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A Brief History of the Biology Department at Reed College with Special Emphasis on the Relation Between Teaching and Research

By G.F. Gwilliam, L.N. Ruben
Professor of Biology, Emeritus



"It is the function of the teacher not only to present important results, but to provide a method of criticism by means of which their significance may be discovered and appreciated. Nothing servs (sic) the student so well in this connection as actual experience with real problems and at the same time nothing so stimulates discriminating observations. Students are invited, therefore, to avail themselves of every facility the Department affords -- lectures, laboratories, gardens, collections, field trips library -- and develop their resourcefulness and powers of imagination by free contact with concrete facts." (from the Reed College Record, #5, First Annual Catalog, 1911-1912)

"The Biology Department at Reed College is not typical of those found in other undergraduate institutions. While its main goal is to provide an educational experience of the highest quality for its students, it is committed as well to the pursuit of basic research. Thus the faculty is composed of individuals who have chosen to place their primary emphasis on teaching and working with undergraduates, yet have maintained research involvement in their biological specialties. That this research activity is not trivial is evidenced by the facts that over the last 10 years $2,005,528 in grant support funds have been received from federal and private sources, and the current staff has published over 100 research reports, reviews, and chapters in the scientific literature". (from Department of Biology, Reed College, Self-Study Report, October, 1976.)  

From the very beginnings of the Department, 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. A significant academic year research component for the faculty, however, was not to be fully realized for some years because the departmental staff and facilities were limited - but whatever was available was also available to the students. The faculty members of the Biology Department have been, from the beginning, publishing scientists. The extent of their activities were limited by time and facilities, but most members of the department have left a record of research activity. Summers became a time to emphasize experimental work, and students were often invited to participate in that research.

The Curriculum
The Research Paradigm
Research Time—Principles and Expectations (1997)
Student Research: The Senior Thesis
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