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Division of Biology

Division of Biology
Kansas State University
116 Ackert Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506
785-532-6653 fax

Biology FAQ

What is biology?

Biology is the study of life and the molecules of life. Life can be anything from the smallest bacteria or protozoa, to the grass on a prairie and bison that eat it. It encompasses all the processes that link living organisms together (ecology), and the machinery the makes organisms work (proteins, DNA, and RNA), and everything in between.

By studying how all the pieces fit together, we can understand why and how living things work the way they do. We can then use that knowledge to discover and create new ideas, treatments, and technologies. The fundamental ideas of biology underlie many fields of life sciences —biotechnology, genetic engineering, environmental studies, conservation, and more — and biological knowledge is essential to medical advances and applications.

Biological innovation has led to major improvements in our quality of life. From the discovery of antibiotics to sequencing the human genome and exploring the microbiome (microscopic organisms influencing everything from immune function to weight to mood), our ability to improve human health, agricultural security, and the environment depends on scientific knowledge and its applications. Significant efforts by biologists have improved our understanding of life in all of its diverse forms. For example, through exploring how genes are expressed in the body and applying that understanding to our immune system, doctors can better diagnose and treat illnesses like cancer. Biological research is also being focused on discovering more efficient and cleaner energy sources, and uncovering the mysteries of how organisms got to be as they are, why they are disappearing, and how we can help them. All these things require a solid foundation of biological knowledge.

What can I do with a degree from the Division of Biology?

Many options await you once you graduate with a degree from the Division of Biology. Our students work in a variety of fields -- from the health professions to laboratories to field biology to teaching. Due to the fact that there are so many potential options for specialization, many biology undergraduates go on to do some form of professional school or postgraduate study in order to develop a clear-cut career path to follow. Biology students do very well in post-grad programs in medicine and other health professional programs. In addition, graduates of our program are successful Masters and PhD students, training as the next generation of researchers and university professors.

One of the most important things any biology student can do is get hands on experience in the lab, field, or with an internship. You want to show employers and post-graduate programs that you have experience applying concepts outside of the classroom. The Division of Biology offers many exciting opportunities to get involved in research. You can also learn more about our majors.

Can a biology degree help me get into the health professions (doctor, vet, etc.)?
K-State has great support for pre-health students, including dedicated pre-health advisors, a pre-health mentoring program, and great pre-health clubs. When you apply to K-State, declare a pre-health "track" (intention to pursue that career) at the same time that you declare your major.

Do you want go to medical school? Are you are from a rural community or do you want to work in rural health? If so, the Scholars in Rural Health program may be for you. In 2016, ten of the nineteen students accepted state-wide into the program were from K-State, and six of those ten Wildcats were majors from the Division of Biology. Typically, at least half of all K-State students accepted to Scholarship in Rural Health are from Division of Biology majors.

Division of Biology majors also do great in KU Medical School general admissions: over the last five years, campus-wise roughly half of all students who applied to KU Med got in their first time, while roughly three-fourths of microbiology and biology majors got in on their first try. In fact, out of all applicants to KU Med from all universities, about half of the students accepted the first time they applied were K-State biology and microbiology majors. We see similar results when our students apply to other health professional schools, from Veterinary Medicine to Physician Assistants, and more.

Why biology at K-State?
The Division of Biology is large and extremely successful, and the faculty, staff, and students work together to achieve in a family atmosphere. We have a supportive undergraduate studies and advising office, opportunities for academic and research scholarships, and an outstanding student body, winning prestigious scholarships, co-authoring research publications, and achieving post-graduate success in graduate or professional school.

The Division of Biology is a collaborative unit bringing together diverse areas of biology. It has over 50 faculty members, 65 graduate students, and 800 undergraduate majors. Our undergraduate majors earn roughly 135 B.S./B.A. degrees per year, in Biology, Microbiology, or Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, and our graduate students earn 15 degrees per year in Biology (M.S. and Ph.D.) or Microbiology (Ph.D.).

The professors you will take classes with are incredibly knowledgeable. In addition to currently bringing in an average of $9.5 million in extramural funding and averaging 130 peer-reviewed journal papers per year, eight of the Division's nineteen full professors have been designated University Distinguished Professor, the highest academic honor that the University bestows, more than any other unit at K-State.

In addition, our graduation rates and student GPAs considerably exceed the university average. Forty percent of our biological science graduates have their bachelor's degrees within 4 years of graduating from high school and seventy-five percent have their degree within five years of high school graduation.

Many undergraduates in the Division of Biology are also excelling at the lab bench or in the field. The Division of Biology is home to the Bioinformatics Center, the Biology Microscopy Facility, Laboratory Animal Care Services, the Arthropod Genomics Center, the Ecological Genomics Institute, the Institute for Grassland Studies, the Kansas Lipidomics Research Center, and the Konza Prairie Biological Station. All these resources mean that faculty and students can ask exciting questions and learn useful skills outside of the classroom, as well as in it.

Our mission is to generate, through research, and disseminate, through teaching and outreach, new and existing high quality biological scientific knowledge, in a supportive and diverse environment, to students, professional colleagues, and the public, and we invite you to be a part of that.

For more information about undergraduate studies in the Division of Biology please explore the pages to the left.