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Biology

The Randolph College biology curriculum successfully integrates learning and practical experience, providing an excellent starting point for many diverse careers.

Jdody Misidor measures plant growth in the greenhouse at Martin Science Center

Why Study Biology at Randolph?

Randolph students are engaged in hands on experiences in the classroom, in the lab, and in the field

Our participatory academic program emphasizes current research techniques, and our laboratories include the Atlantic Ocean, the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Smithsonian Institution, and the College’s own wildlife reserves.

From environmental research and health fields, such as medicine and physical therapy, to wildlife management and genetic research, the foundation always remains the same—biology, the study of life.

Degrees offered

Bachelor of Arts Degree in Biology

Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology

Minor in Biology

Curriculum and Courses

Related Programs

Environmental Studies and Science

Pre-Medical Studies

Pre-Veterinary Studies

Sport and Exercise Studies

The Randolph Experience

Internships and Study Abroad

Randolph students gain real world experience through required off-campus internships in a variety of fields, disciplines, and industries.

Summer Research Program

Spend the summer working closely with a professor and focused on a specific aspect of physics.

Randolph’s intensive eight-week Summer Research Program enables students to conduct research that is complemented by a thorough review of the relevant literature; live in a residence hall on campus, participate in on-campus summer events, attend special seminars with guest speakers; and share the progress and results of their research.

Learn more about the Summer Research Program.

SciFest

Every year Randolph hosts SciFest, a 3-day science and learning festival for local schoolchildren.

Randolph student and faculty volunteers lead activities, exhibits, labs, and talks designed to get young girls and boys interested in and excited about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).  

Senior Capstone

Randolph biology majors may conduct laboratory or field studies culminating in presentation of their senior research projects through talks and poster displays.

Unique Experiences

Outcomes

Historic Preservation Law

Janie Campbell ’12, history major
Preservation Consultant, law firm of Rogers Lewis Jackson Mann & Quinn, LLC, Columbia, South Carolina

Janie’s group works with developers seeking tax credits for rehabilitating historic properties.

“I work closely with project architects to ensure that historic, character defining elements of each building are preserved and restored, which can vary tremendously as what is significant to a 1929 airplane hangar is vastly different from what makes a 1963 mid-century modern motel unique!”

She writes National Register of Historic Places nominations and Historic Preservation Certification applications, which detail the property’s significance.  She also conducts site visits to ensure work is being completed as described and photographs the before, during, and after conditions of each project.

“Randolph certainly laid the foundation for my research and writing skills. The Summer Research Program, in particular, prepared me for the type of place-based research I do now. “

Opportunities

Top Ranked Professors

Randolph College’s faculty are consistently recognized as among the best in the nation. The Princeton Review ranked the College in the Top 20 for most accessible professors in the 2021 edition of its flagship college guide, The Best 387 Colleges.

Randolph has been ranked in the top 20 for most accessible professors for four consecutive years.

Biology Faculty

Adam Houlihan

Associate Professor of Biology

Read More... Adam Houlihan

Kristin Bliss

Associate Professor of Biology

Read More... Kristin Bliss

Ron Gettinger

Professor of Biology

Read More... Ron Gettinger

Erin Heller

Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology

Read More... Erin Heller

Amanda Rumore

Associate Professor of Biology

Read More... Amanda Rumore

Janna Russell

Biology Lab Instructor

Read More... Janna Russell

Only at Randolph

Randolph students can take advantage of unique programs which give them a more enriching education than can be found anywhere else.

TAKE 2

Two courses per half-mester means you get to focus in and dig deep into your coursework while still having time for the rest of the college experience. Two classes. Seven weeks. Repeat.

Learn More
The Liberal Arts Advantage

Randolph graduates learn to think critically, solve problems and work well with others. They are prepared to succeed in all aspects of life.

Learn More
Money for Your Research

The Randolph Innovative Student Experience (RISE) program provides every student a $2,000 grant to fund research, creative work, experiential learning or other scholarly pursuits.

Learn More
The Randolph Plan

Randolph students work with faculty mentors to explore a broad range of disciplines as they chart their academic path.

Learn More

Department News

Animal Planet: Izaiah Burgos ’24 realizes dreams with zoo internship

"Exploring the natural world, and the animals in it, was always a dream of mine.”

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Meet the graduates: AJ Marshall ’21

Marshall will be working as a hospital patient care technician while studying for his MCATs, with the ultimate goal of attending medical school.

Read More

Meet the graduates: Sarah Perry ’21

Sarah Perry ’21 graduated from Randolph over the weekend, but that doesn’t mean she’s saying goodbye to the College! Sarah […]

Read More

Animal Planet: Izaiah Burgos ’24 realizes dreams with zoo internship

"Exploring the natural world, and the animals in it, was always a dream of mine.”

