Prospective graduate students

Thank you for taking the time to explore the University of Washington’s doctoral program in Biology. As you browse these pages, you will see that we value a diversity of people and approaches to solve the most important problems in Biology. Accordingly, the Department of Biology has an unusual breadth of top-notch faculty, postdocs, and students who study topics at spatial scales ranging from molecules to the entire planet.

Your individual scholarship and research are the highest priority while you are studying at the University of Washington. Through assistantships, assistance with grant proposals, and over a dozen departmental awards, our department works to open every avenue for you succeed in your research. And your opportunities aren’t limited to Biology. We encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity to collaborate with faculty throughout the University, as many of our faculty do.

These efforts are facilitated by Seattle’s position as a major intellectual hub. From cutting edge research foundations to the slopes of Mt. Rainier, the Pacific Northwest provides opportunities for biologists to enhance their learning at every turn. Additionally, the University of Washington has been the leading recipient of federal research funding—now more than $1 billion per year—among public universities for more than 20 years.

We look forward to receiving your application and discussing the exciting opportunities available to you.


Carl Bergstrom, Associate Chair for the Graduate Program

Toby Bradshaw, Chair


“There are countless opportunities for students to get involved with outreach here at UW and I have really enjoyed interacting with the public and helping them better understand the science I do.”

—Elisha Harris (Evolution, Ecology, Conservation Biology)

“One of my best experiences here is being part of BERG—The Biology Education Research Group. BERG is a community of faculty, staff and grad students committed to a rigorous scientific approach in helping increase student learning gains across all disciplines of biology. Our department is already gaining national attention with our approach to the scholarship of teaching and learning.”

—Michael Fleming (Evolution, Ecology, Conservation Biology)

“I chose UW Biology because I was looking for an advisor who could give me the experience of not only how to perform excellent experiments, but also how to be a scientist, mentor and professional.”

—Jodi Stewart (Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology)

“The UW Biology department is a really great place to work as a graduate student. There is a very strong sense of community within the department, which makes for a great working environment. Professors and other grads are friendly and approachable.”

—Elisha Harris (Evolution, Ecology, Conservation Biology)

“I really appreciate developing close personal relationships with people in my own field, as well as people in vastly different areas of biology. We always get to teach each other, so the learning never stops.”

—Brandon Peecock (Evolution, Ecology, Conservation Biology)

“This is the strength of the department—I feel like I know many people well across many different disciplines. Grad students in this department are a great resource for so many questions and learning opportunities.”

—Tim Billo (Evolution, Ecology, Conservation Biology)

“I have been impressed by the level of collaboration and assistance within and among departments here at the UW. It’s great to know that if I’m trying out a new technique, there is someone down the hall or over in another department willing to help me.”

—Heather Hunsperger (Evolution, Ecology, Conservation Biology, Molecular - Cellular - Developmental Biology)

“UW Biology is a fantastic place to develop as a researcher. The breadth of our department is incredible and ensures you will be constantly learning about various subdisciplines within biology.”

—Lauren Berg (Evolution, Ecology, Conservation Biology)

“My best experiences have been in small group workshops organized by faculty or graduate students. Working at learning new skills or learning about different field in a small group is very rewarding and effective.”

—Josh Nahum (Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology; Evolution, Ecology, Conservation Biology)

“This is a mature, fun, energetic, and very open-minded department. Grads are encouraged to grow and learn in diverse ways.”

—Ryan Miller (Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology; Evolution, Ecology, Conservation Biology)

“After having been a student and professional staff member at more than a half dozen universities, I can honestly say UW has the most supportive, creative, professional, and rational people I have encountered. The Biology department is very supportive of its faculty and students and takes a genuine interest in everybody’s success. I am very proud to be a part of UW Biology!”

—Derek Smith (Evolution, Ecology, Conservation Biology)

“This is a very friendly and outgoing department. People are top-notch in their field, but also fairly relaxed.”

—Matt McElroy (Evolution, Ecology, Conservation Biology)

“Graduate students in UW Biology are treated by faculty, staff, and each other as colleagues, equals, and friends. There are very few barriers to accomplishing novel, integrative research.”

—Sylvia Yang (Evolution, Ecology, Conservation Biology)

“The faculty in the UW Biology Dept have open doors and open minds, which encourages new, interdisciplinary research. In particular, there is a wealth of labs using quantitative methods (mathematical, computational, physical, statistical) within the department, as well as strong connections with other departments on campus.”

—Sylvia Yang (Evolution, Ecology, Conservation Biology)

“I chose UW Biology because the graduate students appeared to have the most balanced lives of anywhere I visited.”

—Sylvia Yang (Evolution, Ecology, Conservation Biology)

“I chose UW Biology because the faculty and other prospective grads seemed like people I would enjoy interacting with on a regular basis. The environment seemed cooperative rather than competitive.”

—Larissa Patterson (Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology)

“I really like having the perspective of a biology department, rather than just a narrow focus on cell and molecular biology.”

—Larissa Patterson (Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology)

“I like the overall approach to ecology taken by many groups in the department: the focus is on high quality research in basic ecology, but much of the research is also conservation-related. I really like working at the intersection of applied and basic research.”

—Ailene Kane Ettinger (Evolution, Ecology, Conservation Biology)

“Our department rocks because we have such a wide breadth of research interests amongst our faculty and students, yet we are far more integrated than many other similar departments.”

—Kelsey Byers (Evolution, Ecology, Conservation Biology)

“Grads and faculty are very interactive; we all know each other—many faculty are willing to put time into your training and education.”

—Kelsey Byers (Evolution, Ecology, Conservation Biology)

“The facilities are really great, particularly the collections in the Botany Greenhouse, the Burke Museum and the Herbarium.”

—Kelsey Byers (Evolution, Ecology, Conservation Biology)

“Most of the faculty and staff associated with UW Biology seem to genuinely love what they do--this is probably the best indicator of a healthy, vibrant department. You will meet many faculty members here that are passionate about their research AND about life. In addition to being fantastic scientists, many are also involved in areas that directly contribute to the community.”

—Carrie Glenney (Evolution, Ecology, Conservation Biology)

“The undergrads, grads, and postdocs around here have a zest for life. This department has many hard working, smart, passionate, and HAPPY students.”

—Carrie Glenney (Evolution, Ecology, Conservation Biology)

“The department retreat at the beginning of the year was outstanding! It was great to feel like I was part of the large group and that everyone cares about who I am, where I came from, and where I am going.”

—Elli Jenkins (Evolution, Ecology, Conservation Biology)

“I really enjoy the graduate student retreats. They are a great addition the grad experience here and have done wonders to unite us as a community of young scientists.”

—Lauren Berg (Evolution, Ecology, Conservation Biology)