Assumption biology professors share their favorite online resources for students

Assumption College Undergraduate

Whether you’re pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biology or just starting to think about this exciting course of study; whether you’re an expert in the field or simply enjoy biology as a hobby, there are some amazing biology resources and tools on the web for everyone — learning resources, YouTube channels, news organizations, podcasts and wikis — filled with interesting biology facts, current events, study tools and even peculiar stories for biology enthusiasts of every kind. Below are a few of the more popular resources, including some favorites of Assumption Biology Professors, Kim Schandel and Aisling Dugan.

In her BIO210 Genetics class, Professor Kim Schandel uses the Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM), an online catalog of human genes and disorders. It provides lots of information about the nature and causes of genetic disorders and students find it very useful when they are writing research papers.

“When the students are studying different patterns of inheritance they use the site to research a particular genetic disorder of interest to them,” Professor Schandel explains. “Students have chosen some classic genetic diseases like cystic fibrosis or hemophilia, but others have focused on rare and intriguing genetic diseases like fatal familial insomnia.”

Her senior-level CHE414 Biochemistry students use the Protein Data Bank information portal to access the 3-D structures of proteins and other molecules, including the popular “molecule of the month.” Biochemistry students use the site when they are studying protein structure.

Professor Aisling Dugan often refers students to Radio Lab. The NPR-sponsored podcast reports interesting stories on medicine, biology, neuroscience and behavior in a quirky and playful manner.

“Radiolab is a show about curiosity,” shares Professor Dugan. “Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience. Radiolab is supported, in part, by the National Science Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, enhancing public understanding of science and technology in the modern world.”

Pathways to Science is another online resource Professor Dugan encourages her students to explore. This site, she explains, is a helpful resource for students seeking summer internship opportunities.

“Students use this website to find programs such as undergraduate summer research opportunities, graduate fellowships, postdoctoral positions, as well as resources and materials pertaining to recruitment, retention, and mentoring,” Professor Dugan shared. “Pathways to Science supports pathways to the STEM fields: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.”

There are a number of other excellent online resources to complement a student’s academic journey in Biology.

1. Actionbioscience
This site provides peer-reviewed articles and information in six content areas: environment, biodiversity, genomics, biotechnology, evolution and science policy. Actionbioscience is a project owned and operated by the American Institute of Biological Sciences, and everything produced on there is written by experts and peer-reviewed.

2. Science Friday
Science Friday, NPR Science Show
Every Friday, NPR host and producer Ira Flatow brings in specialists, researchers and experts to discuss some of the science world’s most interesting questions and peculiar topics. All Science Friday podcasts are accessible online or through their app, and they’re broken into categories like biology, home planet, body and brain, nature, food and garden, energy and more.

3. Ocean Portal
Smithsonian Institution Ocean InitativeThe Ocean Portal is part of the Smithsonian Institution’s Ocean Initiative. If you’re interested in studying life under the sea, Ocean Portal provides amazing photography, research and unique insight into often understudied ocean populations.


4. BioInteractive
resources for science educationFunded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, BioInteractive provides articles, resources, current events, images and resources for everything biology. BioInteractive offers free resources for science education in hundreds of interesting topics, including physiology, viruses, organism behavior, cancer, biological clocks and more.

5.  Khan Academy
detailed lessons on biologyStarted by Salman Khan, Khan Academy offers free supplementary lessons to any current courses you might be taking, as well as instructional videos and practice exercises. Khan Academy Biology currently offers detailed lessons on cellular and molecular biology, human biology and heredity and evolution.

6. Proteopedia
protein data bankProteopedia works like a Wikipedia that hosts a page for every entry in the World Wide Protein Data Bank. They are delivered in a 3D model format to better understand structure-function relationships. These protein models and other information related to diseases, DNA, RNA, and more make up the 117,296 articles on the site.

7. The Biodiversity Heritage Library
botanical library

The Biodiversity Heritage Library is a “consortium of natural history and botanical libraries that cooperate to digitize” the literature available in the world of biodiversity. The library is available for open access and responsible use.


For more resources, check with other organizations invested in biology education, like the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) and the American Institute of Biological Sciences. They are always involved in new research and services to biology learners of every age.

Refer to our list of smart phone apps for biology students for study tools and games.

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