Read More

Meet the graduates: AJ Marshall ’21

Marshall will be working as a hospital patient care technician while studying for his MCATs, with the ultimate goal of attending medical school.

Read More

Meet the graduates: Sarah Perry ’21

Sarah Perry ’21 graduated from Randolph over the weekend, but that doesn’t mean she’s saying goodbye to the College! Sarah […]

Read More
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Department Chair

Adam Houlihan

Associate Professor of Biology

Credentials:B.S., University of Southern Mississippi
Ph.D., Cornell University
Associated Departments:Biology
Office:Martin 226A
Phone:4349478492
Email:ahoulihan@randolphcollege.edu

News Headlines

Adam Houlihan is a microbiologist. His research focus is in the area of agricultural microbiology.

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Kristin Bliss

Associate Professor of Biology

Credentials:B.S., College of William and Mary
M.A., College of William and Mary
Ph.D., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Associated Departments:Biology
Office:Martin 220
Phone:4349478491
Email:kbliss@randolphcollege.edu

News Headlines

My teaching philosophy contains 3 main components:

  1. construct courses so that students experience Biology as an investigative science;
  2. design opportunities in the lab to help students refine and practice their technique of scientific investigation; and
  3. encourage students to develop critical thinking skills by evaluating scientific journal articles and science in the world around them.

I plan my courses with an eye toward making Biology come alive to students. We use current, popular media to analyze the science of everyday life. Students develop analytical skills that allow them to connect current class biological concepts with larger ecological and environmental issues.

My research interests span cellular to ecological, and have included experiments in the laboratory, greenhouse and field.

To date, I have supervised two senior undergraduate students. One who explored demography (turnover) of roots as a response to nutrient patchiness using rhizotron boxes in a greenhouse setting (Virginia Tech, 1999-2000).

The second student examined the antibacterial properties of spices with respect to three common plant pathogens using plate inhibition tests in a lab setting (R-MWC, 2003).

Another area I’m interested in researching is phytoremediation. In phytoremediation, plants are used to ‘clean up’ environmental contamination. Specifically, we have shown from greenhouse experiments that corn plants can take up significant amounts of lead and translocate the lead to their shoots for easy removal. Future research will focus on refining the technique so that it can be used to absorb lead from actual contaminated sites in the Lynchburg area.

When I’m not in the office, I enjoy spending time with my family. My husband Andy and our two boys, Justin and Connor, enjoy spending time hiking, bike riding and swimming at Smith Mountain Lake. Our golden retriever Cameron loves to swim too.

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Ron Gettinger

Professor of Biology

Credentials:B.S., Miami University of Ohio
M.S., Colorado State University
Ph.D., University of California (Los Angeles)
Associated Departments:Biology
Office:Martin 212
Phone:4349478490
Email:rgettinger@randolphcollege.edu

A career in Biology has probably been in the works for me since I was a kid. I grew up in rural southwestern Ohio and when I wasn’t playing baseball I was usually exploring the fields, woods, and creeks that surrounded my little hometown. After my first college course in ecology, I knew Ecology was the area of Biology for me — I briefly considered Medicine but sick people did not have the same powerful appeal as Mother Nature. I was really hooked after a couple of Undergraduate Research Projects and a summer of work-study employment at Miami’s Ecology Research Station.

My degree is in Physiological Ecology. Very broadly, this is the study of how physiological systems adapt to changing environments. Given this disciplinary specialization it should not be too surprising that my primary teaching responsibilities are Physiology and Ecology! I also teach introductory-level Human Biology, which examines the human as a biological species and draws heavily from both physiology and ecology. As opportunities arise, I enjoy very much advising the Honors and Independent Research projects of RC students. These have ranged from studies of how stress affects heat production in the brown fat of white-footed mice to surveys of salamanders.

My published research spans a diverse array of animals and environments. I’ve had a blast studying tropical tree frogs and marine toads on the island of Trinidad, bats in the lava caves of Oregon, nestling birds in the Mojave Desert, hatchling snapping turtles in Colorado, field mice galore from Ohio to Colorado to Alabama, and my all-time favorite critter, the pocket gopher, in the mountains of Colorado and California. I even got to dissect the brain of a manatee! Over the years grants to my research partners and I have been gratefully accepted from the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Forest Service, NSF, NIH, and Earthwatch.

Over the past three years, I’ve been engrossed in a totally different line of research — different for me anyway. I’m studying nut production and growth in isolated stands of American beech trees. Particularly, I’m interested in the relationship between nut production and predation on nuts by insects and small mammals. Trees don’t bite and they don’t run away, so this research, while not as inherently exciting as animal fieldwork, is a nice change. Trees also don’t do anything very fast, so I am committed to this project for the long haul. I was able to get this all underway with funds from a Mednick Fellowship.

