Biology

Get your feet wet

Whether you're up to your knees in the streams right next to campus or deep in the rainforests of Costa Rica, our diverse courses emphasize hands-on learning. You can study Neurobiology, Tropical Ecology, Animal Behavior, Genetics, Evolution and more. And you can get involved with faculty in their active research programs during both the academic year and the summer.

Not just lab work

Experience matters at Saint Michael's. As a biology major, you'll spend plenty of time in the lab, but for starters you might also:

  • Intern with the Vermont State Medical Examiner's Office or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Conduct and present professional-level research on aquatic biology, or genetics and evolution, to name just a few subjects
  • Prepare for graduate schools in areas such as medicine, dentistry, other healthcare professions, and M.S. or Ph.D. programs in a variety of other fields of biology

At Saint Michael's, you can study Pre-Health, Environmental Biology, Cellular and Molecular Biology, or Biology Education. You can also create your own selection of biology courses.

NOAA Hollings Scholar Kelsey Miller '16 (Major: Biology - Minors: Environmental Studies and Chemistry) worked with ecologist Dr. James Morris, in Beaufort, North Carolina, to study how survival of the fittest could be helping the Lionfish, a highly invasive species, undermine coral reef ecosystems in the Atlantic Ocean.

Biology

Get your feet wet

Whether you're up to your knees in the streams right next to campus or deep in the rainforests of Costa Rica, our diverse courses emphasize hands-on learning. You can study Neurobiology, Tropical Ecology, Animal Behavior, Genetics, Evolution and more. And you can get involved with faculty in their active research programs during both the academic year and the summer.

Not just lab work

Experience matters at Saint Michael's. As a biology major, you'll spend plenty of time in the lab, but for starters you might also:

  • Intern with the Vermont State Medical Examiner's Office or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Conduct and present professional-level research on aquatic biology, or genetics and evolution, to name just a few subjects
  • Prepare for graduate schools in areas such as medicine, dentistry, other healthcare professions, and M.S. or Ph.D. programs in a variety of other fields of biology

At Saint Michael's, you can study Pre-Health, Environmental Biology, Cellular and Molecular Biology, or Biology Education. You can also create your own selection of biology courses.

NOAA Hollings Scholar Kelsey Miller '16 (Major: Biology - Minors: Environmental Studies and Chemistry) worked with ecologist Dr. James Morris, in Beaufort, North Carolina, to study how survival of the fittest could be helping the Lionfish, a highly invasive species, undermine coral reef ecosystems in the Atlantic Ocean.

As a first-year student, you'll take General Biology and General Chemistry in both the fall and spring semester. 

In your first semester of General Biology, you'll explore topics in ecology and evolution through the study of local biodiversity. You'll be designing and executing a semester-long research project focusing on the conservation of a local threatened ecosystem, the sandplain forest, as well.

As they move farther along in the major, students will then have the ability to widen the range of their fieldwork while focusing more closely on particular subjects and issues that interest them. Those interested in Tropical Ecology, for example, might travel to Costa Rica to study the biodiversity of rainforests.  We offer courses and research opportunities in a range of biological fields, including molecular biology, genetics, neurobiology, animal behavior, physiology, development biology, and ecology.

Up close and personal

You'll find that although biology is one of our most popular subjects, you'll get personal attention and career preparation and guidance from your professors from the very beginning. Our introductory biology courses for first-year majors have no more than 60 students in each lecture section, with 20 or fewer in each lab section.

Most upper-level biology lab classes have a maximum of 20 students per section, and seminar style classes will be smaller.

Biology Department-level Learning Outcomes

If you score a 4 or 5 on the Biology AP test, you can apply those credits toward your graduation requirements, but students majoring in biology are required to take both Introduction to Ecology and Evolution (BI 151) and Introductory Cell Biology and Genetics (BI 153).  The project-driven nature of these courses is very important in preparing students for the upper-level biology classes.

Laura Benton Dapkiewicz

Instructor and Laboratory Coordinator

Contact Professor Benton Dapkiewicz

Saint Edmund's Hall 129
Box 283
802-654-2454
lbenton@smcvt.edu
View Full Profile

Degrees

  • B.S Microbiology and Spanish, University of New Hampshire
  • M.S. Microbiology, University of New Hampshire

Areas of expertise

Microbiology, Molecular Genetics of Prokaryotes

Courses taught

  • General Microbiology
  • Microbes and Human Health (course for non-science majors)
  • Sections of Molecular Genetics Lab

Donna Bozzone, PhD

Professor of Biology
View Curriculum Vitae

Contact Professor Bozzone

Cheray Hall 302C
Box 283
802.654.2627
dbozzone@smcvt.edu
View Full Profile

M.A., Ph.D. Princeton University
B.S. Manhattan College

Areas of Expertise:

Development and embryogenesis; cells; cell communication; cancer; evolution; evolutionary medicine; the connection between developmental biology and ecology and evolution; the history of science.

