Brianna majored in chemistry-biology and psychology at Ripon and is currently attending the Mayo Clinic Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (MPET) Ph.D. program.

“Your hard work will pay off in the end, especially when it comes to putting effort into maximizing academic performance and achieving future career goals. This year, I was accepted to my top-choice graduate program.”

Brianna Bembenek '22, Ph.D. Student at Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (MPET)

 

67%

5-YR AVG ACCEPTANCE RATE TO MEDICAL SCHOOL

14:1

AVG STUDENT:FACULTY RATIO

130

ACRES TO EXPLORE AT CERESCO PRAIRIE CONSERVANCY

Department Mission Statement

Mark Kainz and Ripon College student in biology lab

The Department of Biology provides an intellectually challenging learning environment for students of the life sciences. In laboratory, field and discussions, students come to understand the foundations and diversity of life by posing meaningful biological questions, answering these questions through observation and experimentation, and presenting their findings to a wide audience. These experiences prepare students to make informed decisions in their daily life, to work in a range of careers, and to pursue advanced professional programs.
Icon for: At a Glance
At Ripon College, students really do science. Students learn laboratory techniques, arming them with useful skills in the workplace. Students interested in pursuing careers ranging from health professions to environmental biology are well-prepared by the biology major.
Ripon also offers a variety of interdisciplinary majors and minors related to biology:
Chemistry-Biology
Psychobiology
Environmental Biology

At a Glance

At Ripon College, students really do science. Students learn laboratory techniques, arming them with useful skills in the workplace. Students interested in pursuing careers ranging from health professions to environmental biology are well-prepared by the biology major.

Ripon also offers a variety of interdisciplinary majors and minors related to biology:

Icon for: Expect to Experience


 	Hands-on experience designing studies, using equipment and analyzing data in both the laboratory and field
 	One-on-one mentorship from accessible and approachable faculty for individual research experiences and planning for the future
 	Research opportunities in topics you are passionate about as you prepare and present your senior thesis

Biology Facebook Page

Expect to Experience

  • Hands-on experience designing studies, using equipment and analyzing data in both the laboratory and field
  • One-on-one mentorship from accessible and approachable faculty for individual research experiences and planning for the future
  • Research opportunities in topics you are passionate about as you prepare and present your senior thesis

Icon for: Leave Empowered To
Students who complete the biology program graduate with the skills necessary to:


 	Make informed decisions based on a deep understanding of the foundations and diversity of life
 	Excel in a range of careers that value observation, experimentation and effective communication skills to present findings
 	Pursue advanced professional programs and/or health professions

Leave Empowered To

Students who complete the biology program graduate with the skills necessary to:

  • Make informed decisions based on a deep understanding of the foundations and diversity of life
  • Excel in a range of careers that value observation, experimentation and effective communication skills to present findings
  • Pursue advanced professional programs and/or health professions

Latest News

Mike Missak '01 and his family

Jeepers! Mike Missak ’01 excels at giving back to the community through Toys for Tots

It started off simply enough. Jeep lover Mike Missak ’01 didn’t see any Jeeps at a local car show and so started his own club, […]

Kelly Millenbah '90

Kelly Millenbah ’90 becomes dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Michigan State

Kelly Millenbah ’90 of Mason, Michigan, has transitioned from being the interim dean to the dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at […]

ben grady

Ben Grady gives presentation about his research on Tiehm’s wild buckwheat

Assistant Professor of Biology Ben Grady gave an invited research presentation Oct. 17 for the biology seminar series of Lawrence University, Appleton, Wisconsin. The title […]

Faculty

Robin Forbes-Lorman

Forbes-Lorman, Robin

Assistant Professor of Biology

ben grady

Grady, Benjamin R.

