Academic Spotlight: Biology

Whether you’re interested in research, education, medicine, dentistry, or ecology, a biology degree can be the foundation for a successful career. One of PUC’s most popular programs, biology is also one of our most academically rigorous. The result? PUC biology seniors consistently score in the top percentile on Major Field Tests (MFTs), with high acceptance rates to many prestigious graduate schools.

Programs offered:

  • B.A., B.S. in Biology
  • B.S. in Biotechnology
  • B.S. in Environmental Studies

A Student’s Perspective

“I was convinced to change majors from biochemistry to biology at the end of my freshman year after I realized how many classes from the department of biology would prepare me for medical school. As a biology major, I have the opportunity to take immunology, histology, and advanced human anatomy courses before I even attend medical school. Having a background with the material from these courses will prepare me well for the field of medicine. My favorite thing about the department of biology is all of the unique opportunities I receive. Learning biology can take place outside of a classroom. For instance, this spring break I am going to Kenya with my tropical biology class to do a mission trip while also taking time to learn biology. There are a lot of biology classes that involve going on hikes in nature or going to the beach to study marine science. I also love how elegant biology is. It can encompass something as small as a single protein in an organelle to something as large as rainforest ecosystems. It connects life from all levels of organization.” — Victoria Gabardi, sophomore, honors student

Fast Facts

  1. The BIOneers Mentorship Program is a new initiative to help first-year biology students at PUC successfully navigate their major and their time in college. Incoming students will be paired with passionate and friendly upperclassmen within their specific field of study, who will help guide them throughout their first year.
  2. Biology students take many courses which take them outside the classroom. The department teaches classes at the college’s Albion Retreat & Learning Center on the Mendocino Coast and has traveled as far as Brazil for tropical biology courses.
  3. Modern laboratory equipment allows students to perform their own experiments in current fields such as immunology, molecular genetics, and cancer biology.
  4. The Hansen Collection, housed in Clark Hall, is a special collection of over 40 species of stuffed game animals from around the world. Visitors can view Kodiak and polar bears, as well as a leopard, tiger, mountain lion, and jaguar. The museum also boasts a prized “grand slam” of the four North American mountain sheep: the Rocky Mountain bighorn, the desert bighorn, the Dall sheep, and the stone sheep.

What You Can Do With This Major

Biology is a popular choice among students looking to go into the medical field but it also offers career paths in research, environmental studies, and many other areas.

  • Dentistry
  • Environmental policy
  • Medicine
  • Optometry
  • Pharmacy
  • Physical therapy
  • Public health
  • Teaching
  • Veterinary science
  • Water management
  • Wildlife management

Learn more about the department of biology at puc.edu/academics. Our team of admissions counselors can answer any questions you have about PUC’s biology programs, or the other majors the college offers. Call (800) 862-7080, option 2 or email admissions@puc.edu to get connected with a counselor now and start learning about all the options available to you!

#FacultyFriday: Meet Bryan Ness

Dr. Bryan Ness, professor of biology, has taught at PUC since 1989. His research interests include plant systematics and genetics. He advises in the areas of biology, natural science, veterinary medicine, medical radiography, and occupational therapy. He enjoys spending time outdoors, doing a variety of activities such as birding, fishing, tide pooling, hiking, and backpacking. He also has an extensive menagerie, for which is he most known for. At any given time you may see him with a snake around his arm. Without further ado, let’s spend a few minutes getting to know Dr. Ness!

Name: Bryan Ness
Title: Professor of Biology
Email: bness@puc.edu
Faculty since: 1989

Classes taught: Foundations of Biology (BIOL 112), Introduction to Research Methods (BIOL 222), Scientific Discoveries (GSCI 205), Genetics (BIOL 354), Issues on Origins (BIOL 355), Biotechnology I (BIOT 345), Biotechnology II (BIOT 445), Biology Seminar (BIOL 397)

Education: B.S. in biology, Walla Walla University; M.S. in biology, Walla Walla University; Ph.D. in botany, Washington State University

What sparked your interest in biology?

