Major: Biology
Related Majors: Environmental Studies, Neuroscience
Related Minors:
 Neuroscience, Environmental Science
Program Director: Holly L. Boettger-Tong, Professor of Biology
Course Catalogue pages

The Biology Department of Wesleyan College offers an excellent faculty, some of the finest and most modern instructional laboratory equipment available anywhere to undergraduate students, a focused and balanced curriculum that embraces hands-on and collaborative learning, and diverse choices of extracurricular learning and research activities for all of our students. Small class sizes and the opportunity to conduct original research with individual faculty mentors foster a keen sense of individual identity for all of our students and permit and support close awareness of student interests, goals, and vocational aspirations.

Our biology courses and major are designed to prepare students for graduate careers in a range of biological disciplines, as well as medical, dental, veterinary, pharmacy, and allied health pre-professional programs. We have an excellent record of successfully placing our students and graduates in prestigious summer research fellowships and graduate and professional schools across the country. Our record of student accomplishments has established Wesleyan as one of the premier small-college biology programs in the Southeast. For information about specific courses offered, please see our Academic Catalogue.

The Biology Department maintains five 1200-square-foot large teaching laboratories in the recently completed Munroe Science Center. As a rule each laboratory is used for one, or at most two courses per semester, giving students almost unlimited access to workspace and course materials. Labs are open all day for students to spend additional time in investigation and study and also are available in the evenings to those students requiring access. Upper-level courses are additionally supported by the dedicated research laboratories of the four department faculty.

Laboratory stock and preparation rooms are administered by a professional laboratory coordinator, and are maintained by student workers majoring in biology. The chemical storage and preparation areas are under constant, negative, atmospheric pressure to provide a safe work environment for faculty and students. Wesleyan maintains full, internally-monitored compliance with EPA federal regulations for the safe use, storage, and disposal of all chemicals and hazardous wastes.

The individual research laboratory of each member of the faculty is available for supporting long-term student/faculty research projects. These laboratories are dedicated to molecular genetics/cell biology, neurophysiology/behavior, botany/ecology, and developmental biology/reproductive biology. Dedicated ancillary spaces include a sterile cell and tissue culture laboratory, a surgical and neurophysiological recording room, a biobehavioral monitoring and recording suite, a microscopic imaging room, a high-speed and ultra-centrifuge room, a multi-species vivarium, a programmable walk-in environmental chamber, and a greenhouse suite. Each area represents modern facilities specifically designed by the faculty to meet our own research interests and fully involve students in our research programs.

The Wesleyan campus includes the 100-acre Wesleyan College Arboretum and five-acre lake which support a diverse set of plants as well as resident and migratory wildlife. The arboretum is used extensively as a natural laboratory for ecological, botanical, and zoological lab exercises and student research projects.

The department also maintains several teaching collections, including the Wesleyan Osteology Collection

The Munroe Science Center, a dynamic new 42,000-square-foot campus centerpiece, opened in August 2007 and contains working and teaching space for the Biology Department. This new state-of-the-art science facility is serving an increasing number of Wesleyan students enrolled and majoring in one or more fields of science while also addressing the great need throughout our state and nation for women who are skilled in medicine, scientific research, technology, and mathematics. Through its eleven teaching laboratories and nine research laboratories, the new facility encourages faculty/student collaboration on research projects, contains interactive laboratories for specific experimentation, and offers individualized instruction in an environmentally efficient and safe setting. The Center for Women in Science and Technology sponsors programs in teacher education for Bibb County, Georgia, as well as the Spectacles summer science camp for middle-school girls, and the KISMET program for educational outreach to local public schools.

