Department of Biology

Internships, Research and Study Away

Spring 2014 Study Away trip to Belize!


What type of internship opportunities do you have available?
Nearly half of students in the Biology program are involved in practical learning experiences on- and off-campus through internships, research projects, and other hands-on activities. On-campus teaching internships are available every semester to upper-level biology majors for credit.

Off-campus internships are available to upper division biology majors. Students may do faculty-sponsored internships at state agencies such as the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, or an agency from another state such as the Arizona Fish and Game. The U.S. National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the World Bird Sanctuary and the International Wolf Center are other agencies through which students have completed faculty-sponsored student internships. Students may also do internships at local hospitals and medical or veterinary clinics. In addition, students are offered internships at several of the local life science industries in the St. Joseph area, including Boehringer-Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc.

Why are internship programs important to the program?
Experience in the field is beneficial to each student’s education. Internships provide students with a valuable hands-on experience that is difficult to duplicate in the classroom.

What labs do students use in their courses?
The department laboratories are state-of-the-art. Along with the basic equipment, the department labs have the capabilities to perform molecular cloning, DNA amplification, real-time PCR, and advanced microscopic imaging. Every classroom room is a “smart room,” fully equipped with up-to-date technology for presentations and lecture.

Missouri Western has a Global Positioning Systems base station located at Agenstein Hall with telemetry equipment and Global Positioning Systems/Global Information Systems equipment and software that is used in field biology research.

What special facilities does the Missouri Western Biology Department have?
Missouri Western boasts a 173-acre field study area on campus called the Otoe Creek Nature Area. This land contains a network of trails that run through various habitats and along ponds and a stream. There are two outdoor amphitheaters within the study area.

The Missouri Department of Conservation’s Northwest Service Center is located on the nature area with offices and labs for more than 25 Conservation Department professionals. Modern classrooms, research labs and a prep room for the Biology Department are also housed within the Service Center , along with a herbarium and the Biology Department’s natural history collection, which contains museum specimens of vertebrates and invertebrates.

What student research opportunities are available?
A variety of faculty-sponsored student research opportunities exists within the department due to the wide range of faculty expertise and willingness of faculty to explore new areas. The general research areas span molecular, cellular, organismal and ecological as well as science education. The mission of the department is to provide a collaborative learning environment in which students and faculty can apply their biological exploration and discovery experiences as professionals and as informed citizens.

Do students and faculty work together on research projects?
Students and faculty collaborate on a variety of independent research projects in the Biology Department.  Projects are conducted during the academic year and in the summer as part of PORTAL (Program of Research, Teaching, and Applied Learning).  Students get ample opportunities for Applied Learning while conducting research.  Their coursework becomes relevant to the research questions under study.

Do students present research findings at national conferences?

All students are encouraged to present their research at a University sponsored poster session.  Students often also present their projects at state, national, or international professional meetings.  Here are some recent examples.

  • Regional and national meetings of the Beta Beta Beta National Biological Honor Society
  • Regional meetings of The Wildlife Society
  • Missouri Natural Resource Conference
  • Annual meeting of the Missouri Academy of Science
  • Federation of Associations for Experimental Biology
  • Annual Conference of the Institute of Biological Engineering

Have your students had work published recently?
In the past five years, 72 undergraduate students have earned coauthorship on a peer-review professional publications,  Examples of journals include Interdisciplinary BioCentral, BioScence, Journal of Biological Engineering, and BioMed Central Genomics.

Does your department offer any study abroad opportunities?
Bio 220 Field Natural History is a course specifically designed for students to experience biological habitats outside of the St. Joseph area. Marine biology trips are scheduled about every other spring. Recently marine biology students have studied in Belize, San Salvador, the Bahamas and Jamaica.


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