College History

1921 scene with a calf drinking milk during Picnic Day.

Life Sciences at UC Davis - A History

In July 2005, the UC Regents voted unanimously to create the College of Biological Sciences at UC Davis. Prior to that vote, the biological sciences majors were housed in a Division of Biological Sciences, shared between two other colleges on campus.

Although its founding departments were created as early as 1922, the Division of Biological Sciences was officially established in 1970. Designed to provide an organizational framework for undergraduate biology programs, the division linked the College of Letters and Science departments of bacteriology, botany, and zoology with the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences departments of animal physiology, biochemistry and biophysics, and genetics.

The original six departments were reorganized into the following five sections: (1) evolution and ecology, (2) microbiology, (3) molecular and cellular biology, (4) neurobiology, physiology, and behavior, (5) plant biology. They were re-named departments in 2008 and remain today.

  • July 21, 2015: The College of Biological Sciences celebrates its 10th anniversary.
  • July 1, 2015: Peter Wainwright, CBS professor of evolution and ecology, becomes interim dean.
  • August 1, 2011: James E.K. Hildreth, hailing from Meharry Medical College, becomes dean of the College of Biological Sciences.
  • 2008: The former sections of evolution and ecology; microbiology; molecular and cellular biology; neurobiology, physiology, and behavior; and plant biology became departments within the College of Biological Sciences.
  • November 1, 2005: Bylaw 153 of the Davis Division of the Academic Senate establishes the Faculty of the College of Biological Sciences.
  • August 1, 2005-July 31, 2011: Kenneth C. Burtis, dean (interim dean 2005-06; dean 2006-2011). Kenneth Burtis became the first dean to serve after the College's bylaws and regulations were adopted.
  • July 21, 2005: The University of California Regents voted unanimously to establish the College of Biological Sciences. Phyllis Wise thus became the first dean of the College of Biological Sciences for the last 10 days of her term.
  • June 2, 2005: The Sciences Laboratory Building is formally dedicated. This $58 million project created the only UC building dedicated exclusively to laboratory teaching in biology and introductory chemistry. The planning and construction of this unique facility were accomplished in collaboration with the Department of Chemistry in the College of Letters and Science, and includes 34 modern teaching laboratories and support spaces such as study lounges, discussion rooms, two computer laboratories, and a running sea water system.
  • Jan '02 - July 31, 2005: Phyllis Wise, dean.
  • July '01 – December 31, 2002: Leo Chalupa, interim dean.
  • July 1, 2000: The program in Exercise Biology was transferred to the Division of Biological Sciences from the College of Letters and Science.
  • 1993-2001 Mark McNamee dean (interim dean 1993-1995; dean 1995-2001).
  • 1997: Life Sciences (formerly Life Sciences Addition to Briggs Hall) opens. The 63,000 sq. ft. Life Sciences is finished and faculty move in. The building brought together more than 30 faculty research laboratories. The Life Sciences is architecturally designed to foster research collaborations, featuring interconnected laboratories and common-area spaces that house essential research equipment and facilities.
  • 1993: The Division of Biological Sciences reorganizes into five sections: Evolution and Ecology; Microbiology; Molecular & Cellular Biology (by combining the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics with the Department of Genetics); Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior; and Plant Biology.
  • 1988: The Department of Bacteriology is re-named the Department of Microbiology.
  • 1985 - 1993: Robert D. Grey, dean.
  • 1976 - 1979: James De Vay, associate dean.
  • 1975 - 1976: Eric Conn, associate dean for one month.
  • 1971 - 1975: S.R. Snow, associate dean.
  • 1970: Division of Biological Sciences formed.
  • 1969 - 1971: Biological Sciences Committee, Everett W. Jameson Jr., Chair.
  • 1964: Department of Animal Physiology (now Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior) forms.
  • 1958: Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics (now Molecular and Cellular Biology) forms.
  • 1950: Department of Genetics (now Molecular and Cellular Biology) forms.
  • 1946: Department of Bacteriology forms (now Microbiology).
  • 1924: Department of Botany forms (now Plant Biology).
  • 1922: Department of Zoology forms (now Evolution & Ecology). Tracy Storer offered first course in general zoology.
  • 1922: First course in Bacteriology taught (now Microbiology).