Welcome to the Department of Biology

Welcome to the Biology department!

We have a new program called ScISet. It’s designed to help you start your college career off on the right foot. Check it out here!

We are proud of all of the graduates of our program! We know many of you have travelled a long journey to graduation, and we celebrate you all. Here’s a partial list of where our graduates have gone: Where are they now?

Biology, the study of life, constitutes one of the most relevant fields of study in an individual’s total education. The study of biology enables students to understand the workings of their bodies in health and disease, makes them aware of their place in a world of living organisms, and awakens in them an appreciation of the beauty and complexity in the design of life.


The aim of the Biology Department is to provide a broad background in the biological sciences sufficient to meet the needs of students who intend to enter graduate or professional schools, to teach biology, and to pursue various biology-oriented careers. Therefore, students interested in careers in biological research, medicine, dentistry, optometry, physical therapy, public health, or other allied health specialities, may be interested in earning a degree in biology. For more information on specific programs, please see the section on pre-professional programs below.

The Department of Biology supports the mission of the university by seeking to create an environment where students can learn

  • to situate their knowledge of biology in a world-view which is biblical.
  • to think critically about sources of knowledge and knowledge claims, as well as to constantly try to integrate their knowledge, both within biology as well as with other disciplines of study.
  • to encourage and support a sense of curiosity and a realization of the excitement and reward that goes with discovery of the beauty and complexity of the living world, and to inspire in students a realization of the importance and benefits of life-long learning.
  • to see the importance of using their knowledge and talents in service to others, and to encourage them to contribute in significant ways to society and the church as professionals and as citizens.

Career Opportunities

A biology major provides excellent preparation for students who wish to enter professional programs in medicine, dentistry, veterinary science, or certain paramedical programs. Employment opportunities for biology graduates are available at federalstate, and local agencies as biologists, ecologists, naturalists, wildlife managers, and, with some additional training, as laboratory technicians or researchers. The North American Division of Seventh-day Adventist denomination and the public school system in MarylandVirginia and District of Columbia provide opportunities for science teachers at the secondary level. Many of these career opportunities as well as admission into other educational programs require a minimum GPA of 3.0.

For more career ideas, check out the “Best Health Care Jobs, 2014” ranked by US News & World Report.

If you’re interested in internships or scholarships, check out these options.

Programs Offered

Biology (BA) Suggested 4-Year Track
Biology (BS) Suggested 4-Year Track
Biology Minor Suggested 4-Year Track

Pre-Professional programs

Students should choose their majors based on their principal abilities and interests, because most professional schools accept individuals on the basis of merit rather than on their choice of major. Those who plan to enter professional schools should consult with their academic adviser in addition to the appropriate pre-professional program coordinator, listed below.

An overall GPA of at least 3.0 is required for admission to most professional programs, although some require a GPA significantly above 3.0.

Students should work closely with their pre-professional coordinator to ensure that they are meeting all of the requirements and recommendations within their chosen field. It is the responsibility of the student to communicate with the professional schools they wish to attend and consult their bulletins for information concerning specific courses and tests required for admission. Credit earned by Advanced Placement or CLEP may not be accepted.

THE PREMED PLAYBOOK: Guide to the Medical School Application Process 

Listed below are program coordinators, and required courses, for pre-professional programs most frequently chosen by students at WAU:

Pre-Chiropractic,Melinda Ekkens-Villanueva, PhD
Pre-Dental Hygiene,Melinda Ekkens-Villanueva, PhDprerequisite courses
Pre-Dentistry,Melinda Ekkens-Villanueva, PhDprerequisite courses
Pre-Medicine,Sam Perez, PhD & Melinda Ekkens-Villanueva, PhDprerequisite courses
Sample 4 Year Plan (Summer)
Sample 4 Year Plan (No Summer)
Pre-Occupational Therapy,Sam Perez, PhDprerequisite courses
Pre-Optometry,Sam Perez, PhD
Pre-Pharmacy,Nellie McKenzie, PharmDprerequisite courses
Pre-Physician Assistant,Sam Perez, PhDprerequisite courses
Pre-Physical Therapy,Sam Perez, PhDprerequisite courses
Pre-Public Health,Denise Hinds, DrPH
Pre-Veterinary Medicine,Sam Perez, PhDprerequisite courses

Course Descriptions

Read the Department of Biology section in the Academic bulletin.

For more information about the department, please see below:

Programmatic Admission Information

Graduation Requirements

Statement of Student Responsibility


For news and stories, please see below:

* The 2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded for Dr. Yoshinori Ohsumi’s work on the mechanisms of autophagy.

* The 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded for ground-breaking treatments for two parasitic infections: roundworms and malaria.

* Brittany Bower (’14) was recently published in the Online Journal of Bioinformatics. Congratulations to her and Dr. Dormer on their publication!

* WAU seniors conducted an experiment on October 24 at the Vienna Adventist Academy (Vienna, Virginia), with 7th and 8th grade students. The experiment looked at heat diffusion by first putting a balloon in a candle flame (it pops quickly due to the air in the balloon heating and expanding, while the rubber of the balloon is degraded by the heat). Then the experiment is repeated with a balloon that is partially filled with water. The water absorbs and distributes the heat away from the point of contact, which delays (or prevents) the balloon from popping. Watch the video

* Here are some interesting creative projects, which were created by the fall 2014, BIOL 410 (Developmental Biology) class.

* If you’re a pre-medicine student, you might find the Rice Premed Student Guide helpful; it contains a lot of important information for students on the pre-medicine track. Also, on their webpage you can find a link to a free MCAT study calendar.

* The new MCAT sample test is available from the AAMC. The exam costs $25 and can be obtained from the AAMC website: www.aamc.org/mcat2015sampletest.

 Jonas Salk’s birthday was on Oct. 28th. Dr. Salk developed the first successful inactivated polio vaccine, saving thousands of lives and preventing childhood paralysis. You can read more information about him at http://www.biography.com/people/jonas-salk-9470147#synopsis. They have a nice video synopsis also.

July 20th is the anniversary of the moon landing. For pictures and more information, check out NASA’s page at http://www.nasa.gov/. There’s a lot of other news at http://www.space.com/news.

STEM University


Biology Department

Sam Perez, PhD, Chair
Melinda Ekkens-Villanueva, PhD
Nellie McKenzie, PharmD

For program information, contact:

Dr. Melinda Ekkens-Villanueva
Phone: 301-891-4462
Fax: 301-576-0167
E-mail: mvillanu@wau.edu
Room 102D, Science Building