Biology

Profiles

Rya Berrigan

~Student~

Rya Berrigan is a Nordic skier and Biology student, with a pre-medicine emphasis.
Rya Berrigan is a Nordic skier and Biology student, with a pre-medicine emphasis.

Rya Berrigan

"I've always wanted to go into the medical field ... I don't remember wanting to do anything else." 

After a childhood spent in Alaska, sophomore Rya Berrigan enrolled at Western, becoming an enthusiastic Pre-Medicine Biology student and an influential Nordic Skier with Western's Mountain Sports teams. 

Rya is part of the Honors Program and works as a Suppliemental Instructor, where she assits General Chemistry students outside of their usual lectures to help them better understand the course material. That's on top of her own coursework as a Biology major, with a Pre-Medicine Cell & Molecular Biology emphasis and a Chemistry minor, to kickstart her dream of entering the medical field. 

"I have always wanted to go into the medical field, ever since I was super little. I don't remember wanting to do anything else," Rya said, saying she has many family friends who work in the health field. "Every time they told a story, I was fascinated." 

Since she has gotten into the major classes of her program, Rya appreciates the flexibility and range of courses offered in the Biology program. 

"It's nice because the Biology program offers a lot of different disciplines. It isn't strictly [focused on] medical all the time. Classes required for your major are geared towards a more general audience, so you get a broad overview of other disciplines," she said. 

Another big factor in Rya's love of Western is the Mountain Sports program, where she competes in Nordic skiing and trail running. 

"I was really competitive at skiing in high school, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to ... ski and do nothing else [in college]," Rya remembers. "It's good knowing I could come [to Western], ski on a competitive team and still do trail running." 

According to Greg Chase, director of Mountain Sports, Rya was "pivotal in the team's second place finish at the Women's USCSA Nationals in Lake Placid for Nordic skiing." 

Her performance at Lake Placid meant that she qualified for the World University Games held in Krasnoyarsk, Russia in March 2019. 

"I'm really excited for the competition, to travel to Russia, hopefully meet a lot of athletes from around the world and I'm hoping to feel really good during the races," Rya said. 

Overall, Rya thinks that Western stands out not only for its campus, faculty and small class sizes, but also for its proximity to many outdoor activities. 

"[Western has] so many opportunities to go places and do so many cool outdoor activities. For me ... I can be skiing or running, or drive to Moab in the desert and bike," she said. 

 

Jonathan Coop, Ph.D.

~Faculty~

Jonathan Coop smiles at the camera
Jonathan Coop smiles at the camera

Jonathan Coop, Ph.D.

“I’m really proud we can produce high-quality research and publish papers in scientific journals with my students. We’re out on the cutting edge of our field learning the things we don’t know yet."

Jonathan Coop, Ph.D. is a forest ecologist who studies how natural systems are affected by land use, fire suppression and climate change. Coop works with land managers to test, develop and look at intervention strategies to try to maintain forests and systems, or to make forests and systems more resilient in a time of certain change.

“I think there are reasons to be deeply pessimistic,” he said. “Looking at the state of the natural environment and our effects on it and how affectively we are addressing that or not, getting really depressed and pessimistic is a very rational response … but there is evidence that society can change in response to changing values and information. It just requires getting to a certain threshold or critical mass.”

Born and raised in Los Alamos, New Mexico, Coop vividly remembers the 1977 La Mesa Fire. In the decades to follow, the 1996 Dome Fire and 2000 Cerro Grande Fire sparked Coop’s interest to conduct his dissertation research in his hometown. More recent blazes such as the 2011 La Conchas Fire have only furthered Coop’s interest in the area.

“[Los Alamos] has been a formative landscape for me. I have a vivid memory of being in my backyard and seeing this plume of smoke and little pieces of ash falling on my town,” he said. “I’m seeing the effects of these unintentional human influences on the natural environment … and they are super gnarly.”

Now a professor 250 miles up the road from his hometown, Coop has found home in the heart of the Rockies since his arrival ten years ago.  He’s a father, mountain biker, skier, rafter, percussionist and sauerkraut-fermenter—and still finds time to work on “science projects” in this free time. In the classroom and field, Coop puts particular attention on involving his students in real research.

