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The primary mission of the Department of Biological Sciences is to provide an exceptional education to both undergraduate and graduate students. This mission is achieved by maintaining small class sizes staffed by full-time faculty and offering courses that have a laboratory component that facilitates participatory learning. The core curriculum in the biological sciences provides students with a broad range of subject courses and individual attention that strengthens communication. quantitative and analytical skills. In addition, curricular concentrations offer the option of specialization leading to employment upon graduation or preparation for postgraduate education.

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The department encourages its faculty to engage in scholarly activity and advocates research publication and the acquisition of extramural funding. Scholarship enhances the stature of the department and the university, adds current information to lecture material, and helps to secure technologically advanced laboratory equipment for the classroom. In addition, research-active faculty provide opportunities for students to participate in new and ongoing research projects under the guidance of a scientist-mentor. 

The Department of Biological Sciences also serves the university by maintaining the high quality of pre-professional programs and supporting course work in general education as well as other disciplines, principally Family and Consumer Sciences, Health Studies, Physical Education, Recreation Administration and Chemistry. The department works closely with the College of Education and Professional Studies in training biology teachers for secondary schools and is strengthening ties with other departments in the environmental sciences. Finally, faculty serve on university committees and function as consultants to city government. nonprofit organizations, public schools and industry.research projects under the guidance of a scientist-mentor.

The Department of Biological Sciences offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Biological Sciences. When students complete a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences, they are prepared for exciting careers in the sciences and eligible for graduate study in master or doctoral programs or health-related fields (e.g., chiropractors, clinical laboratory scientists, dentists, nurses, optometrists, pharmacists, physical therapists, physicians, and veterinarians). Visit our careers in biological sciences webpage to explore the possibilities.

The department offers a broad spectrum of courses, most of which include investigative laboratories that appeal to a wide diversity of students. Introductory biology classes for majors typically have 32 or fewer students, with advanced courses typically having less than 24. Many of the classrooms in the Life Sciences building are equipped with the latest teaching and learning technology. Additional information on course offerings can be found in the biology department course catalog.

The Department of Biological Sciences has an outstanding and accessible faculty comprised largely of PhDs with areas of expertise including: ornithology, plant physiology, horticulture, comparative physiology, microbiology, fisheries biology, genetics, behavior, parasitology, science education, pharmacology, mycology, anatomy, neurobiology, aquatic ecology, phycology, plant ecology, plant systematics, developmental biology, cell biology, lichenology, and wildlife biology.

Biological Sciences majors are encouraged to complete an undergraduate research experience and are given a unique opportunity to work closely with faculty mentors on experimental research projects. Students have access to a DNA sequencer, electrophoresis equipment, gas chromatograph, the biotechnology center and a modern computer laboratory and are able to gain hands-on experience using a wide variety of advanced scientific equipment. A detailed list of biology department faculty research interests can be found on the departmental website.

Choose from three different options of study …

Biology Option: Students interested in botany, zoology, ecology and systematics, and cell and molecular biology who want to pursue careers in biology, including wildlife biology, fisheries biology, endangered species biology, work in nurseries, garden centers, and zoos or become natural resources managers should pursue the biology option. Students in the biology option are encouraged to complete an undergraduate research project with a faculty mentor in the department or to apply for a research experience in biology at another university. For more information, contact Dr. Karen Gaines at 217-581-6235 or kfgaines@eiu.edu.

Environmental Biology Option: Students interested in careers in environmental sciences, including environmental consulting, environmental engineering, water treatment, wastewater treatment, public health, and environmental protection should pursue the environmental biology option. Students enrolled in the environmental biology option are required to gain valuable practical experience by completing a 12-week internship. For more information, contact Dr. Gordon Tucker at 217-581-6240 or gctucker@eiu.edu.

Teacher Certification Option: Students interested in becoming high school science teachers, specializing in Biological Sciences, and teaching upper division high school biology courses, honors and advanced placement courses, should choose the teacher certification option. Students take courses in biology, chemistry, earth sciences, physics, and education and complete a semester-long student teaching experience. For more information, contact Katie Johnson at 217-581-7270 or kjohnson4@eiu.edu.