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Grand Valley State University    
2011-2012 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog 
  Aug 14, 2018
2011-2012 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Biology - Program Description

For additional information about opportunities your college offers, please refer to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences  section in this catalog.

Chair: MacDonald. Professors: Dunn, Griffin, Hunt, Joseph, Lombardo, Luttenton, MacDonald, Menon, Morgan, Northup, Staves, Thorpe; Associate Professors: Blackman, Dietrich, Dobson, Greer, Hollister, Jacquot, Nikitin, Ostrow, Rueth, Snyder, Trier, Vigna; Assistant Professors: Aschenbach, Evans, Ghiasvand, Henshaw, Keenlance, Locher, Matthews, Naegle, Nordman, Russell, Sass, Winther, Woller-Skar.


The study of animals and plants has fascinated people for thousands of years. All of us have wondered at some time about how our bodies are put together and how they function, why plants flower, how organisms interact with each other and respond to the environment, or why some bacteria cause disease and others do not. Biology is an exciting and dynamic field filled with the satisfaction of answers to many questions and the challenge of others waiting to be explained.

As a science, biology offers the opportunity to study and experiment with animals, plants, fungi, and bacteria in the laboratory and outdoors. Biologists make contributions in widely varying areas, including medicine, crop development, biotechnology, wildlife management, environmental preservation, and systematics.

Degrees offered: Master of Science, Biology Concentration in Masters of Education, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts in Biology, Bachelor of Science in Biopsychology, major and minor for secondary teaching certification.

Career Opportunities 

Advances in the field of medicine and the numerous biological problems associated with human beings and their environment provide promising opportunities for work in biology. Careers in biology that require a bachelor’s degree include agronomist, aquatic biologist, biotechnologist, botanist, conservationist, fisheries biologist, genetics technician, horticulturist, marine biologist, microbiologist, quality control technician, park naturalist/ranger, teacher, wastewater plant technician, zoologist, and positions with seed, fertilizer, pesticide, chemical, medical supply, or drug companies, museums, zoos, governmental agencies, and private environmental consulting firms. Many careers in biology require additional training at the graduate or professional level, including college professor, dentist, ecologist, genetic counselor, genetic researcher, marine biologist, medical doctor, molecular biologist, physical therapist, and veterinarian.

Preparation for Graduate School 

Students planning to do graduate work in biology should consult early with their advisors. There is no absolute list of courses required for admission to graduate school. Generally, in addition to mathematics, students will need a full year of physics and two full years of chemistry, including CHM 241 and 242.

Participating Programs

Cell and Molecular Biology (
Students who wish to prepare for careers in biotechnology, biomedicine, cell biology, forensics, genetics, molecular biology, pharmacology, or related fields may wish to consider the genetics, cell and molecular emphasis of the Bachelor of Science in Biology or the interdisciplinary degree, cell and molecular biology (CMB) described elsewhere in the Grand Valley State University Undergraduate and Graduate Catalog. Both programs offer independent research directed by mentors from Grand Valley or area business and research institutes, ensuring that students will get practical experience conducting original research in an area of their interest.

Integrated Science Major for the B.S. Degree (
The integrated science major is designed for students seeking certification to teach at the elementary school level. It provides the student with broad exposure in all the sciences and emphasizes the connections among the scientific disciplines, their relationship with technology, and their relevance to society. In order to be certified students must complete this major and the elementary teaching minor with at least a 2.7 GPA in each. Students are advised to take the MDE subject test after they have completed the major with a 2.7 GPA. 

Integrated Science Secondary Endorsement (
Students who have declared or completed a major and minor in a science discipline may complete additional courses for an Integrated Science Secondary endorsement. The Michigan Department of Education will allow teachers with the Integrated Science Secondary endorsement to teach biology, chemistry, earth science and physics at the secondary level.

Biopsychology Major (
Students interested in this interdisciplinary major should consult the psychology department for specific requirements.

Scholarship Opportunities

Please see the biology department web page for application materials, deadlines, and scholarship amounts, which vary.

Howard and Rose Stein Biology
This scholarship is open to students entering at least their junior undergraduate year. Must be enrolled full time as a biology, natural resources management, or cell and molecular biology degree-seeking student. Cumulative GPA of 3.2 or better. Renewable for one year provided student maintains satisfactory academic progress and required enrollment level.

John Salski Memorial Fund
Applicants must have a minimum overall G.P.A. of 3.0, be an undergraduate majoring in biology or natural resources management, and completed 15 credits in biology or natural resources management at GVSU. The award will only be given for
biology/natural resources management summer enrollment or research.

Huizenga Biology Education Scholarship
Eligibility: Awarded to students entering at least their junior year of study. Must be enrolled as a full-time student with a biology major and seeking secondary teacher certification. Priority will be given to candidates based on a combination of academic merit and financial need. Renewable for a total of four semesters.

The John Shontz Native Plants Biology Scholarship
Eligibility: Candidates must be entering their sophomore, junior or senior year and enrolled with full-time status as a degree-seeking student, majoring in biology with an emphasis in plant biology. 

The Barbara Waddell Native Plants Research Scholars
Eligibility: Candidates must be enrolled with full-time status as a degree-seeking student, majoring in biology or natural resources management. A faculty mentor is required. The candidate must submit a written proposal that demonstrates plans to increase current knowledge about native plants and application of that knowledge to improving and expanding the use of native plants for one or more of the following: gardening, landscaping, ecosystem restoration, eradication of undesirable invasive species, or conservation of native species of plants.

The Arlene Treanor Native Plants Internship
The internship shall be at a wholesale or retail plant nursery or landscaping business and the purpose of the internship shall be to learn about and participate in use of native plants in landscaping. The internship awardee will be chosen from applications that must include the support of a faculty mentor. The awardee will receive reimbursement for travel and materials as well as a stipend.

Student Organizations (

Biology Club - The Biology Club is an academic student organization that provides excellent opportunities for biology students and other majors to get to know faculty, staff, and fellow students who have an interest in the biological sciences. It gives students the chance to interact with the community through a variety of activities. It promotes environmental awareness and seeks to expose members to academic and career opportunities in biology.  The Biology Club is also a great way to learn about biology through recreational activities.

Pre-Vet Club - The Pre-Veterinary Club is an academic student organization devoted to assisting students seeking careers as veterinarians and veterinary technicians by enhancing leadership skills and responsibility as well as providing a friendly, professional and intriguing collegial experience at Grand Valley State University. The purpose of the organization is to provide Grand Valley State University students with guidance and useful information to promote success in the veterinary pathway. The organization also provides volunteer opportunities to enrich the surrounding community, and networking possibilities to allow students to get involved with others in the field.

Honors Organizations

Beta Beta Beta (TriBeta) is an honor society for students, particularly undergraduates, dedicated to improving the understanding and appreciation of biological study and extending boundaries of human knowledge through scientific research. Requirements: undergraduates shall have completed at least one term of the second year of a four-year curriculum, completed at least three courses in biological science, of which at least one is not an introductory course, with an average grade of B or its equivalent in those biology courses, and shall be in good academic standing.

The following programs are available:

Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Biology 

Master of Science in Biology 

Master of Education Advanced Content Specialization in Biology 

Biology Minor