“It’s never like, ‘oh you’re the student and I’m the professor,’” he said. “I’m really proud we can produce high-quality research and publish papers in scientific journals with my students. We’re out on the cutting edge of our field learning the things we don’t know yet. I’m really stoked about it.”

Coop’s interest in involving his students in research runs deeper than producing papers. Sure, it’s a way to pique their interest and is a surefire resume-bolster for students, but the interest they take thereafter is the torch that will carry ecological research and action into future generations.

“My students have taught me why I should be hopeful about the future of the world,” he said. “My biggest accomplishments are when I’m able to get them excited about what I’m excited about. And I don’t want to take too much credit for that because I think it’s already all in there, but I’m proud when I can give students the context and opportunities for that passion to come through.”

Alexia Abric

~Student~

Alexia Abric Headshot
Alexia Abric Headshot

Alexia Abric

As an Honors Program student, Mountain Sports athlete and an active member of the Academic Leadership Program, Alexia is versatile in terms of academics as well as athletics. 

A native of Hayward, Wisconsin, Alexia Abric left high school wanting to go somewhere different, with her sights set on medical school.

This, combined with her previous experience working in the medical field, led Alexia to Western’s Biology program.                                                                                            

“I was looking for a program that had a pre-med [focus], strong acceptance rates for medical school and high Medical College Admission Test scores. Western’s Biology program was great for that,” Alexia said. “I’ve always wanted to go into the health field because I love interacting with people.”

Her interest in medicine would soon bring Alexia to declare a second major in Exercise and Sport Science (ESS) during her second semester at Western. With the potential to enter into sports medicine or physical rehab, Alexia says that her interest in medical school and ESS “overlap really well.”

Western’s small class sizes have also helped Alexia foster meaningful connections in the classroom; she remembers bonding with Chemistry professor Anne Ryter, Ph.D. over their shared home state.

“We clicked the first day of class,” Alexia said. “She was asking where [everyone] was from, and she got the brightest look when I said I was from Wisconsin, and it grew from there. I go see her for help in other classes, and to hang out … and she goes to ski races.”

As an Honors Program student and an active member of the Academic Leadership Program, Alexia is versatile in terms of academics as well as athletics. She’s active on two of Western’s Mountain Sports teams: mountain biking and Nordic skiing.

“I’ve been skiing since 7th grade, and I started biking as a junior in high school—so when I found out I could do both at Western, it was a big selling point,”Alexia said.

Initially, she only planned on pursuing Nordic skiing in college, but that changed when she met endurance coach Ellie Atkins, who convinced Alexia to compete in mountain biking, as well.

“I started practicing with the team and … pushing myself to new limits,” Alexia recalled. “Getting to know myself through biking has helped me discover more things that I’m capable of.”

Ultimately, Alexia says, passionate people are what set Western apart.

“It is really cool to be around people who are driven and excited about what they’re doing,” Alexia said. “People are doing the things they want to do out here because they love them—which is so unique!”

Ellie Orr

~Student~

Ellie Orr
Ellie Orr

Ellie Orr

“The people I’ve met, the surrounding environment … and the supportive professors combined have really made [Western] a great place. I know I’m never going to want to leave.”

Snowboarding, bats and butterflies: these are the things that have kept junior Ellie Orr busy.

Originally from Ohio, Ellie was drawn to the Rocky Mountains by Western’s Wildlife Biology major and unique outdoor opportunities.

“We have a great Biology program and the Mountain Sports program, those were my top two factors,” said Ellie, who plans to pursue a Masters in Ecology—one of Western’s upcoming graduate programs.  

Even as a junior, Ellie has already accumulated a wealth of academic experience; she studied the endangered Uncompahgre fritillary butterfly the summer after her freshman year and completed a bat acoustic monitoring project for the Gunnison Bureau of Land Management following her sophomore year.

Over the course of that summer, Ellie completed every step of the research, from pre-planning and using the equipment to collecting and analyzing data.

“It was fun,” she said. “The biggest takeaway was learning how research will work in the future and getting hands-on experience doing it on my own.”

Her enthusiasm doesn’t stop with academics; Ellie was also the first woman to join the Mountain Sports Big Mountain Freeride snowboard team.

