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Biology

The right major matters.

The Biology Program provides you with a solid and comprehensive foundation in the biological sciences, preparing you to enter a variety of professional fields or continue your education in graduate school or in a health-professional program.

Photo of biology students collecting samples from a riverbed.

As a Biology major at MacMurray College, you are offered a broad background in biology with concentrations in the following areas:

You gain experience in the laboratory and field through coursework, research opportunities, and career experiences. You will participate in collaborative learning through group projects and may gain leadership experience as undergraduate science mentors.

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Opportunities for Students

At MacMurray, you have opportunities to learn beyond the classroom through field trips to regional museums, zoos, and scientific laboratories. In addition, students have the following opportunities to expand their knowledge and experience.

Participate in Scientific Research

Motivated students may actively participate in scientific research. Students may assist faculty in experimental design and/or data collection during the academic year while earning credits toward graduation, or they may choose to gain research experience during the summer at various off-campus sites. Research experience is vital for students intending to pursue graduate studies in biology.

Study Biology Around the World

Photo of students studying in the Gambia.

MacMurray College offers a variety of study abroad experiences to its students. Students may choose to participate in a week-long trip during spring break; an extended study abroad trip, such as a 2-3 week trip during May term; or a semester-long program. The Population Biology & Management course focuses on the animal and plant species of southern Florida, and students recently traveled to West Africa as part of an Ecology & Conservation course. By traveling to other parts of the world to study biology, students not only become better trained biologists, but they gain a greater appreciation of cultural diversity. Potential employers view these experiences as indications that students can adapt to new situations and work well with others.

Become an Undergraduate Science Mentor

Select students may choose to become an undergraduate science mentor for a specific biology, chemistry, or physics course. These upper-level students will help their peers with note-taking, preparing for laboratory activities, and will facilitate study sessions. In turn, the mentors gain leadership experience and a more in-depth understanding of the science. Students seeking entrance into professional or graduate school, or anyone that wishes to work as part of a group in a scientific setting, would gain from this opportunity.

Your Career in Biology

With a degree in biology, you will have a wide range of potential careers, including a health professional, a laboratory scientist, a conservation biologist, an athletic trainer, or a scientific researcher (just to name a few). Our graduates have been accepted to such advanced-degree programs as the St. Louis University's Physician Assistants program and Washington University's Physical Therapy program, and they are working for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

Faculty

Photo of Nadine Szczepanski

Nadine Szczepanski, Ph.D.

Lead Faculty for Natural Sciences
Horace A. Shonle Professor of Chemistry

"I love teaching at MacMurray because I love interacting with our students. I like helping them to learn chemistry and helping them to become successful in their chosen fields. I enjoy really getting to know them as people and watching them become confident adults by the time they graduate."

  • Areas of interest: Dr. Szczepanski has a special interest in applied chemistry. Currently she is collaborating with a Mac student on a research project with the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association. They are studying the chemistry of wines and the IGGVA is conducting a sensory analysis. They are trying to correlate the chemistry of wines with sensory appeal.
    Before Dr. Szczepanski came to MacMurray, she worked for the Illinois EPA as an analytical chemist, at Owens-Corning studying coatings for composites, at Avery International studying pressure sensitive adhesives, and at Mead Corporation studying carbonless copy papers. She has a US Patent for her invention of a novel carbonless copy coating.
    Dr. Szczepanski is also interested in how chemistry is taught internationally. She has served as a mentor for the US National Chemistry Olympiad team for several years and as a judge at the International Chemistry Olympiad in the Republic of Georgia in 2016.
  • Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry — University of Illinois at Chicago
  • M.S. in Chemistry — University of Illinois at Chicago
  • B.S. in Chemistry and Psychology — MacMurray College
  • Courses taught: General Chemistry I and II, Organic Chemistry I and II, Quantative Analysis, Organic and Biological Chemistry
Photo of Gwendowlyn Knapp

Gwendowlyn S. Knapp, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Biochemistry

"I love teaching at MacMurray because I really get to see the evolution of my students as they become successful in their chosen careers."

  • Areas of interest: Dr. Knapp is interested in the genetic regulatory mechanisms of bacteria.
  • Ph.D. in Biochemistry — Texas A&M University
  • B.S. in Molecular Genetics — Purdue University
  • Courses taught: General Chemistry, Biochemistry, Organic and Biological Chemistry for Non-majors
Photo of Timothy Polnaszek

Timothy J. Polnaszek, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Biology

"The learning community here at MacMurray is great! I've only been here for a short time but am already greeted by many students and faculty by name around campus. Glad to be part of #MacFam!"

  • Areas of interest: Dr. Polnaszek is interested in animal decision making and cognition, and has done research with woodchucks, blue jays, and bumble bees. Outside of academia, he loves spending time with his family, and they especially like camping, hiking, and enjoying the outdoors together. Dr. Polnaszek also enjoys board games, yard games, and other competitive endeavors. His most favored outdoor sport to play is Ultimate Frisbee, and he is in the process of gathering faculty, staff, and students on campus to take part in the fun.
  • Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior — University of Minnesota
  • B.S. in Zoology — North Dakota State University
  • Courses taught: Ecology and Evolution, Global Environmental Issues, General Biology II
Photo of Kristie Wrasman

Kristie Wrasman, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Biology

"I love seeing students get excited about learning."

  • Areas of interest: Wrasman is interested in studying the relationship between genetic variation and phenotypic variation in cells.
  • Ph.D. in Cell Biology — Johns Hopkins University
  • B.S. in Molecular Genetics — The Ohio State University
  • Courses taught: General Biology I, Cell and Molecular Biology, Genetics, Microbiology