Welcome to The Biology Department

Biology is the fundamental study of life and living systems.  It is a field that is interdisciplinary by nature and constantly evolving.  The educational goals of our curriculum are to foster student excitement about biology and promote science, as a process and way of knowing, not merely content knowledge.  We offer a strong foundation in biology to prepare for diverse and successful careers and to enrich our students’ lifelong engagement with the world in all its diversity and complexity.


Professor Joan Edwards Receives National Teaching Award

The Charles Edwin Bessey Teaching Award is given annually by the Botanical Society of America to recognize an individual whose work has impacted botanical education at a regional, national and/or international level. This year the award went to Dr. Joan Edwards, of Williams College. The citation reads:

During the past five decades, Joan Edwards’ career has been characterized by an unwavering commitment to nurturing the next generation of botanists and environmental stewards. Through her innovative teaching methods, she has instilled a sense of curiosity and wonder in countless students. As one of her nominators pointed out, “Very few faculty members at any higher education institution have the stamina to remain in their position this long, and even fewer do so while not only maintaining their teaching and research standards, but continuing to pioneer and adjust to changes in technology, student needs, and pedagogical understanding in the way that Dr. Edwards has.”

Her courses, such as Field Botany and Conservation Biology, have served as catalysts for intellectual growth, fostering interdisciplinary exploration and hands-on research experiences. Dr. Edwards has remained dedication to student-centered research, teaching the value of observation, curiosity, interconnection, integration, and that the unexpected is always interesting. She has cultivated a collaborative environment where students are empowered to make meaningful contributions to the field. One of her former students stated, “Joan’s ability to convey the excitement and wonder of biological phenomena and then make the underlying concepts, (whether physical, molecular, developmental, ecological, or evolutionary) seem simple and accessible to all of her students is the core of her approach to teaching.”

Beyond the classroom, Dr. Edwards’ outreach efforts transcend boundaries, engaging with the broader community to foster conservation efforts and a deeper appreciation for the natural world. Dr. Joan Edwards epitomizes the essence of excellence in botanical teaching, embodying a profound passion for plants and a steadfast dedication to inspiring future generations of botanical enthusiasts.

Spring 2024 Data Blitz and Thesis Poster Presentations

The department’s thesis students presented their research and findings on Friday, May 3rd. Starting with a short one-minute presentation to a general audience, the event then moved to the second floor of the Hopper Science Center where student posters are displayed.


News & Announcements

Holland lab publishes new paper

The Holland lab recently published a paper on grape aroma (methyl anthranilate) in The Plant Journal!  Titled “Molecular basis of one-step methyl anthranilate biosynthesis in grapes, sweet orange, and maize”, the paper features the work of student researchers Michael Fallon...

Swoap lab publishes paper

Faculty member Steve Swoap recently published a paper in collaboration with Vincent van der Vinne and a group at Oxford:

Stratton Fellowship application available

The application for the Frederick Eugene Stratton 1871 Fellowship in Biology is now available for students interested in applying to be considered. The Stratton graduate fellowship in Biology is awarded each year to a senior from any Williams College Department for further study at an institution...

TA Applications for Fall 2024 are now being accepted!

Please use this link to access the Fall 2024 application.
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