broad background in biology and also get to specialize in the scale of biology they are most interested in, whether it be genes or ecosystems or both.