Biological Research


Follow your passion to the cutting edge of science and research by majoring in Biological Research. Your experience will be unlike that provided by any other private institution in the Midwest. Choose from a major in biological research or biology while customizing your specialty. Gain hands-on experience using a DNA sequencer, collecting samples out in the field, and conducting your own research projects. You’ll expand your knowledge and professional network in a biology May Term classes in Florida, Texas, or Costa Rica.

Learn About Our Major in Biology Research

Student Experience

The biology research degree at Loras will provide you with an understanding of fundamental concepts as well as specialized knowledge in the study of life on earth. You’ll be ready to tackle exciting challenges in areas like health science, education, and conservation – or expand your expertise in graduate or medical school. Earn substantial experience in the field prior to college graduation with an internship in your area of interest.

The program also serves as a source of expertise, both research and instructional, for the local community, State of Iowa and beyond, and provides students the opportunity to learn through participation in this service experience. In both instances, this access and service is afforded in a Catholic atmosphere where moral and ethical implications of biological knowledge and earth’s stewardship are raised to the students and various public entities.

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The following are some of the opportunities Biology and Biological Research students have pursued to gain valuable experiences.

  • Summer Research Program in Microbiology at the University of Iowa
  • Various programs at the Biosciences Summer Research Program at the University of Iowa
  • Fellowships in Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation — Willowbrook Wildlife Foundation, Glen Ellyn, IL
  • Integrated Biological Sciences Summer Research Program (IBS-SRP) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Summer Laboratory Science Program at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
  • Summer Undergraduate Research Program at the Center for Protease Research at North Dakota State University
  • National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network summer research experience for undergraduates at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
  • Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURP) Program at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
  • Iowa DNR seasonal natural resources aide positions with the Multiple Species and Monitoring Project
  • Marine Biology Summer Research at Grice Marine Lab, College of Charleston, SC
  • Summer Internships with the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation
  • SeaWorld College Experience internships

Many Loras Biology graduates have used their experiences here to find challenging and rewarding positions in education, health science, graduate school and many other jobs.

The Biology Program exists within the framework of a liberal arts college and is dedicated to:

  • Providing access to fundamental concepts of biology for all students and
  • Providing access to specialized biological knowledge for Biology majors and minors

The program also serves as a source of expertise, both research and instructional, for the local community, state of Iowa and beyond. In both instances, this access and service is afforded in a Christian and Catholic atmosphere where moral and ethical implications of biological knowledge are conveyed to the students and various publics. The program faculty are fully committed to teaching and achieving the highest level of professional competence as biologists.

Small class sizes and personal attention from our faculty will help you not only learn biology but experience it, question it and internalize it. Majors get hands-on, up-close learning opportunities. Our curriculum will help you prepare for a specific field of interest but will also give you the chance to learn about many aspects of the natural world from biomolecules, genes and cells to plant and animal ecology and human physiology. Almost all of our courses have laboratory experiences with them. These labs are student-centered, focused around asking questions and using the Scientific Method to answer them.

To learn more about our curriculum, students and faculty, please come to Dubuque for a campus visit. Not only will you get a tour of the Loras campus, but you can talk with a Biology faculty member about questions that you have or learn about what a typical day or week is like. We would be happy to have you attend one of our classes while you are here and/or we will give you a tour of our program facilities. Campus visits can be scheduled through the Admissions Office at 563.588.7236 or by contacting Tom Davis, Program Chair, at 563.588.7767 or Please check out the information below to learn more about what the Biology Program at Loras has to offer you.

The Health Science Club is a student-run group whose focus is to engage and inform Loras undergraduates of the opportunities available in many of the health science fields.

Activities include panels of seniors who talk about their experiences in the application and interview processes; professor panels for students to ask about classes to take and requirements for various programs; guest speakers including current and past medical students, residents, PAs, physicians, nurse practitioners, dentists, optometrists, and other health professionals; fundraising events; service projects and social nights with science and other faculty like bowling or softball.

The club is open to any undergraduate at Loras. Please contact Dr. Davis at 7767 or email for additional details or to sign up as a speaker. 

Student Learning Outcomes


Student Learning Outcomes – Biological Research
1. Articulate scientific results and interpretation effectively in an oral presentation.
2. Write effectively to communicate scientific information.
3. Design valid and appropriate experiments to answer biological questions.
4. Accurately interpret and analyze biological data and statistics.
5. Demonstrate an understanding of the botany of plants.
6. Demonstrate an understanding of rules of genetic inheritance.
7. Describe important molecules and pathways that allow cells to function in tissues.
8. Apply ecological and evolutionary theory to current ecological problems.
9. Compare normal physiological body functions with diseased body functions.



View Highlighted Courses


Experimental Design & Biostatistics
Students will learn the hypothetico-deductive methods of science and experimental design, and the appropriate statistical means to evaluate these outcomes. The course involves the design and implementation of a semester-long group research project culminating in a formal scientific paper or poster presentation. Students will learn to use computer software to gain competence in common statistical applications, such as z- and t-tests, analysis of variance (one-way and factorial), correlation and regression analysis, and chi-square tests of frequency distributions. Prerequisites: L.LIB-100, L.LIB-105, L.LIB-110, and a Math Modeling (-FM) course, as well as one college-level biology course (L.BIO-115 or L.BIO­116). Three one-hour lecture periods (covering statistics) and one two-hour laboratory (research) period per week. 3 credits. Each fall semester.

