Discovering inspired solutions from the natural world.

Learning is about discovery. Exploration. It’s about finding realistic solutions to life’s toughest questions. And there are few academic disciplines that exemplify this in quite the same way as biology. Marian’s biology program will put you at the forefront of that discovery, and position you for a lifetime of answering those tough questions.

Learn More About the Biology Program

Linda Krueger, Chair of the Math and Natural Science department, provides insight into Marian’s biology program in which students will gain analytical, communication, and transferable skills that will elevate them in their pursuits after graduation. Within the program, you will take the classroom knowledge and apply it in a laboratory setting. Additionally, you will be conducting research whether that be within the Science Center on campus or outside in fieldwork and internships.

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The Program

If anything in life has the power to inspire, it’s finding truths from the natural world around us that can enhance the way we live. The biology program is all about empowering you to do just that. You’ll benefit from the program’s small, dynamic lectures, which will give you the theoretical knowledge that you’ll apply in extensive laboratory, research and field work. You’ll work closely with our experienced and respected faculty, who are recognized leaders in the field and believe in a true mentoring relationship with their students.

General Education Program: 46–49 credits of University requirements. Major satisfies lab science common core and natural sciences elective core requirements.

For more details regarding this program, view Marian’s Academic Bulletin.

Sample Course Plan:
Download Sample Course Plan

Other Requirements, 16 credits:

An introduction to the fundamental principles of Chemistry including modern concepts of atomic and molecular theory, physical states of matter, stoichiometry, chemical bonding, gas laws, equilibria and reactions of inorganic compounds.


A second-semester general Chemistry course which introduces the topics of equilibrium, kinetics, ionic equilibria of weak electrolytes, solubility product, coordination compounds, thermodynamics, electrochemistry and descriptive chemistry. Qualitative analysis is included in the laboratory portion of this course.



An in-depth study of the chemistry of organic compounds. This course includes nomenclature, structure, reactions, stereochemistry, an introduction to absorption spectroscopy and uses and reaction mechanisms of organic molecules.



A continuation of CHE 201.


An introduction to the techniques and methods of the organic chemistry laboratory. This course includes the synthesis of various classes of compounds, determination of properties and structures, product evaluation, introduction to various instruments and identification.

28 credits:

Research seminars, reviews of professional biology literature, and research proposals presented by Biology majors, faculty members, and/or guest speakers.


Research preparation and training in seminar and guided research formats. Research and career seminars, reviews of professional biology literature, and research proposals are presented by Biology majors and faculty, with occasional guest speakers.

A lecture-laboratory course for science majors stressing the nature of science and scientific methodology. Basic ecological concepts and human impact on the environment are studied. The chemistry of life, the cellular basis of life, genetics, energy relationships and metabolism are presented. Both the classical aspects and the areas of recent research are included. (This course is required for Biology and Biology Education majors and Biology minors.)


A continuation of BIO 101. Major topics covered include plant and animal biology. Structural and functional relationships are stressed. Major structures, adaptations, and evolution of Monera, Protista and Animal kingdoms are surveyed. Current areas of research are included. Dissection of representative organisms including the fetal pig is required.


An extensive study of the plant kingdom and related organisms. Major topics include taxonomy, structure, morphology, development, physiology, reproduction and evolution of plants. Ecological awareness is encouraged.


A seminar based on the reading of current biological literature and the presentation of research seminars. In addition, students will prepare and present senior research proposals for a senior research project.


Study of transmission, molecular, evolutionary, population, and quantitative genetics.


An introduction to bacterial structure, metabolism, growth principles, genetics and identification. Other topics covered include antibiotics, bacteriophage and infectious diseases caused by bacteria. (Students may not take both BIO 210 and BIO 311 for credit.)


The first of two courses that comprise an individually arranged research project under the guidance of department faculty. Each biology major elects to do laboratory/field research on a problem in biology of personal interest. In this course the student will refine research methods and experimental design, including data collection, and complete initial sections of the final written report.


The second of two courses that comprise an individually arranged research project under the guidance of department faculty. Each biology major elects to do laboratory/field research on a problem in biology of personal interest. In this course the student will collect and analyze data, finish and submit a written report, and do a public presentation of his or her research.

4-8 credits from the following:


An in-depth study of the structure and function of human organ systems and the relationships among physiologic systems at the cellular, tissue, organ, and system levels. A comprehensive understanding of how each system aids in the maintenance of homeostasis is stressed in the study of cellular structure and physiology, the integumentary, skeletal, muscular, and nervous systems. A strong background in biology and basic knowledge of physiological systems is assumed. Human cadaver dissections may be demonstrated in association with each organ system studied. Concurrent registration in BIO 251 is recommended.


Continuation of BIO 201. An in-depth study of the structure and function of human organ systems and the relationships among physiologic systems at the cellular, tissue, organ, and system levels. A comprehensive understanding of how each system aids in the maintenance of homeostasis is stressed in the study of the endocrine, cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, excretory, and reproductive systems. Human cadaver dissections may be demonstrated in association with each organ system studied. Concurrent registration in BIO 252 is recommended.


A study of the biology and taxonomy of major invertebrate groups with special emphasis on structure-function relationships: their life histories, evolution, ecology and economic importance. Laboratory sessions involve the observation and dissection of representative invertebrate organisms in order that a clear understanding of each taxonomic phylum may be attained.


A study of progressive changes that occur within cells, tissues and organisms during their life span. Development at the molecular, biochemical, genetic, morphological and physiological levels are examined through lecture, discussion and laboratory exercises.


A study of the evolution and comparative structure and function of the organ systems in all major groups of the phylum chordata. Laboratory work requires dissection of lamprey, shark, mud puppy and cat with frequent reference to other representative vertebrates, especially humans.

