biology fishing with electricity

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 this past summer 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

Students completing the Biology major will accomplish six learning goals that fall within three categories:

1.  frame testable hypotheses and predictions

A) Science as a way of knowing

2.  design and execute investigations and perform analyses that address biological questions or problems

3.  communicate results of scientific investigations effectively, both orally and in writing

B) Critical analysis and communication

4.  locate and understand appropriate literature in the biological sciences

5.  evaluate scientific arguments critically

6  demonstrate knowledge of two unifying themes: evolution and emergent properties, and demonstrate knowledge of biological principles at all levels of organization– particularly cellular/molecular biology, organismal biology, and population biology/ecology

C) Working Knowledge

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
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  • 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
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Contact Professor Bozzone

Cheray Hall 302C
Box 283
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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
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Cheray Hall 302D
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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

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Cheray Hall 314
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M.Sc., Zoology/Neurobiology, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt
Ph.D., Zoology/Neurobiology, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt

Areas of Expertise:

Sensory Systems
Electron Microscopy
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
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Cheray Hall 302B
Box 283
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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

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Cheray Hall 316
Box 283
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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
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Cheray Hall 121
Box 283
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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
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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
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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
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Cheray Hall 313D
Box 283
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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
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Cheray Hall 302A
Box 283
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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
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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

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Cheray Hall 302A
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  • 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
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Contact Professor Weaver

Cheray Hall 313E
Box 283
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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

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 several possible internships available, including positions related to human health (Vermont Health Department, the Vermont State Medical Examiner's Office); natural resources (the local office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service); environmental education (Shelburne Farms, ECHO); and medical research (University of Vermont College of Medicine).

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. 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.

Some study abroad programs offer courses that can be applied to the biology major, and may allow you to take courses not offered at Saint Michael's.

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.

After graduation, our majors go on to careers like:

  • Lab Technician
  • Registered Dental Hygienist
  • Clinical Research Coordinator
  • Environmental Scientist
  • Fishery Observer
  • Health Care Associate
  • Registered Nurse

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 or chemical research labs, environmental consulting and conservation, and pharmaceutical labs.

Also, many graduates become science teachers.

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 accepting 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

Learn What Matters