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About the Department


The Lyceum, photographed in 1861

The Lyceum, photographed in 1861

Although the University of Mississippi began offering classes in 1848, there was no provision in the curriculum to include biology until 1870 when the Department of Science, Literature and the Arts was established with one botany and zoology professor.

The first biology classes were taught in the Lyceum in 1872 and focused on botany.

In 1903 the medical school was founded and the biology curriculum centered around premedical education.

biology department old logoIn 1956 the medical school moved from Oxford to Jackson and the Department of Biology became the sole occupant of the science building, which was located west of where Shoemaker Hall stands today and in front of Hume Hall. In 1963, Shoemaker Hall was built to house the Department of Biology and the science building was demolished.

The University of Mississippi Field Station, 550 acres of an unusual combination of terrain, vegetation, and water resources located six miles northeast of campus, was obtained by the university in 1985, and the Department of Biology played a substantial role in its initial and ongoing operations.

Today, the Department of Biology offers diverse and adaptive teaching and research programs to meet the needs of undergraduate and graduate students.

A Brief History of Biology at the University of Mississippi (circa 1988)>>



Our Mission:  To advance understanding of living systems though research and education.   

Our Core Values

The scientist’s mind: Being curious and asking big questions.  If you know the answer, it isn’t the right question.  If you do not know the answer, do the research.  Being a scientist is a privilege earned through hard thought and hard work.

The mentor’s wisdom: Sharing experiences and leading by example.  Encourage breadth, as this will increase the questions that will be asked and the tools that can be applied.  Encourage depth, as this will sharpen those questions.  Encourage imagination, as this will lead to true innovation.

The educator’s insight: Knowing that students are empowered through the skills they learn and the knowledge they gain.  Great students can grow and develop through patience and encouragement.  Each student is unique, necessitating flexibility in, and multiple pedagogical approaches.

The student’s inquisitiveness:  Showing initiative to instigate learning experiences, including finding educators that are passionate and enthusiastic about their subject, who offer challenging and enlightening learning opportunities

The robustness of diversity: Like any ecosystem, diversity within the department brings vivacity, strength, and resilience.  Differences in experiences, perspectives, and approaches stimulate cross-fertilization and adaptation. Embracing diversity promotes fertile ground for new ideas to germinate and grow.

The Vision of the Department of Biology: To be a highly collaborative community of scientists working to generate a comprehensive understanding of living systems though multidisciplinary interactions.



biology students in the labThe faculty, staff, and students of the Department of Biology recognize the importance of building and maintaining a diverse department.  We will cultivate a welcoming, inclusive, and professional environment for individuals from all races, national origins, genders, sexual orientations, economic statuses, physical abilities, and personal religious practices.   We will also endeavor to increase the numbers of women and of individuals from groups underrepresented in the sciences who actively participate in our department, through recruitment, retention, and advancement of these individuals.