At Bennington, students work closely with faculty to design the content, structure, and sequence of their study and practice—their Plan—taking advantage of resources inside and outside the classroom to pursue their work.
“Biology” covers a lot; from molecular structure and function of proteins, to the organization of the nervous system, to evolutionary adaptations of physiological systems, to regulation of biodiversity, to global ecosystem function. Biologists at Bennington study the genetics of model organisms, function of proteins in regulation of cellular processes, behavior of marine organisms, neurological function in invertebrates, regulation of forest plant diversity, landscape-scale ecosystem dynamics, and use of mathematical and computer models to simulate complex biological systems. And that is only a sampling of the range of student and faculty work.
Bennington biology students engage in the full range of biological questions, taking advantage of well-equipped labs, a diverse natural landscape, and a broad range of faculty expertise. Bennington’s Field Work Term provides a special opportunity to work with research teams and applied biologists around the world at major research hospitals and universities, with National Park scientists and managers, and at world-class field-stations.
Biology at Bennington is not a passive endeavor, not an exercise in memorizing a static body of knowledge. The focus is on the intellectual process of a lively and rapidly evolving field. In every biology class, students explore the most current, often hotly debated topics and problems, reading current research literature, interacting with guest speakers from top research labs. In most classes, from the introductory to the advanced, students design original research; Bennington biology students do their work in the lab, in natural habitats, at the computer, and in collaboration with institutions and agencies beyond Bennington.
Our graduates are well-prepared for the professional scientific world, whether their interest is in pure research, education, or the application of biology in health or environmental science and policy. You will find Bennington biology alumni on the faculty of major universities, on the medical staffs of hospitals, at international research institutions, working with environmental NGOs, in federal and state agencies like the National Park Service and the Centers for Disease Control—wherever their interests take them.
Blake Jones studies the underlying mechanisms of development, sociality, learning and memory in free-living animals. His research integrates theories and techniques from climate-science, ecology, physiology, genetics, and cognitive neuroscience.
Amie McClellan is a cell biologist who utilizes baker’s yeast with a very serious goal in mind: to explore how “molecular chaperones” participate in helping proteins attain and maintain their structure and function, and how this relates to human diseases that arise when this process goes awry.
Caitlin McDonough MacKenzie is a plant ecologist studying the impacts of climate change on forests and alpine habitats.
Elizabeth Sherman is known for her work on amphibians and, more recently, on coral reefs and climate change; she collaborates with student researchers in her study of how animals work — both individually and as part of larger ecosystems.
Kerry Woods is an ecologist whose recent work includes long-term studies of old-growth forests, landscape ecology of the Taconic Mountains, and collaborative biogeographic analyses of global temperate forests. His work has been supported by NASA, NSF, US Forest Service, and the Mellon Foundation.
Visiting Faculty & Technicians
Working closely with the chemistry, cell biology, and other science faculty Nina Musco assists students in science labs and independent projects while also maintaining essential lab equipment.