Courses I Teach:

  • Cell Biology
  • Communications in the Biological Sciences
  • Developmental Biology
  • Introduction to Cell Biology and Genetics

Paul Constantino, PhD

Assistant Professor of Biology
View Curriculum Vitae

Contact Professor Constantino

Cheray Hall 302D
802.654.2771
pconstantino@smcvt.edu
View Full Profile

Ph.D. Hominid Paleobiology, The George Washington University
M.A. Anthropology, Florida Atlantic University
B.S. Biology, Saint Michael's College

Areas of expertise

  • Evolutionary biology
  • Human evolution
  • Evolution of the vertebrate skull and dentition

Courses taught

  • Human Anatomy
  • Human Physiology
  • Human Evolution

 

Ruth Fabian-Fine, M.Sc., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor Biology and Neuroscience

Contact Professor Fabian-Fine

Cheray Hall 314
654-2827
rfabianfine@smcvt.edu
View Full Profile

M.Sc., Zoology/Neurobiology, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt
Ph.D., Zoology/Neurobiology, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt

Areas of Expertise:

Neuroscience
Sensory Systems
Electron Microscopy
Immunocytochemistry
Three Dimensional Reconstructions

Courses I Teach:

Developmental Biology  Lecture
Developmental Biology Lab
Neuroscience Lecture
Neuroscience Lab
Senior Seminar – The effects of venoms and toxins on the human body
Science Communication

Interview: Examining the sensory systems in spiders

Douglas Facey, PhD

Professor of Biology
View Curriculum Vitae

Contact Professor Facey

Cheray Hall 302B
Box 283
802.654.2625
dfacey@smcvt.edu
View Full Profile

Ph.D. Zoology, University of Georgia
M.S. Zoology, University of Vermont
B.S. Biology, University of Maine, Orono

Courses I Teach:

  • Introduction to Ecology and Evolution        
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology II
  • Physiological Ecology
  • Ichthyology
  • Senior Seminar – Aquatic Resource Conservation

Peter Hope, MS

Instructor of Biology

Contact Professor Hope

Cheray Hall 316
Box 283
802.654.2491
phope@smcvt.edu
View Full Profile

B.A. Middlebury College
M.S. University of Vermont

Areas of Expertise:

Forest composition, dynamics and succession, fern and angiosperm systematics

Courses I Teach:

Communications in the Biological Sciences
Ecosystem Ecology
Introduction to Ecology and Evolution
Effects of Climate Change
Tropical Ecology

 

Scott Lewins, MS

Instructor of Biology
View Curriculum Vitae

Contact Professor Lewins

Cheray Hall 121
Box 283
802.654.2862
slewins@smcvt.edu
View Full Profile

B.S. State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
M.S. University of Maryland

Areas of Expertise:

Entomology, Biological Control, Insect Agroecology, Sustainable Agriculture

Courses I Teach:

  • Applied Insect Ecology
  • Insects and Society
  • Introduction to Cell Biology and Genetics
  • Introduction to Ecology and Evolution

My Saint Michael's:

I have been conduction applied agricultural research on farms throughout Vermont since I moved here in 2006.  My research has focused on biological control of agricultural pests through enhancing native natural enemy communities.  More recently, I have brought my love for field-based research and passion for teaching into the classroom to benefit the students of Saint Michael's College and the University of Vermont.

Outside Saint Michael's:

I enjoy snowshoeing, backcountry skiing, and hiking with my two Bernese Mountain dogs, and cooking and eating great food.

Malcolm Lippert, PhD

Biochemistry Program Coordinator, Professor of Biology

Contact Professor Lippert

Cheray Hall 313F
Box 283
802.654.2856
mlippert@smcvt.edu
View Full Profile

Harvard School of Public Health, Postdoctoral Fellow
Ph.D., Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Vermont
B.S., Biology, Hope College         

Areas of Expertise:

Genetics, Microbiology, Cell Biology, Molecular Biology, Cancer Biology

Courses I Teach:

  • BI153: Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Biology
  • BI205: Biological Communication
  • BI223: Genetics 
  • BI315: Microbiology
  • BI410: Senior Seminar: The Biology of Public Health
  • BI420: Senior or Honors Research