One of the challenges, she said, was “keeping up with the boys.”

“Our first trip was me and 28 guys,” she recalls, noting that adapting from the park snowboard team to the freeride team was particularly difficult.

“It’s a struggle … It’s more technical, but I love being a diverse snowboarder.”

But, she says, the athletes are just as adamant about forging friendships as they are about their competitions.

“[During] our first competition at the Canadian Open, I took third and the whole team cheered when I got up there. It felt like I’d accomplished something, and it felt great to have a whole team of people supporting me,” Ellie said.  

The common thread between her passion for snowboarding and for Wildlife Biology is their mutual involvement in environmental matters.

“My biggest thing is wanting to have an impact on our environment through researching things like climate change,” she said. “Our professors are trying to give us [hands-on] experience.”

Overall, it’s those experiences Ellie has had with her professors and with her team that set Western apart.

“The people I’ve met, the surrounding environment … and the supportive professors combined have really made it a great place. I know I’m never going to want to leave.”

Dr. Sean Markey

~Alumnus~

Sean Markey
Sean Markey

Dr. Sean Markey

From truck driver to neurosurgeon thanks to Western and its nurturing professors. 

Dr. Sean Markey - Outstanding Alumnus

Sean Markey is a 1993 graduate of Western. He earned his medical degree in 1997 from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, where he also completed his surgical internship and neurosurgery residency. He is board certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery.

Sean has served as the Director of Neurosurgery at Littleton Adventist Hospital and currently serves as the Director of Neurosurgery at Parker Adventist Hospital. He also serves as faculty for a number of medical device companies, which includes ongoing work in the development of new spinal surgery techniques. He has been listed in 5280: Denver’s Mile-High Magazine as one of the city’s top doctors for his work with brain and spine disorders. Sean currently serves as the Neurosurgical Consultant to the Denver Broncos.

Sean is an active member of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the Colorado Neurosurgical Society, the Congress of Neurological Surgeons and the Western Neurological Society. Sean and his wife, Kristina, currently reside in Denver, Colorado and have three daughters. Outside of medicine Sean enjoys skiing, biking and automobiles.

Dr. Markey spoke at the 2015 Commencement Ceremony for Western Colorado University. 

Kevin Alexander, Ph.D.

“I like to think I'm a pretty good generalist. I do a lot with biological diversity, water quality, conservation easements and riparian biology along rivers and streams.”

Kevin Alexander, Ph.D. is a specialist in aquatic invertebrates, but has taught a wide range of Biology courses and been involved in almost equally eclectic research.

 “I like to think I'm a pretty good generalist,” he says. ”I do a lot with biological diversity, water quality, conservation easements and riparian biology along rivers and streams.”

And he’s a popular instructor in Western’s Biology department.

For the past dozen summers, he has also managed a team of students from across the country as they track and document the isolated and endangered Uncompahgre fritillary butterfly. It’s a tiny creature, first identified more than 30 years back, and found only on some of the higher peaks in the San Juan Range of the Rockies in southwest Colorado. Alexander’s young son has even joined the team on some of their outings.

Alexander is also known as the owner, with his wife, of the Gunnison Brewery on Main Street, which has been around about as long as his butterfly project. They hire brewers to make the beer, but Alexander says he trains them and ensures they keep producing the quality brews he requires.

“The fun thing with making beer is it’s a little bit of science and a little bit of art,” he explains. “There are certain parameters you have to hit, but beyond that, it’s a matter of taste.”

Alexander earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas and his PhD in Aquatic Biology from North Texas University, with his dissertation research focused on stone flies. His ongoing research projects, beside the butterflies, include biomonitoring and assessment of streams, biodiversity of aquatic insects in the West, riparian and watershed assessments, and baseline studies in conservation biology.

He teaches courses ranging from Limnology and Aquatic Biology to Zoology and Conservation Biology. And as with the butterfly project, Alexander helps undergraduates with original research, taking them and their posters to scientific conferences.

Scholarships

Scholarships associated with academic programs usually have a specific scholarship application form that can easily be obtained by contacting that academic program's office or visiting that academic program's web page. If you have any questions, please contact the Financial Aid office at 970.943.3085 or 800.876.5309. To find scholarships based on year of study (e.g. - Freshmen Scholarships), please see the navigation to the left.

