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Welcome to the Department of Biology

A Carver Grant was responsible for purchasing models of plants and animals that enhance classroom instruction.
Department of Biology in McCollum Science Hall
Students selected to attend the 2016 National Council on Undergraduate Research conference in Asheville, NC.
Class sizes are small and taught by faculty.
The Department of Biology provides advanced lab experiences using the newest technology.

Welcome to the Department of Biology

Our staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful, providing students with a positive collegiate experience. Opportunities abound in the Department of Biology with students participating in research, Study Abroad, National Student Exchange, internships and access to a variety of student organizations.

The Department has received generous funding of nearly one million dollars from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust to provide students with access to modern equipment in our teaching and research laboratories. We are committed to maintaining small class sizes in our advanced courses and teaching laboratories and providing access to the numerous courses offered in our curriculum.

Our students are successful in their goals to attend professional and graduate programs or starting a career immediately upon graduation. This is an exciting time to be a part of the Department of Biology at the University of Northern Iowa.

Alumnus, Dr. Dave Swanson, Demonstrates the Use of Ultrasound in Local Anesthesia

Dr. Dave Swanson Demonstration in the Biology Dept.Dr. Dave Swanson, UNI Alum, was on the UNI campus on April 20th to perform a demonstration on the use of ultrasound and the need for anatomical knowledge in the placement of local anesthesia. Dr. Swanson performed ultrasound on a student volunteer to show students and faculty in attendance where local anesthesia is placed for specific procedures and why learning the anatomy of these areas is so important to anesthesiologists. These ultrasound images were projected on the big screen in Lantz Auditorium, allowing the entire audience to view the images. Further, Dr. Swanson and our very own Mary McDade made use of our synthetic cadavers (syndavers) to point out the anatomical landmarks shown in the ultrasound images. The images from the syndavers were projected onto two big screen monitors on either side of the room. This allowed the audience to compare the ultrasound images to the anatomical structures of the syndavers simultaneously. This was an outstanding opportunity for students to obtain "real life" uses of what they are learning in their anatomy courses and was motivational for them in their pursuit of a health related career. Dr. Swanson remained after the demonstration to interact with faculty and students. The event was so successful that Dr. Swanson and the UNI Department of Biology are already in the planning stages for a similar event next year.

Emily Van Laar, 2016 Alumni in Residence, Presentation to Faculty and Students

Fighting Cancer: A UNI Graduate's Perspective on Education, Research and CareersFighting Cancer Powerpoint Presentation

Emily Van Laar is currently the Director of Clinical Strategy Oncology at Medscape. She works to identify and develop medical education strategy for hematology, oncology and supportive care. Emily is a 1997 UNI graduate in biology, with a chemistry minor. The summer after her junior year at UNI, Emily participated in a summer research program hosted by the University of Texas in Houston, performing breast cancer research, which cultivated her interest in a career in oncology. Prior to her current position, Emily headed up the medical education department for a drug developed to treat a blood disorder being studied in patients with leukemia and other cancers for MGI PHARMA, INC., a biopharmaceutical company in Bloomington, Minn. She holds a Master of Science degree in cancer biology from the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Science and has developed a breast cancer database that helps researchers choose the appropriate models in which to use their studies.

Department Snapshots

Contact Us:

Dr. David Saunders, Department Head
University of Northern Iowa • Department of Biology • 144 McCollum Science Hall • Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0421
Tel: (319) 273-2456 • Fax: (319) 273-7125
Sandi Ingles, Office Coordinator • Email: