over the years, new faculty positions were added, usually to reflect the
burgeoning areas of new knowledge in biology: cell biology, genetics,
population biology and ecology, developmental biology, eukaryotic gene
regulation, microbiologythe current
list represents todays state of the science.
the very beginnings of the department, wrote emeritus professors
of biology Frank Gwilliam and Laurens Ruben in their history of biology
at Reed, it was a matter of policy to include students in all aspects
of the scientific endeavor that could be offered by the resources of the
institution. This soon translated into research participation by students
in the research activities of the faculty. . . . The faculty members of
the biology department have been, from the beginning, publishing scientists.
Summers became a time to emphasize experimental work, and students were
often invited to participate in that research.
None of that has changed, and today faculty research covers an amazing
range. Just a few examples: the evolution of animal reproductive behavior,
amphibian ecology and evolution, the evolution of flowering plant reproduction,
female sex steroids and cell signaling, the regulation of neurohormonal
secretion, determination of embryonic polarity, cell death and cancer
resistance in amphibia, the maintenance of chromosome ends by telomerase,
the molecular genetics of viruses in yeast, the molecular pathogenesis
of E. coli, biological nitrogen fixation and oxygen toxicity . . . the
list goes on (see Treetop secret).
lonely Harry to a burgeoning force, the history of biology at Reed is
one of continuous growth. Now, 2001 marks another watershed year for the
department, with the completion of an expanded, remodeled, and re-envisioned
facility that puts Reed at the forefront of undergraduate biology programs
in terms of equipment, design for effective teaching, and facultystudent
Put another way, Steve Black no longer has to run up and down the stairs
from the basement 30 times a day.
Associate professor of biology Steve Black sits beaming in his new office.
He couldnt be more excited about the new biology facility at Reed
more space, better space, wonderful new tools. (I dont
know that were the only undergraduate biology department with our
own confocal laser scanning microscope, but Ill bet we are!).
The only thing hes a little worried about is the effect on his cardio
conditioning, now that his office is next door to his teaching lab: I
kept in pretty good shape climbing stairs all day, he says.
Black came to Reed in 1989 and is now chair of the departmentand
before you assume that the title is one of those portrait-on-the-wall,
die-in-the-job kind of things, Black explains that its a two-year
appointment thats more administrative than honorific. He changed
his initial plans and chose the undergraduate liberal arts college science
environment over the graduate-school-at-a-big-research-university-environment
simply because it was Reed. Black quickly discovered that it perfectly
I highly value teaching and quality interaction with intelligent
undergrads, he says. Reed students push themselves, and when
we provide the facilities and intellectual stimulation the result is real
science and work that is at or near the graduate level. The process brings
out the best in all of us.
Biology professor Maryanne McClellan agrees. Most undergraduates
finish college only knowing they did well in their science courses,
she says, without a clue as to whether they can be scientists. Here,
after working alongside the faculty developing and testing hypotheses,
by the end of the senior year they have a very good idea whether or not
they can do science. And many of them continue on: biology is one
of Reeds most popular majors, and an amazing number of Reeds
highly recruited biology graduates go on to earn Ph.D.s and M.D.s. Reed
College, in fact, is ranked first in the nation for the percentage of
grads who go on to earn doctorates in the life sciences.