Skip to Main Content


Department of Biology/Toxicology

The College of Arts and Sciences


Paul Hyman, Professor of Biology


Soren Brauner, Professor of Biology

Mason Posner, Professor of Biology, Trustees' Professor

Patricia A. Saunders, Professor of Biology

Andrew J. Trimble, Associate Professor of Biology/Toxicology

Cynthia Perkovich, Assistant Professor of Biology

Robin Sikut, Professional Instructor of Biology

Susan Harrington, Adjunct Assistant Professor

Tracy Frankowski, Adjunct Professional Instructor

Mary Garchar, Adjunct Professional Instructor

Barbara Zingale, Adjunct Professional Instructor

Degrees Offered

Bachelor of Science

Bachelor of Science in Education

Pre-Professional Programs

Biology courses make up a substantial component of the required curriculum for a number of pre-professional programs. For minimum requirements, see the Academic Affairs section on pre-professional programs. The Biology Department, along with other departments, has prepared recommended course sequences that give students the greatest probability of acceptance into professional schools. In most of these programs a biology major is a strong preparation. Those programs with a strong biology component include pre-medicine, pre-dentistry, pre- veterinary medicine, pre-medical laboratory science, pre-pharmacy, pre-physical therapy, pre-physician assistant, pre- occupational therapy and pre-optometry.

Mission and Goals

The mission and goals of the Department of Biology/Toxicology are:

  • To educate B.S. and B.S.Ed. Students in biology and toxicology, and to successfully prepare them for jobs or graduate/professional schools;

  • To educate future teachers, providing them with the knowledge and skills necessary to teach children biology;

  • To educate students from other disciplines, encouraging them to become citizens who are knowledgeable about biological issues;

  • To advance biological knowledge through research and scholarship; and

  • To enhance the knowledge and understanding of biology in the community at large.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students graduating with a major in biology or toxicology will be able to:

  • Evaluate and summarize the findings and significance of studies reported in the biological literature;

  • Demonstrate a breadth of knowledge commensurate with their biology coursework through a standardized exam;

  • Use field and laboratory techniques employed in the study of biology, including sampling techniques, volume measurements, separation techniques (e.g., gel electrophoresis and chromatography), microscopy, sterile technique, species identification, bioinformatics and appropriate techniques for quantitative analysis (e.g., spectroscopy, pH meters);

  • Communicate scientific findings and knowledge through oral presentations or written papers;

  • Apply scientific methods (including experimental design, sampling strategy, data analysis and deductive reasoning) as a means of investigating biological problems;

  • Apply quantitative concepts and skills to data, including summary, analysis, visualization, and inference for a variety of research questions.

Facilities and Equipment

Biology facilities in the Kettering Science Center includes four teaching and four faculty/student research laboratories; a microscopy room and tissue culture facility; an animal facility with multiple rooms housing fishes, amphibians, rodents, birds, and invertebrates; an anatomy lab housing four human cadavers and an extensive anatomy model collection; a collections room for preserved specimens; and a 2500 square foot greenhouse with an adjoining laboratory that houses a permanent plant collection and provides space for student and faculty research. The department is well-equipped to provide students with a broad hands-on experience in biological techniques. Equipment available for student use includes:

  • Large number of compound and dissecting microscopes as well as an Olympus inverted microscope with phase, Nomarski, and fluorescence optics and Nikon research grade microscope with phase optics. These microscopes are equipped with digital cameras and image analysis software.

  • A wide range of tools for molecular and cellular biology, including two refrigerated centrifuges, ultracentrifuge, shaking incubator, five thermal cyclers for PCR (including real-time qPCR), digital imaging stations for DNA, protein gels, and western blots, and a full complement of DNA and protein electrophoresis equipment including 2D gel electrophoresis.

  • Tissue culture facility with biological containment hood, CO2 incubator and inverted microscope.

  • Separate microbiology teaching and research laboratories, both with biological containment hoods capable of Biosafety Level 2 experiments.

  • A Leica cryostat for histological studies.

  • Two UV/Vis spectrophotometers and an absorbance plate reader for diverse biological applications.

