Biology Faculty
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Welcome to the Department of Biology at Rockford University!
It’s an exciting time in the biological sciences. Major advances in research and their potential to deal with human concerns make biology a major focus of the sciences for the 21st century. Biology is a meeting point for sciences; integrating mathematics, chemistry and physics in our understanding of the natural world. Biologists are scientists who work to understand how living beings function at all levels from the subcellular to the biosphere.

Our department offers both BA and BS degrees with a major in biology, as well as a minor in a university education program that emphasizes liberal arts learning. Our students learn how biology as a field of study is enriched by knowledge of other disciplines such as history, philosophy, literature, art, social sciences and economics. The study of biology plays a role in achieving "Rockford University’s Learning Expectations for Graduates: Knowledge to Understand the World, Values to Envision the World, and Skills to Change the World.”

Our aim as a department is to prepare our students with a solid foundation that will serve them well in pursuing a variety of career opportunities after graduation. Many careers will require additional post graduate education or training; careers such as medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, and other health related fields are a few. Graduates may also pursue graduate study and research leading to advanced degrees, preparing for a career in teaching or research. An undergraduate degree in biology can also lead to careers such as biotechnology, conservation, forensic science, political policy, business, industry or pharmaceutical research. With a major in biology and a minor in secondary education, a student can pursue a career teaching sciences in middle or high school.

At Rockford University you will have the opportunity to develop a close relationship with faculty as well as fellow students. We advise our majors to ensure you are taking the courses you need to succeed. Classes are small in size and biology faculty members teach both the lecture and laboratory sections of the courses you will take in the department. Student independent research projects are guided by a faculty mentor. Students will also have an opportunity to develop leadership skills by participating in student organizations such as Alpha Helix and the Science Club.

Dr. James Marshall
James Marshall, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Biology
B.A., B.S. Texas Christian University
Ph.D. Ohio State

Phone: 815-226-4188

Dr. Marshall teaches evolution, ecology, animal behavior, conservation biology, marine science, geology, ornithology, and plant biology. His primary research interests are the ecology and population biology of passerine birds. He is also program director of the Rockford Writer's Guild, director of the Honors in Liberal Arts and Sciences program, and a board member of the Severson Dells Nature Center.

Sean Beckmann, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Biology
B.S., Biology, Stetson University
Ph.D, Biology, University of Miami

Phone: 815-226-4133

Sean Beckmann joined the department of Chemical and Biological Sciences in 2011 as Assistant Professor of Biology. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Stetson University (DeLand, FL). In the following years he received training in a number of areas of biological research, as well as veterinary medicine, before beginning graduate school. He holds a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Miami with focuses in molecular ecology, evolutionary biology, and population genetics. While in graduate school he taught a number of laboratory courses as well as a lecture in ecology.

Following graduate school he joined the faculty of Rockford University where he teaches a number of major courses in both organismal and cellular/molecular biology, as well as non-major and interdisciplinary courses. His courses include: Principles of Biology, Cell Physiology, Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy, Vertebrate Physiology, and Mammalogy. He also co-teaches the Introduction to Research class for Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Biology majors. In addition to teaching Sean serves as a member of the first year advising team, which mentors incoming first year students, and is also the faculty advisor for Alpha Helix, the student science club on campus. He is a member of the National Association for Advisors for the Health Professions (NAAHP), Sigma Xi, Beta Beta Beta, the American Society of Mammalogists, and the Ecological Society of America.

His research interests focus on the intersection of molecular biology, evolution, and ecology. Students are currently working with him to study the effects of controlled burns and prairie restoration on the species and genetic diversity of small mammals. Other research areas include the impact of urbanization on migration and gene flow in small mammals, as well as the phylogeography of a number of species.

Troy Skwor, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Biology
Postdoctoral Fellow, Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute, Center for Immunobiology and Vaccine Development
Ph.D. in Medical Sciences, Texas A&M University College of Medicine
B.S. in Medical Microbiology and Immunology, University of Wisconsin – Madison

Phone: 815-226-4173


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