I spent a lot of time outdoors as a child and loved finding animals of all kinds, from insects to snakes. Later I became fascinated with knowing the names of all the plants I would see and learned how to identify them.

What made you want to teach?

I wanted to share what I loved about the living world and share it with others who also come from a Christian background so they could see how nature tells us about God.

What is your favorite area/topic in biology, and why?

Genetics has become my favorite area because it helps make sense of living things, both how they should be classified and why they look and behave the way they do. I especially enjoy the insights genetics gives us about human variation and behavior.

Where did you grow up?

The Seattle area in western Washington State.

What are some of your hobbies?

Reading, photography, reading, music, reading, hiking, reading, and travel. 

Okay, it sounds like you really enjoy reading! Who is one of your favorite authors, and why?

J.R. R. Tolkien, because he is not only an excellent writer, but he makes his stories come alive and they are steeped in Christian symbolism and allegory.

Where is your favorite spot on campus?

The library stacks.

What’s something people may be surprised to learn about you?

That I almost became an apprentice to a harpsichord maker.

Do you have any pets?

A few. Two cats, two rats, a guinea pig, about 15 snakes, three turtles, four lizards, and about 25 tarantulas.

Five Academic Departments at PUC You Should Know

There are over 70 different majors at PUC, which offers students plenty of options to choose from. Some of our more popular and unique departments include nursing & health sciences, biology, visual arts, aviation and education, which is a nice mix making PUC a true liberal arts college. Read on for a few fast facts about these departments!

Nursing & Health Sciences

The department of nursing and health sciences is home to the emergency services program, as well as our AS and BSN nursing degrees, which are some of the most popular at PUC.

  • We talked with PUC’s pre-nursing advisor to cover some frequently asked questions about the program. Curious if a BSN is necessary in today’s workforce? Give this blog post a read.
  • PUC offers a two year degree in health sciences for students planning on continuing on to Loma Linda University for programs such as pre-clinical laboratory science, pre-dental hygiene, pre-radiation science, and several others.

Biology

Interested in gaining some real world research experience? Look no further than the department of biology, where students conduct experiments for research projects and internships on an almost daily basis. Browse through these blog posts about student research opportunities at PUC.

  • PUC biology students have uniquely high acceptance rates to top-notch medical and dental schools like Loma Linda University.
  • There’s more than one way and one place to learn. The department teaches classes on the Mendocino Coast at the college’s Albion Retreat & Learning Center, and students have traveled as far away as Brazil for tropical biology courses.

Visual Arts

For a behind the scenes look at one of PUC’s most exciting departments, check out the department of visual arts’ Instagram.

  • PUC film students have completed internships at DreamWorks Animation, Sofia and Francis Ford Coppola’s American Zoetrope film studio, Pixar and HBO.
  • With San Francisco just an hour a 20 minutes away, visual arts students often visit museums in the city, including the SF Museum of Modern Art, the de Young Museum, & the Palace of Legion of Honor.

Aviation

The sky’s the limit in PUC’s department of aviation!

  • PUC is one of only two liberal arts colleges in California to offer a degree in aviation.
  • There are many different career paths aviation students can pursue, including aerial photography, airline pilot, air traffic controller, fire fighting, and more. Read one PUC graduate’s story of how an aviation degree took him to new heights in this blog post.

Education

PUC’s $3,000 renewable Adventist Mission Scholarship is available to students actively pursuing a teaching credential for elementary or secondary education.

  • The department of education assists graduates with job placement through events like the Education Days banquet and interviews, where prospective employers from the local conference and throughout the Pacific Union meet with students.
  • Learn how you can tailor an education degree to fit your future career aspirations by reading about this recent graduate’s experience in this blog post.

For more information about all of PUC’s degree programs and how they can help you reach your educational and professional goals, we invite you to talk with an enrollment counselor in the enrollment services office. Email enroll@puc.edu or call (800) 862-7080, option 2 today.