Biology at Western

Biology encompasses areas ranging from molecular biology to ecosystem ecology. This breadth is reflected in our curriculum and in faculty and student research. Our joint mission of teaching and research strongly complement each other and provide students with an educational experience of very high quality.

Mission & Vision Statement

In support of the mission of Western Washington University and the College of Sciences and Technology, the mission of the Biology Department is to provide an outstanding learning environment that integrates education, scholarship, and service in order to actively engage students in the biological sciences and foster their development as lifelong learners. Successful graduates of our Department will understand fundamental biological principles in depth, will have laboratory and field skills to answer biological questions, will have enhanced critical thinking and quantitative skills, will be able to communicate precisely and analytically in written and oral forms, and will be able to engage independently and collaboratively to be thoughtful and productive contributors to society.


WWU Biology graduate, Kelsey Jesser, is a cover girl!

Kelsey Jesser's thesis project and recent manuscript entitled, "QPCR Analysis of Functional Genes in Iron-Rich Microbial Mats at an Active Hydrothermal Vent System (Loihi Seamount, Hawaii) " has now been published in the May issue of Applied and Environmental Microbiology and her paper was highlighted on the cover here.

Recent Biology graduates receive the prestigious NSF Pre-Doctoral Fellowships

Congratulations Kaitlyn Lowder (UC San Diego), Kyle Fowler (UC San Francisco), Stacy Anderson (U. Wisconsin, Madison). Read more about the NSF Fellowship here.

Biology professor Dr. Craig Moyer, Dr. Heather Fullerton, and biology grad student Kevin Hager embark on research opportunity

If you're interested in following their journey on the cruise, click here!

Biology Undergrad, Nathan Richards, is named GNAC co-Male Athlete of the Week

Read more here.

Skagit Valley Herald features Dr. Robin Kodner, "Hikers help WWU biologist collect, study watermelon snow"

"Western Washington University biology professor Robin Kodner is researching watermelon snow in the North Cascades, and asking citizen scientists to help collect samples through the North Cascades National Park Complex’s BioBlitz program." Read the entire article, here.

Dr. Merrill Peterson featured in NY Times Article, "The Great Giant Flea Hunt"

"In the Pacific Northwest, we live among behemoths — snowcapped volcanoes, towering trees, great splashing salmon and lattes as big as a child’s head. Yet one of the region’s undeniably superlative titans has slipped beneath everyone’s radar. The land of Bigfoot and Starbucks is also home to the world’s largest flea. The flea, Hystrichopsylla schefferi, is an awe-inspiring colossus that can reach nearly half an inch, its head alone the size of a cat or dog flea. Until last month, however, there existed not a single confirmed photograph of a live member of the species." Continue reading here.

Anderson's Field Research Course Highlighted by Oregon TV show

Professor Roger Anderson's annual summer courses, Ecological Methods and Research in Reptile Ecology (BIOL 408 and 409) is featured as part of the Oregon Public Broadcasting Station's Oregon Field Guide video series. Watch it here! (Last 1/3 of the episode.)

Western's Insect Collection 2nd Largest in State

Dr. Merrill Peterson, professor of biology and curator of Western's insection collection, oversees a collection of tens of thousands of insects. Read more here.

Bio/Anth Student, Emily Boerger, Named GNAC Academic All-Star

Emily Boerger, middle blocker for the WWU volleyball team and a Biology/Anthropology major, was named to the 2013 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Academic All-Stars. This is the third time Emily has been recognized.

Dr. Benjamin Miner Researching Sea Star Wasting Disease

Benjamin Miner, Associate Professor of Biology at WWU, along with geneticist, Ian Hewson, Cornell University, will be exploring Sea Star Wasting Disease along the west coast. Click here or here for more information. Dr. Miner was interviewed on PBS News Hour about this mysterious Pacific Coast epidemic.

Paul J. Olscamp Research Award Given to Biology's Dr. David Hooper

David Hooper, Professor of Biology, was one of six faculty honored with awards for the 2012-13 academic year. The Paul J. Olscamp award is presented annually to a WWU faculty member having made an outstanding contribution to research. To read more about the award and Dr. Hooper's research, click here.

Kodner Distinguished by CIIA's Innovative Teaching Showcase

The 2012-13 Innovativative Teaching Showcase, themed Teaching Civic Engagement, featured three WWU faculty - including Dr. Robin Kodner, - who have "re-envisioned what it means to help students be active citizens engaged in their communities and in their learning in a variety of ways." To learn more about Dr. Kodner's innovative approach to teaching, click here.

Peterson & Otto Contribution

Drs. Merrill Peterson and Joann Otto have made a contribution to the book, A Treatise on the Western Hemisphere Caraboidea (Coleoptera) Their classifications, distributions, and ways of life, Volume III (Carabidae-Loxomeriformes, Melaeniformes) by Terry L. Erwin.

Zacotus matthewsii LeConte Dr. Otto found the beetle on San Juan Island, WA and Dr. Peterson identified and photographed the living beetle, Zacotus matthewsii LeConte. The image is featured on Plate 65 of the publication.

Anderson's Lizard Photograph in ScienceShot

Dr. Roger Anderson's Florida scrub lizard photograph in recent ScienceShot article.







Helpful Links

Fall 2015 Biology Undergraduate Registration Information

Biology Department Override Request Form (Web submit)

2015-2016 Biology Course Schedule

Biology FAQs

Tips for Transfer Students

First Day Attendance Policy

Department Waitlist Policy

Faculty & Graduate TA Contact Information & Office Hours (Winter 2015)

Biology Department Seminar Series

2014-15 Seminars

*Seminars at 4 pm in BI 234 unless otherwise noted

April 29 –  Reporting from Herring Season; From Ecological Subsidies to Fisheries Governance on B.C.'s Central Coast, Margot Hessing- Lewis, Research Faculty, Hakai Institute

May 6 –     Sharks on coral reefs: baselines, recent changes, and conservation, Julia Baum, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, University of Victoria

2014-2015 Seminar Schedule

Recommend a Speaker

Dept. Seminar Series Archive

Graduate Thesis Seminar

March 13The origin of feces: non-invasive genetic tracking of Harbor Seals (Phoca Vitulina), Andrew Rothstein, WWU Graduate Student

Graduate Seminar Archive

Page Updated 04.22.2015