Nicole Palenske (chair), Russell Benedict, Anya Butt, Ellen Du Pré, Lee Macomber, Paulina Mena, Kristin Siewert, Paul Weihe
Advances in such critical areas as the environment, genetics and medicine clearly show that biology is one of the most dynamic disciplines of our time; perhaps the only certainty is that no one knows which of its many facets will become important next. It is also clear that very few undergraduates enter college with a final decision on their ultimate vocational preference. The philosophy of the biology department reflects both of these realities by offering our students a strong foundation in biology without over-specialization. We emphasize an intellectual approach rooted in the college’s liberal arts tradition. The biology faculty use the framework of biology to develop the kinds of abilities that will serve students well no matter what paths their lives take: to think critically, analytically and independently; to communicate effectively; to search for an original approach; to solve problems efficiently; to achieve and maintain intellectual curiosity; and to demonstrate an understanding of human impact on the global environment. The result has been graduates who meet with success no matter where their life choices take them.
The biology department is committed to fostering student research. In addition to state-of-the-art laboratories and equipment in the Vermeer Science Center, the College maintains the 80-acre Carlson-Kuyper Biology Field Station on Lake Red Rock.
For decades, the biology department has been at the forefront of promoting Central’s study abroad programs and the department will work with biology majors so they can obtain the benefit of an international study experience and still graduate in four years.
Certification of communication skills for the biology major, encompassing reading, writing, speaking, listening, numeric, bibliographic and computer skills, is accomplished in the required sequence: BIOL 130, 131, 221, and 229 all have integral components requiring satisfactory communication at a level appropriate for a science major. These include: writing term papers and formal laboratory reports; keeping a research notebook; presenting lab results to classmates; listening to presentations by classmates; conducting literature searches using computer data bases; reading and critiquing reports prepared by classmates; analyzing laboratory data.