  • Microtox system for studies in aquatic toxicology.

  • Tools for environmental studies, including a Seabird profiling instrument for lakes and oceans, a YSI handheld instrument for streams and shallow wetlands, a photosynthesis measuring system for studies of plant physiology, and CCI instruments and GIS software for mapping and collection of spatial data.

  • Field sampling equipment, including gear appropriate to both aquatic and terrestrial studies.

  • Numerous growth chambers, environmental chambers, and incubators.

  • Multiple aquariums, including a 75-gallon saltwater tank for study of marine organisms.

  • Physiology analysis equipment including the Vernier system with a wide range of sensors (EKG, spirometry, etc.) and the Iworx system.

  • Access to a large number of laptops and desktop workstations for use in the classroom and laboratory.

Field Studies

In addition to five Environmental Preserves managed by the Environmental Science Program, Ashland University's location enhances field study opportunities. Various field courses utilize the close proximity of diverse bodies of water (including Lake Erie), swamps, bogs, prairie habitats, rich deciduous forests (including Mohican State Forest), and the boundary between glaciated and unglaciated Appalachian Plateau. Summer field studies give students the opportunity to study other unique habitats around the country.  The University owns the Black Fork Wetlands Environmental Studies Center (BFWESC), which serves as a base for student/faculty research studies, classroom activities and public outreach.

Student Honor Society

Beta Beta Beta, Xi Mu chapter, honors biology majors and minors. Regular members maintain a 3.0 GPA and have completed at least three biology courses. Associate membership is available to all other students with an interest in biology.

Description of Majors

Biology Major

Majors in the Biology program explore the characteristics of life, living organisms, and the environments that support life. This exploration comes at many levels—from the molecular and cellular to the interactions between organisms and their environment. Along with classroom work, students gain extensive laboratory and field exposure and are encouraged to conduct undergraduate research. Biology majors have many career options, including medicine and other health-related fields, pharmaceuticals, biochemistry, engineering, forensics, education, environment, or agriculture. They may work with animals, manage wildlife, work with plants, manage forests, work in the field or parks, or work in laboratories. Biology majors may choose to add a concentration.

Forensic Biology Concentration

The Forensic Biology program was developed to meet the needs of students interested in pursuing a career in forensic biology, the application of biological principles to law enforcement. The major provides a strong basic background in both biology and chemistry, along with specialized upper level courses specifically applicable to forensics. Course work in criminal justice and other areas provide additional perspectives. After graduation, forensic biology majors will be well prepared for either on-the-job training in a forensics laboratory or for graduate study in the area of forensics.

Medical Laboratory Science Concentration

This concentration provides students with a Biology degree, and with the completion of the extended senior year at one of our partner programs at the Akron Children's Hospital or the Cleveland Clinic, eligibility for certification as a Medical Laboratory Scientist.  Certified Medical Laboratory Scientists work in hospitals and other clinical laboratories, processing patient samples and performing tests essential for doctors to properly diagnose and treat patients.  With increasing numbers of aging persons requiring more medical care in the United States, Medical Technology is an expanding field with an excellent employment rate for graduates, especially those with the appropriate certifications.

Toxicology Major

Toxicology is a field that combines elements of biology and chemistry to study the actions of poisons (toxicants) on living systems. Toxicologists apply their knowledge and skills to interesting and relevant biomedical and environmental problems in areas such as cancer research, drug development, environmental health, forensics, and ecological toxicology. While at AU, toxicology majors take courses in basic and applied toxicology and have the opportunity to participate in undergraduate research and/or internships. After graduation, toxicology majors may choose to go on to graduate or professional school, or may choose to enter the workforce directly. Our Toxicology majors often work as paid interns and gain full-time employment at Charles River Laboratories, a drug safety testing company in Ashland, Ohio.

Degree Requirements

Assessment – All majors will complete an assessment process in the senior year in BIO 495.

GPA within the major – All majors must have a minimum of a 2.25 GPA within the major after completing their final semester to successfully complete the major.

Biology Courses and Descriptions

See Course Descriptions section of catalog