Majors & Minors


Learn to think critically through the study of living organisms and their relationships to the environment.


Romi Burks

Chair and Professor of Biology



Romi Burks

Chair and Professor of Biology


Majoring or minoring in biology is your gateway to a richer understanding of living organisms, from the molecules within cells to the biosphere that encompasses all of Earth’s ecosystems. At Southwestern, you’ll deepen your knowledge of molecular processes, ecological diversity, genetics, the human body, and evolution through our rich and wide-ranging curriculum. You’ll engage in thoughtful assignments and projects while gaining hands-on experience in our state-of-the-art on-campus laboratories. You will have opportunities to conduct research and collaborate with our engaged and enthusiastic faculty on a range of projects, such as studying

  • the diversity and distribution of snails using genetics and field sampling
  • DNA repair and mutation
  • the development and progression of breast and uterine cancer
  • gene expression within bacteria
  • the complexities of antibiotic resistance
  • the relationship between natural selection and gene evolution
  • the ecology of local amphibians
  • the development of neural circuits in the brain

Majors may choose to pursue either a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science. Our students often take courses in SU’s robust environmental studies program or elect one of our new interdisciplinary minors, such as animal studies, health studies, and data science. In addition, SU offers preprofessional pathways in the areas of pre-medicine, pre-dental, and pre-veterinary medicine that will provide you with personalized advising and other helpful resources that will prepare your for advanced study. No matter which path you choose, you will have numerous career choices to choose from. Our alumni have gone on to successfully complete graduate and professional programs in the dental, medical, medical technology, nursing, optometry, pharmacy, and veterinary fields. They’ve also enjoyed satisfying careers in industry, government, nonprofit organizations, public health, and education.


Featured Alumni Stories

Dr. Robert W. Karr ’71

Dr. Robert W. Karr ’71

Medal of Honor

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Kira McEntire '13

The Science and Art of Salamanders

Kira McEntire ’13 explores creative expression while teaching and researching wildlife biology.

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Megan Schubert Leese ’01

Looking out for the Community

Inspired by a service trip to Honduras during one eye-opening spring break, Megan Schubert Leese ’01 now champions public health.

Read Full Story


Biology News

Front page of the Fall 2019 BioScope Issue

Biology Dept. Fall 2019 Newsletter

BioScope provides news and updates about the Southwestern University Department of Biology. Published on an (semi-)annual basis, the newsletter contains information about faculty-student research, classes, volunteer opportunities and more.

Shi Solis ’20, one of Todd’s current research assistants, can attest that her mentor has been a delight to work with.

Researching the Future of Cancer Treatment

Professor of Biology Maria Todd mentors undergraduates while examining the mechanics of how cancer spreads.

Dr. Romi Burks, Professor of Biology

Romi Burks, Ms. Homecoming 2019

The Southwestern University Alumni Association has selected Professor of Biology Romi Burks as the 2019 recipient of their Ms. Homecoming Award. The Ms. Homecoming Award is presented to one faculty member each year as a token of affection and respect of former students.