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Biology

About half of Augustana biology majors go to graduate school for basic biology, genetics and ecology, or medical, dental, nursing or veterinarian programs.

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Augustana offers a biology major and minor, a biology teaching major and a major in pre-medicine, plus coordinated degree programs and affiliation with graduate programs in the professional health sciences.

Careers and internships

About half of Augustana biology majors go to graduate school for basic biology, genetics and ecology, or medical, dental, nursing or veterinarian programs. Others go on for graduate studies in optometry, occupational therapy, pharmacy, physical therapy or physician assistant careers.

Graduates may be found at the universities and medical schools of Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, California State, Southern Illinois, Western Illinois, Northwestern and many more.

Augustana graduates who go straight into their careers are employed at hospitals, industry and government. Among them are Eli Lilly, Abbott Laboratories, Amoco, the Shedd Aquarium, the FBI and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Many biology majors participate in Augustana's summer Texas Medical Center Internship Program in Houston. For example, 2013 grad Doug Peters worked in Dr. Mary K. Estes's molecular virology lab at Baylor College of Medicine. Peters is currently in the doctorate program in microbiology at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

This storytelling map shows where some biology graduates are and what they're doing.

Recent graduates:

Lauren Hoffman '14 is a graduate student in prosthetics and orthotics at Northwestern University.

Jimmy Wiebler '14 is a graduate student in ecophysiological cryobiology at Miami University, Ohio.

Emma Baldwin '13 Grosz is the North America zookeeper at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in southern California after having an internship there.

Kai Yin (Queenie) Ho '13 is studying biological anthropology at St. John's College, University of Cambridge, through the Davies-Jackson Scholarship.

Distinctions

Biology is the primary major for students in the pre-professional health fields: medicine, veterinary medicine, physical therapy, occupational therapy, optometry and dentistry. Students can begin the general biology major and choose a specific program later.

All biology majors are required to engage in the scientific process by conducting a research project before they graduate. Most complete research projects on campus, for example as part of the Senior Inquiry curriculum. Many others are accepted into off-campus research experiences, including internships, in a diversity of biology-related environments and locations, which can be viewed in this storytelling map of current students.

Facts and distinctions

The 13 department faculty all have a Ph.D. and specialize in different areas. All teach both lecture and lab portions of their classes.

Augustana's international study terms often include biology work, such as ethnozoology in Latin America, conservation in Ghana and health care internships in Australia.

Augustana ranks among the top 60 U.S. small liberal arts colleges in the sciences, based on the number of graduates earning a Ph.D.

Augustana offers study in a human cadaver lab, one of very few undergraduate institutions to do so.

The college owns three environmental field stations totaling more than 600 acres. Courses at the stations include study of local flora, entomology, aquatic biology and environmental sampling for vertebrates. Research includes prairie restoration, animal ecology and conservation biology.

What students say

Emma Baldwin '13, biology and Spanish; working at The Living Desert Zoo in southern California after completing an internship there

"My Augustana experience helped my land my dream job. I used my Augie Choice funds to intern at The Living Desert during my senior year, and I got hired at the zoo directly after graduating. The zoo field is very competitive and can be difficult to break into. My internship strongly fueled my desire to be employed at The Living Desert, gave me valuable zookeeping experience, and successfully got my foot in the door. As a freshman, I also didn’t realize the value of a liberal arts education—but now I know it is vital in becoming the well-rounded individual today’s employers are looking for."

Hannah Hart '13, biology and pre-veterinary medicine; attending the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine

"Attending vet school was always my goal, but I don’t think I realized how much I would grow personally and academically in my four years at Augustana. There are so many resources on campus to help students get where they want to go, and I found myself surrounded by the most amazing, driven, talented and passionate students, faculty and staff. I know that they played a big part in my development into a more confident individual and a more able scientist. I didn’t imagine that I would achieve such growth when I started my undergraduate career."

Kai Yin (Queenie) Ho '13, anthropology and biology; studying biological anthropology at St. John's College, University of Cambridge, after receiving the $50,000 Davies-Jackson Scholarship

"I chose Augustana College because of its emphasis on the liberal arts. I knew that at Augie I could pursue interests and studies in disciplines besides my major. Before moving to the United States, my family spent several years in Guam, where I became interested in cultural studies. During high school, I was introduced to the biological sciences, and I have been pursuing both interests ever since. Now I am pursuing a course of study in biological anthopology at my dream school. I couldn’t ask for more."

Lauren Hoffman '14, biology, minor in physics; graduate student in prosthetics and orthotics at Northwestern University

"Before Augustana, I attended Purdue University. I realized that it was too big for me, and I didn't feel that I was getting the most out of my education. I was terrified going through the transfer process. I was comfortable with Purdue and was afraid of losing what I'd built-however, I didn't want to just be OK with where I was and I made the switch to Augie. It's a decision I will never regret.

My professors have helped prepare me for school beyond Augustana. Whether it is staying to help even after office hours are over, or helping you understand how to solve a partial derivative for the fifth time, they genuinely want their students to succeed."

Jimmy Wiebler '14, biology, minor in biochemistry; graduate student in ecophysiological cryobiology at Miami University, Ohio

"I came to Augustana with a naïve interest in dentistry, but my coursework and research experiences inspired me to become a biologist. I owe
thanks to all my professors at Augustana, but Dr. Tim Muir inspired me to change my career path, and he has helped define my position today. It started with a simple question he asked me in his Human Physiology course my sophomore year: "Want to help me catch turtles over the summer?"
I eagerly accepted and joined his research team shortly after. I've wanted to become a biologist ever since."

Lizeth Galarza '11, biology, minor in sociology; microbiologist at Baxter Healthcare, a global pharmaceutical company in Rockford, Illinois

"I actually was set on being a doctor when I came to Augustana. That is one of the many advantages of obtaining a liberal arts education; it allows you
to explore different vocational venues. I eventually realized that I could do great things with my talents. That is why I decided to pursue a career in public health.

My experience in Nicaragua on a service medical trip has been by far the most life-changing. On this trip, I would do public health home visits in a few of the impoverished rural towns that surrounded the bigger cities of Nicaragua. In my last home visit, I met the most charismatic 96-year-old woman, and before I left, she said to me, ‘Thank you for not forgetting about us.' A 96-year-old woman who has numerous chronic diseases and lives in a house made out of palm leaves and scrap metal was thanking me for taking a five minute ride in an air-conditioned bus to visit her. Her gratitude will serve as one of my many motivators to continue a career in public health."

Claire Kepner and furry friend

From Augie to Alaska, one grad pursues her field in the mountains

One-hundred percent of Augustana’s pre-veterinary graduates continued to veterinary school in 2017. Claire Kepner’s program took her to Alaska.

Scott Gehler at Last Lecture

Five Questions: Dr. Scott Gehler

Dr. Scott Gehler, assistant professor of biology, discusses the interconnectedness of cancer biology across disciplines, and witnessing students’ “ah-ha” moments.

Rural buildings pose greater threat to birds

Augustana professor of biology Dr. Stephen Hager is the lead author of a new paper that finds larger buildings in rural areas pose a greater threat to birds than if those buildings were in an urban area. About a billion birds are killed every year when they fly into buildings.