Jul 14, 2024  
2010-2011 Catalog 
2010-2011 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]




Biology is the study of living organisms and is one of the broadest fields in science. It ranges in scale from the molecular and cellular level to the level of ecosystems and evolutionary biology. Biology at Western Washington University gives students the opportunity to explore this breadth in all degree programs, as well as to specialize.


JOANN OTTO (2004) Chair and Professor. AB, AM, Mount Holyoke College; PhD, University of California-Irvine.
(2002) Associate Professor. BSc, Universidad Autonama de Baja California Sur, Mexico; PhD, Texas A&M University.
(1994) Professor. BS, University of Minnesota; MA, University of California-Riverside; PhD, University of California-Los Angeles.
(2006) Assistant Professor. BS, University of Wisconsin; MS, PhD, Oregon State University.
(2006) Assistant Professor. BA, University of California-San Diego; MS, University of Hawaii-Manoa; PhD, University of Colorado-Boulder.
(1998) Professor. BSc, MSc, University of California-Davis; PhD, University of British Columbia.
(1998) Professor. BA, Middlebury College; PhD, Stanford University.
(1991) Professor. BS, University of Washington; PhD, Indiana University.
(2006) Assistant Professor. BA, University of Florida; PhD, University of California-Santa Cruz.
(1997) Professor. BS, MS, Oregon State University; PhD, University of Hawaii.
MERRILL A. PETERSON (1997) Professor. BS, University of Washington; PhD, Cornell University.
(2008) Assistant Professor. BS, State University of New York at Binghamton; MS, PhD, University of California, Riverside.
(2006) Assistant Professor. BS, University of British Columbia; PhD, Simon Fraser University.
(2008) Assistant Professor. Diplom Biology, Christian- Albrechts Universität, Kiel, Germany; PhD Pennsylvania State University.
(2007) Assistant Professor. Lic. Biol., Universidad Central de Venezuela; PhD, Case Western Reserve University.
(1996) Associate Professor. BSc, MSc, Delhi University, Delhi, India; PhD, Cornell University.
(1989) Professor. BS, Indiana University; PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
2008) Assistant Professor. BS, University of Illinois, Urbana/Champaign; PhD, University of Washington.
(1999) Professor. BA, PhD, Ohio State University.

Research Associates

DAVID L. ALLES. BS, University of Colorado; MS, Western Washington University.
BS, University of Hamburg; MS, Northwestern University; PhD, University of Göttingen.
BS, University Of California-Santa Cruz; MS, University of California, Moss Landing Marine Lab.
BA, Swarthmore; MS, Oregon State University; PhD, University of Oregon.

Adjunct Faculty

JOHN BOWERS. BS, PhD, Cornell University.
GISÈLE MULLER-PARKER (1990) BS, State University of New York Stony Brook; MS, University of Delaware; PhD, University of California Los Angeles.
BS, MS, Stanford University; PhD, University of California-Santa Barbara.
SUZANNE STROM. BA, Middlebury College; MA, Harvard University; PhD, University of Washington.
STEPHEN SULKIN. BA, Miami University; MS, PhD, Duke University.
BS, University of Rhode Island; PhD, University of Washington

Departmental Mission

Our mission is to provide an outstanding learning environment that integrates education, scholarship, and service to actively engage students in the biological sciences and to foster their development as lifelong learners. We accomplish this mission by:

  • Offering a broad-based, rigorous, and integrative curriculum
  • Having diverse upper-division courses
  • Fostering critical thinking and quantitative reasoning skills
  • Offering opportunities for undergraduate research and writing
  • Providing for timely completion of degree

Other Departmental Information

Facilities and Resources

The Biology building includes teaching labs, research labs, and multimedia lecture halls. Two greenhouses, on campus support teaching and research. The Shannon Point Marine Center in Anacortes supports research and teaching in marine science. Western’s location offers fascinating learning opportunities for students in biology. The variety of plant communities and climatic patterns of the Cascade and Olympic Mountains and nearby lowlands, the numerous ponds and lakes, streams and rivers and the many marine habitats provide a rich diversity of organisms for students to encounter and study.