Both federal and private grants supporting teaching and research in the biological sciences over the last fifteen years have allowed the biology department to acquire in excess of $700,000 of new, specialized instrumentation beyond the basic glassware, compound and dissecting microscopes, balances, stirring hotplates, autoclaves, pH meters, voltmeters, spectrophotometers, prepared slide sets, models, computers, and software for modern instruction in the biological sciences. Examples of this specialized instrumentation include two laminar-flow hoods for sterile tissue culture, five computer-controlled neurophysiological recording stations, high-speed and ultra-centrifuges for cell fractionation, UV/visible light microscopes with computer-image analysis, gel electrophoresis chambers, and rodent biobehavioral monitoring chambers. All of this instrumentation is available for both instruction and research projects performed by students under the direction of departmental faculty.

Field Study
The college internship program provides opportunities for students to gain practical experience in a wealth of different venues in and around Macon. Biology students have held internships in sports medicine, large and small animal veterinary medicine, wildlife management, infectious disease, obstetrics/gynecology, plastic surgery, pediatrics, and gerontology. Some biology students have participated in independent research projects at neighboring research laboratories including Mercer Medical School, located across town in Macon. 

Wesleyan students majoring in the natural sciences have been accepted into prestigious national summer research programs sponsored by the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health, as well as private foundations. In recent years, students have participated in these programs at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Baylor College of Medicine, Michigan State University, Roswell Park Cancer Center, Pepperdine University, The Mayo Clinic, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Medical College of Georgia.

Special Opportunities
Wesleyan offers individual mentoring and advising in health-related pre-professional programs including medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, allied health fields, and veterinary medicine. Faculty advisors for each of these programs meet regularly with students to provide assistance with such issues as program requirements, course schedules, and applications; and regularly sponsored professional visitations.

The biology department at Wesleyan provides students with directed research opportunities in a diverse set of ongoing on-site research projects. Related majors and minors include chemistry, mathematics, physics, neuroscience, environmental studies, and psychology. The Wesleyan campus itself offers many field research opportunities in our 100-acre wooded arboretum.

Extramural Funding
The Biology program is proud of its record of extramural grant support from federal agencies. The grants listed below are all in direct support of laboratory instruction and research in biology.

National Science Foundation: 
 “Testing Campus-Based GRE Prep Courses.” Gender Equity Program. Award Amount:  $59,532. Project Director: Dr. Wanda T. Schroeder

“Neuroscience at an Undergraduate Women’s College: Implementing Modern Methodologies at the Cellular, Systems, and Behavioral Levels.” Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement Grant DUE9950546. 8/99–7/01. Award Amount (with matching funds): $34,846. Project Director: Dr. Barry K. Rhoades

“Incorporating Modern Molecular/Cellular Technology into the Biology Curriculum in an Undergraduate Women’s College.” Instrumentation and Laboratory Improvement Grant DUE9751089. 7/97–6/99. Award Amount (with matching funds): $79, 778. Project Director: Dr. Wanda T. Schroeder

“Introduction of Enhanced Technologies for the Experimentally Based Laboratory Study of Animal Systems.” Instrumentation and Laboratory Improvement Grant DUE9452613. 9/94–8/96. Award Amount (with matching funds): $54,156. Project Director: Dr. Ronald B. Toll

“Acquisition of an Image Analysis Work Station at Wesleyan College.” Major Research Instrumentation Program: Instrument Developement and Acquisition Grant DBI-0116189. 8/15/01–8/14/02. Project Directors: Dr. Holly Boettger-Tong and Dr. Wanda T. Schroeder

Georgia Department of Natural Resources:
“Bird Appreciation and Outdoor Education for Girl Scouts in Middle Georgia.” Nowgame Wildlife Fund. 4/00–4/01. Award Amount : $1,828. Project Director: Dr. James B. Ferrari

National Institutes of Health (NIH): 
“Transcriptional Regulation of Epidermal Surface Antigen.” National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal, and Skin Diseases Grant. Amount of Award: $130,121. Principal Investigator: Dr. Wanda T. Schroeder

The Biology Department thrives in large part due to the generous financial support from private donors such as the Munroe family who assist student research in the natural sciences and mathematics at Wesleyan through student scholarships and capital purchase funds.

