biology fishing with electricity

Get your feet wet

Whether you're up to your knees in the streams right next to campus or deep in the rainforests of Costa Rica, our diverse courses emphasize hands-on learning. You can study Neurobiology, Tropical Ecology, Animal Behavior, Genetics, Evolution and more. And you can get involved with faculty in their active research programs during both the academic year and the summer.

Not just lab work

Experience matters at Saint Michael's. As a biology major, you'll spend plenty of time in the lab, but for starters you might also:

  • Intern with the Vermont State Medical Examiner's Office or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Conduct and present professional-level research on aquatic biology, or genetics and evolution, to name just a few subjects
  • Prepare for graduate schools in areas such as medicine, dentistry, other healthcare professions, and M.S. or Ph.D. programs in a variety of other fields of biology

At Saint Michael's, you can study Pre-Health, Conservation Biology, Cellular and Molecular Biology, or Biology Education. You can also create your own selection of biology courses.

As a first-year student, you'll take General Biology and General Chemistry in both the fall and spring semester. 

In your first semester of General Biology, you'll explore topics in ecology and evolution through the study of local biodiversity. You'll be designing and executing a semester-long research project focusing on the conservation of a local threatened ecosystem, the sandplain forest, as well.

As they move farther along in the major, students will then have the ability to widen the range of their fieldwork while focusing more closely on particular subjects and issues that interest them. Those interested in Tropical Ecology, for example, might travel to Costa Rica to study the biodiversity of rainforests.  We offer courses and research opportunities in a range of biological fields, including molecular biology, genetics, neurobiology, animal behavior, physiology, development biology, and ecology.

Up close and personal

You'll find that although biology is one of our most popular subjects, you'll get personal attention and career preparation and guidance from your professors from the very beginning. Our introductory biology courses for first-year majors have no more than 60 students in each lecture section, with 20 or fewer in each lab section.

Most upper-level biology lab classes have a maximum of 20 students per section, and seminar style classes will be smaller.

Biology Department-level Learning Outcomes

Sample Four Year Plan for Biology Majors*

First Year
Fall Spring
BI 151 Introduction to Ecology and Evolution BI 153 Introductory Cell Biology and Genetics
CH 110 General Chemistry I CH 117 Organic Chemistry I
First Year Seminar  Liberal Studies course
Liberal Studies course Liberal Studies course
Fall Spring
BI 205 Communications in the Biological Sciences Upper level Biology course
CH 207 Organic Chemistry II CH 208 General Chemistry II
MA 130 or 150 Elements of Calculus or Calculus I ST 120 or MA 160 Elementary Statistics or Calculus II
Liberal Studies course Elective
Fall Spring
Upper level Biology course Upper level Biology course
Upper level Biology course Upper level Biology course
Junior Seminar Elective
  Elective    Elective 
Fall Spring
Upper level Biology course BI 410 Senior Seminar
Elective Elective
Elective Elective
Elective Elective


This sequence represents one of many paths through the Biology program. Many students choose to take their math courses in the first year.  Your faculty advisor will help you make decisions on tailoring your academic program to match your interests and career goals.

Some post-graduate programs, including many leading to health care careers, require two semesters of Physics, a fourth semester of Chemistry, and some require one semester of Biochemistry - these can be taken in the Junior and Senior years. Electives in the Senior year leave open the opportunity for independent research or an internship.  Research for academic credit can substitute for an upper level Biology course.

If you score a 4 or 5 on the Biology AP test, you can apply those credits toward your graduation requirements.  All students majoring in Biology are required to take both Introduction to Ecology and Evolution (BI 151) and Introductory Cell Biology and Genetics (BI 153).  The project-driven nature of these courses is very important in preparing students for the upper-level Biology classes.

* For students who enroll in the fall of 2018.

Donna Bozzone, PhD

Professor of Biology
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Contact Professor Bozzone

Cheray Hall 302C
Box 283
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M.A., Ph.D. Princeton University
B.S. Manhattan College

Areas of Expertise:

Development and embryogenesis; cells; cell communication; cancer; evolution; evolutionary medicine; the connection between developmental biology and ecology and evolution; the history of science.

