About the Major

At all levels, biology at Hamilton aims to offer a stimulating, thought-provoking experience, and classes are small. The emphasis on lab work and research gives students ample opportunities to apply what they learn outside the classroom. Many pursue summer research with professors, and all biology majors complete a research project through the Senior Program. 

Students Will Learn To:

  • Analyze and interpret original and published biological data
  • Apply the scientific method in a way that demonstrates comprehension
  • Communicate effectively about fundamental biological concepts using scientific language

A Sampling of Courses

Myrtle Spurge

Explorations in Biology: The Secret Life of Plants

A thematic course exploring five fundamental features of all biological systems, including structure and function, information flow, energy and matter, interactions, and evolution. Most ecosystems on Earth are shaped by plant life. While it may not seem like it, plants constantly do the same things we do: search for nutrients, secrete hormones, and defend themselves. In this course, we will explore the incredible adaptations plants use to survive and grow, compare these to adaptations of animals, and examine how plants provide the foundation for both ecosystems and human society.

Explore these select courses:

In this course we will integrate classical genetics, epigenetics, cell and molecular biology, and organismal approaches to the study of development. We will analyze a diversity of mechanisms, ranging from ones that set up pattern formation in the unfertilized egg to those governing morphogenesis of organ systems. Topics covered include embryogenesis, gene regulation, axis specification, morphogen signaling, stem cells, cloning, limb formation, and sex determination, as well as congenital defects and issues in human development.

Study of computer-based approaches to molecular investigations: sequence variation, molecular evolution, functional and comparative genomics, and computational biology. Both literature-based lecture and training on the use of bioinformatic software are included.

Meet Our Faculty

Mike McCormick

Acting Chair and Professor of Biology, Joel W. Johnson Family Professor of Environmental Science


environmental geomicrobiology, specifically cell/mineral interactions; fate of environmental contaminants; solid-state respiration by bacteria; and molecular microbial ecology

Patrick Reynolds

Associate Chair, Stephen Harper Kirner Professor of Biology


Marine invertebrate biology, particularly the evolution of Mollusca

molecular biology; molecular evolution; genome structures; and bioinformatics

Julian Damashek

Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology


Ecology, freshwater biology, marine biology, microbiology, biogeochemistry, bioinformatics, genomics

Rhea Datta

Assistant Professor of Biology


gene regulation; patterning and morphogenesis; transcription factors and DNA-binding; regulatory DNA; developmental genetics; molecular biology; embryology; eye development

Beth Eischen

Visiting Assistant Professor of Instruction for Biology


Peter Guiden

Assistant Professor of Biology


climate change; invasive species; novel ecosystems; plant-animal interactions; seed predation

Ariel Kahrl

Assistant Professor of Biology


evolutionary biology, reproductive physiology, and herpetology

cellular neurobiology and neuroethology; measurement and detection of neurotransmitters; isolation and identification of novel chemical messengers; cellular metabolism in the nervous system

Kyle Martin

Assistant Professor of Instruction Biology, Director of Microscopy


Microscopy, Biomedical Engineering

Nicole McDaniels

Assistant Professor of Instruction in Biology


Natalie Nannas

Associate Professor of Biology


Genetics, molecular and cellular biology, bioethics, meiotic and mitotic chromosome segregation, spindle dynamics, fluorescence microscopy and live imaging

Noelle Relles

Assistant Professor of Instruction in Biology


biochemistry, genetics, and ecology labs; subject matter expert for McGraw Hill Education in physical and biological sciences

Jason Townsend

Assistant Professor of Instruction in Biology


conservation biology, agroecology, ornithology, Nearctic-Neotropical migratory birds, and ecotoxicology

Andrea Townsend

Chair and Associate Professor of Biology


behavioral ecology, disease ecology

Explore Hamilton Stories

From left to right: Bri Padilla ’25, Will Burns ’24, Naima Akter ’24, Prof. Natalie Nannas, and Kayli Franco ’25 in the biology research lab.

Nannas, Students Replicate Genetic Anomalies

Genetic inheritance might seem straightforward enough. Middle schoolers around the country learn the formulaic predictions of Punnett Squares, and for the most part, the science appears cut-and-dry. Chromosomes passed on through sperm or eggs have a 50-50 shot at inheritance. Right?

John Myles ’24

Myles ’24 Tracks Threats to Alaska Shorebirds in Levitt Research Project

John Myles ’24 has now spent two summers in Utqiagvik, Alaska, a small city in northern Alaska with a dense and unique shorebird population. As part of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service research team, he searched for shorebird nests, monitored chick hatches, and tagged adult birds.

Careers After Hamilton

Hamilton graduates who concentrated in biology are pursuing careers in a variety of fields, including:

  • Zoology Professor, Ohio Wesleyan University
  • VP Investments, Smith Barney
  • Cinematographer/ Microbiologist, Wilderness Film & Video Productions
  • Editor, Horticulture Magazine
  • Dean for Translational Biomedical Sciences, Mount Sinai School of Medicine
  • Orthopedic Surgeon
  • Chief, Post Conviction Unit, Philadelphia District Attorneys Office
  • Director, Wildlife Conservation Society
  • Professor of Clinical Anesthesiology, UCLA
  • Senior Policy and Research Analyst, Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues


Department Name

Biology Department

Contact Name

Mike McCormick, Acting Chair

Office Location
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323

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