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Biochemistry, Biophysics & Molecular Biology


Look deep into the mysteries of life.

The Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology (BBMB) major integrates biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics to investigate some of today’s most critical life sciences questions in all their complexity and equips graduates with a strong foundation in research to answer them. As part of Whitman College’s rich academic environment, this unique major prepares students to take their place in cutting-edge careers in genomics, biotechnology, biochemistry and structural biology. If your curiosity about life runs deep—molecule deep—this is the major for you.

3 Reasons to Study Biochemistry, Biophysics & Molecular Biology at Whitman

Boast a One-of-a-Kind Major

The Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology major is unique to Whitman. It was created years ago by professors with the foresight to understand the rich potential for cross-training in the sciences. Now, decades later, the major boasts over 400 alumni working in medicine, research, biotechnology and other cutting-edge fields.

Faculty There for You and With You

In the Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology major—and throughout Whitman—the faculty-to-student ratio is in your favor. With access to the core BBMB professors and to faculty in the Biology, Chemistry and Physics departments, you’ll have ample opportunities to learn and research alongside experts and become a valued collaborator.

Experience the Joy of Discovery

Collecting and analyzing data, problem solving, sharing results—the research process can be intense and exciting. At Whitman, you can hone your research skills on and off campus, in part-time or full-time internships during the summer or the academic year. The flexible research options are designed to support your success.

Interested in Biochemistry, Biophysics & Molecular Biology?

We’d love to send you information, including more on academic majors and student life at our beautiful campus in Walla Walla, Washington.

Austin C., BBMB major

“Yes, it’s a really hard major, but it’s worth it. It’s so worth it. The friends you’ll make, the skills you’ll acquire and the lessons you will learn will make all of the hours and pain spent on homework worth it. I have loved BBMB and would do it all over again if I could.”

Our Whitman Student Voices Blog

Courses in Biochemistry, Biophysics & Molecular Biology

See just a few of the fascinating courses you might take.

Biology genetic graphic.
BIOL 205


How and why does biological inheritance work in plants, animals and microbes? This course covers the principles underlying hereditary processes across life forms and includes lab exercises in molecular and Mendelian genetics.

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Biology organism.
BBMB 324


In this core BBMB course, you’ll use concepts and approaches from physics to better understand molecular and cellular biology. From hydrodynamics and cellular locomotion to signal propagation in neurons and gene expression, you’ll gain insight into the physical forces at work in biological systems.

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BBMB 325


This course introduces you to the power of proteins. You’ll learn about their structure and function and the important role they play in molecular recognition and catalysis. You’ll practice essential lab skills like conducting assays and performing electrophoresis. And you’ll gain experience reading scientific journals and group problem-solving as part of a semester-long team project.

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Biology organism.
BBMB 326

Molecular Biology

Let this core course take you deep into the world of nucleic acid to learn about gene expression and gene regulation. Curious about the molecular biology of viruses? The genetic basis of cancer? Genome mapping? This course explores these and other highly relevant topics in modern molecular biology.

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BBMB 400

Senior Seminar

To complement your original senior research project, you’ll join your accomplished classmates in this capstone class to share your research methods, results and insights in an oral presentation that will build confidence and bolster your communication skills.

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Biology vials being filled.
BBMB 430

Infectious Disease

Step out of the lab and into the realm of public health as you examine the implications of infectious disease on human mortality, society and the economy. Read, discuss and cultivate your own understanding of the burden of disease, the workings of the immune system, and vaccine development and policy.

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Amazing Experiences You Can Pursue

Study abroad, for your life and your career. Leave campus in your junior year to broaden your world understanding and improve your career prospects through targeted international programs, like Biotechnology and Biomedicine DIS Study Abroad in Scandinavia in Copenhagen or Stockholm.

Serve and grow. Whitman BBMB majors make a difference in their community. They participate on campus as calculus tutors, musicians, athletes and more. In the city of Walla Walla, they help as volunteers at community health clinics, local schools and the public health department. 

Pursue unique academic opportunities. BBMB elective courses like Drug Design, Infectious Disease, Synthetic Cell Biology and Gene Discovery showcase contemporary topics and techniques. Or with the Special Projects course offering, you can pursue your own independent study topic or research idea alongside faculty.

Your Questions Answered

BBMB is a challenging major, and it’s worth the effort. The practical and career skills you’ll master will prepare you to meet the rigorous demands of graduate school or launch a career right after Whitman. The friends and mentors you’ll meet in the program will support and enrich your experience. And the well-rounded liberal arts education you gain will ensure that wherever life takes you, you’ll bring a broad understanding of the world and crucial critical thinking skills with you.

It’s true, students interested in health professions see BBMB as a good fit for their career aspirations. But it can easily extend to other pursuits as well. BBMB alumni succeed in graduate school for genetics, engineering and biostatistics. They pursue pharmacology, veterinary medicine and public health. They manage biotechnology initiatives and businesses. And they build community resilience through the Peace Corps, the Fulbright Scholar Program and Teach for America.

Yes! BBMB majors are very involved with their peers in student clubs and groups, community service organizations and workplaces across campus and Walla Walla. They’re known for being good team players, creative thinkers and hard workers.

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