I have been fortunate to have experienced tremendous colleagues, researchers, professors, and a hodge-podge of assorted and wonderful characters and co-workers. They were all experts in something or other and I learned immensely from their generously shared expertise. I’m trying to pass it on.

In my real life, I enjoy spending as much time as I can with my wonderful wife, two terrific sons and their beautiful wives, and my amazing two grandsons — both budding ornithologists and wildlife artists, and real sluggers to boot!

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Erin Heller

Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology

Credentials:B.S., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
M.S., Old Dominion University
Ph.D., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Associated Departments:Biology
Office:Martin 311
Phone:4349478493
Email:eheller@randolphcollege.edu

News Headlines

I was born in Richmond, Virginia, and loved to play outside in the creek near our house. My parents were constantly sending me back to the creek to return the minnows, tadpoles, salamanders, crayfish, etc. that I would bring home. Little did I know then that my affinity for nature would lead into a rewarding career as a wildlife conservationist and educator.

After earning my B.S. in Fish and Wildlife Sciences from Virginia Tech in 2011, I attended Old Dominion University for my M.S., where I studied the relationship between birds, ticks, and urbanization. I had the privilege of working hands-on with wild birds every week and also enjoyed working with students in the classroom. During the last year of my Masters degree, I received the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program award. Knowing how much I loved Virginia Tech, I returned to the mountains to study a federally-threatened shorebird called the red knot (Calidris canutus rufa) for my Ph.D. During that time, I became very invested in diversity and inclusion initiatives and pedagogical practices and completed the Future Professoriate Certificate through the graduate school. I believe that education should be equitable and accessible to all and that learning is a two-way street, where I learn from my students, and my students (hopefully) also learn from me!

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Amanda Rumore

Associate Professor of Biology

Credentials:B.S., Virginia Tech, Biological Sciences
Graduate Certificate, Future Professoriate, Virginia Tech
Ph.D., Virginia Tech, Biological Sciences
Associated Departments:Biology
Office:Martin 226B
Phone:4349478377
Email:arumore@randolphcollege.edu

News Headlines

Amanda Rumore is a cell biologist/immunologist who focuses on innate immunity and human-microbe interactions. She teaches courses in general biology, genetics and molecular biology, cell biology, developmental biology, and immunology. In the classroom, Dr. Rumore takes a learner-centered approach to teaching, where she challenges students to become lifelong learners through interactive and problem-based teaching. Many science courses reward students for their ability to remember facts and terms, but in reality, science is not a set of unconnected details to be memorized. Although information recall is an important basis to learning biological processes, it misses the aspect of real world experience and problem solving. This traditional method of memorization does not encourage students to look at the underlying connection between scientific facts and theories in order to analyze complex concepts. Thus, she creates an active and engaging learner-centered environment where students take control of their own learning rather than passively absorbing the words and ideas. As evidenced by her teaching evaluations, her courses are a balance of both traditional and new pedagogical methods and highly regarded among students. The backbone of these courses are her thoughtfully formatted lectures that effectively communicate very complex topics. Her goal for all of her students is that they can take their new knowledge from her courses and apply it to much larger scientific concepts in order to develop a better understanding of science in society and empower them to appreciate biological discovery and invention.

Since joining the faculty of Randolph College in 2012, Dr. Rumore has built a research program that has provided over thirty students with research experiences. Her recent research projects have examined the innate immune response of airway epithelial cells in direct and indirect contact with fungal spores, the use of wireless heart rate monitors to determine baseline equine heart rate parameters, and the effectiveness of tea tree oil in the treatment of equine streptothricosis (rain rot). She has mentored two Honors Research Projects in Biology; one studied the effects of housing temperature and a high-fructose diet on metabolic parameters in mice and the other evaluated the effectiveness of omeprazole on cribbing behavior in horses. Her students have successfully presented at local, state, and national conferences and many have gone on to graduate programs in the biological sciences. She aims to provide research experiences to students whenever possible and expose students to the many facets of research from being in the laboratory to writing grants and manuscripts and presenting at scientific conferences.

Dr. Rumore lives in Lynchburg with her husband, three children, and two rescue dogs. In her free time, she enjoys traveling abroad, interior design projects, and equestrian sports though she always wishes she had more time for each of these!

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Janna Russell

Biology Lab Instructor

Credentials:B.S., Bridgewater College
M.Ed.in Science Education, Lynchburg College
Associated Departments:Biology
Office:Martin 206
Phone:4349478317
Email:jrussell@randolphcollege.edu

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