Department of Biological Sciences

James J. Nagler, Dept. Chair (252 Life Sc. Bldg. 83844-3051; phone 208/885-6280; Faculty: Onesmo B. Balemba, Celeste J. Brown, John A. Byers, Douglas G. Cole, Larry J. Forney, Elizabeth (Lee) Fortunato, James A. Foster, Peter G. Fuerst, Nicole A. Grieshaber, Scott S. Grieshaber, Lisa L. Harmon, Luke J. Harmon, Patricia L. Hartzell, Candi K. Heimgartner, Paul A. Hohenlohe, Donna J. Holmes, Jill L. Johnson, Christopher J. Marx, Craig P. McGowan, Craig R. Miller, Diana M. Mitchell, Tanya A. Miura, James J. Nagler, Scott L. Nuismer, Mary E. Oswald, Christine E. Parent, David C. Pfeiffer, Benjamin J. Ridenhour, Barrie D. Robison, Deborah L. Stenkamp, John M. (Jack) Sullivan, David C. Tank, Eva M. Top, Holly A. Wichman. Lab Coordinator: Jean Norris. Lab Instructor: Tim Steffens. Coordinator of Advising: Pat McCarroll. Adjunct Faculty: Henry A. Charlier, Jennifer R. Chase, Michael W. Doebeli, Sara J. Heggland, Patricia Heglund, Cheryl L. Jorcyk, Peter L. Meserve, Nils O. Pellmyr, Andrew Pierce, Erica B. Rosenblum, R. Francis Rosenzweig, Paul A. Rowley, Irvin R. Schultz, Christopher I. Smith, Ronald W. Strohmeyer. Affiliate Faculty: Audrey Fu, Patrick J. Hrdlicka, Brian Kennedy, Christopher Remien.

The Department of Biological Sciences offers B.S. degrees in Biochemistry, Biology (B.A. & B.S.), Microbiology, and Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. The core curriculum, used for every major, involves exposure to concepts fundamental to all living things at several levels of organization and emphasizes a broad cultural base and specific training in biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics. A diverse range of upper division electives are available that support each of the majors. Courses offered by the Department of Biological Sciences are available to students majoring in other disciplines, who wish to increase their knowledge of science, or who wish to obtain an academic minor.

Well-equipped laboratories are available and students are encouraged to undertake research projects with the faculty. A wide variety of ongoing projects have produced a stimulating environment for graduate and undergraduate research. These projects include areas such as: pathophysiology of diseases that affect gastrointestinal functions; gene regulation changes in response to selection and the evolution of disordered proteins; behavioral development, play, sexual selection and female mate choice; intraflagellar transport; the diversity and distribution of prokaryotes; mechanisms behind morbidity and mortality in infants congenitally infected with human cytomegalovirus; characterizing evolutionarily permissible ecological structures in microbial ecosystems and on developing bioinformatics for very large sequence datasets; molecular cues that promote development of the nervous system; patterns of species diversification across the tree of life; prokaryote motility system; the genomic architecture of evolving populations; protein structure and function; neuromuscular biomechanics of vertebrate organisms; models of adaptive evolution and experimental evolution in viruses; regulation of the immune response to coronavirus infection in the lung; effect of environmental factors on fish reproductive biology; cellular and molecular mechanisms of vertebrate retinal development and regeneration; phylogenetic methodology and comparative phylogeography; the ecology and evolution of prokaryotic organisms; adaptive evolution and mammalian genome evolution.

For more complete information on research concentrations, please see faculty profiles on the departmental web site at

Graduates from the department enter a variety of fields and many continue their education toward an advanced degree. Recent graduates have entered health-related professions, primary and secondary teaching, agribusiness, veterinary school, graduate school, law school, state and national agencies that deal with biology (e.g., Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Environmental Protection Agency, United States Forest Service), as well as a variety of environmental consulting agencies and biotechnology companies.

Prospective students, or students desiring more information, may write, call (208-885-6280) or email the department (


See course description section for courses in Biology (BIOL).