Courses I Teach:

  • Cell Biology
  • Communications in the Biological Sciences
  • Developmental Biology
  • Introduction to Cell Biology and Genetics

Paul Constantino, PhD

Associate Professor of Biology
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Cheray Hall 302B
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Ph.D. Hominid Paleobiology, The George Washington University
M.A. Anthropology, Florida Atlantic University
B.S. Biology, Saint Michael's College

Areas of expertise

  • Evolutionary biology
  • Human evolution
  • Evolution of the vertebrate skull and dentition

Courses taught

  • Human Anatomy
  • Human Physiology
  • Human Evolution
  • Introduction to Ecology and Evolution
  • First Year Seminar - Africa and Its Peoples


Ruth Fabian-Fine, M.Sc., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor Biology and Neuroscience

Contact Professor Fabian-Fine

Cheray Hall 314
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M.Sc., Zoology/Neurobiology, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt
Ph.D., Zoology/Neurobiology, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt

Areas of Expertise:

Sensory Systems
Electron Microscopy
Three Dimensional Reconstructions

Courses I Teach:

Developmental Biology  Lecture
Developmental Biology Lab
Cellular/Molecular Neuroscience Lecture
Cellular/Molecular Neuroscience Lab
Senior Seminar – The effects of venoms and toxins on the human body
Biological Communications


Scientific Imaging Suite 

Douglas Facey, PhD

Professor of Biology
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Contact Professor Facey

Saint Edmund's Hall 135
Box 283
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Ph.D. Zoology, University of Georgia
M.S. Zoology, University of Vermont
B.S. Biology, University of Maine, Orono

Courses I Teach:

  • Introduction to Ecology and Evolution        
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology II
  • Physiological Ecology
  • Ichthyology
  • Senior Seminar – Aquatic Resource Conservation

Dagan Loisel, PhD

Associate Professor of Biology

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Cheray Hall 312
Box 283
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Postdoctoral degree, The University of Chicago, Department of Human Genetics
Ph.D., Duke University, Department of Biology & University Program in Genetics
B.A., Colby College, magna cum laude

Areas of Expertise

  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Genetics
  • General Biology 

Courses I Teach

  • Introduction to Health Science
  • Fundamentals of Genetics
  • Immunology and Parasitology in Genetics

Mark Lubkowitz, PhD

Biology Department Chair, Professor of Biology
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Cheray Hall 313D
Box 283
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Post-Doctoral fellow in plant developmental genetics, The University of California: Berkeley
Ph.D., Microbiology, The University of Tennessee
B.S., Biology, Washington and Lee University

Area of Expertise:

I study how molecules are transported across membranes in plants and how these processes affect seed germination and overall distribution of sugars in plants.

Courses I Teach:

  • BI153: Introductory Cell Biology and Genetics
  • BI205: Biological Communications
  • BI247: Plant Biology
  • BI325: Molecular Biology

Workshop Materials:

Declan McCabe, PhD

Professor of Biology

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Cheray Hall 301
Box 283
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Ph.D. Ecology; University of Vermont
M.S.,  Ecology and Evolution; University of Pittsburgh
B.S., Biology; St. Joseph's University, Philadelphia

View my Curriculum Vitae

Areas of Expertise:

My primary area of expertise is in the ecology of freshwater communities. My research with student collaborators is on the interactions among aquatic species, factors that affect biodiversity, and different ways to measure diversity.  Currently I am working on the restoration of natural function in forests and wetlands on Saint Michael's College property.  My students are also using trail cameras to document coyote, bobcat, and other mammalian visitors to the Saint Michael's College natural areas.

Courses I Teach:

  • Community Ecology
  • Evolution
  • General Biology

Karen Talentino, Ph.D.

Director of the Health Science Program, Professor of Biology

Contact Professor Talentino

Saint Edmund's Hall 131
Box 283
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I have been interested in science and biology, specifically, for as long as I can remember. I attended the University of California at Santa Barbara for my undergraduate degree, and then moved to Nevada where I received my Master’s and Ph.D. at the University of Nevada at Reno. My graduate research focused on hibernation physiology, a project studying the Belding ground squirrel, a high altitude species that is active above-ground for only four months a year. My Ph.D. project looked at the development of tapeworms in hibernating squirrels. I loved living in Nevada, and to this day I am still very intrigued by the desert environment and the physiological adaptations to extreme environments – whether high altitude habitats, deserts, or some other environment which presents significant challenges to those organisms that live there.

At Saint Michael’s, I have taught Marine Biology, Environmental Studies, Environmental Science, Biology senior seminar, and Coral Reef Ecology. I have also taken students on a study trip to Cuba where we studied coral reefs. This trip is just one of many that I designed and led with students over my 40 years in college teaching. I have taken students to the Everglades, to the Southwestern US deserts, to the Bahamas and to the Chihuahua Mountains in western Texas. I believe strongly that students learn best by doing, and by being immersed in their topic of study. Intensive field trips provide students with an opportunity to learn first-hand about a topic, and also learn about themselves as they are challenged by a new environment, in collaboration with their peers. 