Wesleyan biology majors are consistently accepted into excellent graduate and professional schools, including medical school, and have gone on to fulfilling careers in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, research, teaching, and technical positions with private, state, and federal agencies.  Of the Wesleyan biology majors who graduated in the past five years, fourteen percent secured work in a field related to their undergraduate degree while eighty percent pursued graduate or professional school.

You’ll find recent Wesleyan graduates pursuing post baccalaureate degrees related to the field of biology at countless prestigious institutions across the world including Dartmouth University School of Medicine, Washington University, The University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Clemson University, The University of Texas (Houston) Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M, The University of Georgia, Northwestern University, Emory University, Vanderbilt University, Duke University School of Medicine, Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine, George Washington University School of Medicine, University of Georgia Veterinary School, and the University of the West Indies Veterinary School. 

Biology majors have unprecedented opportunities for using their undergraduate education in a wide variety of occupations. A liberal arts background equips biology majors with a unique perspective that makes them highly competitive for many professional opportunities. Wesleyan biology majors have chosen a wide variety of post-graduate options.

The post-graduate choices of Ihunanya's classmates exemplify the diverse career opportunities available for biology majors. One classmate is pursuing a doctorate in molecular and cellular biology, another is also pursuing a graduate degree but in the field of public health, while several others are preparing for careers in nursing and medical practice.  One biology major, who was also a member of the Wesleyan College IHSA Equestrian Team, is combining her degree with her love of animals at the University of California Veterinary School. Another recent graduate combined her biology major with a minor in studio art and, after graduation, was accepted into dental school at the Medical College of Georgia. She graduated with a Doctor of Dental Science in 2006.



Holly Boettger-TongHolly L. Boettger-Tong Professor of Biology. B.S. (Biology) St. Louis University 1986; M.S. (Biology) University of Alabama at Birmingham 1988; Ph.D. (Biology) University of Alabama at Birmingham 1992. My lab uses both in vitro and in vivo model systems to analyze the molecular mechanisms which control female reproductive tract cellular proliferation. In addition, I am interested in the role of the retinoic acid signaling pathway as it influences early vertebrate embryo development. MSC 110.

Jim FerrariJames B. Ferrari Professor of Biology and Wesleyan College Arboretum Director B.A. (Biology and Northern Studies) Middlebury College 1986; Ph.D. (Ecology) University of Minnesota. My research interests include bird-plant interactions, seasonal patterns of bird diversity, leaf litter dispersal and effects of leaf decomposition on soil nitrogen cycling rates, and forest ecology. MSC 112.

Barry RhoadesBarry K. Rhoades Professor of Biology. B.A. (Psychology) Colorado College 1976; A.M. (Biopsychology) University of Chicago 1981; Ph.D. (Physiology) University of California at Berkeley 1990. My primary interests include physiology of the sense of smell in mammals, modeling and analyzing neural network interactions, behavioral ecology of reptiles and amphibians, and electronic and computer simulations for teaching neuroscience and animal behavior. MSC 106.

Wanda SchroederWanda T. Schroeder Professor of Biology, Munroe Chair of Life Sciences, Pre-medical Program Directorand Pre-Nursing Program Director A.B. (Biology) Wesleyan College 1980; Ph.D. (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences 1987. My research is focused on elucidating the molecular events involved in regulating differentiation in epidermal keratinocytes and uterine and vaginal epithelial cells. Specifically, I study and compare gene expression of such differentiation- specific proteins as transglutaminase, keratin, and cornifin in normal and cancerous states in these tissues. MSC 114.


Anne Sanders Assistant Professor of Biology. B.S. (Chemistry) University of Central Florida, 2002; Ph.D. (Pathobiology) Wake Forest University, 2007. My research interests include developing better animal models of cancer metastasis, evaluating compounds that enhance chemo/radiation therapies, and investigating the interactions between the tumor environment and the immune system. Munroe Science Center 218.