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

Shaheed Muhammad

Researching Heart Disease at Tufts

Shaheed Muhammad '21 researched treatments for heart disease at Tufts Medical School by looking at how CDK6 knockout mice could become resistant to left ventricular hypertrophy.

Brenda Wong

Cell Adhesion in Drosophila

Brenda Wong '21 spent the summer researching different genes in relation to cell adhesion molecules in Drosophila.

Nicah Driza

RHA-P Enzyme Research

Nicah Driza '21 is currently conducting research on RHA-P, an enzyme that has the ability to make natural products with antimicrobial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.

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.

Ysabella Alcaraz ’22
Ysabella Alcaraz ’22

Over the course of my time at Pomona College, both in-person and virtually, majoring in molecular biology was one of the best decisions that I made. The small joys of assays going smoothly, all the way through finding significant data that leads to more questions are what makes it worthwhile. Most importantly, it is the connections that are made with professors and classmates along the way that help build a solid foundation in my future career.

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.