Dagan Loisel, PhD

Assistant Professor of Biology

Contact Professor Loisel

Cheray Hall 312
Box 283
802.654.2259
dloisel@smcvt.edu
View Full Profile

Postdoctoral degree, The University of Chicago, Department of Human Genetics
Ph.D., Duke University, Department of Biology & University Program in Genetics
B.A., Colby College, magna cum laude

Areas of Expertise

  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Genetics
  • General Biology 

Courses I Teach

  • Fundamentals of Genetics
  • Immunology and Parasitology in Genetics

Mark Lubkowitz, PhD

Professor of Biology
View Curriculum Vitae

Contact Professor Lubkowitz

Cheray Hall 313D
Box 283
802.654.2695
mlubkowitz@smcvt.edu
View Full Profile

Post-Doctoral fellow in plant developmental genetics, The University of California: Berkeley
Ph.D., Microbiology, The University of Tennessee
B.S., Biology, Washington and Lee University

Area of Expertise:

I study how molecules are transported across membranes in plants and how these processes affect seed germination and overall distribution of sugars in plants.

Courses I Teach:

  • BI153: Introductory Cell Biology and Genetics
  • BI205: Biological Communications
  • BI247: Plant Biology
  • BI325: Molecular Biology

Workshop Materials:

Denise Martin, MS

Lab Coordinator/Instructor of Biology
View Curriculum Vitae

Contact Professor Martin

Cheray Hall 302A
Box 283
802.654.2628
dmartin@smcvt.edu
View Full Profile

B.A. Wheaton College
M.S. University of Vermont

Areas of Expertise:

Development of labratory experiments for introductory level courses

Courses I Teach:

  • Introduction to Cell Biology and Genetics
  • Introduction to Ecology and Evolution

Declan McCabe, PhD

Biology Department Chair, Associate Professor of Biology

Contact Professor McCabe

Cheray Hall 301
Box 283
802.654.2626
dmccabe@smcvt.edu
View Full Profile

Ph.D. Ecology; University of Vermont
M.S.,  Ecology and Evolution; University of Pittsburgh
B.S., Biology; St. Joseph's University, Philadelphia

View my Curriculum Vitae

Areas of Expertise:

My primary area of expertise is in the community ecology of freshwater communities. My basic research is on the interactions among aquatic species, factors that affect diversity, and different ways to measure diversity.  Currently I am working on an applied project focused on the effects of land use on invertebrates in Vermont's rivers.

Courses I Teach:

  • Community Ecology
  • Evolution
  • General Biology

Brian Swisher, M.S.

Instructor & Lab Coordinator

Contact Professor Swisher

Cheray Hall 302A
654-2890
bswisher@smcvt.edu
View Full Profile

Education:

  • M.S. University of Illiniois
  • B S. University of Illinois

Areas of expertise:

Aquatic ecology, behavioral ecology, conservation biology

Courses taught:

  • BI 151 Introduction to Ecology and Evolution
  • BI 153 Introduction to Cell Biology and Genetics
  • BI 260 Animal Behavior

Click here for my YouTube video about Animal Behavior

Adam Weaver, PhD

Pre-Health Advisor for the College, Associate Professor of Biology
View Curriculum Vitae

Contact Professor Weaver

Cheray Hall 313E
Box 283
802.654.2624
AWeaver2@smcvt.edu
View Full Profile

Ph.D. Ohio University
B.A. University of Delaware

Career Timeline:

  • 2010-Present Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Saint Michael’s College
  • 2008-2009 Assistant Professor, Div. of Basic Pharm. Sciences, Xavier Univ., Coll. of Pharmacy
  • 2007-2008 Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Xavier University of Louisiana
  • 2005-2007 Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Washington, Otolaryngology Department
  • 2002-2004 Postdoctoral Fellow, Emory University, Biology Department
  • 1995-2002 Ph.D., Neuroscience Program, Ohio University
  • 1990-1994 B.A., Biology and Psychology Double Major, University of Delaware

Areas of Expertise:

Neurobiology / Neuroscience; Neuron Networks; Computer Modeling; Comparative Biology; Electrophysiology; Biophysical Modeling

Courses I Teach:

  • Communications in the Biological Sciences
  • Human and Comparative Anatomy
  • Introduction to Cell Biology and Genetics
  • Neurobiology

Being a biology major at Saint Michael's is big step toward a rewarding science career. Our grads work in the fields of genetics and molecular biology, biological and chemical research labs, environmental consulting and conservation, and pharmaceutical labs.

Others pursue a career in medicine or health sciences. We provide special advising for students interested in Pre-Medical and Health Careers.