Assistant Professor of Biology

Mark Kainz

Kainz, Mark

Professor of Biology, Associate Dean for the Catalyst Curriculum and Assessment Coordinator, Patricia and Philip McCullough Class of 1969 Professor in Biology

Memuna Khan

Khan, Memuna

Professor of Biology, Chair of Biology Department

Marco Rhein

Rhein, Marco

Adjunct Instructor of Biology and Head Coach of Men's Soccer

Barbara Sisson

Sisson, Barbara

Associate Professor of Biology, Chair of Health Professions Advising Committee

Robert Wallace

Wallace, Robert

Professor of Biology Emeritus

Skip Wittler

Wittler, George "Skip"

Professor Emeritus of Biology, Director of Ceresco Conservancy

Advising

Ripon College faculty and professional staff are dedicated to helping you reach your goals, whatever they may be and however often they may change along the way. It’s part of our value statement to you.

As a student at Ripon, you will be assigned a faculty adviser based on your area(s) of interest. You will meet with your faculty adviser throughout your time as a student to discuss your current aspirations, plan your course schedule and plot a future trajectory. We also work collaboratively with Ripon College Career and Professional Development to help match your interests and skills to concrete goals and construct a plan for professional success offering personalized career counseling, off-campus learning opportunities and an online job board with potential to connect with local, national and international employers. Our collaboration with Student Support Services provides tutoring and additional academic and skill development, as well as tools to help with note-taking, exam preparation, goal-setting and time management. Likewise, Mentors in the Franzen Center provide in-depth, one-on-one or group mentoring for students about class projects and college-level writing, and can share problem-solving strategies to overcome academic obstacles.

Advising at Ripon

Requirements

Student and professor working in lab inside Farr Hall of Science at Ripon CollegeFeatured Course: BIO 305 The Biology of Cancer

Study of the nature and causes of cancer from a biological viewpoint. Ethical and economic issues related to the disease will be discussed. Lectures and discussion will examine what happens within cells to cause them to become cancerous and why the consequences are so often disastrous, as well as how cancer can be prevented, detected and treated. A student project is included, as are opportunities for service learning.

Gemma Krause and Assistant Professor of Biology Ben Grady document bees in Ceresco Prairie Conservancy as part of Summer Opportunities for Advanced Research (SOAR)Featured Course: BIO 336 Green Wisconsin

A field-intensive course with a focus on native plant identification, recognition and understanding of various plant communities, restoration ecology, and the environmental impacts of land use. Because geology and landforms impact the distribution of living things, biogeography, geology and the natural history of Wisconsin also will be emphasized.

Requirements for a Major in Biology
Total Credits 33 credits in biology toward major
Prerequisites CHM 111 Organic Chemistry I, 112 Structure and Reactivity and MTH 120 Elementary Statistics or PSC 211 Research and Design Statistics
Core Courses 121 Introductory Biology, 200 Scientific Writing and Communication, 501 Senior Studies, 502 Senior Studies
Elective Courses Required to take 3 distribution courses with laboratories, one in each area of organismal, cell and molecular, and ecology and evolutionary biology, and at least 9 additional electives. Two courses toward the major must be taken at the 300 level.

Organismal

206 Biology of Birds, 211 Human Anatomy and Physiology I: Support, Movement and Integration, 215 Invertebrate Zoology, 216 Vertebrate Zoology, 226 Plant Anatomy and Physiology, 227 The Biology of Plants, 312 Human Anatomy and Physiology II: Maintenance and Continuity, 314 Microbiology

Cell and Molecular

219 Genetics, 314 Microbiology, 327 Cell Biology, 328 Molecular Biology and Bioinformatics, 329 Developmental Biology

Ecology and Evolution

206 Biology of Birds, 215 Invertebrate Zoology, 216 Vertebrate Zoology, 227 The Biology of Plants, 247 General Ecology, 339 Behavioral Ecology
Additional Criteria No more than four credits of directed research (x97), independent study (BIO x98), or internships (x99) may be counted toward the major.  BIO 110, 310 and 400 will not count toward any major or minor in biology.

Requirements for a minor in biology: ENV 120 Environmental Studies, BIO 121 Introductory Biology and 247 General Ecology, plus 11 additional credits in biology courses approved by the department. Students majoring in environmental studies or biology may not minor in environmental biology.

No more than four credits of directed research (x97), independent study (BIO x98), or internships (x99) may be counted toward the major.  BIO 110 Topics in Biology, 310 Laboratory Assistant and 400 The Teaching of Biology will not count toward any major or minor in biology.

Career Tracks

Graduates pursue a variety of professions in the biological sciences, academia, medicine and beyond. We are proud of our tradition of excellence in placing students in leading medical programs. Our five-year acceptance rate average to medical school is 67 percent.

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Unique Opportunities

Ripon College is here to provide unique experiences that will enhance your studies.

Students in canoes during Flora and Fauna field research

Flora and Fauna of the Boreal Forest

More than 1/4 of the earth's forests are boreal forests, but only 12% are protected. Learn what makes these forests special, and their deep history, flora and fauna. These forests are known as essential nurseries for more than 325 species of birds and are homes to the charismatic megafauna of our continent including wolves, bear and moose. Learn what threatens their existence and what is being done to protect them. Students will spend the first week on campus gaining background knowledge for the remaining two weeks at a field station located in the boreal forest. Activities include canoeing and hiking, while course expectations include field quizzes, independent projects, discussions with invited speakers and assigned readings.

Ripon College student, Roman Ewing, conducting field research in Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is known worldwide for its riches in biological diversity and its relative success in conserving them. Students will explore the source of Costa Rica's rich biodiversity, current threats and conservation efforts. Visits to public and private reserves will include discussion of these different approaches to conservation. Discussions of assigned readings as well as of each day’s activities will occur.

Ripon College student works with rotifers in Farr Hall of Science

Collaborative Research Opportunities

Research opportunities and internships, in collaboration with Ripon College professors, are available in areas such as avian ecology of eastern bluebirds, developmental biology, virology, aquatic ecology, neuroscience and more. Paid summer internships are available through our Summer Opportunities for Advanced Research (SOAR) Program, and often this collaborative work is published.


Facilities

Rendering of the Ripon College Science Center, exterior view of the building

Rendering of the Ripon College Science Center, exterior view of the building Rendering of the Ripon College Science Center, interior view of the lobby

Ripon College Science Center Coming Fall 2024!

Breaking ground in spring of 2023, the Ripon College Science Center is a complete renovation of Farr Hall including 19,000 square feet of new construction featuring new laboratory, classroom and collaboration spaces throughout. The space, originally built in 1961, is designed to meet the STEM learning needs of science students today and with the flexibility to adapt to needs in the future. Click here to learn more about Ripon's ongoing investment in our campus.

Outside entrance to Farr Hall of Science on Ripon College's campus Students working collaboratively in Farr Hall of Science classroom at Ripon College Student and professor working in lab inside Farr Hall of Science at Ripon College

Farr Hall of Science

Home to the science department, Farr Hall contains classrooms, labs, faculty offices, Bear Auditorium and a greenhouse. The greenhouse features three climate-controlled rooms that allow us to raise temperate, tropical and desert plants in their native conditions. Labs are dedicated to cell culture, molecular and cell biology, microbiology, physiology, histology, aquatic research and the study of animal specimen.

Aerial view of Ceresco Prairie at Ripon College Trailhead of Ceresco Prairie Conservancy at Ripon College Gemma Krause and Assistant Professor of Biology Ben Grady document bees in Ceresco Prairie Conservancy as part of Summer Opportunities for Advanced Research (SOAR)

Ceresco Prairie Conservancy

Arguably one of Ripon’s most valued teaching environments, the Ceresco Prairie Conservancy is 130 acres of native prairie, oak savanna and wetland habitat in the making. The area, which serves as a place of study as well as recreation, is the subject of numerous student research projects concentrating on various plants and animals. It also is part of the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Glacial Habitat Restoration Program, a partnership between the DNR and Ripon College, aimed at the restoration of the conservancy’s prairie grasses and forbs. “We often name things for what we take away, such as naming a housing subdivision for the lost sand hill crane habitat it replaces,” says Ellen Barth ’80, DNR wildlife biologist. “I think it’s neat that the Ceresco Prairie Conservancy is named for something we are putting back into the landscape.”

Professor Emeritus of Biology George "Skip" Wittler serves as the director of the conservancy project and works with the DNR in the management and restoration of the land, which has 3.5 miles of public trails and the Patricia Kegel Environmental Classroom, west of Ripon’s Willmore Center.