Science (Biology)

Our biology major is designed to give you a strong, broad-based background in the biological sciences, and prepare you for graduate work in biology or related disciplines. Biology students at Simpson also recognize their responsibilities as communicators of both the church and the public.

Students who enter programs within the Science Department receive personalized, hands-on instruction from skilled, caring professors committed to Christ-centered academic excellence.

Science Department Mission

To equip students for service in biology-related fields.

Biology Major

Students who pursue a Biology major will gain a broad-based foundation in the biological sciences that is necessary to pursue graduate work in biology or to pursue a career in the medical and environmental fields, in the laboratory, or other related areas. In addition to a broad overview of biology, students will also strengthen their scientific skills through participation in research trips, laboratory work and internship opportunities.

Simpson University's Biology major features small class and lab sizes, so students can get one-on-one attention from faculty members. Selected students also have the opportunity to do summer research projects with the science faculty.

Learn In Real World Environments

As a biology student at Simpson University, you'll have the opportunity to practice stewardship and expand your horizons...all while earning credits toward your degree.

You can choose to take summer classes at Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies, where you'll participate in sustainable community-building, environmental education projects and community outreach services in the Great Lakes Forest, Puget Sound, South Florida or South India.

You'll also have the option to enjoy a semester abroad through the Latin American Studies Partnership Program.  In Latin America, you'll broaden your horizons by traveling through diverse cultures and living with native families, while taking part in field studies and dynamic classroom experiences based on the politically and economically sensitive relationship between North America and Latin America.

Career Opportunities

In addition to careers in medicine, research or teaching, your biology degree from Simpson will also help prepare you for a career in:

  • Pharmaceutical Sales
  • Business Consultation
  • Biotechnology
  • Patent & Environmental Law
  • Healthcare Technology
  • Technical Writing
  • Nursing
  • Science Journalism 
  • Physical Therapy
  • Computer Programming
  • Public Health
  • Computer Modeling
  • Wildlife Biology  
  • Environmental Science
  • Clinical Chemistry
  • Waste Management
  • Genetic Counseling
  • Agriculture
  • Pharmaceutical Research
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Research

 ...and dozens of other fields

Research Challenge:

If your plans include graduate studies, we also invite you to take a close look at our B.S. in Biology classes to see how our curriculum aligns with the prerequisites for the graduate or professional school of your choice.

Essential Preparation:

At Simpson University we want to see you thrive. If you are considering a career in biology or nursing and other medical professions, we encourage you to come prepared. A passion for knowledge and a strong college preparatory background in mathematics (Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, and Trigonometry) and the natural sciences (physical science, biology, and chemistry) are essential. If you are well prepared, you will find your academic experience at Simpson University not only challenging, but also incredibly rewarding.

To address the rising demand for medical professionals, Simpson University offers an undergraduate biology major and nursing program (BSN) and a new R.N.-to-B.S.N. Nursing program through the ASPIRE degree-completion program.

Current Facilities

The department continues to expand with new science labs added in 2007. The size of lab-based classes are kept small, so students can get one-on-one attention from faculty members.

Future Facilities - Science and Nursing Building

Funds are being raised for a state-of-the-art Science and Nursing Building. The Science and Nursing Building will be equipped with:

  • 4 classrooms to serve up to 40 students
  • 5 laboratories equipped with 16 to 20 stations each
  • 8 faculty offices
  • 1 student study room

Larry Siemens, M.A.

Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Science Department Chair


Mr. Siemens has 23 years of college science teaching experience including 12 years teaching in Ethiopia, Lebanon, Cyprus, and Kenya. For 17 years he did analytical chemistry for Columbia Analytical Services and CH2M Hill. He is the faculty adviser for the biology club, the chair of the science department, and the chemical hygiene officer for Simpson University. Mr. Siemens enjoys bird watching and teaches birding field courses on the Mendocino and Humboldt coasts of California.

Educational Background:

  • M.A., Pacific Union College
  • B.A., Pacific Union College

Courses Taught:

  • Introduction to Chemistry
  • General Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Environmental Science


Pamela K. Van der Werff, M.A.

Associate Professor of Biology
Math and Science Division Chair


Educational Background:

  • M.A., University of California, San Francisco
  • B.A., Indiana University

Courses Taught:


Trenton Smith, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Biology


Dr. Smith is a cellular/molecular biologist who obtained his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 2001. He has been teaching at the college level since that time, and has been at Simpson since 2007. Having previously held teaching positions at Goshen College and George Fox University, Dr. Smith came to Simpson at the start of the school's biology major. His research interests primarily focus on the molecular interactions between plants and the viruses that infect them. His other interests include hiking, camping, and kayaking in the wonderful northern California environment.

Educational Background:

  • Ph.D., University of South Carolina
  • B.S., Western Kentucky University

Courses Taught:

  • General Biology I
  • Cell and Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Biochemistry
  • Immunology


Brian Hooker, Ph.D., P.E.

Associate Professor of Biology


Dr. Hooker has had a distinguished career as a chemical engineer, managing a large-scale systems biology research program at Batelle/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash. Since 1995, he has served that laboratory as a senior research engineer, a staff engineer, and a principle consultant in biotechnology.

He also taught chemical engineering for three years at Tri-State University in Indiana and teaches at Walla Walla Community College in Washington in addition to operating his own consulting agency. He has a long list of research grants, scholarly/technical publications, awards, and formal presentations, and is co-owner of several patents.

Educational Background:

  • Ph.D., Washington State University
  • B.S., California State Polytechnic University (Pomona)

Courses Taught:

  • Microbiology
  • Earth and Space Science
  • Biotechnology
  • Senior Seminar for Biology majors
  • Intro to Chemistry
  • Intro to Physics
  • General Physics I and II


  • Basic knowledge
  • Quantitative Skills
  • Application

Siby Sabu - 2013 Biology Graduate

"There was something about the way the (biology) program was set up and the way teachers interacted with students. Their heart behind why they wanted to do what they do just drew me in."

— Siby Sabu, Class of 2013 Biology Student

Simpson University Science and Nursing Program Testimony
Click here to see video