Articles on Fields of Concentration

These articles on the various Fields of Concentration will appear in the "Confidential Guide" next September. Therefore the current year is referred to as "last year," etc. Criticlame will be welcome If


Concentration in Biology as preparation for a medical career is not as universal now as it used to be. Different medical schools, of course, have diffeent methods of admittance, but it is probably true that most schools encourage previous training in some non-scientific or at least non-biological field. The Harvard Medical School in particular does so, and it does not give precedence to those who have gone out for honors in this field, for it gives them too limited a background. There will be little enough chance to get a social and cultural background in medical school, so one might just as well get it now, when only four or five courses are required for admittance to medical school anyway. On the other hand Biology offers a scientific picture of humanity for men who are interested but do not plan medical work.

It must be realized that concentration in Biology, as in Chemistry, means devotion to Biology, and little or no time left for extended study in other fields or extracurricular activities. The laboratory work will take at least four afternoons a week, and the evenings will generally be taken up preparing notes on the lab work or preparing for one of the frequent quizzes which dot the field. On the whole this had led pre-med students to other fields, and the number of concentrators has dropped slightly to about 93 last year.

On the other hand the Biology department at Harvard is one of the best. It is better off financially than most, there are many outside institutions, such as the Museum of Comparative Zoology, the Gray Herbarium, the Arnold Arboretum, the Botanical Museum, and the Harvard Forest, to mention only a few, connected with the department of Biology. The Biological Laboratory has excellent facilities, and there is an adequate library devoted to the department. Lastly the Faculty is large and brilliant.

There is no division within the field, and a review of the main courses is sufficient to pass the general exam which must be taken by all concentrators at the end of Senior year. Therefore the demand for tutorial is not great except to correlate zoology and botany, but it is greater than the supply, for the tutors, though numerous, do not appear to have much time to spend on their tutees. Stier and Renn took more time in tutoring than others, and both were highly recommended. Unfortunately even the desire of the student for further independent study is dampened by the frequent tests in courses.


One course in Physics, probably course C, and ine in Chemistry are required. Chemistry 2 is especially valuable but cannot ordinarily be taken without previous experience in Chemistry. Anthropology A, on the biological evolution of man from the ape is suggested for an allied course. A reading knowledge of French and German is advisable. Either Physics or Chemistry should be taken Freshman year with Biology D and the other the next year.

Biology D is a very good elementary course, under the able leadership of Professor Hisaw, who lectures excellently in the second half year on zoology. Darrah was a new man last year on botany in the first half year, is still a little cautions but rapidly improving and helpful to the individual. He soon ought to put botany on the high plane Hisaw has reached in zoology. This course is recommended for non-concentrators as well.

Two courses are required for concentration from among 1, 2, and 3, and two more advanced courses.

Biology 1 is the fundamental course in Botany. Fine lectures by Weston and individual aid from Wetmore make the course a success. It was claimed that too much atention was given to drawing ability and that the lab work was not counted strongly enough. This course has been weak in enrollment, mostly because until recently Botany has been neglected in course D.

Biology 2 is on the Comparative Anatomy and Evolution of Vertebrates, is vital for pre-medical work and should be taken early. Professor Romer will have complete charge this year since Rand is retiring. Perhaps not se good as Rand, Romer is however an interesting and thorough though sometimes hard-to-follow lecturer. The laboratory outline was critized as being vague and inconsistent with the lectures.

Biology 3, Physiology, is valuable especially for the 'lag technique. For honors candidates it suggests much in the way of research, but should not be taken until Junior year. The lecturers, Redfield, Stier, and Wald, are all first rate.

Besides 2 and 3, course 25, on Animal Embryology, is recommended for pre-medical work. Biology 26a is a good general and cultural course on the history of the higher vertebrates and is fairly easy.

Biology 29, like 3, involves a good deal of individual research, and from that aspect is suggested to honors candidates. The subject is the Biology of the Invertebrates.

Biology 16, on Economic Botany has not been well known, but is highly recommended for concentrators in other fields such as Anthropology and Agricultural Economics. It is given by Professor Ames.