Undergraduate Programs

Our programs are designed for students with broad or specialized interests in the biological sciences. They are intended to (1) prepare undergraduates for graduate studies in diverse areas of biology; (2) prepare students for advanced study in the health professions [e.g., medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry]; (3) provide a broad exposure to biology for students who want a general science education as biologists and teachers; (4) provide students with a foundation in biology that is combined with another discipline. 

  • BA Biology - flexible, student-advisor designed program
  • BS Biology - flexible, student-advisor designed program 
  • BS Biology - Cell Emphasis - focuses on the cell biology, molecular genetics, and genomics of prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms
  • BS Biology - Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology Emphasis - focuses on the structure, function, ecology & evolution of organisms
  • BS Biology - Marine Emphasis – focuses on the structure and function of marine organisms and their relationship with the environmentBS
  • BS Biology - Secondary Teaching Emphasis – prepares students for a state teaching endorsement in biology
  • BS Biology/Anthropology - focus on human biology and behavioral science
  • BS Biology/Mathematics - brings biology together with linear algebra, advanced calculus and methods of computer programming and mathematical modeling
  • BA Behavioral Neuroscience - emphasizes neurobiology and the psychology of normal and abnormal behavior at the molecular and organismal level
  • BS Cellular and Molecular Biology – focuses on the biochemistry, cell biology, molecular genetics and genomics of prokaryotic and eukaryotic model organisms
  • BAE Chemistry/Biology - Secondary - a combined study of biology and chemistry courses for teaching endorsements

Declaration Process

Biology Major Declaration is a two-phase process for a Biology BS, BA, or Minor degree program. Students can declare a Biology Phase I major as soon as they are admitted to the University. In Phase I, majors complete CHEM 121, 122, 123 and BIOL 204, 205, 206. Entrance to Phase II is competitive and is based on performance in Phase I chemistry and biology classes.

Mid-Program Checkpoint

Students seeking to complete a BS degree in biology within a four-year time span should have completed these courses prior to their junior year: MATH 124 ; CHEM 121 , CHEM 123 , CHEM 122 ; BIOL 204 , BIOL 206 , BIOL 205 ; either CHEM 351 , CHEM 352  or PHYS 114 , PHYS 115  (or PHYS 121 , PHYS 122 ); ENG 101 ; plus 18 credits from the nonscience/math GUR sections. Major omissions from this list will make it difficult or impossible to complete this degree within two additional years.

Teaching Careers in Biology

Students wishing to teach at the high school-level in the Washington State public schools need to seek advisement prior to or at the beginning of their third year of college. A Biology Endorsement is earned by completion of the courses in the Biology BS-Secondary Teaching Emphasis and the certification program in Woodring College of Education (www.wce.wwu.edu/Resources/Certification/).

A Science Endorsement may be completed by taking the additional courses of GEOL 211 , GEOL 212 ; PHYS 116 ; and ASTR 315 . All courses for the state teaching endorsement must be completed with a C (2.0) or higher. Students who wish to teach at the college-level complete a Biology BS or BA degree and continue graduate work leading to a master’s or doctoral degree.

Transfer Students

Transfer students will be well prepared for admission and able to complete a biology major in two more years if they have completed the math and science courses listed above in the MID-PROGRAM CHECKPOINT paragraph; have earned excellent grades in each of these courses; and state in the personal letter for admission their educational goals and that they can no longer progress toward these goals at their present institution.

Access to Biology Classes

Because of high student demand for many biology program courses, the Biology Department must give enrollment priority to students for whom these courses are required for their major over students who want to take them as electives. Registration details for biology courses are listed on the Biology Department Registration webpage at: http://www.biol.wwu.edu/biology/registration.shtml.

Graduate Study

For concentrations leading to the Master of Education or the Master of Science degrees, see the Graduate School  section of this catalog.

Undergraduate Degrees and Programs 

Behavioral Neuroscience, BA 

Biology, BA 

Chemistry/Biology - Secondary, BAE   

Biology, BS 

Biology — Cell Emphasis, BS 

Biology - Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology (EEO) Emphasis, BS 

Biology - Marine Emphasis, BS 

Biology — Secondary Teaching Emphasis, BS   

Biology/Anthropology, BS 

Biology/Mathematics, BS 

Cellular and Molecular Biology, BS 

Biology Minor 

Graduate Degrees and Programs 

Biology, Marine and Estuarine Science, Thesis, MS 

Biology, Thesis, MS 

 Biology Courses