biology students beakers 13  illustration


The Biology Department offers coursework that provides the essential background if you wish to pursue graduate or professional studies, find careers in biological research or earn certification for teaching in grades 7 - 12. McDaniel is renowned for preparing men and women to enter medical and graduate programs in the life sciences.

“The strength of my academic discipline at McDaniel is the high level of motivation from the professors. They are really easy to talk to and do a great job helping students learn and understand the subject. The lab facilities are very comfortable to work in and provide most of the needs necessary to carry out productive experiments.”- Bio Major, Summer 2011

Lewis Hall of Science and Eaton Hall

Dr. Cheng Huang
Department Chair
(410) 857-2402
Lewis Hall of Science 205

Biology Online Catalog

Majors & Courses

The Biology major provides entry to a wide variety of postgraduate pathways. If you are interested in Molecular Biology or Environmental Biology, we offer special tracks within the Department that emphasize those areas. Our curriculum, coupled with pre-professional advising, enables students to enter professional schools in medicine, dentistry, veterinary science, optometry.

You will discover a variety of course patterns available for Biology majors that allow you to tailor a program that matches your interests. The “basic” major is the starting point for all.

Pre-Professional Studies

Experiential learning opportunities, enhanced mentoring, and professional skills development – key features of the McDaniel Commitment – combined with the flexibility of the McDaniel Plan curriculum make McDaniel an ideal place to pursue pre-professional studies in:

Minors & Focus Areas


Assistant Professor and department chair Cheng HuangAssociate Professor and department chair Cheng Huang

(Ph.D., Washington University), is a molecular geneticist whose research focuses on identifying and characterizing novel genes implicated in fundamental biological problems. His current research program uses zebrafish as a genetic model organism, and his teaching interests include genetics and developmental biology.

Associate Professor Ralene MitschlerAssociate Professor Ralene Mitschler

(Ph.D., Kansas State University), is an experienced parasitologist and protozoologist whose courses include Epidemiology, Immunology and Parasitology and research with students finds them investigating the protozoan parasites that live in insects or heading to her farm to study the reputedly infection-resistant, rare and primitive Jacob sheep she raises. Visit Dr. Mitschler's faculty page.

Professor Randall MorrisonProfessor Randall Morrison

(Ph.D., University of Kansas), is a cell biologist whose students in Cell Biology, Developmental Biology, Vertebrate Diversity have traveled with him to the islands of San Salvador and Andros in the Bahamas and to Madagascar to research the production and use of skin color in lizards, particularly the combinations of pigment cells used to generate color in lizard skin and the ways color change is accomplished. Visit Dr. Morrison's faculty page.

Associate Professor Susan ParrishAssociate Professor Susan Parrish

(Ph.D., The Johns Hopkins University), is a molecular biologist who teaches Molecular Biology, Genomics, Advanced Genetics-Molecular. Her research focuses on how RNA levels can be modulated to regulate gene expression during virus infection and the development of the social amoeba, Dictyostelium discoideum. Visit Dr. Parrish's faculty page.

Assistant Professor Holly Martinson

(Ph.D., University of Maryland, College Park), is an ecologist focused on understanding the impacts of global environmental change on plant and insect communities. She teaches Ecology, Botany, Principles of Biology, and Topics in Biology and conducts collaborative research with students in the laboratory and at local field sites.

Assistant Professor Katie StaabAssistant Professor Katie Staab

(Ph.D., The George Washington University), is a fish functional morphologist whose teaching and research interests are focused on the central question, "How do animals work?" She teaches Comparative Anatomy of Vertebrates and Animal Physiology and leads students in research on the anatomical structures associated with fish feeding.


The Biology faculty are broadly-trained educators and mentors who care about their students. Part of that teaching involves fostering research experiences, from campus locations to the Gerace Research Centre in the Bahamas or at the myriad of laboratories to be found in the Baltimore-Washington region.

Learn more about student-faculty research from the Adventures in Biology Research blog.

On campus, Biology majors will study in Eaton Hall which houses state-of-the-art biology and chemistry laboratories, faculty offices, and three research labs dedicated for student use to take their science to a new level. Many Biology students find employment and enjoy successful careers with a bachelor’s degree. They enter a variety of fields such as genetics, marine science, cancer research, environmental analysis, or work as laboratory research associates.

Recent student–faculty research collaboration

Student Professor Topic
Megan Cook Dr. Cheng Huang The role of surface interactions in insulin amyloid fibril formation
Juliana Broussard Dr. Randall Morrison  The background matching capabilities of Henkel’s leaf-tailed gecko, Uroplatus henkeli, on high contrast checkerboard patterns
Rebekah James Dr. Susan Parrish Exploring Ebola glycoprotein monoclonal epitopes
Ethan Wilson Dr. Molly Jacobs The effects of ebb and flood tides on zooplankton distribution in estuarine  environments of the Chesapeake Bay

Beta Beta Beta Honor Society

Established in 1932, McDaniel’s chapter of Beta Beta Beta, honor society in Biology, is one of the oldest in the nation. Its goals are to stimulate interest, scholarly attainment, and investigation in the Biological Sciences, and to inform students of the possibilities for achievement in the Biological Sciences. Associate members must complete 4 credits in Biology with a 3.0 GPA in Biology courses and a 2.75 overall. Active members must complete 12 credits in Biology with a 3.25 in Biology courses and a 3.0 overall.

After McDaniel

Recent biology graduates have pursued advanced degrees such as the following:

Micah Shelton ’11 Ph.D. Neuroscience, University of Pittsburgh
Eric Lemmon ’10 M.D./ Ph.D., Stonybrook
Adam Pritchard ’09 Ph.D. Paleontology, Stonybrook
Jason Koontz ’09 Ph.D. Infectious Diseases, University MD at Baltimore
Turner Conrad ’11 PhD. University of Texas Austin
Kellie Bolling ’11 M.S. Biosecurity, George Mason University
Emily Kinnaman ’10 M.S. Forensics, Boston University
Kendall Bieschke ’08 M.S. Forensics, Science Arcadia University
Lauren Esposito ’08 M.S. Forensics, Science Arcadia University
Senior Garrett Gregoire discusses his research.
Student’s research advances the field of developmental biology

Garrett Gregoire matter-of-factly points out that his student-faculty research project won’t cure cancer. Perhaps not, but his work does make a real contribution to the field of developmental biology and just might provide the tools that will help some future researcher grow replacement red blood cells in a Petri dish.

“All of science is built upon someone else’s work,” says Gregoire, a senior Molecular Biology major from Taylorsville, N.C. “I like the thought that my project will make future researchers’ lives a little easier.” Working with Biology professor Cheng Huang, Gregoire made significant progress in determining the minimal effective length of an in situ hybridization probe aimed at identifying where and when during development a certain gene is expressed or turned on.

Read more in News@McDaniel »


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