program overview

The Biology Program is designed to give students a broad education in all aspects of Biology, to prepare them for careers in biology or entrance to professional or graduate programs while taking advantage of the natural classrooms in the Lake Sunapee region and the laboratory facilities of the Ivey Science Center.

Our curriculum is balanced between cell/molecular courses and organismal/environmental ones, and Biology majors actively participate in designing and carrying out experiments to answer their own questions about the natural world. Biology majors receive a strong foundation in the natural sciences and are introduced to a range of biological topics as first- and second-year requirements.

Enrollment in upper-level biology courses is typically small, allowing for direct interaction with fellow students and professors. By working closely with academic advisors, biology students are able to tailor their course of study during their junior and senior years to concentrate in one of several areas of biology.

All students engage in a rigorous senior project focusing on the student's interest area. The Biology major also prepares graduates for more specialized study at the graduate level.

The Biology minor can be combined with any major.

Please see the college catalog for specific requirements.

Facilities and Resources

The Biology Program is housed in the Curtis L. Ivey Science Center, which includes eight laboratories, six classrooms, a 182-seat auditorium, student project workrooms, faculty offices and a GIS lab.

The campus encompasses fields, a pond, and a 100 acre forest for field studies, and Colby-Sawyer is surrounded by lakes, mountains and streams.

Ongoing applied science projects on campus include a maple sugaring operation based in Sue's Sugar House near the library, and the Anne Baynes Hall Tree Nursery and Garden.

Colby-Sawyer is committed to sustainability. Learn more about the college's efforts here.


The Guy Floyd Williams Award may be presented to a graduating senior majoring in science who has helped to maintain and perpetuate the ideals of the college during the graduate's years at Colby-Sawyer and who, through appropriate conduct, scholarship and decorum, has exemplified the spirit of the college.

The Capstone Project

In spring of their junior year, Biology students commit to a Capstone project that they complete as seniors. The Capstone is the culmination of work in their fields of study that allows them to demonstrate a deep understanding of a body of knowledge and perspectives informed by that knowledge. Students display and discuss their Capstone projects with the college community and area residents during the Susan Colby Colgate Scholars Symposium each spring.

Biology majors work with a faculty mentor on every step of the Capstone research. They are asked to present their results during the biology seminar and their written report will be published in the department's journal. In addition, most students present their results at the annual Eastern New England Biological Conference.

Recent projects include the following:

  • Measure of Phytoplankton Production in Freshwater Lakes During the Winter Season

  • The Comparison of Antibacterial Soap vs. Organic Soap and the Effect on the Microbes Found on the Human Hand

  • Salivary Inhibition of Bacterial Growth

  • Resistance of Common Microbes to Antimicrobial Products

  • Comparison of Antimicrobial Properties of Sweat and Antibacterial Sprays

  • Assessing the Challenges of Providing a Potable Water Supply to the Community in Pokuase, Ghana, West Africa

  • The induction of field frog mutations using area water sources

  • Road salt and pH effects on the growth of Variable Leaf Milfoil

  • The Effects of Logging on Forest Dwelling Birds in Central New Hampshire

  • Nest predation of Common Eider eggs in Finland

  • The effects of road salt on Spotted Salamander egg development

  • Canine Lyme disease: efficacy of preventatives and treatment

  • The effects of predation and water quality on decomposition

  • Examining E. coli dormant state characteristics and mapping E. Coli abundance and distribution within a lake watershed

  • Quantifying sediment bedload transport and identifying landscape impacts

Read more about students' Capstone experiences…