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Biology

Research Opportunities

Biology students at Hamilton have ongoing opportunities to collaborate and perform research with faculty members both on and off campus. The energy and engagement created by these collaborative efforts gives the biology program its distinctive identity and sense of community. Each year, dozens of students work in the lab alongside their professors on special projects. Others pursue paid summer internships at Hamilton and such prestigious institutions as Yale University's School of Medicine, The Johns Hopkins University, the National Institutes of Health and the National Zoological Park.

The biology program extends far beyond the conventional lab. Biology majors have opportunities to do fieldwork in such varied settings as the Adirondack High Peaks, Costa Rica and Antarctica. Student researchers share their findings with others in the scientific community. In recent years, Hamilton students presented research papers at national meetings of the American Malacological Union, the Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology, the National Council of Undergraduate Research, the New York Natural History Conference and SUNY-Binghamton's Annual Biological Sciences Research Symposium.

Eugene Domack, Tim Elgren. Ernest Williams
Three Longtime Science Faculty Members Retire

Three longtime members of Hamilton’s science faculty retired during the last academic year. Eugene Domack, Timothy Elgren and Ernest Williams had a combined 79 years of service at Hamilton.  More ...

Elisa MacColl '16
Elisa MacColl ’16 Intern at Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Varicose veins, twisted and swollen veins just below the surface of the skin, can cause pain, ulcers and even blood clots. Elisa MacColl ’16, a biology major, is spending the summer interning for Harvard Medical School’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in Boston, studying varicose veins. Her internship is supported by the Jeffrey Science Fund.  More ...

Leonard Kilekwang, Blaire Frett, Samantha Mengual, Hannah Trautmann, and Nikole Bonacorsi.
A Deadly Bulls-Eye

Although the number of cases of Lyme disease has been decreasing since 2009, according to the CDC, nearly 30,000 Americans fell prey to the tick-born illness in 2012 alone1. This summer, a group of student researchers is assisting Associate Professor of Biology William Pfitsch with an ecological examination of the relationship between honeysuckle and tick populations.   More ...

Zoe Tessler '16 poses in the great room of The Wild Center in Tupper Lake, NY.
Where the (Adirondack) Wild Things Are

Zoe Tessler ’16 is interning this summer at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake, N.Y, with support from the Jeffrey Fund in the Sciences, which funds students who intern at organizations that promote wildlife conservation or animal care. The Wild Center, located in the Adirondack Park, is a nonprofit organization that educates visitors on the Adirondacks’ rich biodiversity and natural history often through interactive exhibits.  More ...

Philip Parkes '17
Would You Like a Biopsy with That?

About one in every seven American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime1. Combatting cancer is difficult, but one crucial step is early detection, which is made possible through screening examinations such as the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test. Philip Parkes ’17 is working with Professor of Biology Herm Lehman on a project titled “The Origins of Over-Testing: Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Test” that is sponsored by a Levitt Summer Research Grant.  More ...

Emma Anderson '17
The Mite Motel: A Behavioral Study of Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches

Although many children spend their summer vacations playing with bugs, few college students can say they get paid to do the same. While conducting an independent behavioral study of Madagascar hissing cockroaches may not exactly be “playing,” Emma Anderson ’17 is enjoying it nonetheless. Anderson, a prospective biology major, is working under the guidance of Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology Heather Mallory to examine the relationship between the cockroaches and the mites that live on them.  More ...

In 2013 Levitt Research Fellow Eren Shultz '15 researched development in Tanzania to understand the current and future roles of cooperative organizations.
2014 Levitt Summer Research Fellows Announced

The Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center recently announced the 2014 Levitt Summer Research Fellows. To enhance student research around issues of public affairs, the Levitt Center funds student-faculty research through its Levitt Research Fellows Program. The program is open to rising juniors and seniors who wish to spend the summer working in collaboration with a faculty member on an issue related to public affairs. Following are this year’s recipients.  More ...

Mackenzie Leavenworth '15, right, on site in Gournia, Greece, during a 2013 Emerson research expedition with Professor John McEnroe.
26 Students Awarded Emerson Research Grants

Recipients of the 2014 Emerson Summer Grants were recently announced. Created in 1997, the  program was designed to provide students with significant opportunities to work collaboratively with faculty members, researching an area of interest. The recipients, covering a range of topics, are exploring fieldwork, laboratory and library research, and the development of teaching materials. The students will make public presentations of their research throughout the academic year.  More ...

Niko Wagner '14 and Ashley Perritt in the lab.
Students Research Neurotransmitters in Fruit Fly Cells

It might sound surprising, but studying two neurotransmitters found in drosophila, a genus of small flies, may help us better understand human brain chemistry.  While most people may not regularly think about neurotransmitters in our brains, these chemicals are the stimuli behind our frustrations when stuck in traffic or our elevated stress levels when facing a seemingly never-ending pile of assignments. Ashley Perritt ’14 and Niko Wagner ’14 are studying tyramine beta hydroxylase (TBh) and TBh-Related (TBhR) neurotransmitter genes in drosophila to better understand their functions.  More ...

Rob Clayton, left, and Daniel Lichtenauer, remove a sample syringe containing bacteria samples from Green Lake.
Student Researchers Probe Unique Ecosystem of Green Lake

Hamilton College is situated roughly 30 miles from Green Lake, a rare meromictic lake in Onondaga Country.  This lake is considered special due to the segregated nature of its water and multiple base layers of sediment that have remained preserved over the past thousands of years.  This summer, Kevin Boettger ’14 and Matt Brzustoski ’15 studied the lake with Associate Professor of Biology Michael McCormick to identify its unique characteristics and features.  More ...

Cupola