Get Involved

A college education is more than just taking courses. Meet new people, apply your skills and stretch beyond your comfort zone. Make your education an experience.

  • Chemistry Club: Members share their love of chemistry with the community in an annual demonstration that draws hundreds. 
  • Lab Assistantships: Students commonly land positions helping their professors with fieldwork and research. 
  • Pre-health Club:  Brings together students with a common interest in health fields to network and to provide career preparation, advice and peer support. 
  • Thornton Biology Research Program: Students work with faculty mentors on funded, original research.


Dr. Sean Markey


Sean Markey
Sean Markey

Dr. Sean Markey

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

Dr. 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.

Dr. Markey 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 magazine as one of Denver’s top doctors for his work with brain and spine disorders. Dr. Markey currently serves as the Neurosurgical Consultant to the Denver Broncos.

Dr. Markey 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. He and his wife, Kristina, currently reside in Denver and have three daughters. Outside of medicine, Dr. Markey enjoys skiing, biking and automobiles.

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

Faculty & Staff


Shan Hays, Ph.D. headshot
Professor of Biology
Phone: 970.943.2552
Office Location: Hurst Hall 238C
Chris Lee, Ph.D. headshot
Assistant Professor of Biochemistry
Phone: 970.943.2256
Office Location: Hurst Hall 218


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 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 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 471 - Biochemistry I (4 credits)

A study of structural biochemistry and metabolism. The course begins with an overview of the aqueous environment and its effects on solutes, including biomolecules. Other subject matters include the chemistry of proteins, carbohydrates, nucleic acids, and lipids; the mechanisms and kinetics of enzymes; and the stoichiometry and chemistry underlying the core metabolic processes of photosynthesis and cellular respiration. Prerequisites: BIOL 150 and CHEM 332.

 CHEM 472 - Biochemistry II (with laboratory) (4 credits)

A continuation of CHEM 471. A study of the molecular mechanisms by which cellular processes are controlled in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. Topics include the biochemistry of macromolecular processes, the structure of genes and chromosomes, the genetic and molecular techniques used to study gene expression, and the transcriptional and translational control of gene expression. The laboratory includes recombinant DNA techniques to manipulate the genome of a model organism. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisites: BIOL 312 and CHEM 471.

 CHEM 494 - Research Problems in Chemistry ( credits)

An advanced, supervised laboratory or literature research experience involving methods of chemical research in an area of analytical, physical, organic, or biochemistry. A research paper and oral presentation of research results is required. Prerequisite: CHEM 302.

 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 251 - Calculus II (4 credits)

Topics include techniques of integration, area computations, improper integrals, infinite series and various convergence tests, power series, Taylor's Formula, polar coordinates, and parametric curves. Prerequisite: MATH 151 with a minimum grade of "C-."

 PHYS 200 - General Physics I (with laboratory) (4 credits)

A quantitative lecture and laboratory introduction to the basic principles of physics, using the concepts of calculus as a tool. Topics covered include the motions of particles, forces in nature, field concepts, energy, conservation laws, many-particle systems, and thermodynamics. A student may not receive credit for both PHYS 170 and PHYS 200. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisite or Corequisite: MATH 151. GT-SC1

 PHYS 201 - General Physics II (with laboratory) (3 credits)

A continuation of PHYS 200 dealing with electromagnetism, light, and the atomic structure of matter. A student cannot receive credit for both PHYS 171 and 201. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisite: PHYS 200.

  • Bachelor of Science in Chemistry
    • Emphasis


    Biochemistry students explore the critical chemical reactions required to synthesize the macromolecules that organize to make up cells. Understanding these processes is critical for the individualized medicine/patient care that is the future of the health care industries. Furthermore, a strong foundation in the molecular workings of the cell primes students to find careers in the biotech industries.

    The Program

    The Biochemistry program is part of the broader Chemistry major. Students with a biochemistry emphasis study the structure, function and chemical reactions that take place in living systems.

    They explore how biochemical research is performed and gain experience with analytical instrumentation, including infrared spectroscopy, UV-Vis spectroscopy, chromatography and other molecular separation techniques.

    Biochemistry students will learn quantification and analysis of enzyme-catalyzed reactions that occur within a cell. Students will also be exposed to many molecular biology techniques including DNA manipulations, polymerase chain reactions, cloning, transformations, protein expression and protein purification and characterization.

    All biochemistry students are encouraged to participate in their own research projects or work internships to explore whatever their interests may be.

    Careers & Opportunities

    Biochemistry graduates can achieve careers in the pharmaceutical industries, agricultural biotechnology industries, the health care industry, the legal profession, and in many public research areas, such as higher education and governmental agencies, dealing with both primary research and the regulatory environment. 

    Many graduates pursue graduate school opportunities to continue research in many areas of the life sciences. The Biochemistry option within the Chemistry program is a great way to prepare students for entry into medical, dental, physician assistant, veterinary and pharmacy schools. 

    Areas of employment include: 

    • Academic research
    • Bioinformatics
    • Industrial research
    • Medicine
    • Patent law 
    • Pharmaceutical drug development and sales 

    Learn More

    Reach out to Chris Lee, Ph.D. for more information.