2018-2019 Undergraduate Academic Catalog 
    Sep 30, 2022  
2018-2019 Undergraduate Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Department of Biology

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The objectives of the Biology department coincide with the Point Loma Nazarene University mission summarized in the phrase: To Teach, To Shape, To Send.

To Teach: The department’s commitment is to provide students the opportunity to build a broad foundation in the major disciplines of Biology, in the process of science skills, and in the critical thinking/quantitative skills that are required to apply their education to real world settings.

To Shape: In addition to the formal academic interactions, each student has opportunities to enter into mentoring relationships with department faculty through advising, lab assisting, research experiences, and departmental social functions. In these contexts, students can expect to dialogue about issues relating to their own personal and professional goals, the interface between the field of biology and society, and the relationship between faith and science.

To Send: The graduates of the Biology department will be able to apply both their faith and education in biology-related professions such as medicine, allied health fields, education, or industry. They will feel confident that they have been well prepared to contribute in a positive way in these fields, and society in general.

Tradition of Excellence

The Department of Biology is dedicated to the success of the students, and offers a wealth of opportunities for students who are interested in pursuing work in science related fields. For students whose interests and academic needs lie in both biology and chemistry, an interdepartmental major in Biology-Chemistry has been designed to prepare students for biochemistry, immunology, molecular biology, pharmacology, physiology, medicine, and dentistry. Biology students have the opportunity to work side-by-side with professors doing faculty-assisted research projects, and may become co-authors on scholarly papers in national and international scientific journals. Many students present research at various science conferences. Students also have access to sophisticated instrumentation and computational resources for use in science courses and research labs.

All of these opportunities have been given to students through the help of numerous grants from governmental agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, various private organizations including the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, cooperation from university administration, and strong financial backing by Biology and Chemistry alumni. Since 1977, alumni of the Department of Biology have contributed an average of more than $12,000 per year in support of science instruction and research programs.  Students who graduate with a degree from the Department of Biology leave PLNU prepared for graduate schools or careers in industry. Over the last 25 years, approximately 80 percent of PLNU’s applicants have gained acceptance to medical schools (roughly twice the national average); the acceptance rate for Biology and Chemistry students applying to graduate (M.A., M.S., and Ph.D.) and dental school programs is over 95 percent.

Au Sable Environmental Field Studies Program

Summer field courses in environmental biology offered by the Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies, a Christian organization offering work and field experiences in the context of Christian environmental stewardship. Courses are offered during two 5-week summer sessions at two North American campuses (Great Lakes and Pacific Rim). Courses are at the upper-division level, and provide students academic content, field experience, and tools for stewardship of creation resources. Academic credit for all Au Sable courses is through PLNU. Courses are four units each, and a two-course load is typical. Course credit counts as a graduation elective. Qualified students are awarded the Au Sable Fellowship, and grants-in-aid of at least $600 are also available. Interested students should contact PLNU’s Sable Institute representative in the Biology department.


Dianne Anderson, Ph.D.
University of California, San Diego and San Diego State University

Walter Cho, Ph.D.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

David Cummings, Ph.D.
University of Idaho

Michael Dorrell, Ph.D.
The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California

Rebecca Flietstra, Ph.D.
University of Kansas Medical Center

Kristopher Koudelka, Ph.D.
The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California

Jennifer Lineback, Ph.D.
University of California, San Diego and San Diego State University

April Maskiewicz Cordero, Ph.D.
University of California, San Diego and San Diego State University

Michael Mooring, Ph.D.
University of California, Davis

Dawne Page, Ph.D., Chair
University of California, San Francisco

Brandon Sawyer, Ph.D.
Arizona State University

Heidi Woelbern, Ph.D.
University of California, Los Angeles



    Point Loma Nazarene University offers four baccalaureate degrees: the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), the Bachelor of Music (B.Mus.), the Bachelor of Science (B.S.), and the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.). Many of the 50+ major programs also offer in-depth concentrations.

    If a second major area of study is desired, all requirements for both majors must be met with a minimum of 24 units distinguishing the two areas of study. While working on a single baccalaureate degree, the maximum number of pursuits is two majors and two minors.

    Students should review the majors and minors list in the catalog.


     Optional minors are offered in several schools and departments. The requirements governing minors are as follows:

    • Only minors that appear in the student’s catalog of record may be earned at the point of graduation;
    • A minor is at least 16 units and is under the direct auspices of the respective school/department;
    • Students must earn a 2.000 cumulative GPA in the minor for it to be granted;
    • The minor must show a minimum of nine (9) units in residence;
    • Of the 16+ units in the minor, nine (9) must be distinct from and not counted in the major;
    • Of the 16+ units in the minor, 12 must be at the upper-division level;
    • The pass/no credit option is not available for courses within the minor; and
    • A second minor, when feasible, requires a minimum of nine (9) units distinct from and not counted either in the major or in the first minor.


      BiologyEnvironmental Science

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