Office: Main Department, Gilbert Building, Room 109
Mail Code: 94305-5020
Phone: (650) 723-2413
Web Site:

Office: Student Services, Gilbert Building, Room 108
Mail Code: 94305-5020
Phone: (650) 498-2404 (graduate students); (650) 723-5060 (undergraduates); (650) 723-1826 (postdoctoral scholars)
Web Site:

Courses offered by the Department of Biology are listed under the subject code BIO on the Stanford Bulletin's ExploreCourses web site.

The department provides:

  • a major program leading to the B.S. degree

  • a minor program

  • a coterminal program leading to the M.S. degree

  • a doctoral program leading to the Ph.D. degree, and

  • courses designed for the non-major.

Mission of the Undergraduate Program in Biology

The mission of the undergraduate program in Biology is to provide students with in-depth knowledge in the discipline, from molecular biology to ecology. Students in the program learn to think and analyze information critically, to draw connections among the different areas of biology, and to communicate their ideas effectively to the scientific community. The major exposes students to the scientific process through a set of core courses and electives from a range of subdisciplines. The Biology major serves as preparation for professional careers, including medicine, dentistry, veterinary sciences, teaching, consulting, research, and field studies.

Mission of the Graduate Program in Biology

For graduate-level students, the department offers resources and experience learning from and working with world-renowned faculty involved in research on ecology, neurobiology, population biology, plant and animal physiology, biochemistry, immunology, cell and developmental biology, genetics, and molecular biology.

The M.S. degree program offers general or specialized study to individuals seeking biologically oriented course work, and to undergraduate science majors wishing to increase or update their science background or obtain advanced research experience.

The training for a Ph.D. in Biology is focused on learning skills required to be a successful research scientist and teacher, including how to ask important questions and then devise and carry out experiments to answer these questions. Students work closely with an established advisor and meet regularly with a committee of faculty members to ensure that they understand the importance of diverse perspectives on experimental questions and approaches. Students learn how to evaluate critically pertinent original literature in order to stay abreast of scientific progress in their areas of interest. They also learn how to make professional presentations, write manuscripts for publication, and become effective teachers.


The offices, labs, and personnel of the Department of Biology are located in the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Biology Research, Gilbert Biological Sciences, James H. Clark Center,  ChEM-H and the Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute, and Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Environment and Energy (Y2E2) buildings. Along with the Carnegie Institution of Washington all are on the main campus. Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve (JRBP) is located near Stanford University's campus in the eastern foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Hopkins Marine Station is on Monterey Bay in Pacific Grove.

Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve encompasses geologic, topographic, and biotic diversity within its 1,189 acres and provides a natural laboratory for researchers from around the world, educational experiences for students and docent-led visitors, and refuge for native plants and animals. See the JRBP web site.

Hopkins Marine Station, located 90 miles from the main University campus in Pacific Grove, was founded in 1892 as the first marine laboratory on the west coast of North America. For more information, including courses taught at Hopkins Marine Station with the subject code BIOHOPK, see the "Hopkins Marine Station" section of this bulletin.

The Robin Li and Melissa Ma Science Library, located in the Sapp Center for Science Teaching and Learning, supports research and teaching for the Department of Biology and other related disciplines.  The Harold A. Miller Library focuses primarily on marine biology to support the research and teaching needs of the Hopkins Marine Station, but it also collects materials on oceanography, fisheries, and other aquatic sciences.

Biology Course Numbering System

The department uses the following course numbering system:

Biology Course Numbering System




Introductory and Foundations




Advanced Undergraduate, Coterminal and PhD




Emeriti Professors: Paul R. Ehrlich, David Epel, Philip C. Hanawalt, Patricia P. Jones, Donald Kennedy, Harold A. Mooney, W. James Nelson, Peter Ray, Joan Roughgarden, Robert D. Simoni, George N. Somero, Ward B. WattNorman K. Wessells, Dow O. Woodward

Emeritus Professor (Teaching): Carol L. Boggs

Chair: Martha S. Cyert 

Director of Graduate Studies: Jose R. Dinneny

Director of Undergraduate Studies: Tadashi Fukami

Professors: Dominique Bergmann, Barbara A. Block, Steven M. Block, Larry B. Crowder, Martha S. Cyert, Gretchen C. Daily, Giulio De Leo, Mark W. Denny, Rodolfo Dirzo, Marcus W. Feldman, Russell D. Fernald, Christopher B. Field, Judith Frydman, William F. Gilly, Deborah M. Gordon, Or Gozani, Elizabeth A. Hadly, H. Craig Heller, Christine Jacobs-Wagner, Richard G. Klein, Ron R. Kopito, Sharon R. Long, Liqun Luo, Susan K. McConnell, Fiorenza Micheli, Mary Beth Mudgett, Stephen R. Palumbi, Dmitri Petrov, Jonathan Pritchard, Noah A. Rosenberg, Robert M. Sapolsky, Mark J. Schnitzer, Carla J. Shatz, Kang Shen, Michael A. Simon, Tim P. Stearns, Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Stuart H. Thompson, Alice Ting, Shripad Tuljapurkar, Peter Vitousek, Virginia Walbot

