Where life begins...

Welcome to the Department of Biology

Department of Biology in McCollum Science Hall
Students traveled to the Galapagos Islands with Biology Professor Dr. Clayton.
Class sizes are small and taught by faculty.
The Department of Biology provides advanced lab experiences using the newest technology.

Welcome to the Department of Biology

Biology at UNI is a Great Place to Prepare for a Career in Medicine

In 2016-17, of the 35 UNI Biology students who applied to the University of Iowa College of Medicine, nine were accepted (26% acceptance rate):  Iowa State University (ISU) had 20 of 90 students accepted into the University of Iowa (UI) College of Medicine (22% acceptance rate), while U of I had 60 of 306 students accepted into the U of I College of Medicine (19% acceptance rate).

Biology is a Great Major for those Wishing to Pursue Careers in...

• Medicine

Data from the University of Iowa College of Medicine show that of the 35 UNI students who applied, nine were accepted resulting in a 26% acceptance rate.  Data from Des Moines University, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine show that since 2014, of the 65 UNI graduates who applied, 21 were accepted resulting in a 32% acceptance rate.  Of those UNI students accepted, 80% had a Biology major.

• Dentistry

In 2016-17, UNI had a 100% acceptance rate at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry.  From 2013-2015 it was an average acceptance rate of 58% yearly.

• Veterinary Medicine

In the fall of 2017, UNI has a 100% acceptance rate into Iowa State University Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Program.  The 4-year average is 68%..

• Physical Therapy

In 2016-17, UNI had an 68% of students from UNI Department of Biology were accepted to DPT programs around the country.  Including all UNI students, we had an overall acceptance rate of 55%.

• Pharmacy

In 2016-17, UNI had an 80% acceptance rate into the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy.  The 3-year average is 75%.

Biology at UNI is a Great Place to Prepare for Top Flight Masters and Doctoral Programs

  • UNI Biology students also pursue a variety of Ph.D. and Master's programs and have attended the following institutions:

      • University of Northern Iowa           • University of Wisconsin
      • University of Iowa                            • University of Missouri
      • Iowa State University                       • University of Kansas
      • Harvard University                           • University of Arkansas
      • Stanford University                          • University of Texas
      • Florida State University                   • University of Akron
      • Texas A&M University                      • University of Nebraska
      • Montana State University                • University of Auckland - New Zealand
      • University of Montana                     • University of California - Santa Clara
      • University of Minnesota                  • University of Cincinnati

Biology at UNI Offers Students a Wide Array of Out of Classroom Possibilities

  • Biology students have outstanding internship possibilities:

    • Seattle Aquarium                            • Henry Doorly Zoo
    • United States Navy                         • NASA
    • Integrated DNA Technologies       • Walt Disney World
    • National Aquarium                         • AmeriCorp
    • Hormel Institute                             • United States Senate
    • Sea World • Pioneer                       • DuPont Pioneer
    • Univ. of TX M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

Biology at UNI Offers Students a Wide Array of Opportunities Beyond the State of Iowa

  • UNI Biology students have participated in National Student Exchange:

    • University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau      • University of Montana
    • University of Kentucky                                     • Montana State University
    • University of Rhode Island                              • New Mexico State University
    • Oregon State University                                  • University of South Carolina
    • Boise State University                                      • University of Northern Arizona
    • University of Virgin Islands, St. Thomas        • California State University - San Bernadino

. . . and Around the World

  • UNI Biology students have participated in Study Abroad:

                • South Africa • Australia • Turkey • France • England • Iceland • Galapagos • New Zealand    

Susann Ahrabi-Fard, 2017 Alumnus in Residence, presented on April 13 in McCollum Science Hall

"Public Health, Outbreaks and Tales from the Field: 20 Years of Communicable Disease Surveillance."Public Health, Outbreaks and Tales from the Field

Diseases such as Ebola, Zika, and others are occurring more frequently around the globe.  Communicable disease specialist, Susann Ahrabi-Fard, Biology Alumni in Residence, spoke April 13, in McCollum Science Hall on "Public Health, Outbreaks and Tales from the Field: 20 years of Communicable Disease Surveillance" particularly meningitis, rabies, monkey pox, zika and ebola."

Susann Ahrabi-Fard has worked for 18 years as a Communicable Disease Epidemiologist for the Wisconsin Division of Public Health.  In her position she conducts disease surveillance for bacterial sepsis and meningitis, leads disease investigations, responds to disease outbreaks and has participated in numerous national outbreak investigations including Anthrax, Monkeypox, H1N1, fungal meningitis, Ebola and Zika Virus. Susann will describe her career in Public Health and will entertain you with her many unique experiences from the field.

Prior to her current position Susann received her B.A.(’91) and M.A.(‘94) from UNI, and was chosen for a national “Emerging Infectious Disease “Laboratory Training Fellowship” through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She was stationed at the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene where she completed rotations in Bacteriology, Tuberculosis, and Virology.

Alumnus, Dr. Dave Swanson, Demonstrates the Use of Ultrasound with Local Anesthesia

Dr. Dave Swanson Demonstration in the Biology Dept.Dr. Dave Swanson, UNI Alum, was on the UNI campus on April 20th, 2016 to perform a demonstration on the use of ultrasound and the need for anatomical knowledge in the placement of local anesthesia. Dr. Swanson performed ultrasound on a student volunteer to show students and faculty in attendance where local anesthesia is placed for specific procedures and why learning the anatomy of these areas is so important to anesthesiologists. These ultrasound images were projected on the big screen in Lantz Auditorium, allowing the entire audience to view the images. Further, Dr. Swanson and our very own Mary McDade made use of our synthetic cadavers (syndavers) to point out the anatomical landmarks shown in the ultrasound images. The images from the syndavers were projected onto two big screen monitors on either side of the room. This allowed the audience to compare the ultrasound images to the anatomical structures of the syndavers simultaneously. This was an outstanding opportunity for students to obtain "real life" uses of what they are learning in their anatomy courses and was motivational for them in their pursuit of a health related career. Dr. Swanson remained after the demonstration to interact with faculty and students. The event was so successful that Dr. Swanson and the UNI Department of Biology are already in the planning stages for a similar event next year.

Department Snapshots

Contact Us:

Dr. Theresa Spradling, Interim Head
University of Northern Iowa • Department of Biology • 144 McCollum Science Hall • Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0421
Tel: (319) 273-2456 • Fax: (319) 273-7125
Megan Kaisand, Office Coordinator • Email: