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Biology Contact

Department Chair:

Dr. Dixie L. Smith

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Contact Person:
Kelly Borden

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Phone: 620-235-4732
Fax: 620-235-4194

Heckert-Wells Hall 223
Pittsburg State University
1701 S. Broadway
Pittsburg, KS 66762-7552

Student Life at Pittsburg State University

Who are biology majors?

The 340 Biology majors represent a cross-section of all students on campus. By gender, you almost equally divide between male and female. While most are traditional students (recent high school graduates), non-traditional students are well represented.

Biology majors come from all parts of Kansas, the greater 4-states area (especially Missouri and Oklahoma), and around the world. Many students reside in residence halls, while some live in town, or commute.

You will find biology majors as student leaders in residence halls, in student government, and as student ambassadors. In 2003, 5 of the 20 students selected for service awards were biology majors.

What do students do besides study?

As is the trend everywhere, most students work more hours now than did students 10-20 years ago. This places an additional burden on students, with less time for study but still a desire to graduate on time.

Southeast Kansas has many recreational opportunities for swimming, fishing, hiking, and camping. The southeast Kansas strip pits (lakes formed from pits left from mining days) are great for fishing and the land around them for hunting. We're close to great Kansas lakes and state parks (Lake Crawford, Elk City Lake, Fall River Lake) and not all that far from great outdoor opportunities from the Ozarks of Missouri and Arkansas. In the summer, the city of Pittsburg opens a large "Aquatic Center" with swimming, a raft ride, and slide.

Culture comes to southeast Kansas and southwest Missouri, too. Music and theater programs are scheduled throughout the year. PSU sponsors the Performing Arts and Lecture Series each year, there is the Pittsburg Community Theatre, and the famous Labor Day weekend "Little Balkans" Festival.

What's the biology building like?

Heckert-Wells Hall has only laboratories and offices. Lectures are held in surrounding buildings. Three student lounge areas are located in the building and are especially crowded with students studying before exams. The department also maintains a small computer lab.

Do you have large class sizes?

The Department tries to keep class size low for our majors. The largest class is probably Principles of Biology I in the fall, with about 48 students in each section. Most freshmen labs are capped at 32 and some at 24. General education classes, like General Biology or Environmental Life Science will seat from 75-100 students.

What about advising?

Advising is taken seriously in Biology. Each student is given an advisor in their field of interest. While pre-enrollment is always a time to "see" your advisor, come by anytime. To a great extent, we try to mentor our majors. More an apprenticeship than just "instruction", faculty look upon students as the future of our field. You will be assigned an advisor based on your area of interest.

What other experiences can I look forward to?

In biology, you will have the opportunity to do more than sit in a class or lab. During the semester or summer, students may participate in research projects - as a part of coursework, an independent study, or working with faculty on sponsored research. These experiences enhance the undergraduate program. Several students have gone on to give research presentations at state or regional meetings of professional societies.

We encourage our students to take advantage of summer opportunities for relevant employment, workshops, internships, and so on. These experiences expose the students to the "real world" of practicing biologists. Often, credit can be arranged for these experiences.

Any scholarships?

The Department offers a variety of scholarships. Each spring, many departmental scholarships are awarded. Any enrolled biology major may apply. The funds are a combination of alumni funds from several sources. Unfortunately, there are no departmental scholarships at this time for incoming freshmen or transfer students, but the university does provide opportunities for freshmen (

What about student clubs?

There are three student organizations: Biology Club, Beta Beta Beta (Tri-Beta), and Premed Club (see Student Organizations). They meet at least once a month and sponsor programs and activities for their membership. The Annual Biology Bowl, a part of Science Day held on campus each spring, is sponsored by the Biology Club. The Premed Club has sponsored several fund raisers for the free clinic.

How to apply? Want to visit?

We'd love to have you visit. Contact the Pittsburg State University Office of Admissions for all the details.