Research and teaching in genetics, cell biology, development, neurobiology, physiology, evolution, systematics, and ecology

The Departments of Botany and Zoology conduct basic research at all organizational levels in biology – from molecules to ecosystems – and play a major role in undergraduate and graduate education in the biological sciences on the UW-Madison campus. They also house important State of Wisconsin resources: the Wisconsin State Herbarium, the UW-Madison Botanical Gardens, and the UW-Madison Zoological Museum.

Biology Research

The Departments of Botany and Zoology comprise roughly 40 research faculty and associated labs covering disciplines including: genetics, cell biology, development, neurobiology, physiology, evolution, systematics, and ecology.  We have a strong emphasis on basic research and integrating approaches across disciplines and levels of biological organization.

Botany Research Faculty  |  Zoology Research Faculty

Rapid growth in the biological sciences has led many programs across the country to reorganize their biological sciences, typically dividing disciplines involving entire organisms (e.g., ecology and evolution) from disciplines involving sub-organismal structures (e.g., cell and molecular biology). In Letters & Science, we have retained the traditional structure of Botany and Zoology to accommodate the numerous biological problems stretching across the organism/sub-organism boundary. This “old fashioned” organization of Botany and Zoology fosters the integration necessary for ideas and experimental techniques established at one level of biological organization to provide inspiration and tools at other levels. Thus, as the need for integration – not pure reductionism – is coming to the forefront of modern biology, our traditional organization is once again needed.

Botany and Zoology are vigorous participants in the scientific milieu of the UW-Madison campus, home to over 30 departments devoted to the biological sciences. In this setting, departmental lines become increasingly transparent to research collaborations. Disciplines span across many departments, eclipsing the significance of departmental nomenclature.

Biology Undergraduate Education

The Departments of Botany and Zoology have a strong tradition in undergraduate education, and our commitment is seen in heavy involvement in undergraduate course offerings and the often high evaluations these courses receive from students. Two of the primary introductory courses in biology, Botany 130 and Zoo 101-2, are housed in Letters & Science, and many Botany and Zoology faculty participate in the other two large cross-campus introductory biology courses, Biology 151-2 and Biocore. Botany and Zoology also offer numerous intermediate and advanced courses that teach fundamental biology to students in majors throughout the biological sciences. Topics include algal biology, cell biology, comparative anatomy, ecology, evolution, human-animal relationships, neurobiology, plant systematics, plants and man, plant physiology, and tropical plant diversity. All told, roughly 40% of the undergraduate credit hours in the biological sciences on campus are taught by faculty in Botany and Zoology.

Botany Courses  |  Zoology Courses

In addition to classroom instruction, Botany and Zoology are centers for hands-on research experiences for undergraduates. In an average semester, about 100 undergraduates are active researchers in labs in Botany and Zoology. Opportunities are available for all students on the UW-Madison campus, regardless of major. We strongly encourage undergraduate students to take advantage of the opportunities they have in a major research university.

Biology Graduate Education

Opportunities for graduate studies match the range of research disciplines spanned by faculty in Botany and Zoology. While both departments have separate application processes, we strongly encourage prospective graduate students to contact faculty in either department directly to discuss possibilities for graduate study, ideally in the fall the year before planned admission. We are proud of the success of our graduate students. Not only are the current graduate students
pursuing exciting research, but former graduate students have gone on to diverse careers in academics, government, non-profits, and the private sector.

Botany grad student webpages| Zoology grad student webpages

Biology Outreach

The Departments of Botany and Zoology contain several world-class institutions for research and educational outreach.

Wisconsin State Herbarium

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Herbarium, founded in 1849, contains 1,000,000 specimens of dried, labeled plants of state, national and international importance. It is the official State of Wisconsin repository of preserved plants and is used extensively for research, teaching and public service.

UW-Madison Botanical Garden and Greenhouses

The UW-Madison Botanical Garden and Greenhouses are important resources for teaching and research. The Botanical Garden is the first garden in the world to be based on the new Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (APGII) system of molecular classification of plants. The Greenhouses, occupying 8,000 square feet, feature more than 1,000 living species comprising distinct aquatic, desert and tropical communities.

UW-Madison Zoological Museum

The Zoological Museum was established in 1848, before the first building of the University of Wisconsin was constructed, and now houses a collection of over half a million specimens, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes, mollusks, crayfish, tissues, slides, historical objects and library resources. In addition to serving national and international researchers, the museum provides specimens for numerous courses from three different colleges at the University. The Zoological Museum is the official State of Wisconsin repository for endangered vertebrate species.

Biology Contacts

General Information
  Botany Zoology
Chair David Baum,
(608) 265-7929
Jeff Hardin,
(608) 262-1579
Head Dept. Administrator Joan Weiss,
(608) 262-2092
Peggy Nowicki,
(608) 262-1087
Graduate Student Secretary Carmela Diosana,
(608) 262-0476
Ani Injasoulian,
(608) 262-1379
Undergraduate Advising Ken Sytsma,
(608) 262-4490 
Eve Emshwiller,
(608) 890-1170
Bret Larget,
(608) 265-6799
Undergraduate Advisor,
(608) 262-2742
Facilities Management Jeff Vogtschaller,
(608) 262-2841
Duane Barnes,
(608) 262-1052

Biology Related Links

Botany home page
Zoology home page
L&S home page

Biology Research

Arabidopsis Training Group
Center for Limnology
Evolution group
Madison Ecology Group
Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
Portal to Plant Biology & Plant Sciences

Biology Instruction

Which Biology Major?
Wisconsin Institute for Science Education and Community Engagement.
Limnology and Marine Science Graduate Program
Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

Biology Outreach/Services

Biology Library
Wisconsin State Herbarium
UW-Madison Botanical Gardens and Greenhouses
UW Zoological Museum