The Biology Department provides opportunities for students to pursue research interests in both field and lab:

Field Opportunities

Housed on the campus of Saint John’s University, the Biology Department is surrounded by a diversity of natural habitats, which serve as a focus for study in both classes and independent research. The 2400-acre campus features a large oak forest with stands of maples, pine and spruce, a restored oak savanna and tall grass prairie, both natural and restored wetlands and a diversity of large and small lakes. The land is managed by the Saint John’s Abbey Arboretum, which oversees the sustainable harvest of timber. The department is associated with Saint John’s Outdoor University, which provides educational outreach for our students and to local schools. Students can volunteer to participate in anything from teaching kindergarten classes about wolves to removing invasive European Buckthorn to helping burn the prairie.

The College of Saint Benedict also owns about 300 acres of natural habitats, including prairie and wetland restorations and 100 acres of relatively undisturbed “big woods” deciduous forest on the campus. In addition, the College owns a 140 acre woodland and wetland tract about 3 miles north of campus.

Supporting Facilities

In support of our excellent “outdoor classrooms,” the Biology Department maintains collections of plants and animals for research and educational use.

  • The Melancon Greenhouse features a wide variety of teaching specimens, including excellent desert and tropical rooms. The greenhouse also has dedicated space available for both student and faculty research.
  • The Bailey Herbarium, managed by our chief botanist Dr. Saupe, is the largest private college herbarium in the Minnesota with nearly 32,000 specimens of vascular and nonvascular plants, representing both local and global collections ranging in age from modern to over 150 years.
  • Invertebrate and vertebrate research and teaching collections are housed in the Peter Engel Science Center in dedicated research and preparatory rooms.
Laboratory Opportunities

The Biology Department possesses laboratories suitable for the study of cell biology, developmental biology, microbiology, human and animal physiology, biochemistry, molecular genetics, immunology and histology. There are individual and collaborative research spaces are where student and faculty members work side-by-side. The Peter Engel Science Center includes teaching and research labs for genetics, anatomy and physiology, ecology and plant biology. Instrumentation that is available to faculty and students for teaching and research includes:

  • facilites for cell culture, flow cytometry, liquid chromatography and other procedures
  • an electron microscopy suite with both scanning and transmission electron microscopes
  • a LICOR 6400 portable photosynthesis system
  • low-speed and high-speed centrifuges
  • 96-well thermal cyclers for PCR
  • a colorimetric 96-well microplate reader
  • a real-time PCR machine (for measuring gene expression)
  • a capillary DNA sequencer
  • a NanoDrop UV spectrophotometer
  • equipment for electrophoresis with a gel documentation system
  • a time-lapse imagery studio
  • walk-in controlled environmental chambers
College of Saint Benedict
Saint John’s University

Dr. Jennifer Schaefer
Chair, Biology Department
SJU PEngl 303