Sciences @ Wellesley

Ten compelling reasons* to study science at Wellesley

*Also read about Katie Eyring's Intro to Cellular & Molecular Biology course or, as she puts it, My Love Affair with Science at Wellesley!

1. Synergy Among Scientific Disciplines

Among the many benefits of pursuing the sciences at Wellesley is the opportunity for interdisciplinary study. Wellesley offers formal majors and minors in astronomy, biological sciences, chemistry, computer science, geosciences, mathematics, and physics. These areas are complemented by interdepartmental majors in astrophysics, biological chemistry, neuroscience, cognitive and linguistic science, and environmental studies. Students also have the freedom to design an individual major such as biophysics and paleobiology. Wellesley’s Science Center was designed to bring these departments together in one area, thus allowing efficient sharing of resources, easy interaction, and intellectual cooperation across disciplinary lines. Often lunchtime meetings and other collaborative ventures among professors can lead to new research opportunities for students. Such synergy provides a new way of thinking for incoming students, who are more likely accustomed to sciences being separate and distinct in high school.


2. Collaboration Between Scientific and Humanities Departments

Students are able to apply scientific knowledge to other areas of learning and vice versa. Few schools offer such an integrated curriculum. For example, the course (and field work) Lake Baikal: The Soul of Siberia focuses on the ecological, environmental, and cultural issues of this region. In the course Vision and Art: Physics, Physiology, Perception, and Practice, students study the human visual system through art. Such interdisciplinary approaches help to break down barriers that have traditionally existed between the sciences and the humanities.


3. World-Class Scientific Research

One of Wellesley’s great strengths lies in the numerous opportunities for students to work independently and with faculty members on research. Students design their own projects, become coauthors on published papers, and present their work at national meetings and conferences. This offers a huge head start for students who choose to go on to graduate school. Such exposure to the world of science is not often available to undergraduates at major research universities, where graduate students take priority in the lab and in working with faculty. Students can do research for course credit, for pay, or as a volunteer. They also conduct research supported by grants from Wellesley and from prestigious organizations such as the National Science Foundation, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and many more.


4. Further Experiential Learning

A combination of field study, internships, and other hands-on learning opportunities help students develop the knowledge and skills needed in their area of focus. For example, in Environmental Studies, both inside and beyond the classroom, students address pressing issues such as the biodiversity crisis, the collapse of oceanic fisheries, toxic waste disposal, green building design, and the inequities and causes of environmental degradation.


5. Top-Notch Faculty and Role Models

Professors teach at Wellesley because they want to interact and do research exclusively with undergraduates. Wellesley’s 7:1 student faculty ratio further enables close collaboration, and the high percentage of women and minority faculty members serve as valuable role models, another factor deemed instrumental in producing the disproportionately high number of Wellesley graduates who go on to scientific careers.


6. Impressive Facilities and Equipment

Wellesley students enjoy some of the finest facilities and equipment available to science undergraduates anywhere in the nation. Such resources are accessible even to first-year students. The Science Center houses electron microscopes, spectrometers (NMR, UV, IR), and gas chromatograph, lasers, x-ray diffractometers, an ultrahigh vacuum chamber, argon and dye lasers, confocal laser microscopes, and much more.


 


7. Boston and Cambridge

The advantages of studying the sciences in the Boston area are limitless. High tech, medical, and research intuitions, coupled with internship opportunities and cross-registration with MIT and Olin College of Engineering, are among the many benefits.

 


8. Ongoing Trailblazer in the Sciences

Wellesley is the home of the second established undergraduate physics lab in the United States (after MIT); science is not just the “flavor of the month.” The study of science at Wellesley has a long and proud history and it continues to evolve today.


9. Careers in the Sciences

A sampling of living alumnae scientists includes: climatologist, NASA; senior astrophysicist, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory; astronaut and space shuttle commander, NASA; technical staff in algorithms research, Bell Laboratories; chief geologist, U.S. Geological Survey; director, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; director, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center; breast cancer research chair, Johns Hopkins Oncology Center, as well as numerous physicians, professors, and researchers.

10. Outcomes: Impressive Statistics

  • 80 percent of Wellesley graduates attend graduate or professional schools within 10 years.
  • 79 percent of Wellesley students complete an internship by graduation.
  • 70 percent acceptance rate to medical school in recent years, significantly higher than the national average of 45 percent.
  • 60 percent of Wellesley graduates applying to graduate school are attending their first-choice institution (over the past five years).
  • 60 percent of Wellesley’s biological chemistry majors entered graduate or professional school following graduation.