Wilkes University


Wilkes University Health Sciences student looks into a microscope as part of a lab demonstration.

The study of the life sciences can blossom into a wide range of professions, careers and employment positions.

The Biology Program at Wilkes University has developed a national reputation for its ability to successfully prepare young students for advanced programs in medicine, science, and other professional programs.

Small class sizes allow our students work closely with our expert faculty, and are encouraged as early as their freshman year to pursue original research. Whether your goal is to enroll in medical or professional school, pursue graduate study or seek employment after graduation, our faculty, innovative research, personal attention and great facilities will help you get there. 

Wilkes University faculty have secured over $1.25 million in research funds from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Pennsylvania Wild Resource Conservation Fund, and other organizations, allowing students to conduct internationally recognized research in various fields in biology. Research collaborations have included Yale, Harvard and Purdue universities. Some of our cutting-edge research projects are:

  • The genetics of development in fruit flies
  • Seed dispersal in oaks
  • Habitat and effect of fire on rare birds
  • Biochemical triggers of development in a marine invertebrate
  • MIcrobial ecology of deep sea vents
  • Diet and colorectal cancer
  • The potential of a common weed to produce a medically relevant antioxidant
  • Gene expression in rice
  • Diet and Alzheimers disease
  • Urban ecology

The beautiful, modern state-of-the-art Cohen Science Center (CSC) is a LEED certified building specifically designed for teaching, research and mentoring. Its classrooms and laboratory spaces enhances an already outstanding science program that emphasizes hands-on research. Highlights of the CSC include:

  • A genomics research center, a molecular biology suite, and an additional bio-molecular research facility..
  • Greenhouse facility for student and faculty projects
  • The Rosenthal Herbarium, which holds one of the top plant collections in northeast Pennsylvania, and a molecular suite for world-class genetic and protein research.
  • A bio-informatics suite
  • A state-of-the-art-animal facility for both research and teaching needs
  • Scenic lounges with floor to ceiling windows where students can study or hold meetings

Off-site facilities include more than seven field research sites where faculty and students work on environmental, ecological, and animal behavior research, including:

  • the Chincoteague Bay Field Station consortium in Assateague, Virginia, a destination for field trips and where students can take a course or two in marine biology for a concentration in marine biology.
  • the Jacob's Property is a 110 acre forest plot near Bear Creek, Pennsylvania. Several ecology-related courses take field trips there and also the focus of a few long-term ecology projects.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the life, physical and social science occupations is projected to grow 10 percent in coming years, faster than the average for all occupations. Job growth and salary for careers in the biology field are increasing, with entry-level salaries as high as $62,267. Careers in biology include:

  • Biochemist
  • Physician
  • Pharmaceutical sales representative
  • Biological technician
  • Genetic counselor
  • Health communications specialist
  • Medical and health services manager

Wilkes University has a national reputation in preparing students for doctoral (Ph.D.), medical programs (M.D. and M.D./Ph.D.) and other health-related professions:

  • Approximately 30% of all students continue their educations in such programs.
  • Students have maintained an over 90% acceptance rate to medical schools while simultaneously fostering a steady increase in the number of our students pursuing advanced degrees at top-tier graduate programs including Princeton, Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania.

The Wilkes University Biology program provides a dynamic summer research program for undergraduates. This program:

  • Provides a full research salary and free housing on campus
  • Supports up to 24 full-time research students per summer
  • Provides opportunity to conduct research at off-campus sites. Students and faculty, for example, have recently traveled to Costa Rica, Purdue University, and Yale University for collaborative research.
  • Provides opportunity for students to accompany faculty to scientific conferences and present their research findings. Students and faculty have recently traveled to Mexico, China, Hawaii and numerous other locations within the U.S.
  • Provides opportunities to co-author scientific publications with faculty

Megan Ruhmel

Student Spotlight

Megan Ruhmel

Biology and Chemistry Graduate '09

“I’m an algae research technician at ExxonMobil, working with Synthetic Genomics, Inc. (SGI) to develop the perfect strain of fat, fit algae, which can be converted into engine-ready biofuel – science decades in the making.”

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