If you are interested in pursuing a degree or finding a job in the field of biology, everything you need is here. Find the best schools, career information, history of the discipline, influential people in the field, great books, and more.
What Is Biology?
Biology is the study of life and living organisms, as well as the various systems both comprising and supporting life at the micro and macro levels. Important fields in biology include zoology, evolution, biochemistry, molecular biology, ecology, and more. Biologists work in a wide range of professional, research, and educational contexts and in a wide range of sectors including healthcare, environmental science, epidemiology, and more. As a biology student, you would study subjects such as microbiology, human anatomy, botany, and more.
The Best Colleges and Universities for Biology Degrees
We rank universities and colleges from around the world based on the scholarly work of their faculty and alumni. These colleges and universities are making the biggest impact on the biology discipline today.
As a biology major, you’ll study the various systems that constitute life including the anatomy, physiology, and microbiology within living organisms and the taxonomy, ecology, and biodiversity encompassing all living organisms.
What Can I Do With a Degree in Biology
With a degree in biology, you could qualify to enter a wide range of fields including zoology, pharmacology, nutrition, environmental sciences, medicine, and much more. In order to become a biologist, you would likely also need to earn an advanced degree.
Biology is among the most popular disciplines at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. A growing number of reputable colleges and universities are satisfying demand for this degree by providing an array of high-quality online biology degree options. Using our InfluenceRanking engine, we’ve identified the best among them. Check out our growing set of rankings for online biology degree programs at every level of education.
The biology discipline is rooted in research and philosophy dating as far back as ancient Greece. The evolution of this discipline is complex, detailed, and filled with innovative and visionary thinkers. We highlight their work and findings in a brief but comprehensive history of the scientific discipline of biology. Below are a few highlights from our 4-part seriesA Brief History of the Biology Discipline:
The following are the top biologists in the field today according to our machine-powered Influence Rankings, which are drawn from a numerical score of academic achievements, merits, and citations across Wikipedia/data, Crossref, and an ever-growing body of data.
Emmanuelle Charpentier is the Founding and Acting Director of the Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens and an Honorary Professor at Humboldt University.
Jennifer Doudna is a Li Ka Shing Chancellor Chair Professor for the Department of Chemistry and Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. She is best known for her work with CRISPR. She, along with her colleague Emmanuelle Charpentier, were the first to suggest that genes could be edited or reprogrammed, now considered one of the most impactful discoveries ever made in the field of biology.
Feng Zhang is a core member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, the James and Patricia Poitras Professor in Neuroscience for the McGovern Institute for Brain Research and for Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Biological Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Jack W. Szostak is a Canadian American biologist of Polish British descent, Nobel Prize laureate, Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, and Alexander Rich Distinguished Investigator at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston. Szostak has made significant contributions to the field of genetics. His achievement helped scientists to map the location of genes in mammals and to develop techniques for manipulating genes. His research findings in this area are also instrumental to the Human Genome Project. He was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, along with Elizabeth Blackburn and Carol W. Greider, for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres.
Elizabeth Blackburn is a researcher at the University of California at San Francisco, studying the impacts of stress on telomerase and telomeres. She is the former president of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the first Australian woman to win a Nobel prize. She is best known for her co-discovery of the telomerase, which is the enzyme that replenishes telomere. She and colleagues Carol W. Greider and Jack Szostak were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2009 for this work. Her research on telomerase has explored ways that mental health can impact physical health, investigating the impacts of meditation and social bonds.
Richard Dawkins is an emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford and former University of Oxford’s Professor for Public Understanding of Science, but he is best known for his work in evolutionary biology. Dawkins is a pioneer in the role of genes in evolution.
Randy Schekman is an American cell biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, former editor-in-chief of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and former editor of Annual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology. In 2011, he was announced as the editor of eLife. Schekman shared the 2013 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with James Rothman and Thomas C. Südhof for their ground-breaking work on cell membrane vesicle trafficking.
John Gurdon is a British developmental biologist. He is best known for his pioneering research in nuclear transplantation and cloning. He was awarded the Lasker Award in 2009. In 2012, he and Shinya Yamanaka were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for the discovery that mature cells can be converted to stem cells.
Sydney Brenner was a South African biologist. In 2002, he shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with H. Robert Horvitz and Sir John E. Sulston. Brenner made significant contributions to work on the genetic code, and other areas of molecular biology while working in the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England. He established the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans as a model organism for the investigation of developmental biology, and founded the Molecular Sciences Institute in Berkeley, California, United States.
Edward O. Wilson is the world’s leading expert on ants, a specialty known as myrmecology, but that’s not all. He is also considered the father of biodiversity and the father of sociobiology. He is the Pellegrino University Research Professor Emeritus of Entomology at the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University and a lecturer at Duke University.
The following are the most influential books in the field of biology today according to our backstage Ranking Analytics tool, which calculates the influence of various sources in both academics and popular culture using a numerical scoring of citations across Wikipedia/data, Crossref, and an ever-growing body of data.
The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins advances the innovative scientific thesis that evolution is best understood as resulting from a competition, not between individual organisms, but rather between their germlines.
The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee provides a history of our understanding of genetics and of the development of genetic engineering technology, married to a memoir focused on the tragic, cross-generation recurrence of mental illness in his own family.
On Human Nature by Edward O. Wilson argues that the sociobiological approach to human behavior is destined to replace the current social sciences and even the humanities.
The Population Bomb by Paul R. Ehrlich predicts that unchecked human population growth will lead to worldwide famine and ecological and social collapse during the 1970s and 1980s.
The history of scientific innovation is highlighted by those who dared to challenge conventional wisdom. Moreover, public attitudes toward groundbreaking scientific achievements can be unpredictable and susceptible to disagreement. We’ll do our best to provide objective and fact-based information on the controversies pertinent to the biology discipline.