Department of Biological Sciences


Welcome to the Department of Biological Sciences

Biological sciences delve into the world of living organisms — from microbes, to human beings, to entire ecosystems. It is the science of life on, under and above earth.


The Department of Biological Sciences provides you with hands-on learning, moving you beyond textbooks and lectures to engaging research projects. Biology is a research-intensive science that can lead to a wide range of study areas, like environmental work, medicine, microbiology or agriculture. Exploring the nature of life leads biologists out into the world where they study how organisms interact with their environment, how they function and how they evolved over time.

Department Highlights

Luke Stebbins Undergraduate Research Symposium

Congratulations to the winners of the Luke Stebbins Undergraduate Research Symposium
Undergraduate Thesis:
First Place was Rex Asis,
Second Place was Polina Semikina 

Oral Presentation First Place winners:
Dani Nandeau
Bisi Amanwi
Jessenia Buzunis-Delagneau


After the fire — how plant life is recovering following the Kenow wildfire

University of Lethbridge researchers have been monitoring plant life in Waterton Lakes National Park to see how they’re responding following the massive Kenow wildfire in 2017.

“We know we have increasing fires on the landscape recently, so plant communities are going to have to deal with that,” says Dr. Jenny McCune, a ULethbridge biology professor. “But then we also have increases in human-caused stressors like recreation. There’s a real question about how those two different sources of stress will interact and whether one will magnify the effects of the other.”

Jed Lloren, a master's student, and undergraduate field assistants David Musk and Kirsty McFadyen survey the plant community at a burned site.

In the second and third growing seasons after the fire, McCune and her students examined both burned and unburned plots that were originally surveyed in the mid-1990s to compare the plant species present. They wanted to know how plant life is being affected by stressors like wildfire and increased human presence.

Study shows methane emissions from Prairie wetlands are lower than expected

Inland waters including ponds and wetlands are one of the largest natural sources of methane. Pound for pound, methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Now, a University of Lethbridge-led study has found that many of the ponds and wetlands dotting the Canadian Prairies emit less methane than predicted in part due to their elevated salt content, making previous estimates highly inaccurate. 

“We came up with new prairie-specific models and estimates that were much lower than expected based on models developed in other parts of the world,” says Dr. Matthew Bogard, a ULethbridge biology professor and Canada Research Chair in Aquatic Environments. “We were very conservative in our calculations and even so, we found that emissions were drastically overestimated.

Their study was recently published in Nature Communications.

Biological Sciences Graduate Research Symposium-1st Place for Oral Presentation

Congratulations to Kasuni Palle Rankoth for placing 1st in the oral presentations for The Biological Sciences Graduate Research Symposium.

The title of her presentation was: Using stable isotopes to study the role of denitrification in removing nitrate input to a restored prairie wetland complex from industrial wastewater effluent


Biological Sciences Graduate Research Symposium-2nd Place for Oral Presentation

Congratulations to Ryan Gourlie for placing 1st in the oral presentations for The Biological Sciences Graduate Research Symposium.

The title of his presentation was: The ToxB effector gene within the fungal plant pathogen Pyrenophora tritici-repentis is replicating via a Helitron within a large accessory region

Biological Sciences Graduate Research Symposium-1st Place for Poster Presentation

Congratulations to Tanner Lockwood for placing 1st in the poster presentations for The Biological Sciences Graduate Research Symposium.

The title of his presentation was: Discovery of novel anti-mitotic compounds from the Canadian plant heartleaf arnica

Biological Sciences Graduate Research Symposium-2nd Place for Poster Presentation

Congratulations to Jinay Patel for placing 2nd place in the poster presentations for The Biological Sciences Graduate Research Symposium.

The title of his presentation was: Role of eukaryotic initiation factor 5B (eIF5B) in oral squamous cell carcinoma

Bill Cade and Elsa Salazar Cade Scholarship in Evolutionary Ecology Recipient Marissa Kamieniecki

I had the opportunity to work with live tissue in the Animal Physiology lab portion with Dr. Randall Barley. It was an incredibly educational experience in which I learned so much about biology and different techniques. Live tissue is a true gift, you really don’t get much better than it. All of the other lab components of different biology courses were worth it as well. It was amazing to see paramecium, to watch cytoplasmic streaming, to dissect a preserved sea urchin, to code in R, and so much more. Biology labs also taught me how to use Excel and how to search online databases effectively.

