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Biological Sciences

This major (BioSci) is designed for the student seeking a broad base in the biological sciences, for advanced training in biology or medicine.

Honors Program

Students with strong interest in basic research, including those who wish to pursue graduate studies leading to the Ph.D. or the combined M.D./Ph.D. degrees at prestigious institutions, may enter the Honors program. The Honors program provides a strong independent research experience as well as critical thinking and scientific writing skills. Students with a 3.4 GPA in courses that count toward the major qualify. A minimum of eight hours must be completed in Honors Research (BSCI 4999) and a written Honors Thesis must be defended through oral presentation.

Recent Honors Theses include:
Alexandra Banathy, “Regulation of actin cytoskeleton by HSP20 in human airway smooth muscle tone.”
Sushma Boppana, “Characterization of Antennal Accessory Pulsatile Organs in Mosquitoes.”
Claire Cato, “Functional analysis of Schizosaccharomyces pombe Mag1 and Mag2.”
Grace Coggins, “Characterization of miR-27 during zebrafish development.”
Stephen Derryberry, An Investigation of the Ionotropic Glutamate Receptor Sensitivity, Stoichiometry, and Expression Pattern in the Human Malaria Vector Mosquito Anopheles gambiae.”
Juan Malpartida, “Searching for a molecular mediator of Anopheles gambiae mosquito fertilization.”
Caroline McCool, “Analysis of Cyanobacteria Mutants with Defects in Temperature Compensation.”
Christina Snider, “The effect of Puupehenone in Yeast Trafficking.”
Cody Stothers, “Degradation of Collagen IV by Protease-3 in the RPE-1 Human Cell Line.”
Wandi Zhu, “T follicular helper cell function impairment during chronic HIV infection.”

Undergraduate Publications

A number of students participating in our many opportunities for independent research produce work that is published in leading scientific journals.  Examples can be found at:

Other Special Opportunities

Significant independent research is encouraged for all students, not just Honors students. The majority of our majors participate in independent research for 1 to 3 years for credit towards the major and/or within summer research programs:

After Vanderbilt

Michael Pritchett (2013) Medical school at University of Kansas.

Emily Bain (2014) Graduate student at University of Washington.

Marilyn Claire Cato (2014) Graduate student at University of Michigan.

Lyla Kotsch (2015) Graduate student in Vanderbilt Masters of Accountancy Program.

Dacia Boyce (2013) Graduate student at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

Grace Coggins (2014) Graduate student in Pharmacology Graduate Program at University of Pennsylvania.

Weihan Chen (2013) Medical school at University of Texas Southwestern Medical School.

Sushma Boppana (2014) Graduate student in University of Alabama-Birmingham MD/PhD program.

Carolyn Foley (2011) Medical student at the Univeristy of Oregon.

Martha Holingsworth Elmore (2013) Graduate student at Harvard University.

Heather Estby (2013) University of Minnesota Medical School.

Lauren de la Parte (2014) London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Zhongyang Cao (2013) Ph.D. student at University of Chicago. 

Jacqueline Palma (2008) University of Arizona School of Dentistry.

Aaron Noll (2012) Vanderbilt University Medical School.

Ima Paydar (2008) Washington University School of Medicine.

Alex Commanday (2013) Baylor College of Medicine.

Jenni Qi (2012) Graduate student at University of California-San Francisco.

Samantha Skains (2011) Law student at Tulane Law School.

Anna Talage (2013) Graduate student at Johns Hopkins University.


The aggregate research and teaching interests of the faculty cover many areas of biological sciences. Focused areas of research include biological clocks, genome maintenance, small RNAs, protein trafficking, vector biology, symbiosis, social evolution, microbiomes, speciation, brain asymmetry, synapse formation and plasticity, organelle formation, cell migration, and touch, visual, and olfactory sensory systems. Exciting research questions in these areas are addressed in our labs by undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and our faculty.  Specific research interests of individual faculty can be found on the department website (


Alicia Goostree

Department of Biological Sciences
VU Station B 351634
Nashville, TN  37235
(615) 936-3651

Biological Sciences Website