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Academics & the Arts


The Biology major is one of the fastest growing programs at Grand View. The department offers a strong traditional premedical curriculum, a strong laboratory-based cellular/molecular biology curriculum, and support courses for the Grand View Nursing major and General Education Core classes. 

Grand View also offers majors in Biotechnology and Biochemistry, as well as minors in Biology and Chemistry.

Awards and Accomplishments

Current Students
Jessica Mesecher and  Mike Wignes (Biochemistry majors), presented at the National American Chemical Society meeting in Indianapolis, IN. Here are their abstracts as well as Dr. Laura Salazar's:

"POGIL application in the organic chemistry classroom: Overcoming the activation energy"

Dr.  Laura Rusch-Salazar
POGIL curriculum has been used in the organic classroom at Grand View University starting in the fall of 2007.  The change in teaching pedagogy was met with resistance from students and other faculty members.  This presentation will share the lessons learned from starting POGIL for the first time.  It will address how the program grew through the transformation from a more traditional teaching approach to a learner centered, engaged approach.    The change in culture and expectation of the community will also be discussed.

"POGIL application in a chemistry curriculum: A culture of active learning from a student perspective"

Jessica Mesecher and Michael Wignes
POGIL has been implemented in a majority of classes in the Grand View University Biochemistry major.  Students are learning through POGIL in general chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry and physical chemistry.  Student presenters will share their perspective of this approach to their education and how it affects their learning.

Dr. Corbin Zea, associate professor of chemistry, co-authored a research article entitled, “Spectral and thermodynamic properties of methanobactin from γ-proteobacterial methane oxidizing bacteria: A case for copper competition on a molecular level,” which will be published in the Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry.

Facilities and Technology

Science students take courses in Elings Hall on the west side of campus, which is equipped with four full biology and chemistry labs. There is also a cadaver lab used for dissection.

Several classrooms are Smart Classrooms, with advanced technology to aid in classroom discussion, student learning and comprehension. Students and faculty take advantage of in-room Internet and projection technologies used to enhance student engagement. Many classes are held in Elings room 130, the lecture hall. With comfortable stadium-style seating, every student has a full view of the professor, white board and projection screen.

Students also have access to the Internet at computer Internet stations in the building.  Comfortable study areas are located on the first floor.

Go to the Virtual Tour for more about Elings Hall. (Link not mobile friendly)


Dr. Felicitas Avendano, associate professor of biology
Earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from the Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, Argentina, and she earned her Ph.D. from Michigan State.




Jennifer Donnelly, lab coordinator
Earned her bachelor's in zoology from the University of Maryland College Park and her master's in ecology and evolutionary biology from Iowa State University.




Dr. Bonnie Hall, assistant professor of chemistry
My bachelor’s degrees are in biotechnology and professional chemistry, and I earned my Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of California, Davis. I have done research on viruses that cause leukemia and used genetic studies to examine how steroid hormone signaling works. I am passionate about engaging students in the classroom and teach a variety of courses, including a chemistry course focused on nursing applications, Biochemistry, Advanced Biochemistry and Biochemical Techniques. My current research is focused on enzyme engineering, and I really enjoy getting undergraduate students involved in the lab!



Dr. Idit Hazan, professor of biology, department chair
Hello! I'm happy that you're interested in my area of expertise. I typically teach courses such as Genetics, Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, Intro to Biology, and Biotechnology. I believe in challenging my students while providing excellent support for them as they develop in their understanding of genetics and molecular biology. My door is always open to students and, in exchange, I require that they work very hard. Faculty Website



Dr. Adriana LaGier, assistant professor of biology
I teach and mentor students in topics geared towards General Biology I and Cell Biology. I started my career by earning a master’s in marine biology from Florida International University and a doctorate in molecular immunology from Brown University. Before I joined the GV faculty,  I performed post-doctoral work at Yale University and the CDC, supervised a division of biodefense for the Department of Homeland Security, investigated the eye at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, studied air pollution at the EPA, and taught cell biology courses at Florida Gulf Coast University. I am honored to help train the next generation of budding scientists in this ever-changing and (dare I say) fun field of science.


Dr. Michael LaGier, assistant professor of biology
I earned my bachelor's in biology and my Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the State University of New York. In addition to my formal education, I have conducted basic and applied microbiological research as a postdoctoral fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As an NIH-funded postdoctoral fellow at UNC, I also received formal training in undergraduate science education.



Dr. Amethyst Merchant, associate professor of biology
Earned her bachelor's degree from Georgia College and State University; earned her master's degree from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; and earned her Ph.D. from the University of Florida.




Dr. Laura Salazar, professor of chemistry
Hello! I will work with you in courses such as Organic Chemistry, Physical Science and Contemporary Science Issues. I believe in the learner-centered model of teaching that gives students control over their learning and makes them responsible for it. Not only is this an exciting way to learn, it is a thrill to teach. I love spending time with my husband and three children. We like to play outdoors and do outside activities such as hiking, biking and camping. My favorite two places in the world are Kauai, Hawaii, and the Rocky Mountains in Colorado where I grew up.


Dr. Corbin Zea, professor of chemistry, department chair
Welcome to Grand View Science! I realized in high school that I loved math and science so I chose chemistry since it pairs the two so well. I then realized that I enjoyed teaching others about science and how cool it is so I jumped into teaching. So now at Grand View I typically teach General Chemistry and Quantitative Analysis. I feel that students learn best from actively being involved in learning, so I use a lot of active learning approaches. In addition to engaging my students in the classroom I also work with students in the laboratory on various research projects. Recent student projects include looking at the impact of the city of Des Moines and surrounding urban areas on the water quality of the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers, using wet chemical and computational chemistry to measure carbocation stability, and the synthesis of various phospho sugars.