Apr 23, 2021  
2020-2021 Undergraduate Catalog 
2020-2021 Undergraduate Catalog

Biology Department

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Colleges/Schools, Departments & Programs

Kaius Helenurm, Chairperson
191 Churchill-Haines Laboratories
(605) 677-5211




Hugh B. Britten, Population Genetics, Evolution, Conservation Biology
Mark D. Dixon, Landscape and Plant Ecology, Riparian Ecosystems 
Kaius Helenurm,  Plant Conservation Genetics, Evolution of Island Plants
Jacob L. Kerby, Ecotoxicology, Conservation Biology, Behavioral Ecology, Disease Ecology
Karen L. Koster, Plant Stress Physiology, Cell Biology, Seed Biology
Kenneth J. Renner, Neuroendocrinology, Reproductive Physiology
Daniel A. Soluk, Aquatic Ecology, Behavioral Ecology, Conservation Biology
Cliff H. Summers, Neuroendocrinology, Reproductive Biology, Vertebrate Stress Physiology
David L. Swanson, Physiological Ecology of Vertebrates, Ornithology, Vertebrate Cold Adaptation

Associate Professors:

Jeff Wesner, Food Webs, Aquatic Ecology, Community and Ecosystem Ecology, Ecotoxicology

 Assistant Professors:

Christopher V. Anderson, Functional Morphology, Biomechanics, Muscle Physiology, and Physiological Ecology
Ranjeet John, Ph.D. University of Toledo. Specializations: Landscape and Ecosystem Ecology, Biogeography, Ecological Modeling, Remote Sensing
Andrea L. Liebl, Ecological Physiology, Stress Physiology, Ecological Epigenetics, Animal Behavior, Cooperation
Bernie Wone, Metabolism, Aging, Metabolomics, Functional Genomics, Abiotic Stress, and Biostatistics


Lynn Riley, Introductory Biology, Botany, Genetics, Plant Ecology


Katherine Rasmussen, Introductory Laboratory Coordinator, GTA Supervisor
Beate Wone, Genetics, Histology, Cell Biology, General Biology

Emeritus Professor:

Paula Mabee, Developmental Biology, Systematics, Ichthyology, Informatics


Biology, B.S.
Medical Biology, B.S. 


Conservation and Biodiversity Specialization-Biology, B.S.
Physiology, Cell & Molecular Biology Specialization-Biology, B.S.



Conservation & Biodiversity

The Department of Biology offers courses that provide a broad background in biology, as well as concentrations in particular areas. The teaching and research interests of the faculty are diverse, ranging from physiology and cell biology to ecology and evolution. Particular strengths of the department include conservation biology, environmental stress physiology, neuroendocrinology, and population and evolutionary ecology.

Two majors - Biology and Medical Biology - are offered by the Department of Biology.  The Biology major, with either a specialization in Conservation and Biodiversity or a specialization in Physiology, Cell and Molecular Biology, offers broad coverage of the major areas of biology. Within these specializations, Biology students take introductory and advanced courses that may lead to careers in medicine, allied health sciences, conservation biology, agriculture, applied biology, and other fields. Students graduating with a degree in Biology from USD are nationally competitive for graduate programs.

Students select either the Physiology, Cell and Molecular Biology Specialization or the Conservation and Biodiversity Specialization. The Physiology, Cell and Molecular Biology Specialization is recommended for students interested in careers in medicine, other health professions, biomedical engineering, biomedical research, physiology, cell and molecular biology, and biotechnology. The Conservation and Biodiversity Specialization serves students interested in ecology, evolution, systematics, conservation biology, wildlife/fisheries biology, and other areas of biology. The Conservation and Biodiversity Specialization also complements the Sustainability major for those wishing to do a double major. Both Biology specializations serve students interested in pursuing interdisciplinary careers such as public policy and law, pharmaceutical development and sales, education, and bioethics.

The Medical Biology major provides a more specialized focus for students’ intent on pursuing careers in health-related fields. The curriculum is designed to help students achieve the competencies recommended for entrance to medical school. This major also provides training for students interested in pursuing graduate or professional degrees in health care, biotechnology, physiology, and cellular and molecular biology. The Medical Biology major includes a number of courses offered by the Sanford School of Medicine.

The Department of Biology offers a general minor in Biology and a more specialized minor in Conservation and Biodiversity.  Both minors are open to any USD undergraduate who is not a Biology major, except Medical Biology majors may not add a general minor in Biology.  The minor in Conservation and Biodiversity provides additional depth in biology that is particularly suited for students majoring in Sustainability and for others with an interest in ecology or natural resources.

For more information about the department, please check our web site.


Please contact the department for additional information about available scholarships and awards. Also see College of Arts & Sciences  for college/school level scholarships.

  • Biology Department Scholarship Fund
  • Dr. Edward P. & Nellie A. Churchill Scholarship
  • Janet Rogge Dugle Biology Scholarship 
  • Dr. Bruce & Ila Lushbough Scholarship 
  • Nelson Family Scholarship
  • Nolop Institute Scholarship for Medical Biology
  • Gladys Ripper Scholarship 
  • Scholars in Medical Biology
  • Webster Sill Scholarship
  • Lucile B. Wendt Memorial Scholarship 



Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Colleges/Schools, Departments & Programs