There are many routes to a successful Plan in biology. Some students pursue a degree in biology that includes substantial course and tutorial work throughout the natural sciences and mathematics. Others create cross-disciplinary Plans that combine a solid background in biology with substantial work in another field such as psychology, visual arts, or theater.  

Our expectation is that Plan work in the life sciences will result in a thorough understanding of the scientific method. Often students design and complete some original research at Marlboro or off-campus. Many biology students engage in research in the summer or during a semester on subjects as diverse as the ecology of lemurs in Madagascar, a comparison of soil microorganisms in sun- versus shade-grown coffee in Hawaii, and mRNA expression in the postnatal rat hypothalamus and sexual dimorphism. Plans in Biology also include extensive analysis and criticism of existing experimentation from the scientific literature.

Some graduates who do a Plan in biology go on to graduate, medical or veterinary schools. Some are employed as lab or field technicians, and some retain their passion for biology while pursuing other interests.

Areas of Interest for Plan-Level Work:

Jenny Ramstetter

  • Plant Biology (e.g., reproductive ecology, taxonomy, physiology)
  • Conservation Biology
  • Sustainable Agriculture
  • Forest Ecology
  • Ethnobotany
  • Ecological Design
  • Environmental Education


Todd Smith (see Chemistry)

  • Molecular biology
  • Cell biology
  • Chemistry of food and cooking
  • Neuroscience
  • Immunology
  • Environmental chemistry

Jaime Tanner

  • Behavioral Ecology
  • Human Biology & Health
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Relationships between form & function
  • Conservation Biology
  • Parasitology
  • Neurobiology

Allison Turner, Laboratory Coordinator

  • Microbiology: antimicrobials and infectious diseases
  • Human Biology: laboratory investigation of chemotherapy
  • Environmental Science fieldwork

Sample Tutorial Topics

Jenny Ramstetter

  • Creating a Forest Ecological Reserve at Marlboro College
  • Soil Ecology and Coffee Agroecosystems in Hawaii
  • Ethnobotany: Medicinal and Other Uses of Plants by Humans
  • Science and Climate Change Advocacy and Education
  • Agroforestry and Designing a Forest Garden at Marlboro College
  • Social and Ecological Impacts of Mining in Argentina
  • Invasive Plant Biology and Management

Todd Smith

  • HIV, the Immune System, and AIDS
  • Bioinformatics
  • Introduction to Neuroscience

Jaime Tanner

  • Carnivore conservation biology
  • Bird mating strategies
  • The evolution of the human gut microbiome
  • Infectious Disease and Women’s Health in East Africa

Allison Turner, Laboratory Coordinator

  • Plant Compounds as Potential Anti-Cancer Treatments
  • Natural Forest Disturbance: Storm Damage and Recovery
  • Bats and White Nose Syndrome
  • Microbiological Water Quality in Four Cambodian Villages
  • Vernal Pools: Assessment Tools for Environmental Health


(a mostly random selection of Marlboro microdestinations)