The Department of Biology graduated over 200 students this year!

We’re so proud of all of our graduates, and are excited to share some of their stories with you!

Amanda Lark, B.S. Biological Science

Recent biology department graduate Amanda Lark worked with Associate Professor Dhruba Naug. She investigated the correlations between different modalities of learning in honeybees. In her research, Lark put the bees through navigational and olfactory learning tests. She and her co-author then measured the level of wing damage the bees acquired, which is correlated to longevity in natural populations.

When describing the impact that her time in the Naug lab provided to her education, she said “I’ve learned the fundamentals when it comes to research – how to conduct quality research, what constitutes a research article, how to gather and analyze data, etc. I’ve more importantly learned how to collaborate with team members, how to ‘talk science,’ and I’ve gained insight on the regimen of a graduate student. I’ve come to realize that science is actually fun and trumps the general misconception that scientists are boring, monotonous people. I feel as though Dr. Naug has built me up to be a tough, confident, intelligent, and competitive candidate for medical school.”


Ryan Lynch, B.S. Biological Science in Botany

Botany graduate Ryan Lynch still keeps busy working with the USDA National Laboratory for Genetic Resource Preservation (NLGRP) on campus, specifically on Project Baseline for seeds and plant evolution. Lynch, who graduated in December 2016, worked on establishing a collection of native seeds from across the country and placing them in cold storage. These will be compared to future collections to evaluate the effects of climate change.

For Lynch, the most beneficial experience while working on his degree was “real-world laboratory and research experience under an amazing group of scientists at the USDA. Being able to take part in different aspects of research processes while gaining technical laboratory skills in my discipline was an excellent complement to my education and instilled a much greater sense of confidence.” Lynch continues to work for the USDA NLGRP with the goal of returning to school in the near future to pursue a graduate degree in plant molecular biology and genetics.


Nolan Peralta, B.S. Biological Science

Student, athlete, fisherman, and proud CSU Ram, Nolan Peralta finished up his bachelor’s degree in December 2016. During his time as an undergrad, he played all four seasons on the football team, earning varsity letters on four teams with winning seasons and four straight bowl games, served as team captain his senior year, and was named to the Mountain West All-Academic Team four years in a row because of his high grade-point average. He took great pride as a student-athlete in challenging himself in the field of competition as well as in the classroom.

The confidence Peralta gained in himself as a person at CSU has taught him that he can do anything. “I was able to balance being a Division 1 athlete while also succeeding in the classroom, graduating with a degree in biological science.” Peralta is currently a graduate assistant on the Rams football coaching staff, with a goal of eventually becoming a physicians assistant.


Miranda Theriot, B.S. Zoology

Small-town Colorado native and recent graduate Miranda Theriot made full use of her time as she finished up her degree. She was in the University Honors Program and was a TA-squared for biology’s mammology class. Prior to her senior year, she participated in the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. In the REU program, Theriot worked in Lance Kriegsfeld’s lab at the University of California, Berkeley for 10 weeks where she assisted on a project studying the control of differential reproductive behaviors across seasons in the Syrian hamster, a seasonally breeding species.

Theriot was awarded the Liz and Jack McGrew Scholarship in 2016, which provides scholarships to benefit students enrolled in the College of Natural Sciences majoring in zoology. She graduated in spring 2017 with hopes to intern at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and eventually attend graduate school.


Dr. Sam Dunn, Ph.D. Ecology

Congratulations to Sam Dunn for completing his Ph.D. Dunn was a graduate student in Associate Professor Joe von Fischer’s lab and completed studies through the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology. Dunn’s research focused on stream ecology and methane emissions in the Arctic and the alpine areas of the Rocky Mountains. He traveled to Siberia in 2014 to study the emission of methane for streams, a previously under-studied source of this greenhouse gas to the atmosphere. In 2016, he won the College of Natural Sciences Graduate Student Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring Award and the Oral Presentation by a Graduate Student Award at the Front Range Student Ecology Symposium.

Dunn is now a postdoctoral fellow at Loyola University in Chicago, where he studies the ecology of the microbes that live on trash in the Chicago River and how the surrounding landscape influences the ecology. Although it may not sound glamorous to some, studying the extreme end of the pollution spectrum can help us understand the trajectory of change in less polluted systems, he said. He will also be teaching ecology courses at the university.



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