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Life Sciences

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.

Leela Johnson
Leela Johnson '22

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.

Curriculum Overview

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

Residence Hall

Centreville Hall

Office Address

1212 Centreville Hall

Office Phone



Portrait of Erin Thomson

Erin Thomson

Acting Director, Life Sciences
Portrait of Auran Zaman

Auran Zaman

Graduate Assistant, Life Sciences

Social Media Etc.

Life Sciences News

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  • 10 Scholars Alums to Serve as Spring Commencement Senior Marshals

    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.

  • Despite Being Virtual, Scholars Showcases Promote Personal Interaction

    For most University of Maryland (UMD) students, the end of the spring semester heralds the start of finals. But for sophomores in College Park Scholars, for the past 24 years, this time of year has signified Academic Showcase. The event, one of the largest exhibitions of undergraduate student learning on campus each year, typically involves more than 600 Scholars sophomores presenting on their capstone projects to fellow students, faculty, parents and other members of the UMD community.

  • Scholars Alumni Named to Prestigious Maryland Medallion Society

    Several Scholars alumni were named to the Maryland Medallion Society during the 40th Annual University of Maryland Student Leadership Awards this month. The Medallion Society is a prestigious group consisting of 20 of the brightest student leaders at the university:

  • Scholars Alum: Kristen Wolfe, a Disney Animal Kingdom Zookeeper

    Kristen Wolfe Alum of: Life Sciences Year graduated: 1998 A 1998 graduation year must mean you were in the first class of Scholars. What was it like? Did you understand what Scholars was about when you accepted the invitation? Yes, I was the first class. For me, I didn’t realize what Scholars was. I had applied to the University of Maryland, and this letter came in the mail that they were offering me this program. Once I came for Orientation, I started to realize it was something new and different. They explained that it was a program that helped people with adjusting to college, and you'd have other students in your classes that you lived with and would be able to get help from along the way.

  • What Scholars Did on Their Summer Break

    It’s a perennial back-to-school query from teachers: What did you do on your summer vacation? When we asked some of our Scholars students and alumni, they had a lot to tell us… and not surprisingly, they made the most of their summer break. Now that students have settled in on campus and the semester is a few weeks in, we highlight some of our impressive Scholars accomplishments from over the summer. Amit and Erin Koppel Year: Sophomore (Amit), Senior (Erin)

  • Beloved Life Sciences Director Reid Compton Steps Down From Scholars

    Reid Compton, a longtime fixture of the Life Sciences Scholars program, has stepped down from his role as program director after nearly 10 years. Compton was only the second person to head the Life Sciences program, which has existed since College Park Scholars’ founding about 25 years ago. Though a trained biomedical scientist, Compton made the decision to keep the program’s broad approach to the life sciences to include natural history, evolution and conservation, rather than restrict it to a premedical program. He wanted students to appreciate that there is more to the living world than humans and their diseases.

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