Skip to main content
  • Mountain overlay
  • Mountain overlay

Biology

Biology bridges the physical and social sciences in the study of living systems and how they interact - both with each other and the nonliving world. Western's Biology program provides broad training in the biological or life sciences and the rapidly advancing knowledge at the discipline’s forefront.

In addition to general biology, Western offers programs 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 five different emphases for your major. No matter your path, the biology program provides you with an excellent background for graduate and professional school, or for employment in 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. 

Share your interest with friends and family: 
  1. Email this to your friends or family    Share on LinkedIn    Share on Google+    Twitter    Share this on Facebook

  2. Get more information about the program.
  3. Schedule a campus visit so you can meet professors, see the beautiful Gunnison Valley, and find out if Western is the perfect school for you.
  4. Start the online application process - apply online now.
  5. Find scholarships, grants, or financial aid that match your interests and situation.

Profiles

Sean Markey
From truck driver to neurosurgeon thanks to Western and its nurturing professors. 
Zoe Smith
I felt like if I went to Western my success really mattered and they were committed to helping me out. It was the best decision I ever made!
Shannon Shaw
Biology major with Pre-med/Cell Biology emphasis, minor in Chemistry, Thornton Undergraduate Research Committee grant recipient, Pre-Health Science Club president, supplemental instructor for BIOL 150, Chemistry Club Secretary, and much more!
Dan Piquette
Double-major in Environment & Sustainability and Biology, 2014 Jim Olterman Scholarship recipient, Teaching Assistant for Biology, Tri-Beta Biological Honor Society, and so much more!
Cassandra "Cassie" Ortiz
Double-major in Biology and Exercise & Sports Science, minor in Chemistry, Cross Country & Track Team, All-Academic honoree, Student Athletic Advisory Committee, and so much more!
Kevin Alexander works with students researching aquatic life.
“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.”
Patricia Wheeler-Larsen
"My education at Western is the greatest gift I have ever received. It fuels passion in me I never knew I had and has installed a sense of responsibility, gratitude, and overall wellness and excitement that can’t be created in any other place on Earth!"

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

Charlesworth, William Memorial Mathematics and Natural Science 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 sex of the applicant. Preference should be given to applicants from Delta County, Colorado, or from 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 chairman of Mathematics and Computer Science and shall include a representative from the Athletic Department appointed by the Athletic Director. A representative from the Natural Sciences Department shall be on the selection committee.

Application: Contact the Mathematics and Computer Science Department or the Athletic Department for application and deadline information. MCIS Department: (970) 943-2015 - Hurst Hall 128 Athletic Department: (970) 943-2079 - Paul Wright Gym 201

Find out more about Western's Math Program at www.western.edu/mathematics.

Find out more about Western's Chemistry Program at www.western.edu/chemistry.

Find out more about Western's Biology Program at www.western.edu/biology.

Find out more about Western's Geology Program at www.western.edu/geology.

 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.

Scholarship 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).

Scholarship Recipient Selected by:

Sciences Scholarship Selection Committee.

Application: Contact the Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences for application and deadline information. (970) 943-2015 - Hurst Hall 128

Find out more about Western's Biology Program at www.western.edu/biology

 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 and Environmental Sciences for application and deadline information. (970) 943-2015 - Hurst Hall 128

Find out more about Western's Biology Program at www.western.edu/biology

Find out more about Western's Chemistry Program at www.western.edu/chemistry

 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 State Foundation and the Director of Financial Aid.

Application: Contact the Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences for application and deadline information. (970) 943-2015 - Hurst Hall 128

Find out more about Western's Biology Program at www.western.edu/biology

 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 NAES faculty in consultation with the Dean of Students and Bill and Monica McKenny.

Application: Contact the Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences for application and deadline information. (970) 943-2015 - Hurst Hall 128.

Find out more about Western's Physics Program at www.western.edu/physics

Find out more about Western's Biology Program at www.western.edu/biology

Find out more about Western's Chemistry Program at www.western.edu/chemistry

Find out more about Western's Geology Program at www.western.edu/geology

 Nauman, James D. Scholarship

Nauman, James D. Department of Environmental Sciences Scholarship is Available to:

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

Scholarship Provided by:

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

Amount: Award depends on funds available.

Scholarship Recipient Selected by:

Sciences Scholarship Selection Committee.

Application: Contact the Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences for application and deadline information. (970) 943-2015 - Hurst Hall 128

Find out more about Western's Physics Program at www.western.edu/physics

Find out more about Western's Biology Program at www.western.edu/biology

Find out more about Western's Chemistry Program at www.western.edu/chemistry

 Walker, C. Ralph and Florence Memorial Scholarship

Walker, C. Ralph and Florence Memorial Scholarship (Biology, Chemistry, Physics) is Available to:

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

Scholarship 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 the College 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.

Scholarship Selected by:

Sciences Scholarship Selection Committee.

Application: Contact the Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences for application and deadline information. (970) 943-2015 - Hurst Hall 128

Find out more about Western's Physics Program at www.western.edu/physics.

Find out more about Western's Biology Program at www.western.edu/biology.

Find out more about Western's Chemistry Program at www.western.edu/chemistry.

 Joseph A. Kastellic Scholarship

Joseph A. Kastellic Scholarship is Available to:

 Full-time students who are majoring in Environmental Studies, 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.

Find out more about Western's Environmental Studies Program at www.western.edu/environmental-studies

Courses

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

 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.

Faculty & Staff

Faculty

Kevin Alexander headshot
Professor of Biology; Chair, Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences
B.A., University of Texas at Austin, Ph.D., University of North Texas
Phone: (970) 943-3405
Office Location: Hurst Hall 143C
Robin A. Bingham headshot
Professor of Biology
B.A., University of Vermont; M.A., Ph.D., University of Colorado.
Phone: (970) 943-3355
Office Location: Hurst Hall 222
Jonathan Coop headshot
Assistant Professor
B.A., Biology, University of California–Santa Cruz, 1995, Ph.D., Botany, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 2005
Phone: (970) 943-2565
Office Location: Kelly 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. Current
Phone: (970) 943-2437
Office Location: Hurst Hall 128A
Dr. Derek  D. Houston headshot
Thornton Chair in Biology, Lecturer in Biology
B.S. and 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. in Biology, Western State College - Colorado, Ph.D. in Biological Sciences, University of Missouri - Columbia
Phone: 970-943-2256
Office Location: Hurst Hall 218
Patrick Magee headshot
Assistant Professor of Biology
B.S, Colorado State University. M.S., University of Missouri; Ph.D., University of Missouri.
Phone: (970) 943-7121
Office Location: Hurst Hall 143A
Dr. Emily McMahill headshot
Ferchau Lecturer in Biology
B.A., Western State College, PharmD, 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
John Sowell headshot
Emeritus Professor of Biology
B.S., University of California-Davis; Ph.D., University of Idaho.
Phone: 970.943.2063
Office Location:
Error | Western Colorado University

Error

Status message

Created three snippet files based on configuration.
The website encountered an unexpected error. Please try again later.