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                  Where life begins...

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 are involved in active research using modern equipment.
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.

UNI Biology Alumni Assume Directorships at Vanderbilt University

Jeff Rathmell

Jeff Rathmell

Throughout high school my intention was to become a physician. In Iowa, a first thought may be to go to the university with the medical school, but I believed that a smaller, more personal undergraduate setting would provide a bigger benefit. I was pleased to attend the University of Northern Iowa and major in Biology. Quickly after arriving to UNI I became interested in biological research and the possibilities of new career directions in science. UNI offered an outstanding environment for me to learn about science, get to know the professors, and enjoy my college experience. I was able to take advantage of several summer research internship opportunities while at UNI and eventually went on to graduate school to earn a PhD in Immunology at Stanford University. From there, my post-doctoral studies on immunology and cancer biology took me to the University of Chicago then to the University of Pennsylvania. In 2003 I began my first faculty position at Duke University in the Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology and I moved in the summer of 2015 to Vanderbilt University, where I direct the Vanderbilt Center for Immunobiology. Our main goals are to understand links between metabolism and immune responses in inflammatory diseases and cancer and I look forward to building the field of immunology at Vanderbilt.

Kim RathmellKim Rathmell

I also came to UNI with the intent to become a physician. I was honored to be a member of the second class of UNI Presidential Scholars, and was attracted to the chance to be a part of an exciting and diverse group of students who would learn together from across a range of disciplines. Coming from rural Iowa, it was professors at UNI who introduced me to the real opportunities of biomedical research as a career-in particular Darrell Weins, Virginia Berg, and Ira Simet. I chose to double major in Biology and Chemistry because I loved both the fascinating intricacies of biology, and the precision of chemistry. UNI helped me find summer internships in both fields—one in the Chemistry department at the University of Southern California, where I worked with future Nobel Prize winner Arieh Warshel, and one at St. Louis University studying estrogen receptor activation. My honors thesis at UNI in Darrell Weins' lab gave me the longer term perspective on research studying early cardiac development. These experiences gave me the foundation to pursue an MD and PhD in Biophysics at Stanford University. I completed my training in Medical Oncology in programs at the University of Chicago and University of Pennsylvania before taking my first faculty position at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Earlier this year I moved to Vanderbilt University to assume the Directorship of the Division of Hematology and Oncology. My research program focuses on kidney cancer, exploring basic mechanisms, and developing new ways to detect and treat this disease.

A Former Student's Impression of Biology at UNI

Abigail Lee

"I've had a great time here! Wonderful faculty that give you so much of their personal time. Great class sizes too! I didn't feel like a number, I felt like a valued person. I couldn't have accomplished what I did in a setting w/out those qualities. I loved Evo/Eco. Even though I'm not doing something w/evolutionary biology, I felt it made me think critically as a scientist." - says Abigail Lee

Abigail is a graduating senior at UNI with a B.A. in Biology: Honors Research, Spanish, Music and University Distinction.  After graduation, Abigail will be a Post-Bachelor's researcher at the University of Iowa in a Diabetes II and Obesity research lab.  In the photo, Abigail presented her research poster at the "Research on the Capitol" event in Des Moines.

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: