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)
5-YR AVG ACCEPTANCE RATE TO MEDICAL SCHOOL
AVG STUDENT:FACULTY RATIO
ACRES TO EXPLORE AT CERESCO PRAIRIE CONSERVANCY
Department Mission Statement
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.
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:
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
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
Professor Emeritus of Biology, Director of Ceresco Conservancy
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.
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.
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
33 credits in biology toward major
CHM 111 Organic Chemistry I, 112 Structure and Reactivity and MTH 120 Elementary Statistics or PSC 211 Research and Design Statistics
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.
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
206 Biology of Birds, 215 Invertebrate Zoology, 216 Vertebrate Zoology, 227 The Biology of Plants, 247 General Ecology, 339 Behavioral Ecology
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.
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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Ripon College is here to provide unique experiences that will enhance your studies.
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.
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.
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.
Kyle majored in biology and chemistry with a minor in leadership studies at Ripon before obtaining his doctor in veterinary medicine degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
"Throughout my four years at Ripon, I was provided with countless opportunities to expand my knowledge of the world, obtain experience working with people, lead student groups, and develop meaningful relationships with fellow students, staff and professors throughout all of campus. ...The experiences I had at Ripon helped shape me as a student and an adult."
Kyle Ruedinger '13, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at Wolf River Veterinary Clinic
After majoring in psychobiology and studio arts at Ripon, Melissa earned her master's of science degree in animal behavior from Bucknell University and her Ph.D. from Texas A&M Natural Resources Insitute.
"I became aware of how extensive research is while learning about myself as a person and a researcher," Melissa says of her time at Ripon.
Melissa's current research in Finland is focused on viral and bacterial diseases carried by bats in Europe with a focus on the Nathusius's pipistrelle — a bat which has shown changes in its range resulting from climate change.
Melissa Meierhofer '11, Postdoctoral Researcher at Luomus Finnish Museum of Natural History and BatLab, Finland
Franzen Science Center Coming Fall 2024!
Breaking ground in spring of 2023, the Franzen 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.
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.
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.