Undergraduate Program

The Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) is devoted to the study of ecological and evolutionary processes across marine, terrestrial, and freshwater environments. The past 30 years have seen several revolutions in our understanding of how the biological world works. Advances in both analytical and genetic methods have given us a far more sophisticated understanding of the complexities of ecological and evolutionary processes in the natural world. Biologists at UC Santa Cruz have played and will continue to play an important part in these advances, and the campus programs offer unique educational opportunities in biology that feature small class sizes, field studies, and extensive faculty-student interactions.

Class offerings and student research opportunities leverage the varied natural environments in the Monterey Bay region, throughout the western US, and in more distant locations such as Africa, Europe, Mexico, Tahiti, Australia, and East Asia. This emphasis on field and laboratory studies is the hallmark of our undergraduate majors. Within this context they address not only basic ecological and evolutionary processes, but also the application of this knowledge to advance environmental, conservation and sustainability science.

An outstanding group of faculty, each with a vigorous, internationally recognized research program, is available to teach courses in their specialties as well as core courses for the major. Areas of research strength within the department include plant biology, animal behavior, physiology, evolution, ecology, and marine biology. UC Santa Cruz is unique in the UC system in providing exceptional opportunities for undergraduate research, allowing students to interact one-on-one with faculty and other researchers in a laboratory or field setting.

Students may plan a program that leads to one of several bachelor of arts (B.A.) and bachelor of science (B.S.) degrees. Students may choose from the following major options:

Biology B.A.

Ecology and Evolution B.S.

Marine Biology B.S.

Plant Sciences B.S.

Environmental Studies/Biology combined major B.A. (administered by the Environmental Studies Department).

Advanced undergraduates, with the guidance of faculty mentors, have access to extensive departmental laboratories, including state-of-the-art genetics, physiology, and marine science facilities, for independent research. Fieldwork draws on a remarkable variety of terrestrial habitats, as well as ready access to Monterey Bay and the open Pacific. Terrestrial studies are supported by the UC Santa Cruz reserve on campus, an arboretum, greenhouse facility, and vehicles to transport students to field sites off campus. Freshwater studies have access to a number of coastal tributaries and laboratory facilities at Long Marine Laboratory. Marine studies are supported by the Long Marine Laboratory with running seawater facilities, a boating program, and an AAUS accredited SCUBA diving program for underwater classes and research. Año Nuevo Island, north of Santa Cruz, is the site of extensive behavioral studies of marine mammals. In addition to coursework, there is an array of opportunities for directed independent study that enables majors to enhance their upper-division programs to reflect and strengthen their own interests and goals in the sciences.