• Hartwick student with boa constrictor
  • Hartwick students collecting mudpuppies near Oneida Lake
  • Hartwick students in La Selva Costa Rica
  • Hartwick students participating in shell diversity project in Costa Rica

Secrets to Our Students' Success

Yes, the biology department at Hartwick College has a nationally recognized research program involving students, and has been featured on ABC News, CNN, Discovery Channel, NPR, and all major newspapers across the U.S. including The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, and others. But the real secret to our success is the personal attention that students receive from faculty who are themselves professional scientists. As a student of biology at Hartwick College you will have the opportunity to work closely with professors who believe in you and expect greatness from you, and let you know it. All we ask of you is that you are ready and willing to work hard with an open mind to take advantage of the opportunities we have to offer.

The golden key to success in biology is to move beyond course work and get personally involved in your own research project. We are convinced that the best way to learn biology is by doing it, and so you will have the opportunity to work closely with a faculty mentor to design and carry out your own research project on an original problem. The completed research is written up as a senior thesis and is presented at a Senior Research Symposium at the end of your senior year. Our students have presented their research at professional conferences, and are often co-authors on papers published in professional journals. Last year two of our students were co-authors on a paper in the journal Science, one of the two most prestigious scientific journals in the world.

Recent Senior Research Projects have included the following topics:

  • DNA Fingerprinting to study parentage in wild birds
  • Tissue culture of cancer cells
  • Medicinal botany
  • Pesticide and antibiotic-resistant bacteria in streams
  • Detecting pesticides in the tissues of field mice
  • Embryonic development in mites
  • Mercury biomagnification in predatory game fish
  • Effect of invasive species on lake communities
  • Gene expression in pollen
  • Microbial communities in pitcher plants
  • Limb regeneration in salamanders
  • Causes of deformities in amphibians

See the Journal of Biological Research for more!

In addition to the senior thesis, students do collaborative biological research with faculty, usually funded by grants. The College often supports paid summer research assistantships for students. This research may lead to presentation at professional conferences and to publication in professional scientific journals and books. Students learn the "business" of biology by working with a professionally active mentors.

Teaching Excellence:
We have award-winning faculty with graduate training at major universities, including Berkeley, Cornell, Florida State University, Princeton, University of Kansas, and Washington State University. Faculty members have many years of teaching experience, using a variety of teaching approaches including graduate-style seminars and small discussion groups, collaborative and interactive groups, and independent student research projects. Throughout, we emphasize small classes, lots of one-on-one interactions between professor and student, and actual research experience, in both laboratory and field.

Specialized Equipment and Skills:
We have acquired some of the best equipment available at any college or university. And just as important as the availability of good science equipment is our philosophy of its use. Unlike most university laboratories where only graduate students and faculty are allowed to use the most sophisticated equipment, Hartwick students have complete access to all equipment. Students get first-hand training on any equipment and in any skill that is available, including some state-of-the-art biotechnology. Some examples of research techniques you can learn are DNA cloning, PCR (polymerase chain reaction), electrophoresis of nucleic acids and proteins, fluorescence and phase contrast microscopy, computer-assisted image analysis, electron microscopy, cytogenetics, microsurgery, immunocyto-chemistry, tissue culture, histology, and the list goes on!