Molecular Biology Major

Study how biological macromolecules such as DNA and proteins, regulate the chemical processes of cells affecting gene expression, and cell structure and function.

In order to understand how cells function at the molecular level a solid foundation in chemistry, biology, math and physics is necessary. In addition, gaining first-hand research experience is a goal of our major, which is why some of our core courses incorporate investigative research into the curriculum.

In the past five years, graduates of the Molecular Biology Program have gone on to Ph.D. programs at Stanford, Harvard, MIT, Berkeley, UCLA, and others.

In class with Professor Daniel Martinez
In class with Professor Daniel Martinez
Research in Professor Tina Negritto’s lab
Research in Professor Tina Negritto’s lab
Students in Professor Tina Negritto’s lab
Research in Professor Tina Negritto’s lab
Research in Professor Tina Negritto’s lab
Research in Professor Tina Negritto’s lab

What You’ll Study

    • Cell structure, function and biochemistry
    • Genetics and Genomics
    • General, Organic and Physical Chemistry
    • Molecular biology research approaches and tools
    • Fundamental math and physics
More than 80 percent of majors have participated in at least one summer research project.

Researching at Pomona

Essi Logan ’24

Animal egg coats

Under the guidance of Dr. Sara Olson, Essi Logan ’24 is working to determine the structure of PERM-2, a protein on the C. elegans eggshell, through protein crystallization. Her senior thesis combines findings from developmental biology, biochemistry, and structural biology.

José Carranza ’22

Rab 5 protein’s Effects on Fruit Flies

José Carranza ’22 is studying the Rab 5 protein and its effects on hematopoiesis in Drosophila Melanogaster (fruit flies). He hopes to establish a connection between the Rab 5 protein and the Eater receptor by knocking down the genes for both and then observing the effects in flies.

Ysabella Alcaraz ’22

Studying Transcription Factors Czf1 and Sef1

Ysabella Alcaraz ’22 participated in the Building Diversity in the Biomedical Sciences Program at the Tufts Medical School and explored the roles of two transcription factors, Czf1 and Sef1, that elicited an invasive filamentation response in the gastrointestinal yeast Candida albicans, which causes infections such as vaginitis and thrush.

Fernando Bolio ’22

Gene Editing

Fernando Bolio ’22 worked on a project that involved creating a novel system to engineer homing endonucleases to cut DNA sequences of our choosing, which allowed for targeting genes in a similar fashion to CRISPR.

Essi Logan ’24

The molecular biology major has trained me well, both intellectually and professionally. Science is not an individualistic endeavor but a collective one, and every class that I took emphasized that. The group work in classes, in labs and even outside of the classroom has taught me resilience, teamwork, and adaptability—all traits necessary for a scientist.

Faculty & Teaching

This interdisciplinary major is supported by faculty from the Biology, Chemistry, Neuroscience and Physics Departments. Their wide range of expertise includes genetics, developmental genetics, biochemistry, surface chemistry, chemical biology, molecular biology, molecular evolution, aging, membrane biophysics, organic chemistry, neurobiology, structural biology, medicinal chemistry, molecular genetics, genomics and computational biology.

Professor M. Cristina Negritto

Finding out how things work at the molecular level is something that is fascinating, and once you understand a cellular mechanism then you can manipulate it or fix it if needed. The goal is to apply the experimental methods from molecular biology to examine complex phenomena such as development, aging, cancer, the nervous system, or any other discipline of interest to elucidate how things work at the molecular level. This is what molecular biology is all about, and because of its interdisciplinary nature, a good foundation in chemistry, biology and physics is needed.