Contact Us

Churchill-Haines Labs, Room 191
414 E. Clark St.
Vermillion, South Dakota 57069
Office Hours
Monday - Friday
8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.


College Dean

Welcome to the Department of Biology

Biology is a natural science studying life and living things, from microscopic cells to complex life forms and expansive ecosystems. The study of biology is extensive in scope – playing a role in disciplines like medicine, archaeology and chemistry – and provides an avenue for scientists and researchers to study, nurture and explore life. 

At USD, our faculty contribute cutting-edge research and insightful scholarship to this field, bringing their expertise to publications, conferences and the classroom. With a small student-faculty ratio, our undergraduate and graduate students benefit from personalized attention and the opportunity to conduct research alongside experts. In our robust research labs and facilities, you'll find students and faculty studying molecular biology, stress physiology and conservation biology as they find answers to pressing questions in our region and world. With innovative classes and many out-of-class experiences, our department prepares students to do research, practice and teach in a wide variety of careers relating to biology, as well as medical, professional and graduate programs.

Join our community of researchers, scientists and mentors in the Department of Biology at USD.



Faculty & Staff

Get to know the faculty and staff in the Department of Biology. Our faculty are experts in their field, contributing research and scholarship in amphibian declines, physiological and biomedical systems,  landscape ecology, riparian ecosystems, geospatial analysis, environmental effects on phenotypes, fish ecology, metabolomics and more.
Bio Image for Faculty Member Jacob Kerby

Jacob Kerby

Chair, Biology/Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Christopher Anderson

Christopher Anderson

Associate Professor


Functional Morphology, Biomechanics, Herpetology
Bio Image for Faculty Member Hugh Britten

Hugh Britten

Associate Chair, Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Mark Dixon

Mark Dixon

Bio Image for Faculty Member Yohaan Fernandes

Yohaan Fernandes

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Cathy Ganschow

Cathy Ganschow

Program Assistant I
Bio Image for Faculty Member Ranjeet John

Ranjeet John

Assistant Professor


remote sensing, ecology, rangeland/crop monitoring
Bio Image for Faculty Member Karen Koster

Karen Koster

Chair, Anthropology & Sociology/Professor


Plant Physiology, Cell Biology
Bio Image for Faculty Member Laura Dixon

Laura Dixon

Bio Image for Faculty Member Andrea Liebl

Andrea Liebl

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Omera Matoo

Omera Matoo

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Lynn Riley

Lynn Riley

Bio Image for Faculty Member Cliff Summers

Cliff Summers

Bio Image for Faculty Member David Swanson

David Swanson

Dir of Research-MO River Inst
Bio Image for Faculty Member Jeff Wesner

Jeff Wesner

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Beate Wone

Beate Wone

Bio Image for Faculty Member Bernard Wone

Bernard Wone

Associate Professor

Known for Excellence

At USD, you'll find a high quality educational experience strengthened by our faculty's research and creative scholarship. See what makes our department exceptional.

Student Opportunities

Explore the variety of opportunities and resources available to our students.

Departments & Facilities

Explore the departments, facilities and centers that contribute to your education in the Department of Biology.
People on stage at Nolop Institute dedication

Nolop Institute for Medical Biology

Established in honor of Keith Nolop, M.D., a 1975 USD biology graduate, the Nolop Institute for Medical Biology enhances the experience of outstanding undergraduate students majoring in medical biology at USD.

Overview of the Missouri River

Missouri River Institute

Located along the free-flowing Missouri National Recreational River, the Missouri River Institute explores the natural and cultural resources of the river through its focus on research, education and outreach.

Lee Baugh smiling in front of a monitor showing brain research.

Center for Brain and Behavior Research

The Center for Brain and Behavior Research (CBBRe) promotes outstanding training of research students and fellows, feeding the pipeline of creative independent scientists in the fields of neuroscience and behavioral science.

Biology faculty portrait

USD Neuroscience, Nanotechnology & Networks Program

Graduate students can apply to the USD-N3 program, which takes a team-based training approach to prepare graduate students for diverse career paths in STEM professions. Students receive training in the development of novel nanotechnology-derived tools aimed at both understanding the brain and potentially treating disorders of the brain. Our students receive tuition and stipend support, including an annual stipend of $34,000 for two years during training.

Biology faculty and students inspecting plants in a greenhouse

Nationally-Recognized Faculty

In the Department of Biology, our faculty and students are involved in cutting-edge research in molecular biology, stress physiology and conservation biology. From investigating the causes of amphibian declines worldwide to studying the effects of the environment on behavioral and physiological phenotypes, our faculty are contributing expert insight to their fields and shaping how we respond to and understand our world. Their research has been backed by prestigious grants from sources such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

Biology student portrait

Students Making Their Mark in Research

And our students are right there beside our faculty in the lab. USD extends research opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students, providing hands-on research experiences in individual labs and a variety of robust, newly-renovated facilities. Grants are available for student research in the school year and the summer months.

Hear from a usd student

Success story Jazmine Yaeger smiling in a lab.
The Ph.D. program offered me opportunities as a graduate student to both teach and do research. For a career in academia, USD provides a useful combination of one-on-one mentoring and research opportunities that will benefit any student's goals.

Jazmine Yaeger

Ph.D., Biological Sciences, Neurosciences '17
Akron, Iowa