Four awards are given annually by the department.

The Russell Mixter Award

Given to a junior or senior Biology major with a GPA of 3.5 or above who exhibits the qualities of exemplary character, Christian witness, and academic promise to which faculty, students and other campus personnel should attest. Funds for the Russell Mixter Award was provided by a Wheaton graduate to honor Dr. Russell Mixter, Professor of Zoology at Wheaton from 1928-1979. As Chair of Biology, Dr. Mixter played a significant role in the development of biology at Wheaton College and in the Black Hills. He also was a voice for understanding creation and evolution among the larger community of Christians in science and was a respected member of the Wheaton College community. You can see a picture of him on the mural outside the Stupe, peering through the jaws of a shark. He died in January 2007 at the age of 100 years. The recipients of the Mixter Prize can be seen on the plaque outside the seminar room in the Biology department, and includes our own Dr. Jennifer Busch.

The David Bruce Memorial Research Award

Established in 2003, this award is in honor of the department's beloved physiologist here at Wheaton for over 20 years, Dr. David Bruce.

The criteria for this award are:

  • A Biology major junior or senior who has done collaborative research with a Wheaton Biology Department faculty member
  • A presentation at a national meeting or authorship in a peer reviewed paper resulting from this research.
  • A stated desire to continue in some type of scientific career in the future will also be an advantage. This may include, for example, biological research, teaching, medicine or other careers that are clearly facilitated by the student's experience of doing biological research as an undergraduate.

The Raymen & Ruth Johnston Family Botany Scholarship Award

Established in May of 2009,  this award will be given to:  

  • Students majoring in Biology who have demonstrated an interest and aptitude in Botany through Botany classes taken and participation in Botany research, management or restoration efforts.
  • Recipient(s) must have a cumulative GPA of no less than 2.5 through their Freshman year and be in good academic, spiritual, and moral standing to receive the award.
  • The Department of Biology Faculty will recommend potential recipient(s) to the Financial Aid Office, who will make the final determination.
  • The Department of Biology Faculty can recommend that a recipient(s) receive the award for more than one year.
  • The annual award can be distributed to either one or two recipients per the recommendation of the Department of Biology Faculty.

Pre-Health Professions Related Scholarships

The Pre-Health Professions office offers several scholarships that our Biology majors interested in pre-health professions will find helpful.

An honors program in this department requires at least six hours of biological research credit or its equivalent, an overall GPA of 3.5, a biology GPA of 3.7, and a combined Biology + supporting courses GPA of 3.5.  

The research requirement can be met by:

  1. six credits in BIOL 495,
  2. a research experience off campus* or in another Wheaton College Department* or as a Summer Researcher at Wheaton, or
  3. a combination of (1) and (2).

In any case, communication of results in a publishable paper (in preparation, in review, or in press) or communication of results at a scientific meeting [National Conferences on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR), Associated Colleges of the Chicago Area (ACCA), or any professional society meeting)] or an equivalent professional accomplishment as determined by the Department of Biology is also required.

*Approval of those research experiences not performed in the Biology Department must be granted by the department prior to the experience in order to receive BIOL 495 credit or for inclusion of the experience as a consideration for honors.

New Biology Department Honors Program Relevant for Class of 2020 and Beyond

To apply for Departmental Honors, Wheaton College requires a student to have an overall GPA of 3.5 at the time of applying.  Any student wishing to participate in the Biology Department Honors Program must submit an application by the third Friday of February of their junior year.   Decisions on acceptance to the program will be made and announced by Spring Break. 

A student wishing to apply to the Honors Program must meet the following criteria:

  1. completion of or current enrollment in BIOL 252;
  2. an overall GPA of 3.5 at the time of applying for Honors in their junior year;
  3. in position to have a 3.7 GPA in the major (including supporting courses) at the time of graduation;
  4. two semesters of research with a Wheaton professor or one summer (on-campus or off-campus) and one semester of research with a Wheaton professor.  It is acceptable for students to be conducting their second semester of research at the time of applying. The applicant must include a statement (i.e. a letter or email) from their research supervisor(s) that corroborates the past research experience(s);
  5. a written commitment from a Wheaton College Biology professor to supervise the Honors research on a project that has tangible outcomes; and
  6. a research proposal, approved by the supervising professor, that includes a literature review and a detailed description of the questions and methodologies, as well as a reasonable timeline to conduct the study.

Students accepted to the Biology Department Honors Program must fulfill the following requirements:

  1. successful completion of BIOL 499 Biology Honors Research and Seminar (2 credit hours) in the fall and spring semesters of their senior year.  This course will require research conducted with a Wheaton Biology professor, attendance at weekly class sessions, and presentations. 
  2. a written thesis evaluated in the Spring semester by the Honors student’s supervising professor and a second reader (also a biology faculty member);
  3. an oral defense of their research as well as their general knowledge of biology; and
  4. an overall GPA of 3.5 and a 3.7 GPA in the major (including supporting courses) at the time of graduation.

All students will present their honors research in a symposium-like setting at the end of the spring semester.  The departmental honors designation will appear on a student’s transcript and on the printed program at graduation.  All honors theses will be kept in the Biology Department and in the College library.

*Please contact your advisor as to how these new Honor requirements will be implemented.