Biology Electives, 2-6 credits:

Biology/middle–secondary education double majors must take the following courses, which may be applied toward their biology electives:

A study of the organization of ecosystems and human use of natural resources, including problems and opportunities generated by human interaction with the environment. Basic ecological principles are applied to current environmental issues and topics. Environmental case studies and current environmental literature are employed. Laboratory activities include field trips, simulations and other activities designed to enhance lecture topics.


A lecture course involving study of populations, communities and individual organisms in relation to their environment. Abiotic and biotic factors, chemical cycles, population and community ecology and succession are studied in depth. Interaction of organisms with physical and chemical components of the environment is stressed. Use of statistical methods in ecology is covered.

BIO XXX Biology elective


The Biology Program offers a broadly-based biology program that appeals to students with a variety of career interests in biology. Through effective teaching, advising and scholarly activity, the Biology Program prepares students to engage in scientific inquiry and thought, select and pursue appropriate career options, become productive members of our scientific and technological society, and develop an appreciation of their own capabilities and accomplishments.

In addition, the Biology Program services other academic programs at Marian, particularly Nursing and Education. Non-majors coursework targeted primarily to Nursing is offered through the Biology Program. This includes BIO 100 Life Systems, BIO 205 Fundamentals of Anatomy & Physiology and Lab, and BIO 210 Microbiology, taken by pre-nursing majors during their first four semesters at Marian. Secondary Education majors may select Biology as their content area for a double major (Secondary Ed/Biology) and take a prescribed curriculum in biology that specifies certain electives to be taken in addition to the normal requirements for the major. Elementary/Middle Education majors and others often take the Environmental Science minor within the Biology Program.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • Master fundamental knowledge of biology
  • Develop a repertoire of lab and field skills
  • Prepare and deliver accurate scientific information in a professional manner
  • Understand and use scientific method to propose, design, conduct, and interpret research
  • Be able to make informed decisions based on scientific, moral, and ethical principles

Graduates of Marian’s biology program really do find a world of opportunities waiting for them. For many, their path is graduate school, so during their time at Marian they couple their biology major with another major or minor in the sciences, or engage in a pre-professional curriculum. Whether graduate school is in your future or not, the biology program offers outstanding theoretical and practical preparation for careers in medicine, veterinary medicine, optometry, allied health, research, environmental conservation and teaching—many of which are expected to see exceptional job growth through the year 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Over the 3 year period of 2011-14, the average number of graduating biology majors was 13.7 students per year. Of the students who responded to a post-graduation survey, 79% had either found employment in the field or had continued on into graduate school.

The Biology Program administers the ACAT Standardized Exam to its majors at the beginning of freshman year and again at the end of the senior year. The assessment benchmark is to have the overall average for the class at the 50% level or higher and for the class average to be 50 percentile points or higher from freshman to senior level. This benchmark has been achieved for students graduating over the 2012-15 period as shown in the following table, which demonstrates a very sizable increase in student knowledge of biology between freshman and senior years.


The Biology Program has also used VALUE rubrics to assess student’s ability to prepare and deliver accurate scientific information in a profession manner; in the most recent semester evaluated the overall rate of achieving the benchmark has been 90.6%. The Biology Program contributes to the General Education program; in the academic year 2014-2015, 90.8% of students met benchmark levels for knowledge acquisition and 76.7% met benchmark levels for critical thinking.

Employment: 80% of graduates are employed within six months of graduation from the Biology Program.

Marian University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

A key benefit to studying biology at Marian is the true liberal arts core we provide in our academic setting. Think about it. Studying the sciences at a school that is focused on the sciences and scientific research delivers a fairly one-dimensional learning experience. At Marian, you’ll immerse yourself in the theory and practical application of biological principles, while at the same time enhancing your education with exploration of the arts, humanities and social sciences. You’ll see how these areas of inquiry really do interconnect in the real world. And you’ll see how they’re also impacted by things like social justice and service to a greater cause, which are pursuits that have always been a part of Marian’s founding mission.

Biology majors must achieve an average GPA of 2.50 in their biology coursework before graduation. Transfer students must complete one-half of their major and one-third of their minor credits at Marian University.


Ryan Breuer is currently an Extension & Outreach Dairy Field Specialist for the Iowa State University in Northwest Iowa. Formally, Ryan was a veterinarian (Bovine & Food Animal medicine) at a private practice. He attended the University of Wisconsin – Madison Veterinary School after graduating from Marian with majors in Biology and Chemistry. (’08)


Dr. Matthew Zimmerman is an Associate Professor and Director of the Free Radicals in Medicine Program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. After earning a B.S. degree with majors in Biology and Cytotechnology, he attended graduate school at the University of Iowa and earned his Ph.D. in 2004. (’99)


Dan Tenpas is a teacher at Beaver Dam High School. He graduated from Marian University with a B.S. degree with majors in Biology and Middle/Secondary Education, as well as a minor in Environmental Science. (’12)

Susan Bornstein-Forst, Ph.D.

Jessica Brandt, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

John Hammond, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

John Morris, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Lalitha Ramamooorthy, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Lance Urven, Ph.D.

As a student in the biology program, you’ll be presented with countless opportunities to enhance your learning experience and set yourself apart in the eyes of employers and graduate schools. From gaining valuable insights into the human anatomy through dissecting a human cadaver, to exploring amazing habitats and ecosystems in places like Costa Rica and Australia, to working on significant research projects and presenting your findings to the Marian community, the possibilities are endless. In fact, a Marian student recently earned an international fellowship to continue his research on E. coli.

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For more information, please contact:

Office of Admission

John Morris, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor & Chair
Biology Department