Intensive Science Research Experience
This is an in-depth course designed to give students majoring in one of the sciences an intense, full-time research experience in their sub-discipline. The intensive research experiences will allow the student to perform experiments toward novel scientific findings, not simply a pre-packaged lab with the results already determined. Topics to be covered in the seminars include: Why are controls so important in research? How do I evaluate if research I read or hear about in the news is valid and sound scientifically? How do I read a scientific research paper? Prerequisites: L.BIO-115, and consent of mentor and instructor. 3 credits. May term. Dependent upon staff and demand.

Bird Conservation in South Texas
This course is a 14-day study travel field course in south Texas. Students will visit 12 different regional and national wildlife refuges as well as private sanctuaries that contain unique habitat and bird species that depend on these habitats. They will talk directly with wildlife managers in these areas to get answers to questions and understand the challenges that these people and birds face each day. Each student will learn basic bird identification, current conservation issues and ecology at each of the sites. 3 credits. May term. Dependent upon staff and demand.

Environmental Issues in Costa Rica
This course is a 12-day study travel field course in Costa Rica. Students will visit and compare three different forest ecosystems: tropical wet forest, tropical dry forest, and high elevation tropical cloud forest. Environmental issues including hydroelectric power, rainforest logging, agricultural land use, coffee production, and maintenance of biodiversity will be discussed. Not open to first year students. Additional fee charged for travel, lodging, food and activity costs. Prerequisites: an introductory course in biology; L.LIB-100, L.LIB-105, L.LIB-110, and a Mathematical Modeling (-FM) course. 3 credits. Every third May term.

An introduction to regulatory homeostasis as mediated by the vertebrate nervous system with emphases on cellular communication, formation of neural circuits and afferent­interneuron efferent pathways. Implications of neurotransmitter imbalance during disease and various mental disorders is also discussed. Two lecture periods per week. Prerequisite: L.BIO-1 15 or equivalent. 3 credits. Dependent upon staff and demand

This course will provide a basic overview of the human immune system, including both innate and adaptive immunity and the recent discoveries on the interaction of the two systems. The topics will include: immune cell functions, antibody production and function, immune response to infectious diseases (AIDS, others), allergies, and vaccine and transplant biology. Defects of the immune system leading to autoimmune diseases and immunodeficiencies will also be discussed. Lectures and class discussions, including many case studies and “Disease Fridays” will be utilized to meet course objectives. Prerequisite: L.BIO-1 15. Not open to first year students. 3 credits. Dependent upon staff and demand.

View Biological Research Courses

Major Requirements

Students will complete the following requirements in order to achieve a major biological research. 

Degree Requirements

Division of Molecular, Life & Health Sciences
Kate Cooper, Ph.D., Chair

Major Requirements for Biological Research (B.S.)

Course requirements for teacher licensure in Biological Science, Grades 7-12:
State of Iowa endorsement for the teaching major follows the basic course requirements of the biology major with some minor adjustments. For specifics,
Teacher Education/Secondary Education Requirements (B.A.)
Secondary Education Licensure & Endorsement Details

Related Majors
Biochemistry (B.S.)
Biology (B.S.)
Chemistry (B.S.)
Chemistry/Secondary Teaching (B.S.)

Career Opportunities

“What can you do with a Biology Research degree?”

As a biology research major, you will be prepared for a variety of interesting careers in the field of biology and research. Here are some examples of fields our alumni have entered:

  • Medical school and other health professions [Learn More]
  • Research and development
  • DNR Representative
  • State, Federal, Local, or County Conservation Agencies
  • Government Agencies (Wildlife, Fisheries, Habitat Management)
  • Pharmaceutical Sales
  • High School Biology teacher

Supporting Your Investment

Loras takes great pride in supporting your investment – both through providing an exceptional learning experience and in sharing the cost of your degree. 100% of Loras students receive financial aid. We have scholarships, grants and special awards for all students based on their achievements and financial need.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will it take me to earn my Loras degree?

Most students earn their undergraduate degree in four years or less. If you have questions about transferring any previously earned credits or degrees, please see our Transfer Student Information.

How much is tuition?

At Loras College, financial access to education is one of our defining values. We are committed to helping all of our students make their degree affordable. We partner with every student and family to understand their unique financial needs ensuring 100% of Loras students receive financial aid. Scholarships, grants and special awards are offered to all students based on their achievements and financial need. Loras is consistently ranked as one of the best universities for return on investment.  View our Tuition and Fees page.

How do I apply for schlarships and financial aid?

Submit your federal FAFSA, apply to Loras College and review our financial aid resources for detailed information, scholarship opportunities and much more.

I would like to go to medical school. Will I still be able to participate in athletics and/or be involved in student life?

Yes! Not only will you have opportunities to get involved in campus organizations, intercollegiate athletics or student leadership programs; you can also plan to study away with a May Term course or a full semester studying abroad.

Will I have research opportunities my first year in the program?

Yes. Students may join a faculty research lab as early as their first year. Faculty enjoy mentoring students and helping them find on- and off-campus research opportunities.

Meet Our Professors

Kate Cooper, Ph.D.
Professor of Biology
Chair, Division of Molecular, Life & Health Sciences
Biomedical Sciences Program Director
563.588.7956 |
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Thomas Davis, Ph.D.
Professor of Biology
563.588.7767 |
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David Shealer, Ph.D.
Professor of Biology
563.588.7678 |
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Aditi Sinha, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biology
563.588.7231 |
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Bryce Taylor, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Biology
563.588.7247 |
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