Professor (Research): Anthony Barnosky

Associate Professors: Xiaoke Chen, Jose R. Dinneny, Hunter B. Fraser, Tadashi Fukami, Christopher Lowe, Ashby Morrison, Kabir Peay, M. Kristy Red-Horse, Jan M. Skotheim

Associate Professor (Research): Mary Hynes

Assistant Professors: Jonas B. Cremer, Scott J. Dixon, Jessica L. Feldman, Jeremy A. Goldbogen, Erin Mordecai, Lauren O'Connell, Molly Schumer 

Courtesy Emeritus Professor: Kathryn Barton

Courtesy Professors: Joseph Berry, Devaki Bhaya, Carlos D. Bustamante, Daniel Fisher, Arthur R. Grossman, Joseph S. Lipsick, Alfred Spormann, Irving Weissman

Courtesy Associate Professors: David Ehrhardt, Jonathan Payne, Sue Rhee, Zhiyong Wang

Courtesy Assistant Professor: Paula V. Welander

Lecturers: Robin Elahi, Daria Hekmat-Scafe, Jamie Imam, Waheeda Khalfan, Shyamala D. Malladi, Jesse E. D. Miller, Andrew Todhunter

Librarians: Michael Newman, Robin Li and Melissa Ma Science Library; Amanda Whitmire, Miller Library

Graduate Advising Expectations

The Department of Biology is committed to providing academic advising in support of graduate student scholarly and professional development. When most effective, this advising relationship entails collaborative and sustained engagement by both the advisor and the advisee.

All first-year Biology graduate students have an assigned a Biology First-Year Facilitator (BFF). Faculty mentorship in the BFF program is focused on helping students integrate into the department culture through non-judgmental advocacy. BFFs support students as they manage their lab rotations and chose appropriate coursework. Emphasis is placed on cultivating a supportive relationship between faculty and student during what is often a stressful period of transition. The student services office (SSO) and the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) have primary responsibility for ensuring students fulfill departmental requirements (coursework, TAships) and submit the appropriate forms on time.

Course Advising Workshops are organized to assist students in the selection of classes for the next quarter. The workshop consists of student, faculty, and SSO representatives who can advise on appropriate coursework to take. Students and faculty establish a course of study, taking into consideration: (1) area of specialization; (2) training in accessory areas such as language, math, physical sciences and computer science; and (3) breadth in biology.

Graduate students are expected to select a thesis advisor before the end of the first year of the program. Students are encouraged to work collaboratively with their advisors to establish a dissertation project and form a Dissertation Reading Committee. Advancement to doctoral candidacy is expected to occur during the second year of the program.

Thesis advisers are expected to meet with graduate students at least once each year to discuss and help develop the students' Individual Development Plans (IDP). Additionally, advisers and students should meet on a regular basis throughout the year to discuss the student's professional development in key areas such as selecting courses, designing and conducting research, developing teaching pedagogy, navigating policies and degree requirements, and exploring academic opportunities and professional pathways.

Graduate students are active contributors to the advising relationship. They should proactively seek academic and professional guidance and take responsibility for informing themselves of policies and degree requirements for the Biology Ph.D. program.

As a best practice, advising expectations should be periodically discussed and reviewed to ensure mutual understanding. Both the advisor and the advisee are expected to maintain professionalism and integrity.

Academic progress and student completion of program requirements and milestones are monitored by the program director and staff, and are discussed by faculty at an annual meeting devoted to assessing graduate student progress. A detailed description of the program's requirements, milestones, and advising expectations are listed in the Biology Ph.D. Student Handbook, found on the program web site.

The Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) is available during office hours and by appointment. In addition, each Autumn the DGS meets with each cohort of graduate students to discuss what aspects of the Ph.D. program areas warrant improvement. Together with the DGS, the Graduate Studies Committee acts as a mechanism to address these concerns and update advising policies. The committee is formed from faculty and student representatives of CMOB, EcoEvo, and Hopkins tracks.

Additionally, the program adheres to the advising guidelines and responsibilities listed by the Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education (VPGE) and in the Graduate Academic Policies (GAP), and the Graduate Advising section of this Bulletin.