Exploring the entirety of the natural world, from tiny microbes to complex ecosystems
We live on a vast planet, alongside billions of other living organisms—both visible to the naked eye and not. Life Sciences introduces students to the interdisciplinary nature of the life sciences and explores how we might best apply the knowledge we gain to better our community, our nation and the world we share with our fellow inhabitants.
Discussing a range of topics, including molecular biology, human genetics, ecology, evolution, conservation and ethics, students in this Scholars program seek to answer big questions:
- How do we use our knowledge and skills to improve various aspects of human health?
- How do we create a sustainable future for all life forms?
- How do the life sciences interact with our daily lives (religion, politics, relationships, business, the arts)?
Ultimately, students discover how they might build toward careers to help their fellow human beings and other life on this planet.
This program offers a close community of students who share a common passion for life sciences, broadly defined, and an enduring concern for the well-being of others.
Colloquium and Lecture Topics
- The story of the human body: Evolution, health and disease
- Future city: Urban nature as healing gardens
- Professional development: Finding an internship
- Movie: The Serengeti Rules
- Cathedrals of Science: The human scientists behind science
- Individual journeys defining success for Life Sciences Scholars
The program actively encourages involvement in opportunities to explore the extensive breadth of professions related to the sciences. The relationships and experiences [of Life Sciences] go beyond the typical expectations associated with large, competitive education institutions.
Other Learning Opportunities
Life Sciences Scholars students connect what they have learned in class with practical experiences outside the classroom. Students:
- Learn from working scientists through lectures, such as at the Carnegie Institute for Science;
- Take local and regional field trips to places—such as the U.S. Botanic Gardens and western Maryland—that underscore the connection of the life sciences to the real world; and
- Work individually or in small groups to research and prepare presentations on selected topics each semester.
They build upon that experience in their second year in the program to participate in research or an internship. Life Sciences students have:
- Participated in cancer research at the National Institutes of Health;
- Shadowed a dentist in the Dominican Republic as well as in his local practice; and
- Interned in the Green Office Program in the university's Office of Sustainability.
Finally, we offer students the opportunity to participate in global learning experiences specially tailored for their interests. Past trips have visited biodiversity-rich locations such as Alaska, Australia and Belize.
Over the two-year program experience (four semesters), students will complete 2–3 Life Sciences–related science courses (including 2 specific lab courses) that will count toward their Life Sciences Scholars citation. In most cases, these will also fulfill General Education requirements. Note that your Scholars courses—colloquium, practicum and supporting course(s)—will generally be in addition to any courses you take to satisfy major requirements.
The following table represents a typical two-year curriculum, but individual schedules may vary. Details about courses and requirements can be found on the Life Sciences Citation Checklist.
|Freshman Fall||Scholars Colloquium||1 credit|
|Ecology and Evolution + Lab (exceptions may apply for those in non–Life Sciences majors)||4 credits|
|General Chemistry + Lab (exceptions may apply for those in non–Life Sciences majors)||4 credits|
|Introduction to the University||1 credit|
|1–2 courses toward degree and major requirements||3–7 credits|
|Freshman Spring||Scholars Colloquium||1 credit|
|Molecular and Cellular Biology + Lab (exceptions may apply for those in non–Life Sciences majors)||4 credits|
|Academic Writing||3 credits|
|2–3 courses toward degree and major requirements||6–9 credits|
|Sophomore Fall||Scholars Colloquium||1 credit|
|4–5 courses toward degree and major requirements||12–16 credits|
|Sophomore Spring||Scholars Practicum||2–3 credits|
|3–4 courses toward degree and major requirements||9–12 credits|
Social Media Etc.
Life Sciences News
When Brood X cicadas emerged by the billions in 2021 after 17 years underground, dozens of species of birds pulled up a table at a bug buffet, helping to create a cascading series of ecological effects, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Maryland and other institutions. In their publication featured this month on the cover of the journal Science, the team from UMD, including College Park Scholars Life Sciences program alum Grace Soltis, George Washington University and Georgetown University quantified the widespread changes the periodical cicada emergence had on the feeding patterns of birds and its downstream effects on forest food webs.
When the Citation class of 2023 entered the University of Maryland, they were already adjusting to a rapidly changing world being constantly reshaped by the Covid-19 global pandemic. One thing that didn’t change – their commitment to excellence in the classroom. All who successfully completed the requirements of their respective Scholars program received their official Scholars citation. But there were some that went above and beyond the expectations, leaving a lasting impact on the community.
Students in College Park Scholars’s Citation Class of 2022 began their University of Maryland (UMD) careers in the fall of 2020, under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic. They spent their first year almost entirely online: Some Zoomed into their program colloquium from their double-turned-single dorm rooms; others attended virtually from their families’ homes, away from campus.
The University of Maryland has announced its senior marshals for Spring Commencement, slated for Friday, May 20. Six College Park Scholars alumni number among the 60 graduating seniors serving as marshals:
College Park Scholars is mourning the passing last week of Dr. John Lee Hellman, the founding director of the Life Sciences Scholars program—one of the four original programs in College Park Scholars. He served as director of Life Sciences from its launch in 1994 until 2009. Hellman was a lifelong Terp, having earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, as well as his doctorate, from the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD). After earning his Ph.D. in 1975, he went on to serve as a professor in the Department of Entomology in the then–College of Life Sciences. (Entomology is now a joint department of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the College of Computer, Mathematical, & Natural Sciences.)
A significant number of Scholars alumni will be serving as Senior Marshals at the University of Maryland commencement this Friday, May 21, 2021. Senior Marshals are graduating seniors who display the highest levels of scholarship, service, extracurricular activity and personal growth.