 Charlesworth, William Memorial Scholarship

Available to:

The applicant has applied to and has been accepted for admission to Western Colorado University and is pursuing a major in Mathematics or related natural sciences. The applicant has demonstrated a need for financial assistance. The applicant has demonstrated an interest and is active in inter-collegiate athletics. Preference should be given to entering freshmen; however, all classes, freshmen through senior, are eligible. Preference should be given to applicants whose study time is limited by family obligations or the need to earn income. No preference should be given based on the gender of the applicant. Preference should be given to applicants from Delta County, CO or the Western Slope of Colorado.

Scholarship Provided by:

Established with the Western Colorado University Foundation to perpetuate the memory of William Charlesworth, a 1954 graduate of Western Colorado University. The express purpose of the fund is to provide financial assistance to student-athletes pursuing majors in mathematics or related natural sciences.

Amount:

Award depends on funds available.

Scholarship Recipient Selected by:

Chaired by the chair of Mathematics & Computer Science Department and shall include a representative from the Athletic Department appointed by the Athletic Director. A representative from the Natural & Environmental Sciences Department shall be on the selection committee.

Application:

Contact the Mathematics & Computer Science Department or the Athletic Department for application and deadline information. Mathamatics & Computer Science Department: 970.943.2015 (Hurst Hall 128) Athletic Department: 970.943.2079 (Paul Wright Gym 201)

 Ferchau, Hugo A. Memorial Scholarship

Ferchau, Hugo A. Memorial Biology Scholarship is Available to:

A full-time student at Western Colorado University. Must maintain a cumulative GPA average of 3.0 and have obtained at least sophomore status. Must demonstrate an interest and capability to pursue studies and/or research in the area of botany and native plant research (Biology). Preference will be given to those with financial need.

Provided by:

Family and friends to honor Dr. Ferchau for the never-ending assistance he gave to students at Western.

Amount:

Award depends on funds available (anticipated award $2400).

Selected by:

Sciences Scholarship Selection Committee

Application:

Contact the Department of Natural & Environmental Sciences for application and deadline information. 970.943.2015 - Hurst Hall 128

Learn more about Western's Biology Program

 Lawrence, A. W. Memorial Scholarship

Lawrence, A.W. Biology and Chemistry Scholarship is Available to:

Students majoring in Biology or Chemistry.

Scholarship Provided by:

Family and friends of Aubrey W. Lawrence who served as Professor of Chemistry and Chairman of the Division of Natural Science and Mathematics.

Amount:

Award depends on funds available.

Scholarship Recipient Selected by:

Science Scholarship Selection Committee.

Application:

Contact the Department of Natural & Environmental Sciences for application and deadline information. 970.943.2015 - Hurst Hall 128

Learn more about Western's Biology Program

Learn more about Western's Chemistry Program

 Light, Dr. Mason and Betty Scholarship

Light, Dr. Mason and Betty Biology Scholarship Available to:

Recipient must be a junior or senior and a full-time student attending Western Colorado University for the term following the scholarship award; must have obtained at least a 3.0 GPA; must be engaged in pre-medical studies.

Scholarship Provided by:

Dr. Mason Light, who served the college community for over forty years while he was a practicing physician in Gunnison. He and his wife established this scholarship.

Amount:

Award depends on funds available.

Scholarship Recipient Selected by:

Donor Scholarship Committee (Family of Mason Light) in cooperation with Western Colorado University Foundation and the Director of Financial Aid.

Application:

Contact the Department of Natural & Environmental Sciences for application and deadline information. 970.943.2015 - Hurst Hall 128

Learn more about Western's Biology Program

 Mckenny, Casey James Memorial Scholarship

Mckenny, Casey James Memorial, Natural and Environmental Sciences Scholarship is Available to:

Full-time students at Western who are Juniors or Seniors (qualified Juniors shall be given preference over Seniors). Must be a declared major in Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences. Must maintain a GPA of 3.2 or greater. Recipients must follow Casey's example of academic promise, love for the outdoors and service to fellow students demonstrated by volunteering in the community and involvement in campus activities and service.

