Undergraduate Study

Sara Hotchkiss, assistant professor of botany, teaches Introductory Biology 152, a required course for biology majors, in a large lecture hall in Bascom Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on April 30, 2009.Sara Hotchkiss, professor of botany, teaches Introductory Biology 152. Jeff Miller/UW-Madison

What is Botany about? 

Botany provides an introduction to the living world: the diversity of its organisms, its historical origins through evolution, its principles of structure, function, and ecology, and its interactions with the nonliving world. Through photosynthesis plants fuel all other life on earth. They are the primary producers of the living world, also driving global water and carbon cycles.  

In keeping with the tradition of botany departments, our program covers plants and algae as well as fungi and bacteria - all living organisms except animals. The undergraduate program in Botany leads to the Bachelor of Arts or Bachelors of Science degrees. 

Why choose a Botany major? 

Learn from the experts: Members of the Botany faculty are authorities in aspects of plant biology ranging from molecular functions in cells to behavior of ecosystems.  They teach the introductory biology courses required of Botany majors as well as the upper level courses focused on more specific topics.   

Access to faculty: The number of declared Botany majors rarely exceeds 40 students. This relatively small number enables a high degree of interaction with the faculty.  

Gain research experience: The independent research project requirement typically results in a strong faculty mentor/student relationship while providing an extended hands-on learning opportunity that is rare in other programs. Below is a non-exhaustive list of senior thesis projects that have been completed by recent UW Botany majors:
  • "Lipid production in Diatoms: A biological source of hydrocarbons for energy & biosynthesis"
    advisor: Linda Graham   student: Jennifer Jackowski
  • "Development of a temperature-sensitive allele for investigation of SECY2 function in chloroplasts"
    advisor: Donna Fernandez   student: Jessica Skarlupka
  • "Phylogeny, biogeography, and floral evolution of the Bombacoids"
    advisor: David Baum   student: Karen Walsh
  • "Herb community changes in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore since 1958: Have deer affected the understory?"
    advisor: Don Waller   student: Aliza Segal 

Botany learning goals

The Botany faculty adopted the Undergraduate Learning Goals in May 2015. Read them here.


The Botany Club is an undergraduate student organization open to anyone with a love of plants. Visit them on Facebook