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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 Beth Parent

Beth Parent

Program Director, Life Sciences (on leave Fall 2023)
Portrait of Erin Thomson

Erin Thomson

Assistant Director, Life Sciences
Portrait of Auran Zaman

Auran Zaman

Graduate Assistant, Life Sciences

Social Media Etc.

Life Sciences News

Showing 13 - 18 of 19
  • Life Sciences Scholar Writes Bill to Promote Organ Donation Education

    Organ donation was not something of particular concern to Shani Kamberi a few years ago. She recalls watching a 15-minute video on it during her driver’s education class one summer, but the issue didn’t really click. Then came her senior year in high school. That was when Jonathan Bos, Kamberi’s AP English Literature teacher at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, Md., spoke to the class about organ donation. He had a personal story to tell, having received a heart transplant in 1999.

  • Scholars Recognized at 2017 University Awards

    Scholars students took home several top awards at the 36th University Student Leadership Awards on Sunday, May 7. University Awards recognized Maryland Medallion Society members and Byrd/Elkins Finalists who have contributed significantly to the general advancement of this university’s interests and displayed outstanding involvement and leadership in campus activities. These students are the university’s top 20 senior students; two Scholars alumni were recognized by the Maryland Medallion Society:

  • Life Sciences Alum Opens Private Audiology Practice

    Dr. Melissa Wikoff, a University of Maryland graduate who earned her Life Sciences Scholars citation in 2004, opened her own audiology practice in Marietta, Georgia. "My experience with Life Sciences Scholars has made a huge impact on my career and who I am today, socially and educationally,” Wikoff said. “Life Sciences gave me the foundation for my love of science, anatomy, and how hearing works." According to their website, Peachtree Hearing “uses the latest technology, scientifically proven techniques, and compassionate personalized care” to treat their patients. Wikoff specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of dizziness, which is typically due to disorders of the inner ear.

  • New Student Organization, SPARC, to Foster Culture of Care in Campus Community

    This semester, College Park Scholars is launching Scholars Promoting and Revitalizing Care (SPARC), a student-led, staff-supported initiative that promotes the wellbeing of all members of our community. The club will hold its first interest meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 8 at 8 p.m. to gauge what care means to students and how they can show care for others. "We will mainly be searching for dedicated e-board members to help raise this club from the ground up," said Life Sciences Scholar Anthony Sartori, president and founder of SPARC.

  • From College Park Scholar to Fulbright Scholar: Life Sciences Alum Serving in Indonesia

    Life Sciences alumna Sarahann Yeh arrived in Indonesia on Aug. 23 to work with high school students at SMAN 7, a public high school on the outskirts of Bandar Lampung city. Yeh received the Fulbright Scholarship this past spring, which funded her nine-month trip and connected her with service opportunities in Indonesia. She is also serving as a U.S. cultural ambassador, and she credits Scholars for helping her to discover her passion for cultural advocacy. "Scholars taught me to value experiential learning and gave me confidence to pursue international opportunities,” Yeh said. “I remember sitting in colloquium when a lightbulb went off in my head: ‘I don't have to just learn about things in lecture. I can go do them.’”

  • Life Sciences Alumna Awarded Fulbright Grant

    With graduation only weeks away, senior biological sciences major Sarahann Yeh’s future looks even brighter since being awarded the 2016-17 Fulbright U.S. Student Grant. The Life Sciences alumna will use her award to teach English in Indonesia, assisting local English teachers. Yeh said that Scholars gave her the springboard she needed to get involved on campus. “Scholars enabled me to hit the ground running when I came to Maryland,” Yeh said. While in Indonesia, Yeh will also serve as a U.S. cultural ambassador while she volunteers, and she credits Scholars for helping her discover her excitement for cultural advocacy.

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