Scholarship Provided by:

Gifts by Bill and Monica McKenny, Casey's parents, as well as other family members and friends.

Amount: Award depends on funds available.

Scholarship Recipient Selected by:

Western Natural & Environmental Sciences faculty in consultation with the Dean of Students and Bill and Monica McKenny.

Application: Contact the Department of Natural & Environmental Sciences for application and deadline information. 970.943.2015 (Hurst Hall 128)

Learn more about Western's Physics Program.

Learn more about Western's Biology Program.

Learn more about Western's Chemistry Program.

Learn more about Western's Geology Program.

 Nauman, James D. Scholarship

Available to:

Full-time, Colorado residents who have a major in a field within the Natural & Environmental Science Department. Must have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 and demonstrated financial need.

Provided by:

Dr. James Nauman, who attended Western from 1945-49.

Amount:

Award depends on funds available.

Selected by:

Sciences Scholarship Selection Committee.

Application:

Contact the Natural & Environmental Sciences Department  for application and deadline information. 970.943.2015 - Hurst Hall 128

Learn more about Western's Physics Program.

Learn more about Western's Biology Program.

Learn more about Western's Chemistry Program.

 Walker, C. Ralph and Florence Memorial Scholarship

Available to:

Full-time students at Western Colorado University; must have declared a major in Biology, Chemistry or Physics.

Provided by:

Gifts from members of the Walker family to perpetuate the memory and to commemorate the service and devotion of C. Ralph and Florence Walker, who both served Western and the Gunnison community in an exemplary manner for many years. Professor Walker was Chairman of Western's then Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

Amount:

Award depends on funds available.

Selected by:

Sciences Scholarship Selection Committee.

Application:

Contact the Natural & Environmental Sciences Department for application and deadline information. 970.943.2015 - Hurst Hall 128

 Joseph A. Kastellic Scholarship

Joseph A. Kastellic Scholarship is Available to:

 Full-time students who are majoring in Environment & Sustainability, Environmental Biology or a related field. Must be junior level (60 credits) or above and have a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA. Preference given to students with financial need who are residents of the Western Slope of Colorado and have expressed interest in a career in park operations/park management or a career in the earth sciences.

Environmental Studies Scholarship Provided by:

Barbara Kastellic and gifts from others to honor Joseph, who was the first Superintendent of the Black Canyon National Monument from 1975-1984.

Amount: 

Award depends on funds available.

Application: 

Complete and submit The Joseph A. Kastellic Scholarship application which is available in the Office of Financial Aid. A recommendation and a one-page essay will be needed to complete the application.

Learn more about Western's Environment & Sustainability program. 

Learn more about Western's Biology program. 

Faculty & Staff

Faculty

Kevin Alexander, Ph.D. headshot
Professor of Biology; Chair, Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences
B.A., The University of Texas at Austin, Biology, 1991, Ph.D., University of North Texas, Biology, 1997
Phone: 970.943.3405
Office Location: Hurst Hall 143C
Robin A. Bingham headshot
Professor of Biology
B.A., University of Vermont, M.A., University of Colorado, Ph.D., University of Colorado
Phone: 970.943.3355
Office Location: Hurst Hall 222
Jonathan Coop headshot
Assistant Professor
B.A., University of California–Santa Cruz, Biology, 1995, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin–Madison, Botany, 2005
Phone: 970.943.2565
Office Location: Kelley Hall 105
Brian Dalton headshot
Lecturer in Biology
B.A., Occidental College, Ph.D., University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Phone: 970.943.2287
Office Location: Hurst Hall 132
Peter H. Gauss headshot
Professor of Biology
B.S., St. Joseph’s University , Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University
Phone: 970.943.2094
Office Location: Hurst Hall 238B
Dr. Shan Hays headshot
Associate Professor of Biology
B.A., University of Colorado, B.A., University of Colorado, Ph.D., University of Oregon
Phone: 970.943.2552
Office Location: Hurst Hall 238C
Amy Honan headshot
Biology Laboratory Coordinator
B.A., Western Colorado University, M.S., San Francisco State University, Ph.D. candidate , University of Washington, Seattle
Phone: 970.943.2437
Office Location: Hurst Hall 128A
Derek  D. Houston, Ph.D. headshot
Thornton Chair in Biology, Lecturer in Biology
B.S., Brigham Young University, M.S., Brigham Young University, Ph.D., University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Phone: 970.943.2269
Office Location: Hurst Hall 143B
Chris Lee headshot
Assistant Professor in Biochemistry
B.A., Western Colorado University, Biology, Ph.D., University of Missouri - Columbia, Biological Sciences
Phone: 970.943.2256
Office Location: Hurst Hall 218
Patrick Magee headshot
Assistant Professor of Biology
B.S., Colorado State University, Wildlife Biology, M.S., University of Missouri, Wildlife Ecology, Ph.D., University of Missouri, Wildlife Ecology
Phone: 970.943.7121
Office Location: Hurst Hall 143A
Emily McMahill, Pharm.D. headshot
Ferchau Lecturer in Biology
B.A., Western Colorado University; , Pharm.D., Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Pharmacy
Phone: 970.943.2311
Office Location: Hurst Hall 225
Cassandra L. Osborne headshot
Professor of Biology
B.S., Allegheny College, Ph.D., Dartmouth College
Phone: 970.943.3181
Office Location: Hurst Hall 238A

