To me, Valpo professors really give more than we can ever be thankful for. Until I became a professor myself, I didn’t truly realize how much work they put into their relationships and research with us.

– Nancy Monson ’91

Science as a means of discovery.

Science is a process of identifying and investigating the mysteries of life. Valpo students learn this from their first biology course, Unity of Life, when they design and conduct their own experiments. By the time they graduate, our biology majors have developed the skills needed to operate independently as scientists.

All of Valpo’s biology faculty have active research projects, and use that research as an opportunity to mentor student workers in their labs. Current research topics include:
  • Quantitative genetics and plant evolution
  • Forensic entomology
  • Regulation of fluid transport in colonic and upper airway epithelial cells
  • Adhesive controls of self-assembly in amphibian gastrulation
  • Ultradian oscillators of the circadian clock in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae
  • Ecology and sap-feeding behavior of woodpeckers
  • Effects of microfibers and microplastics on fecundity and life cycles of marine invertebrates
  • Defining anti-microbial and anti-cancer properties in alleopathic plant species
  • The regulation of growth and differentiation of mammalian cells
  • Molecular mechanisms for immune suppression in vitro
  • The genetics of Neurospora crassa, a filamentous fungus

Bachelor of science students who are interested in pursuing graduate study may qualify for this highly selective program. In addition to the standard 32-hour major, it requires BIO 195: Introduction to Biological Research and six semesters of BIO 496: Research in Biology.

Students achieve and maintain a GPA of 3.0, both in the major and overall, to qualify for and remain in the program. Applications and additional information about this program are available from the office of the biology department chair.

Students in the biology department may be awarded Honors in Biology, provided they meet specific requirements. Honors work is designated for students of exceptional ability who may benefit by earning up to six credits towards graduation through supervised independent research. Students who apply for Honors Work should understand that their work will be evaluated according to the highest standards of scholarly achievement. More information is available in the course catalog or from the chair of the Biology Department.

Valparaiso University students can benefit from our partnership with a biological field station in southern Michigan, Pierce Cedar Creek Institute (PCCI). Funding is available through PCCI for Valpo students and faculty to complete collaborative summer research at the field station.

Biology majors also have the opportunity to carry out original research at other institutions during the summer as participants in summer research or internship programs sponsored by those institutions. The National Science Foundation funds Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs), opportunities for students to work closely with investigators in institutions across the United States. Search for REU opportunities »

Valpo’s biology program emphasizes the importance of presenting scientific research. Students have recently presented at state and national scientific gatherings, including:
  • National Conference on Undergraduate Research
  • Indiana Academy of Science Annual Meeting
  • Butler Undergraduate Research Conference
  • Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting
  • The bi-annual Fungal Genetics Conference, sponsored by the Genetics Society of America

Students also have the opportunity to share their research at Valpo’s annual Fall Interdisciplinary Research Symposium (FIReS) and the Symposium on Undergraduate Research and Creative Expression (SOURCE) in late April.

Recent presentations by biology majors include:

  • Defining the Genetic Basis for Seed Yield in Arabidopsis thaliana
  • Application of Neurospora crassa in the Treatment of Waste
  • Strengthening Your Hip Muscles: Some Exercises May Be Better Than Others
  • Seed Dispersal of Native and Non-Native Fruiting Plants by Birds in Northwest Indiana Landscape
  • The Binding Affinity of Gas Molecules to the Heme Protein CooA