Hope College Biology

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Our History

The Biology Department at Hope College has had a fairly short life as colleges go, but a full one that has led to its present position of strength for the future.

President Gerrit President Scott and President Kollen taught biology classes from 1865 to 1895.

The beginning period began in 1898 when President Kollen decided that Hope College needed a Biology Department and hired Samuel Ottmar Mast as the first biology professor.

Mast remained until 1908 when he moved to the newly established department of biology at Johns Hopkins University where he became renowned world-wide for his study of motion and behavior in protozoa.

While at Hope, he set the pattern for the future by including a professor's lab in the design of Van Raalte Hall to enable research to proceed.

S.O. Mast S. O. Mast, Hope's First Biology Professor Instructor 1899-1900 and Professor 1900-1908.

When Mast moved on, the "Patterson period" began with the arrival of Frank Patterson, a Harvard-educated professor known for an eccentric teaching style. Much admired by the students, he died of a lung disease in 1928 and was replaced by Oscar Thompson. Thompson was able to hire another professor and so became the first professor at Hope to be in a department with more than one biologist.

This growth proceeded rapidly in the next phase, the "growth period" and finally, with the conscious decision to be an outstanding leader in undergraduate research, the present "scholarly period" arose, spurred on by the Deans of Science, Sheldon Wettack, Irwin Brink, and James Gentile.

Keep an eye on Hope to find out our next phase. We keep improving.