Adam Weaver, PhD

Associate Professor of Biology and Neuroscience
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Contact Professor Weaver

Cheray Hall 313E
Box 283
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Ph.D. Ohio University
B.A. University of Delaware

Career Timeline:

  • 2014-Present Associate Professor, Department of Biology, Saint Michael’s College 
  • 2010-2014 Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Saint Michael’s College 
  • 2008-2009 Assistant Professor, Div. of Basic Pharm. Sciences, Xavier Univ., Coll. of Pharmacy
  • 2007-2008 Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Xavier University of Louisiana
  • 2005-2007 Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Washington, Otolaryngology Department
  • 2002-2004 Postdoctoral Fellow, Emory University, Biology Department
  • 1995-2002 Ph.D., Neuroscience Program, Ohio University
  • 1990-1994 B.A., Biology and Psychology Double Major, University of Delaware
  • 2014-Present Associate Professor, Department of Biology, Saint Michael’s College 
  • 2010-2014 Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Saint Michael’s College 

Areas of Expertise:

Neurobiology / Neuroscience; Neuron Networks; Computer Modeling; Comparative Biology; Electrophysiology; Biophysical Modeling; Anatomy; Physiology

Courses I Teach:

  • Communications in the Biological Sciences 
  • Human Anatomy & Physiology I/II
  • Introduction to Cell Biology and Genetics 
  • The 5+ Senses: Our Window to the World (Senior Seminar)
  • Neuroscience: Physiology/Behavior

Peter Hope, MS

Instructor of Biology

Contact Professor Hope

Cheray Hall 316
Box 283
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B.A. Middlebury College
M.S. University of Vermont

Areas of Expertise:

Forest composition, dynamics and succession, fern and angiosperm systematics

Courses I Teach:

Communications in the Biological Sciences
Ecosystem Ecology
Introduction to Ecology and Evolution
Effects of Climate Change
Tropical Ecology


Scott Lewins, MS

Instructor of Biology
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Cheray Hall 313F
Box 283
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B.S. State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
M.S. University of Maryland

Areas of Expertise:

Sustainable Agriculture, Entomology, Biological Control, Insect Agroecology

Courses I Teach:

  • Insects and Society
  • Introduction to Cell Biology and Genetics
  • Introduction to Ecology and Evolution
  • Biological Communication
  • Animal Behavior
  • Field Tropical Ecology

My Saint Michael's:

I have been conducting applied agricultural research on farms throughout Vermont since I moved here in 2006. Shortly thereafter, I brought my love for field-based research and passion for teaching into the classroom to benefit the students of Saint Michael's College. My current research focuses on sustainable pest management, in particular the development of appropriate Integrated Pest Management tactics for northeastern organic vegetable growers.

Outside Saint Michael's:

I enjoy snowshoeing and hiking with my family, as well as cooking and eating great food.

Brian Swisher, M.S.

Instructor & Lab Coordinator

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Cheray Hall 302A
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  • M.S. University of Illiniois
  • B S. University of Illinois

Areas of expertise:

Aquatic ecology, behavioral ecology, conservation biology

Courses taught:

  • BI 151 Introduction to Ecology and Evolution
  • BI 153 Introduction to Cell Biology and Genetics
  • BI 260 Animal Behavior

Click here for my YouTube video about Animal Behavior

Being a biology major at Saint Michael's is big step toward a rewarding science career. Our grads work in the fields of genetics and molecular biology, biological and chemical research labs, environmental consulting and conservation, and pharmaceutical labs.

Others pursue a career in medicine or health sciences. We provide special advising for students interested in Pre-Medical and Health Careers.

After graduation, our majors go on to careers like:

  • Environmental Scientist
  • Fishery Observer
  • Laboratory Analyst
  • Molecular Diagnostics Technologist
  • mRNA Synthesis Production Associate
  • Water Treatment Technician
  • CDC Public Health Associate 
  • Clinical Research Coordinator
  • Health Care Associate
  • HIV Case Manager
  • Physician
  • Physician's Assistant
  • Pharmacist
  • Registered Nurse
  • Environmental Educator
  • Science Teacher

If graduate school is in your plans, plan to be accepted - over 80% of our graduates who wish to go on to post-graduate studies are accepted.