After graduation, our majors go on to careers like:

  • Environmental Scientist
  • Fishery Observer
  • Laboratory Analyst
  • Molecular Diagnostics Technologist
  • mRNA Synthesis Production Associate
  • Water Treatment Technician
  • CDC Public Health Associate 
  • Clinical Research Coordinator
  • Health Care Associate
  • HIV Case Manager
  • Physician
  • Physician's Assistant
  • Pharmacist
  • Registered Nurse
  • Environmental Educator
  • Science Teacher

If graduate school is in your plans, plan to be accepted - over 80% of our graduates who wish to go on to post-graduate studies are accepted.

Medical, dental, and veterinary schools attended by recent Saint Michael's biology graduates include:

  • Dartmouth Medical School
  • Laval University
  • University of Vermont
  • SUNY Buffalo
  • Tufts University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • New England College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine
  • University of Dublin

Our graduates have also gone on into Masters and Ph.D. programs at strong research universities, including:

  • Harvard University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Cornell University
  • McGill University
  • University of Massachusetts-Amherst
  • University of Massachusetts-Medical Center
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Michigan State University
  • Colorado State University

Internships

Internships are a great way to help build valuable experience for potential jobs and further education, as well as a way to put your learning into action. Biology majors have many possible internships available, including positions related to human health, natural resources, environmental education, and medical research:

Biology Research Opportunities

Our biology professors have a broad range of research interests, including aquatic biology, animal behavior, ecology, genetics, molecular biology, evolution, developmental biology and biology education. Our faculty are active researchers who have received major competitive grant awards from the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health, among others. As importantly, they genuinely love to teach undergraduate students.

Biology students will find many opportunities to perform research with faculty during the academic year or in the summers. Recent grant-funded research projects by Biology students include:

  • Cholinergic neurons and their projections in the nervous system of the Central American Hunting Spider Cupiennius salei
  • Genetic characterization of Tripartite Motif (TRIM) Protein 25 Gene in Lynx Rufus in Vermont
  • Measurement of neuronal physiological properties in the heartbeat system of the North American leech species 
  • Molecular evolution of APOBEC3H in Felidae species
  • Population and evolutionary genetics of anti-viral innate immune genetic diversity in Vermont bobcats
  • Understanding the site of phosphorylation in multiple proteins

Student researchers have been co-authors on professional publications and have presented their work at conferences locally, nationally and internationally, including at:

  • Lake Champlain Research Consortium
  • Vermont Genetics Network
  • Posters on the Hill in Washington, DC
  • American Society of Microbiologists in Boston
  • North American Benthological Society in New Orleans
  • International Maize Conference in Mexico City
  • American Fisheries Society in Quebec City
  • International Society of Limnology in Montreal

Biology Abroad

In recent years, 35% of Saint Michael's biology majors have had a study abroad experience - it's highly recommended.  However, it does require planning, so speak to your academic advisor during your first year so that you can get a plan in place that will allow you to study abroad.

Faculty-led Study Trips

The Biology department takes students on faculty-led study trips during winter break.  Students can gain field experience studying tropical rain forests or coral reefs and earn 2 academic credits:

Costa Rica: Tropical Ecology Study Tour (Biology 250)

This study tour provides an introduction to tropical ecology including tropical climates and topography and their effects on ecosystems. The sites include a tropical dry forest at Palo Verde National Park, a mid-elevation cloud forest at Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, and a premontane rain forest at Selve Verde Preserve. Activities include guided hikes, our own group hikes, early morning bird walks, a boat ride, and night hikes. Students generate study questions from observations made on the field trips and on the last full day at each site students gather data for a study that they have designed. Students analyze and interpret the data and give oral presentations on their studies. Students also keep a field journal on plants and animals we encounter and on their observations on conservation, ecotourism impacts, and sustainable development.

Cuba: Coral Reefs (Biology 254)

This is an intensive 11-day field course to study coral reefs and associated habitats in Cuba, which has some of the most pristine reefs in the Caribbean. The course focuses on the health and diversity of the coral reefs as well as the ecology and behavior of the marine fish that live in association with a coral reef. Coral reefs are one of the most productive of the world’s ecosystems, and there is extraordinary complexity of interactions among the biotic and abiotic components. Studying this ecosystem in a direct and intensive way facilitates an understanding and appreciation of the intricate inter-relationships within a biological community. In addition, this fragile ecosystem provides us with an opportunity to observe and analyze the impact of various environmental threats, both natural and anthropogenic, such as coastal development, pollution, and global climate change.  Students may snorkel or dive but must be scuba-certified in order to dive.

Saint Michael's College is also an affiliate member of the School for Field Studies, which provides semester-long and summer programs in natural resource ecology and management at its field stations in Costa Rica, Mexico, the Turks & Caicos Islands (in the eastern Caribbean), Australia and Kenya.

Cuba: Coral Reefs (video)