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Experiential Learning - Biology


In recent years, biology students have conducted internships at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita; Children’s Hospital, Kansas City, Mo.; Colon Cancer Research Center, University of Kansas, Lawrence; the Nature Conservancy, California; the University of Minnesota; and the Harvard University Forest in Massachusetts. Students have also done medical research at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md.

Long known for its focus on environmental sciences, Bethel’s biology department manages two native prairie tracts of land: a rare 80-acre Sand Prairie Natural History Preserve just minutes from campus as well as the 80-acre Broadie Prairie Preserve in the Kansas Flint Hills (the largest expanse of original tallgrass prairie left on the continent). In spring 2007, tallgrass prairie and oak woodland restoration studies were established immediately east of the Bethel campus. For years, biology faculty and student collaborators have studied plant communities, soils, small mammals, birds, snakes and amphibians within these prairie tracts. Biology students have numerous opportunities to conduct hands-on research in these long-term prairie projects.

Undergraduate research is requirement for the sciences at Bethel College, including biology. As a biology major, you’ll design and complete a year-long research project in your senior year to complete the degree. Some examples of student senior seminars from recent years are:

  • Colon Cancer Risk in High-BMI Patients
  • Population Genetics of Eastern Moles (Scalopus aquaticus) in North Newton
  • Physiological and Cognitive Effects of Active Cooling on Heat Stress in Firefighters: Forearm and Hand Immersion and Cold Towels
  • Macroinvertebrate Biotic Index (MBI) Assessment: A Comparison of Sites Upstream, Within and Downstream of Towns along Three Central Kansas Waterways
  • A Cure for Paralysis: The Zebrafish Study

Study Abroad

Bethel College offers a month-long Tropical Biology travel course to Costa Rica. The objectives of the course are:

  • to broaden an understanding of and experience with biological diversity through field study within several tropical ecosystems;
  • to introduce the student to the ecological structure and dynamics of rainforests, dry forests and marine coastal ecosystems;
  • to learn about some current research in tropical ecology;
  • to learn about environmental problems in the tropics and efforts to solve them;
  • to gain an understanding and appreciation of the culture and societal aspirations of the people of Costa Rica.

This course is offered alternate years during January interterm and meets the Common Ground requirement in Cross-Cultural Learning. Prerequisite: one semester of organismal biology (BIO 110, 125, 130 or equivalent).

For more information about the next scheduled trip, contact Jon Piper.

About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.