Department of Biology

Mission Statement

Mission Statement

The Department of Biology provides an inclusive academic and research environment in which students and faculty rigorously investigate the science of living systems.  Our faculty of teacher-scholars provide engaging and inclusive learning experiences in the classroom, laboratory, and field and maintain active research programs involving undergraduate and graduate students. We prepare students for diverse careers and advanced study while empowering them to become responsible, productive, and biologically literate members of society.

Diversity Statement

We strive to foster diversity by recruiting and retaining individuals from groups underrepresented in the sciences, and by cultivating a welcoming and professional environment for individuals from all races, national origins, genders, sexual orientations, economic statuses, physical abilities, and personal religious practices.  

Student Learning Goals

The Biology Department maintains a rigorous, supportive, collaborative, and inclusive academic and research environment helping to shape graduates who

  • understand biological theories, concepts, and processes across levels of biological organization and taxonomic diversity.
  • develop scientific inquiry skills leading to the ability to design and carry out scientific investigations, evaluate scientific evidence, and draw logical conclusions.
  • are creative and integrative thinkers who can ask and solve challenging biological questions.
  • are both locally and globally aware of environmental, health and other biology-related societal challenges facing humans and the biosphere.
  • are effective leaders, communicators, and teachers of science.
  • are skilled in laboratory and field techniques and analyzing and interpreting scientific data and scholarly resources.
  • are literate of scientific technology, its applications, and ethical implications.
  • are well prepared for a diversity of careers in biology-related fields and/or postgraduate study.

Achieving Our Mission and Goals

We strive to provide every student in our program with high-impact and immersive learning experiences led by faculty who are world class teacher-scholars. Faculty members engage in active research programs involving undergraduates and graduate students; apply their research and scholarly interests to local, regional, and global issues; engage students in a diversity of courses and study abroad programs; and publish in peer-reviewed national and international journals, frequently with students as coauthors.  We leverage these strengths in concert with our unique profile of small class sizes, modern classrooms and laboratories, access to diverse coastal and inland habitats and facilities, and strategic partnerships with government organizations and industry to offer experiential and field-based learning experiences, which immerse students in the wonder and achievements of biological science; and its relevance to their lives.

Department of Biology Overview
SSME Diversity Statement

Featured stories

Dr. Phil Dustan dicusses the impact of humans on reefs with as eye towards the impact of tourism.



Dr. Anastasia Zimmerman incorporates the COVID-19 into her Spring 2020 Immunology class. View a short lecture by Dr. Zimmerman about COVID-19 and other viruses.


Senior Biology Instructor Deb Bidwell research on Biomimicry was featured in the Post and Courier. Read about how this interdisciliplinary study is taught in the classroom here.


Biology Professor Heather Spalding participated in research of coral reefs in Hawaii that were destroyed during a hurricane in 2019. See the story here.


Marine Biology Professor Jack DiTullio is featured in The Post and Courier's "Every Other Breath".  He explains how plankton produce fifty percent of the earth's oxygen. See him and read the feature here.


Russell Day, founder of the Marine Science and Nautical Training Academy (MANTA), took students on a two-week voyage around the British Virgin Islands on a 58-foot catamaran sailboat. Read more about their Caribbean coral reef ecosystem study abroad experience here.

Exploring the coral reef ecosystem

Biology Professor Phil Dustan was featured in The Post and Courier where he discusses his work with coral reefs and the realities of coral bleaching. Read the story here.  He was also featured in an award winning Netflix original documentary, "Chasing Coral".  See the trailer here

Phil Dustan takes measurements on a reef in Bali

Biology faculty Christine Byrum and Renaud Geslain, along with chemistry and biochemistry faculty Jim Deavor, were featured in the “Faculty Factoids” section of the magazine for the IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence Grant they received from the National Institutes of Health. To learn more about their research click on their names.   

Deborah Deas

Dr. Renaud Geslain was recently interviewed by The College Today. Read more to learn about one of our molecular biologists. 

Read more articles on faculty research.