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    American University
    May 29, 2024  
American University Catalog 2022-2023 
American University Catalog 2022-2023 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]



Chair  Kathleen Decicco-Skinner
Lab Director  Meg Bentley
Premedical Programs Coordinator  Lynne Arneson
Professional Science Masters Director  John Bracht

Full-Time Faculty

Professor  V. Connaughton, C. Tudge
Associate Professor  J. Bracht, D. Carlini, K. De Cicco-Skinner, D.W. Fong, N. Krogan, C. Schaeff
Professorial Lecturer  B. Chow, R. Hazen, W. Kothmann, W. Nesbitt, H. Swanson

Emeriti Faculty

Professor Emeritus/a  J. Kaplan

Department Overview

The Department of Biology provides foundational courses that emphasize progress in our understanding of cell biology, genetics, and evolution. In addition, advanced courses in anatomy and physiology, development, immunology, pathogenesis, molecular biology, microbiology, ecology, neurobiology, endocrinology, and genomics provide specialty training across a wide range of student and faculty interests.

Faculty members conduct research in a diversity of sub-disciplines including neuroscience, bacteriology, physiology, endocrinology, molecular evolution, immunology, embryology, cancer, and computational genomics. Students are encouraged to conduct hands-on research projects in faculty laboratories, many of which are funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and/or National Science Foundation (NSF). Students also have the opportunity to visit, observe, and intern at some of the nation’s most prestigious biological research centers, including the Smithsonian Institution, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Aquarium in Baltimore, Smithsonian National Zoological Park, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

The department is committed to teaching biology as an empirical discipline that relies on the scientific method in undergraduate and graduate teaching laboratories, as well as faculty research laboratories. Students have the opportunity to gain experience with a wide variety of techniques including genomic/transcriptomic methodologies, bacterial and mammalian cell culture, microscopy, molecular genetics, and computational approaches. Training in neuroscience, endocrinology and sensory development is also available. Imaging, molecular, and histology core facilities support student and faculty research projects. Cooperative agreements with various government laboratories supplement opportunities for research in environmental, ecological, marine, and biomedical sciences.

The Department of Biology offers the Biology (BS) , Biology (MS) , and Biotechnology (MS) . The undergraduate Biology (Minor)  is also available. Collaborative agreements include majors in Neuroscience (BS)  and Public Health (BS) . Students are rigorously prepared for medical, dental or veterinary school, and for further graduate study in the biological sciences. Importantly, the Biology department offers courses that combine traditional education with the training necessary for today’s professional marketplace including work in private, public, and non-profit sectors.

The graduate degree programs emphasize the development and implementation of research techniques, permitting students to gain experience in scientific methods and experimental design both in the laboratory and in the field.

The Premedical  programs of the College of Arts and Sciences , including a Postbaccalaureate Premedical (Undergraduate Certificate) , are available to help all undergraduate, postbaccalaureate, and graduate students who are considering a career in medicine or one of the allied health professions.

Special Opportunities

  • Gloria Likins Scholarship for Undergraduate Women
  • Stephen C. Grebe Memorial Fund for Undergraduate Research
  • Teaching fellowships or assistantships

Honors in Biology

The Honors in Biology  program offers Biology majors the opportunity to participate in a series of advanced courses designed to foster an immersion in supervised individual research in biology. Research experience may include an in-depth literature review, hands-on laboratory work and/or field-work depending on the interests of the student and the availability of faculty supervisors.


    Major Program (UG)Minor (UG)Master’s Program (GR)