Courses

FOR REQUIRED COURSES AND DEGREE PLANS, VISIT THE OFFICIAL UNIVERSITY CATALOG. This is a sample of courses offered by Western Colorado University. To ensure the courses you need are offered during the current semester, please visit the university course search.

 BIOL 130 - Environmental Biology (3 credits)

An introduction to basic biological principles as they apply to interactions between organisms and their environment. Consideration is given to biotic and abiotic interactions, energy flow, biogeochemical cycling, population growth, biodiversity, basic cell biology, genetics, and evolution with a special emphasis on human impacts on these biological systems. This course establishes a strong foundation in applied biology from a scientific perspective.

 BIOL 150 - Biological Principles (with laboratory) (4 credits)

An introduction to the central unifying concepts of biology including the biochemical foundations of life, cell structure and function, cell metabolism, genetics, and evolution. Laboratories introduce students to the process and methods of science through investigative experiences. This course is designed for the science major. A year of high school biology and a year of high school chemistry are highly recommended. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisites: University Entry-Level Expectations met for mathematics and English.

 BIOL 151 - Diversity and Patterns of Life (with laboratory) (4 credits)

An overview of organismal diversity and evolution. Through a taxonomic survey, students are introduced to prokaryotic and eukaryotic diversity and evolution including microorganisms, fungi, plants, and animals. Fundamentals of evolution including the history of life, evidence for common ancestry, mechanisms of evolutionary change, and speciation are covered. Organismic structure, function, and ecology are also explored. Laboratories introduce students to the process and methods of science through investigative experiences. This course is designed for the science major. A year of high school biology and a year of high school chemistry are highly recommended. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisites: University Entry-Level Expectations met for mathematics and English.

 BIOL 301 - General Ecology (3 credits)

An introduction to basic ecological principles and their relationships to natural systems. Human impact on the natural systems is assessed. Prerequisites: BIOL 150 and BIOL 151. Prerequisite or corequisite: COM 202.

 BIOL 310 - Cell Biology (3 credits)

An introduction to cellular function and structure. Prerequisites: BIOL 150 and BIOL 151. Prerequisite or corequisite: CHEM 231 or CHEM 331; and COM 202.

 BIOL 312 - Genetics (4 credits)

A course in Mendelian inheritance, linkage, chromosomal aberrations, molecular genetics, gene regulation, genetic engineering, and population genetics. Prerequisites: BIOL 301, BIOL 310, CHEM 231, and CHEM 234; or CHEM 331.

 CHEM 111 - General Chemistry I (3 credits)

An introductory course designed for science majors focusing on principles and applications of chemistry. Topics covered in this course are stoichiometry, bonding models, intermolecular forces, and periodic trends. Prerequisite or corequisite: MATH 140 or Accuplacer college-level mathematics test score of 85 or above, ACT math score of 24 or above, or instructor permission.

