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 to 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.
ALEJANDRO ACEVEDO-GUTIÉRREZ (2002) Associate Professor. BSc, Universidad Autonama de Baja California Sur, Mexico; PhD, Texas A&M University.
ROGER A. ANDERSON (1994) Professor. BS, University of Minnesota; MA, University of California-Riverside; PhD, University of California-Los Angeles.
MARION BRODHAGEN (2006) Assistant Professor. BS, University of Wisconsin; MS, PhD, Oregon State University.
ERIC DECHAINE (2006) Associate Professor. BA, University of California-San Diego; MS, University of Hawaii-Manoa; PhD, University of Colorado-Boulder.
DEBORAH A. DONOVAN (1998) Professor. BSc, MSc, University of California-Davis; PhD, University of British Columbia.
DAVID U. HOOPER (1998) Professor. BA, Middlebury College; PhD, Stanford University.
DAVID S. LEAF (1991) Professor. BS, University of Washington; PhD, Indiana University.
BENJAMIN MINER (2006) Associate Professor. BA, University of Florida; PhD, University of California-Santa Cruz.
CRAIG L. MOYER (1997) Professor. BS, MS, Oregon State University; PhD, University of Hawaii.
MERRILL A. PETERSON (1997) Professor. BS, University of Washington; PhD, Cornell University.
LYNN J. PILLITTERI (2008) Assistant Professor. BS, State University of New York at Binghamton; MS, PhD, University of California, Riverside.
SANDRA SCHULZE (2006) Assistant Professor. BS, University of British Columbia; PhD, Simon Fraser University.
DIETMAR SCHWARZ (2008) Assistant Professor. Diplom Biology, Christian- Albrechts Universität, Kiel, Germany; PhD Pennsylvania State University.
JOSÉ SERRANO-MORENO (2007) Assistant Professor. Lic. Biol., Universidad Central de Venezuela; PhD, Case Western Reserve University.
ANU SINGH-CUNDY (1996) Associate Professor. BSc, MSc, Delhi University, Delhi, India; PhD, Cornell University.
CAROL TRENT (1989) Professor. BS, Indiana University; PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
HEATHER VAN EPPS (2008) Assistant Professor. BS, University of Illinois, Urbana/Champaign; PhD, University of Washington.
JEFF C. YOUNG (1999) Professor. BA, PhD, Ohio State University.
DAVID L. ALLES BS, University of Colorado; MS, Western Washington University.
GEORGE H. CZERLINSKI BS, University of Hamburg; MS, Northwestern University; PhD, University of Göttingen.
MELISSA MINER BS, University Of California-Santa Cruz; MS, University of California, Moss Landing Marine Lab.
FREDERICK M. RHOADES BA, Swarthmore; MS, Oregon State University; PhD, University of Oregon.
JOHN BOWER 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.
JENNIFER PURCELL 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.
KATHRYN L. VAN ALSTYNE BS, University of Rhode Island; PhD, University of Washington
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 well-equiped teaching and research labs, and two multimedia lecture halls. Two on campus greenhouses 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.
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 - General Emphasis - 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 environment
- BS Biology - Secondary Teaching Emphasis - prepares students for a state teaching endorsement in biology
- BS Biology/Anthropology - focuses 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
The Biology Department has a two-step process for admission into our degree programs. Phase I students are those who have declared their intent to major in biology, and are in the process of completing the introductory courses. Students must have achieved an average grade of 2.9 or higher in their introductory biology and general chemistry courses before they can advance to Phase II and begin taking upper-division coursework.
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 non-science/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 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.
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
Chemistry/Biology - Secondary, BAE
Biology - Cell Emphasis, BS
Biology - Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology (EEO) Emphasis, BS
Biology - Marine Emphasis, BS
Biology - Secondary Teaching Emphasis
Cellular and Molecular Biology, BS
Graduate Degrees and Programs
Biology, Marine and Estuarine Science, Thesis, MS
Biology, Thesis, MS