I didn’t choose the research path within biology, mostly because that isn’t where my interests lie. However, I’ve read many articles for various assignments, papers, and lab reports over the course of my degree, and I have learned so many fascinating things. If you’ve ever wanted to know why or how something happens in the natural world, there’s likely a biology paper to explain it all. You never know when you’ll fall down a rabbit hole. Reading all the things people have found out through research really makes you appreciate both asking “Why?/How?” and people’s determination to figure it out.

Bill Cade and Elsa Salazar Cade Scholarship in Evolutionary Ecology Recipient Polina Semikina

Most of my university experience was during the COVID-19 pandemic. I did one semester of university in Ukraine before COVID hit, and my studies were online for two and a half years after that. After transferring to the University of Lethbridge in 2022, just in one and a half years, I had more hands-on experience than before in my studies, which is incredible!

I tried myself in the lab setting and in the field work during university courses, including university courses like Experimental Methods in Molecular Biology, Field Biology, and an additional summer internship with Elizabeth Schultz. Now, I am working on Honour's thesis with Cameron Goater. This experience provided me with a lot of not just theoretical but practical knowledge in different biology fields. It allowed me to understand what I enjoy the most and find my own path.

Paul D. Lewis Memorial Biology Award Recipient Annelise den Hertog

"Many of my biology, chemistry, physics and even math classes have had labs attached. I have been able to work hands-on with a frog, plants, bacteria, and chemical reagents in a lab setting. I have also been outside around the campus to observe and collect data for my ecology labs and worked with equipment to test basic principles of physics. Beyond these labs, I have worked in the summer-run Potato Pest Monitoring Program that is supervised by Dr. Yevtushenko in collaboration with PROMAX (an agronomy business). This is a paid summer job where I get to collect samples directly from agricultural fields as well as use a microscope to examine the insects collected on yellow sticky cards."

Annelise den Hertog is the winner of this year's Paul D. Lewis Memorial Biology Award. This award is given to third- or fourth-year students with a major in biological sciences with a demonstrated academic achievement (minimum fall/spring GPA of 3.00) and the greatest potential for biological science research. The recipient is nominated by the Department of Biological Science.

Ruby I. Larson Biological Research Aptitude Scholarship recipient Dani Nadeau

Most of the experiential learning in Biological Sciences I have had at University of Lethbridge have been through the labs of classes I have taken. Thanks to our smaller class sizes and new science facility, I have had lots of hands-on-learning in a variety of fields within biology, from ecology, to biochemistry, to genetics. I have also had the opportunity to work in an accomplished ecology research lab at the U of L with Dr. Flanagan, which has given me experience in the entire research process, from data collection to publication.

At the University of Lethbridge, we have several undergraduate research programs, from the Chinook and NSERC grants in the summer, to the iGEM program that operates year-round, to the many opportunities for independent studies with professors. I was very lucky to find a job with Dr Flanagan, who encouraged me to apply for the summer grants and do my own research over the summer, as well as continue my research into an independent study in the fall. By securing a grant and being able to do my own research as an undergraduate, I built my confidence academically and was exposed to concepts and learning that many students do not receive until a master’s degree. By finding a job within the academic field and being exposed to the day-to-day reality of working in and on research, it put me on a new career path and inspired me to want to continue my education after my undergraduate degree.

Sustainable potato production the focus of new funding for University of Lethbridge researchers

Potatoes are an important economic crop in southern Alberta and, around the world, the humble potato is a key component of global food security.

Researchers from the University of Lethbridge have been awarded nearly $250,000 through the Agriculture Funding Consortium to improve sustainable potato production by looking at ways to reduce disease in the field and in storage and to increase production while minimizing the use of resources.

Shining Student Annelise Den Hertog

Annelise Den Hertog followed her passion for biology to the University of Lethbridge, where she embraced experiential, hands-on learning.

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Shining Student Kaitlyn Stevens chooses to look at the bright side of life

Kaitlyn Stevens hasn't let health issues slow her down now that she's found a passion for biology, and she's taken the initiative to pursue every opportunity for even greater exposure in that field.

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What’s the buzz? Pollinators are hard at work

Drs. Shelley Hoover and Dan Johnson share their expertise on pollinators.

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Career Bridge: Centre for Work-Integrated Learning and Career Development

Career Bridge


Put Your Knowledge to Work 

Whether you’re looking for a more in-depth learning experience by assisting with research projects on campus or by testing your knowledge in a real-life work setting, we can help! The University of Lethbridge is proud to offer you an exceptional opportunity to explore professional development through academic programs and services designed to give you a competitive edge in a fast-changing world.

You have a bright future — experience it via Career Bridge at uLethbridge!

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