NSU's biology major emphasizes hands-on activities and critical thinking to bring you to a better understanding of the study of life.

    About The Program

    As a student in Northern's Bachelor of Science in Biology program, you'll work on-on-one with caring, supportive faculty who encourage independent thinking skills that will prepare you to become a leader in your biological field. Most upper-level courses have no more than 25 students. Northern's biology faculty members teach their own labs - they'll get to know you as a person.


    Northern biology students work in science labs with the latest equipment, including a DNA analyzer, confocal microscope, and anaerobic chamber.  And the new Jewett Regional Science Education Center will advance educational and research opportunities for the university and region.


    In NSU's biology program, you're encouraged to explore your interests and dive deeper into your studies with our focus of hands-on research. Here, you can work with professors on research projects, and present your results in publications or in public at Northern's Undergraduate Scholarship and Activity Forum or elsewhere.


    Our program has even been recognized on this national list of universities with the best biology degrees! 


    Many biology majors work at for-profit businesses and corporations. Others teach in educational institutions; work for government, nonprofit foundations and research organizations; or operate their own business or consulting service.


    Potential jobs include health technologist and technician, nurse, pharmacist, dietitian, therapist, physician assistant, farmer, forester and salesperson (non-retail).


    Many students pursue careers in allied health -- such as medicine, physical therapy, occupational therapy, mortuary science, dentistry, and optometry -- and organismal biology professions including zookeeper, naturalist, and biologist.


    Northern's placement rate the past five years was 82 percent for medical school and 83 percent for dental school - learn what our graduates have to say about the advantages of earning their undergraduate degree at Northern in this article!


    For more information on careers in your major or help choosing a major, contact Career Services.


    We'll work closely with you and our connections to find internships and field experiences that accord with your scientific interests.

    Sample Plans of Study
    Contact Information

    For more information about this degree, contact Jessica Ness, or call 605-626-2272 or 605-626-7900. Or, contact NSU Admissions at 605-626-2544 or admissions@northern.edu.

    Amy Dolan
    Ph.D. Portland State University
    B.A. University of Oregon
    Dr. Amy Dolan joined Northern's faculty in 2018. She grew up on a homestead in Nikiski, Alaska. Dr. Dolan attended the University of Oregon and graduated with a bachelor's degree in biology and Spanish. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in biology at Portland State University, studying genetics, reproductive biology, mate choice, and reproductive success of eastern kingbirds. Dr. Dolan lives on a farm with her husband Ryan, and their three children: Oliver, Ruthie, and Zet.
    Courses Taught
    Biology Survey
    General Biology
    Environmental Biology
    Human Biology
    Gross Anatomy
    Christopher M, Chutter, Lucas J. Redmond, Nathan W. Cooper, Amy C…
    Alyssa Kiesow
    Ph.D. University of South Dakota
    M.S. South Dakota State University
    B.S. South Dakota State University
    A.A. Winona State University
    Dr. Alyssa Kiesow joined Northern’s faculty in August 2007. Born in Little Falls, Minn., and raised in St. Cloud, Minn., she is Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, assists with sponsored grants and research, and serves on the South Dakota Academy of Science Executive Committee. She received multiple degrees from state institutions. Dr. Kiesow earned her Ph.D. in biological sciences with a research focus in genetics from the University of South Dakota.
    Research Interests
    Dr. Kiesow's primary research interests range from genetic structure of animal populations to epigenetics of developing embryos. Recent research focuses on the effects of various toxins on embryonic development in sea stars, sea urchins, and Xenopus laevis.…
    John Long

    Ph.D. Montana State University

    M.S. Montana State University

    B.S. State University of New York


    Dr. John Long joined the NSU faculty in the summer of 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from the State University of New York, a master’s degree in environmental and ecological statistics and a Ph.D. in ecology and environmental sciences, both from Montana State University. His area of expertise is the mathematical and physical aspects of the environment.


    Dr. Long is a part of the SEA-PHAGES team trained by Howard Hughes Medical Institute to discover new viruses in environmental samples and to sequence their genome. Dr. Long is a retired U.S. Air Force major with 21 years of service as a B-52 electronic warfare officer. 


    Courses Taught

    Introduction to Physics I and II

    University Physics I and II

    Biological Statistics I and II

    R Programming

    Geographic Information…

    Eric Pulis
    Ph.D. University of Southern Mississippi
    M.S. University of North Dakota
    B.S. University of North Dakota
    Dr. Eric Pulis joined Northern's faculty in 2018. Originally from central Minnesota, he attended the University of North Dakota, where he received his B.S. in fisheries and wildlife biology and his M.S. in biology. Dr. Pulis earned his Ph.D. at the University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Coastal Sciences, where his research focused on the taxonomy and systematics of some parasitic flat worms found in fishes. He is currently the advisor for the NSU Environmental Club.
    Research Interests
    Dr. Pulis's primary research interests are in the ecology, evolution, and diversity of parasites of wildlife and fishes.…
    Kelly Pulis

    B.S. Biology, minor Psychology, University of North Dakota

    A.A. Exotic Animal Training and Management, Moorpark College


    Ms. Kelly Pulis, hailing from Vinton, Iowa, joined Northern in 2019 as biology lab manager.

    Jodie Ramsay

    Ph.D. University of South Dakota

    M.S. North Dakota State University

    B.S. North Dakota State University

    Dr. Jodie Ramsay started at NSU in 2001. Her area of expertise is plant science. She grew up in Minnesota and spends much of the summer there, where she co-owns a greenhouse. Dr. Ramsay is the director of NSU Regional Science Fair and serves as the faculty mentor for Rising Scholar (dual credit) biology courses taught across eastern South Dakota.
    Courses Taught
    Environmental Biology
    Environmental Science and Conservation
    Freshman Seminar
    General Biology I
    General Biology II
    Plants and Civilization
    Plant Structure and Function
    Plant Systematics
    Senior Seminar
    Soils and the Environment
    Samantha St. Clair


    Ph.D., Nutrition Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison

    B.S., Nutrition Science, Indiana University-Bloomington


    Courses Taught

    • Genetics
    • Cell and molecular biology
    • Nutrition and disease
    • Human health and biology

    Research Interests

    • Mechanisms of type II diabetes and diet-induces obesity in zebrafish (Danio rerio) 
    • Development of biological reasoning skills in undergraduate biology majors and non-majors
    Jessica Warns


    Ph.D., Biochemistry, University of North Dakota

    B.S., Molecular Biology, Muskingum University


    Courses Taught

    Biology Survey

    Biochemistry Lab

    General Microbiology


    General Biology I Lab

    Freshman Seminar


    Research Interests

    Molecular mechanisms of early brain development