Biology Education Research

Students wearing goggles in a laboratory are engaged in a scientific experiment.

The focus of this concentration is research on learning and instruction specific to the discipline of biology at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Researchers in this group study how students learn biological concepts and practices, the development of disciplinary identities and values, the influence of curriculum and instruction on learning, and the intersection between biology learning and issues of equity and social justice. Research in this concentration involves collaboration between education researchers and faculty in the Biology Department. Sites of study include biology lecture or lab courses or sites of biology learning outside of classroom contexts.

Faculty Mentors

Julia Gouvea
Mitch McVey
Eric Tytell
Lawrence Uricchio
Ben Wolfe

Faculty Advisor for this Concentration

Suggested Program of Study and Appropriate Courses

  • Our general philosophy regarding coursework is that you take only classes that you need to pick up skills that are important to your research. The basic requirements for the first two years of the Ph.D. program are described below. Optional coursework will include courses in Biology and in Education as relevant and appropriate. Examples of optional courses are listed below, but ultimately, the decision about what additional elective classes to take will be up to you and your committee.


    Year 1

    • Two research Rotations (PhD students only, 1 rotation per semester); research rotations are registered as courses (Bio 253, Bio 254) – they are generally done with faculty in the Biology Department, but mentors outside the department can also be enlisted.
    • First year that you are a teaching assistant: All students that are Teaching Assistants are required to take Pedagogy (Bio 260)

    Year 1 or 2

    • Two advanced graduate-level seminars in Biology (100 or 200-level)
    • STEM Education Program Seminar (ED 222/223)
    • Two electives in Education
  • Biology Department Courses

    • Developmental Biology (Bio 103)
    • Molecular Biology (Bio 105)
    • Endocrinology (Bio 110)
    • Physiology of Movement (Bio 117)
    • Animal Behavior (Bio 130)
    • Biostatistics (Bio132)
    • Ecology of Animal Movement (Bio 135)
    • Population and Community Ecology (Bio 142)
    • Evolutionary Biology w/lab (Bio 143)
    • Principles of Conservation Biology (Bio 144)
    • Computational Laboratory in Population Genomics (Bio 145)
    • Darwinian Medicine Seminar (Bio 183)
    • Food for All: Ecology, Biotechnology and Sustainability (Bio 185)
    • Seminar in Molecular Evolution (Bio 196)

    Courses in Other Departments

    • Development Of Knowledge And Reasoning In The Science Curriculum (ED 111)
    • Human Development And Learning (ED 130)
    • Philosophies (ED 163)
    • Critical Race Theory (ED 167)
    • Creating Inclusive Learning Spaces (ED 172)
    • Technological Tools For Learning (ED 182)
    • Resource-based Models of Learning in STEM Disciplines (ED 214)
    • Qualitative And Ethnographic Methods In Applied Social Science Research (CSHD 144)


Associated Labs


The McVey Lab

Principal Investigator: Mitch McVey
Location: 200 Boston Ave., Suite 4700

bluegill fish

The Tytell Lab

Principal Investigator: Eric Tytell
Location: 200 Boston Ave., Suite 4800

Lake in California

The Uricchio Lab

Principal Investigator: Lawrence Uricchio
Location: Science & Engineering Complex, 2nd floor

vegetables in jars

The Wolfe Lab

Principal Investigator: Benjamin Wolfe
Location: 200 Boston Ave.