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Biology Department

Department Facilities

Skidmore's Dana Science Center houses nine biology teaching laboratories and specialized research facilities in which students and faculty investigate microbiology, molecular genetics, cell and developmental biology, mammalian and amphibian physiology, plant biology, genetics, ecology, evolution and behavior. Skidmore's 400 acre North Woods serves as the campus natural laboratory.

Research and Teaching Laboratory Resources

Microscopic Imaging Facilities

The Lintilhac Light Microscopy Laboratory , sponsored by a generous donation of the Crea Lintilhac '74 and Philip Lintilhac Foundation, contains an Olympus BX 60 light microscope and Optronics DEI-470 video imaging system for teaching and research. The Biology Department houses two Electron Microscopy Laboratories: the Gessell-Castle Electron Microscopy Laboratory , sponsored by a generous donation of the Gessell-Castle '87 family, and the Robert P. Mahoney Electron Microscopy Laboratory , with SEM and TEM facilities. Biology's confocal laser scanning microscope workstation consists of an Olympus Fluoview 300 system (FV300), purchased with generous support from the Alden Trust Foundation. To learn more about microscopy at Skidmore, visit the Skidmore College Microscopy Imaging Center (SMIC) website.

Culture Facilities

Skidmore's Biology Department has facilities for the culture and investigation of bacteria, yeast and other fungi, plants, fruit flies, honey bees and other insects, reptiles, amphibians, zebrafish and other tropical fish, rodents and finches.

North Woods

Skidmore's on-site outdoor laboratory, the 400 acre North Woods , includes northeastern deciduous forest, wetlands, and old field succession at disturbed sites. Skidmore's sustainability coordinator and two North Woods Sustainability Stewards work to maintain trails, inform visitors, conduct public outreach and promote responsible stewardship of the North Woods community.


Skidmore's greenhouse contains a main display area, two specialty rooms, and two attached research laboratories. A separate wet wall, loaded with liverworts and mosses, simulates an Adirondack waterfall rock face.

Molecular Ecology Laboratory

The molecular ecology laboratory is equipped for analyses using single- and multi-locus probes and PCR in the investigation of parentage and population structure. The lab is supported by automated DNA sequencing capability and a dedicated ultra-low temperature freezer to maintain the specimen library.

Physiology Laboratory

Biology's physiology teaching lab has five computerized physiological recording stations with Grass recorders linked to PowerLab A/D data collection hardware and software for neurophysiological monitoring, including heart rate reflex regulation, EMG & GSR analysis & biofeedback, EEG recording & frequency analysis and evoked potentials, extracellular nerve and cardiac action potential recording and analysis. The research laboratory is equipped for cardiovascular, respiratory and electrophysiological recording from small animals, including mammals, frogs and turtles.

Circadian Rhythm Laboratory

The circadian rhythm laboratory is equipped for automated monitoring and analysis of up to 64 rodents in running wheels under controlled photoperiods for circadian rhythm analysis, has facilities for rearing and automated recording of fruit fly locomotor activity, and Actiwatches for automated recording of human activity rhythms.

Behavior and Ecology Laboratory

Behavioral and ecological research utilizes habitats including Skidmore's North Woods, local farms, zoos and other animal care, exhibit and training facilities throughout the Northeast, and the cloud forest of Monteverde , Costa Rica . Aquaria, terraria, small aviaries and observation hives house fish, reptiles, finches and insects for teaching and indoor experimental investigations.

Gene Expression Laboratory

State of the art laboratory includes quantitative RealTime PCR, Storm phosphoimaging with ImageQuant analysis, vertical gel electrophoresis, Zeiss Tetrad dissection microscope, UV/Vis spectrophotometer, heating/cooling growth chambers and -80°C freezer.

Microbiology Laboratory

Adjustable temperature incubators in the microbiology laboratory support the isolation and culture of a variety of bacterial species. The laboratory is also equipped to genetically manipulate and analyze bacterial model organisms via PCR, transformation and electrophoresis.

Developmental Neurobiology Laboratory

An 80-tank fish facility houses numerous transgenic, mutant and wild-type zebrafish. Two microinjection rigs allow injections at the one cell stage for gene knock down experiments. PCR machines, gel electrophoresis and other molecular biology equipment support mRNA expression studies through in situ hybridization. Several incubators are used to culture zebrafish embryos and raise fry to adulthood.

Community Ecology Laboratory

The community ecology laboratory utilizes adjacent outdoor habitats, including the 400 wooded acres next to the college and the streams of the upper Hudson watershed.  We bring elements of these habitats indoors by using replicated indoor stream ecosystems, motion-sensitive infrared cameras, metabolism chambers and Skidmore's interdisciplinary GIS center.

Biology teaching and research are also supported by a wireless network that serves a traveling fleet of 16 MacIntosh and 16 Dell laptops, 48 Wild dissecting microscopes, 48 Nikon compound microscopes, two walk-in cold rooms, three minus 80 degree Centigrade freezers, an ultracentrifuge, an autoclave, and a community ecology field research vehicle. A full time technical assistant maintains department equipment and facilities.