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Hands-On Learning in Biology

Whether here or abroad, biology students have a wide variety of opportunities to help make discoveries while pursuing their scientific passions and preparing for a successful career.

Cancer cellsResearch Experience for Undergraduates

Lung cancer, by far the leading cause of cancer death, has fewer mysteries to hide behind thanks to Joshua Lopez. The biology major and aspiring doctor has spent two summers at City of Hope, one of the nation’s leading cancer research and treatment centers. There, he's been studying it on the genetic level, as well as studying early detection techniques to improve patient survival. He also gained first-hand experience in the operating room, where he observed his mentoring physician at work—thanks to his REU (Research Experience for Undergradutes).

REUs offer top science and math majors like Joshua the opportunity to spend the summer learning advanced research methods and preparing for graduate-level work. Whittier students secure spots in competitive programs, with the help and mentorship of the College’s professors.

The experiences are well worth it—from exposure to rich local resources and advanced processes and instrumentation, to working in collaborative teams on challenging projects, to close mentorship on how to approach, analyze, and combine high-level data for presentation and further exploration.

“It was definitely a rewarding experience. I learned a tremendous amount working in the clinic and lab. The research led me to being published on papers, and gave me the opportunity to present at a national conference. The list of benefits these programs provide go on and on.” – Joshua Lopez 

Pre-Health Shadowing

Thanks to Whittier College’s Health Professions Shadowing program, students have opportunities to see what professionals really do in their fields. Students watch health professionals at work, ask questions as time permits, and can—if the professionals agree—repeat their visit. The professionals pass on their enthusiasm and feedback, enabling students to make informed career choices.

Medical schools where Whittier graduates have been accepted include UCLA, UC Irvine, UC San Diego, UC San Francisco, UC Davis, University of Southern California, Georgetown University, Harvard University, Medical College of Wisconsin, New York University, Oregon Health Sciences University, Stanford University, Tufts University, Tulane University, University of Colorado, Vanderbilt University, and Yale University.

For more information, contact Professor of Biology Hector Valenzuela.

Student in ChinaProfessor Cheryl Swift’s Study Abroad Course in China

Every year, 90,000 birds—many of which are of global conservation concern—take refuge in the marshes and mudflats of Hong Kong’s Mai Po wetlands. It’s in this rich wetland—one of the most important in the world—that Whittier students have the amazing opportunity to conduct self-designed research projects in order to understand how it, and others like it, works.

Students enrolled in Water and Food: An Exploration of Hong Kong spend May Term in both the wetlands and urban Hong Kong, where they work with an elementary school that hosts a certified organic rooftop garden. The service-learning opportunity gives Whittier students a view of the unique solutions to the problem of land-use planning and food security, in a city where land isn’t cheap.

Led by Professor of Biology Cheryl Swift, students leave the trip with a deeper understanding of the world’s challenges—and the ways they can help solve them.

More Internship Opportunities

To learn more about internship opportunities, visit The Weingart Center for Career and Professional Development.