Medical, dental, and veterinary schools attended by recent Saint Michael's biology graduates include:

  • Dartmouth Medical School
  • Laval University
  • University of Vermont
  • SUNY Buffalo
  • Tufts University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • New England College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine
  • University of Dublin

Our graduates have also gone on into Masters and Ph.D. programs at strong research universities, including:

  • Harvard University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Cornell University
  • McGill University
  • University of Massachusetts-Amherst
  • University of Massachusetts-Medical Center
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Michigan State University
  • Colorado State University

  # Accepted Total Applied % Accepted
Chiropractic 1 1 100%
Dentistry 10 13 76.9%
Medicine (Allopathy) 15 17 88.2%
Medicine (Osteopathy) 5 5 100%
Naturopathy 1 1 100%
Nursing 6 6 100%
Nutrition 3 3 100%
Occupational Therapy 2 2 100%
Optometry 2 2 100%
Pathology 1 1 100%
Pharmacy 11 11 100%
Physical Therapy 7 7 100%
Physician Assistant 9 9 100%
Public Health 3 3 100%
Veterinary 4 4 100%
All Health Care Professional Schools 80 85 94.1%
Graduate School (non-health care Masters and Ph.D.) 22 23 95.7%


To find out more about what our graduates are doing, visit our Biology Alumni Profiles.


Internships are a great way to help build valuable experience for potential jobs and further education, as well as a way to put your learning into action. Biology majors have many possible internships available, including positions related to human health, natural resources, environmental education, and medical research:

Biology Research Opportunities

Our biology professors have a broad range of research interests, including aquatic biology, animal behavior, ecology, genetics, molecular biology, evolution, developmental biology and biology education. Our faculty are active researchers who have received major competitive grant awards from the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health, among others. As importantly, they genuinely love to teach undergraduate students.

Biology students will find many opportunities to perform research with faculty during the academic year or in the summers. Recent grant-funded research projects by Biology students include:

  • Cholinergic neurons and their projections in the nervous system of the Central American Hunting Spider Cupiennius salei
  • Genetic characterization of Tripartite Motif (TRIM) Protein 25 Gene in Lynx Rufus in Vermont
  • Measurement of neuronal physiological properties in the heartbeat system of the North American leech species 
  • Molecular evolution of APOBEC3H in Felidae species
  • Population and evolutionary genetics of anti-viral innate immune genetic diversity in Vermont bobcats
  • Understanding the site of phosphorylation in multiple proteins

Student researchers have been co-authors on professional publications and have presented their work at conferences locally, nationally and internationally, including at:

  • Lake Champlain Research Consortium
  • Vermont Genetics Network
  • Posters on the Hill in Washington, DC
  • American Society of Microbiologists in Boston
  • North American Benthological Society in New Orleans
  • International Maize Conference in Mexico City
  • American Fisheries Society in Quebec City
  • International Society of Limnology in Montreal


NOAA Hollings Scholar Kelsey Miller '16 worked with ecologist Dr. James Morris to study how survival of the fittest could be helping the Lionfish.


Biology Abroad

In recent years, 35% of Saint Michael's biology majors have had a study abroad experience - it's highly recommended.  However, it does require planning, so speak to your academic advisor during your first year so that you can get a plan in place that will allow you to study abroad.

Faculty-led Study Trips

The Biology department takes students on faculty-led study trips during winter break.  Students can gain field experience studying tropical rain forests or coral reefs and earn 2 academic credits:

Costa Rica: Tropical Ecology Study Tour (Biology 250)

This study tour provides an introduction to tropical ecology including tropical climates and topography and their effects on ecosystems. The sites include a tropical dry forest at Palo Verde National Park, a mid-elevation cloud forest at Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, and a premontane rain forest at Selve Verde Preserve. Activities include guided hikes, our own group hikes, early morning bird walks, a boat ride, and night hikes. Students generate study questions from observations made on the field trips and on the last full day at each site students gather data for a study that they have designed. Students analyze and interpret the data and give oral presentations on their studies. Students also keep a field journal on plants and animals we encounter and on their observations on conservation, ecotourism impacts, and sustainable development.

Costa Rica Tropical Ecology Study Tour 2017 Facebook page

Cuba: Coral Reefs (Biology 254)

This is an intensive 11-day field course to study coral reefs and associated habitats in Cuba, which has some of the most pristine reefs in the Caribbean. The course focuses on the health and diversity of the coral reefs as well as the ecology and behavior of the marine fish that live in association with a coral reef. Coral reefs are one of the most productive of the world’s ecosystems, and there is extraordinary complexity of interactions among the biotic and abiotic components. Studying this ecosystem in a direct and intensive way facilitates an understanding and appreciation of the intricate inter-relationships within a biological community. In addition, this fragile ecosystem provides us with an opportunity to observe and analyze the impact of various environmental threats, both natural and anthropogenic, such as coastal development, pollution, and global climate change.  Students may snorkel or dive but must be scuba-certified in order to dive.


Saint Michael's College is also an affiliate member of the School for Field Studies, which provides semester-long and summer programs in natural resource ecology and management at its field stations in Costa Rica, Mexico, the Turks & Caicos Islands (in the eastern Caribbean), Australia and Kenya.


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