 CHEM 112 - General Chemistry Laboratory I (1 credits)

An introduction to basic laboratory techniques of inorganic chemistry correlating with CHEM 111. Experiments emphasize techniques, instrumentation, and solution chemistry. Laboratory notebookkeeping and the safe handling and disposal of laboratory chemicals are also stressed. Additional course fee applies. Corequisite: CHEM 111.

 CHEM 113 - General Chemistry II (3 credits)

A continuation of CHEM 111. Topics covered are thermodynamics, kinetics, equilibrium, electrochemistry, and nuclear chemistry. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisite: CHEM 111 with a minimum grade of C-.

 CHEM 114 - General Chemistry Laboratory II (1 credits)

A continuation of CHEM 112. An introduction to basic laboratory techniques of inorganic chemistry correlating with CHEM 113. Experiments emphasize techniques, instrumentation, and solution chemistry. Laboratory notebookkeeping and the safe handling and disposal of laboratory chemicals are also stressed. Prerequisite: CHEM 112. Corequisite: CHEM 113.

 CHEM 231 - Introduction to Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry (3 credits)

A descriptive survey course which introduces the essential topics and applications of organic chemistry and biochemistry. The course is designed for non-majors who need the second semester of a one-year chemistry core that includes general, organic, and biochemistry.This course may not be counted for credit toward the Chemistry Major or Minor. Prerequisite: CHEM 101 or CHEM 113.

 CHEM 234 - Introductory Organic and Biochemistry Laboratory (1 credits)

An introductory laboratory to accompany CHEM 231. Experiments focus on reactions of organic functional groups, organic synthesis, and the chemistry of biological molecules.This course may not be counted for credit toward the Chemistry Major or Minor. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisite or corequisite: CHEM 231.

 MATH 151 - Calculus I (4 credits)

A study of differential calculus, including limits, continuous functions, Intermediate Value Theorem, tangents, linear approximation, inverse functions, implicit differentiation, extreme values and the Mean Value Theorem. This course also introduces Integral calculus including anti-derivatives, definite integrals, and the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus. Prerequisite: ACT math score of 27 or above; SAT math score of 630 or above; MATH 141 with a minimum grade of C-; or Accuplacer university-level mathematics test with a score of 95 or above. GT-MA1

 MATH 213 - Probability and Statistics (3 credits)

A course in the use of statistical techniques to draw knowledge from data. Topics include exploratory data analysis, descriptive statistics, t-procedures, ANOVA, chi squared procedures, regression, and non-parametric tests. Statistical software is used extensively to analyze real data sets. Prerequisite: MATH 141 with a minimum grade of C-, or Accuplacer university-level mathematics test score of 85 or above; or instructor permission. GT-MA1

 PHYS 140 - Introductory Physics (with laboratory) (4 credits)

A semi-quantitative introduction to the fundamental concepts of physical science, particularly the laws of physics as they relate to the structure of matter. Laboratory experiences play an important role in the investigations. This course may not be taken for credit toward the Physics Minor. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisite: ACT math score of 19 or above; SAT math score of 500 or above; MATH 099; Accuplacer Elementary Algebra test score of 85 or above.

Biology bridges the physical and social sciences in the study of the interaction of living systems and the non-living world. Western's Biology program provides broad training in the biological sciences and the rapidly advancing knowledge at the discipline’s forefront.

The Program

In addition to a general biology major, Western offers program emphases in the following areas:

What Will You Learn? What Skills Will You Acquire?

You will take a core of basic courses and choose one of the above emphases for your major. No matter your path, the biology program provides an excellent background for graduate and professional school, or for employment in the field of biological science. Student successes include conducting independent, cutting-edge research and presenting at conferences.

Beyond the Classroom  

Through hands-on activities at our outstanding indoor laboratories and in the living laboratory of the Gunnison Basin, you will work side by side with your faculty to explore wildlife biology, conservation, developmental biology, evolutionary ecology, aquatic ecology, virology and genomics.

After Graduation

Our small classes mean you receive individual attention and faculty mentoring, making Western's biology program ideal for career preparation, or for medical, professional or graduate school. We’ll help you find your future in the life sciences.

Next Steps

If you're interested in Western's Biology Program, we invite you to take the next steps towards becoming a part of the Mountaineer family. 

Begin your application process here