The Division of Science is home to ten academic departments that encompass all of the natural sciences, mathematics, and statistics. These departments are:
*Though it is administratively housed in the division of Social Science, Psychology's faculty and curricular offerings bridge both Social Sciences and Sciences, including a track that is part of the Life Sciences cluster of concentrations.
The breadth of research performed in these departments is extraordinary. Our students, faculty, and affiliated researchers study phenomena from the tiniest subatomic particles to the largest structures in the universe; from the workings of a single protein in a cell to the complete ecology of a forest; from the most abstract realms of mathematics to applied statistical modeling of infectious diseases. All of these fields share a commitment to expanding our knowledge of the universe, including our understanding of ourselves as living organisms.
The academic concentrations that are most closely affiliated with the Division of Science draw on courses and faculty from across these departments, and in many cases also from the other academic divisions and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. While some concentrations such as Mathematics are clearly centered in one department, concentrations such as Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology draw widely from many departments. Scientific research today often lives at the boundaries between traditional disciplinary areas, and thus we encourage students to pursue their academic interests based on courses and faculty research, and not to feel confined within one particular department or even within the Division of Science as a whole.
Students who are interested in the natural sciences, mathematics, and statistics will also find relevant courses and concentrations outside the Division of Science. Many of the offerings of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences draw on the same kinds of skills and approaches to knowledge as do our courses. Within the Social Sciences, the fields of Economics and Government use numerical and computational models that are similar to some models we use in the natural sciences, and the fields of Psychology and Anthropology are increasingly informed by developments in human biology and neuroscience. The undergraduate concentrations in History and Science and in Environmental Science and Public Policy combine focused study in science with a broader understanding of the historical, societal, and environmental impact of science. Even within the Arts and Humanities, methods drawn from the natural sciences have had an increasing impact on research—from advanced quantitative techniques used to analyze and conserve works of art, to the numerical analysis of massive historical, literary, and artistic data sets.
To study the natural sciences requires a basic foundation in mathematics, in the physical sciences, and in the life sciences. Introductory courses in these areas will usually be taken in the first year, continuing through to the fall term of the sophomore year. In general, students who have acquired a solid foundation in any of the concentrations in the Division of Science will find it possible to switch to other science concentrations as their intellectual interests evolve. There is particular flexibility within the “Life Sciences Cluster” of concentrations, which share many basic prerequisites and a coordinated advising structure. Although many of these introductory courses are quite large, students will find that most upper-level courses in the Division of Science are quite small and focused, and many of our students develop close relationships with faculty mentors, particularly through independent research.
The study of the natural sciences offers an education in critical thinking—including quantitative methods—that will be useful in many careers, not just in scientific research. Although we hope that all of our undergraduates will have an opportunity to pursue independent research in the sciences, most will not end up in research careers. Students with degrees in the natural sciences, mathematics, and statistics have found successful careers in medicine, business, finance, law, and education, not to mention the many who have continued in some area of science. We hope that, no matter what your background or potential career interest, you will take some of the exciting courses offered in the Division of Science, meet our extraordinary faculty and talented students, and do some experimental work in our world-class research facilities. For those who do choose one of our undergraduate concentrations, we welcome you and encourage you to seek the path that is most interesting and satisfying to you as a young scientist or mathematician.