Lake Superior State University
Lake Superior State University
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Alum Success

Communications and SPC Administrator, Drinking Source Water Protection Division of the Sault Ste. Marie Region Conservation Authority (Ontario)

"Most natural science classes at LSSU offer students as much hands-on experience (lab hours) as lecture hours, which ensures that the university experience prepares us for the real world careers, whether you work at a desk or out in the field, or both. There are endless advantages and opportunities available to LSSU students due to its location on an international border.

I found my career path on campus when my advisor posted a job for the Bi-national Public Advisory Council (BPAC), a group dedicated to and overseeing the clean-up the St. Mary's River. I was able to gain experience and network on both sides of the border, ultimately finding full-time employment before I graduated with my biology degree."

Loralei Premo '07
Biology Major

College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences

Nancy Kirkpatrick
Nancy Kirkpatrick, Ph.D.
Department Chair
Office: CRW 228
Phone: (906) 635-2894
Fax: (906) 635-2266

School of Biological Sciences


In the School of Biological Sciences at Lake Superior State University, you will have the opportunity to work closely with your professors, who are dedicated teachers and experts in their fields of interest. You also will receive valuable hands-on laboratory and field experiences and gain experience with sophisticated equipment and/or travel and work in one of our many nearby and remote field sites.

We have a unique four year biology seminar sequence in which you will develop and complete a senior thesis (research or service learning) project, working closely with a faculty mentor and your peers. At the end of the sequence, you will have the opportunity to present the results of your research or service learning project at our annual senior thesis symposium. This experience will enhance your knowledge, expand your skill set, and most importantly, help you stand out from the competition!

For those students interested in a career in the health professions, we offer excellent preparation for medical, dental and veterinary studies. We also prepare students to go on to graduate studies in chiropractic, podiatry, naturopathic medicine, physician assistant and pharmacy programs.  LSSU is privileged to be part of the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine (MSU-CHM) Early Assurance Program in which superior students may gain early admission into MSU-CHM.

We have state-of-the art facilities, including the Aquatic Research Laboratory (ARL), Fish Disease Laboratory (FDL), and Small Animal Undergraduate Research Facility (SMURF) . The ARL is only one of a few such facilities across the U.S. where students work in the hatchery operation, producing Atlantic salmon for release in the St. Marys River or on any of several other aquatic ecology research projects housed at the ARL. Students can intern at the FDL where they combine molecular skills with field biology to diagnose diseases found in fish and other freshwater organisms. The SMURF lab was created especially for students interested in small mammal research opportunities.

Our molecular, physiology, and ecology laboratories house modern equipment such as DNA thermo cyclers and sequencers, fish and wildlife sampling gear, climate controlled environmental chambers and photosynthesis meters. All of our resources are dedicated to teaching and student research opportunities which provide valuable hands-on opportunities for students throughout their academic career at LSSU.  Students will not only see how equipment operates, but they will deploy, run, and troubleshoot it themselves!

Our location provides unsurpassed field sites for natural resource based labs. Forests, grasslands, wetlands, inland lakes, the St. Marys River and of course all three of the Upper Great Lakes are within an hour’s drive of campus (some just minutes away). Notable fish and wildlife species in these habitats include lake sturgeon, whitefish, moose, elk, fishers and martins, goshawks, piping plovers and many others, including threatened and endangered species of plants and animals. You will visit these sites often in labs and for other projects. No other university offers access to as many varied field sites as LSSU!

We also offer a wealth of out-of-class experiences that will strengthen your knowledge base and expand your scientific skill set. You could be employed by the department helping set up labs or work with a professor on his/her research project. You may do an internship with a state or local agency or work for the Learning Center, helping other students excel in biology classes. You may become a member of one of our active student organizations (e.g., Fisheries and Wildlife Club, SEEK or the Pre-Professional Society) which provide opportunities for out-of-class experiences directly in your field of interest.  The opportunities are endless!

In LSSU’s School of Biological Sciences you will not only explore science, but you will DO science working closely with dedicated faculty, students and staff!

Mission & Vision


Academic Programs (Degrees/Certificates and Majors)



  • Natural Resources Technology

Investigat- ing the Use of QPCR: An Early Detection Method for Toxic Cyano- bacterial Bloom

Garrett Aderman

Harmful algal blooms (HABs), including cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (CHABs), are a global phenomenon. In the US, annual economic loss due to HABs was recently estimated at $82 million. Furthermore, the consensus amongst the scientific community is that the frequency and duration of CHABs in freshwater systems will increase as a result of climate change and anthropogenic nutrient enrichment. Due to the ability of some strains of CHAB genera to produce toxic compounds, larger and more sustained CHAB events will become an even greater threat to drinking water. Of all the known cyantoxoins, one of the most ubiquitous is microcystin (MCY). Humans are primarily exposed to cyantoxins through drinking water consumption and accidental ingestion of recreational water. The increasing risk presented by these toxins requires health officials and utilities to improve their ability to track the occurrence and relative toxicity. Current tracking methods do not distinguish between toxic and non-toxic strains. Biochemical techniques for analyzing the toxins are showing considerable potential as they are relatively simple to run and low cost. My goal was to develop a quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) method to measure the amount of mcyE gene in a Lake Erie drinking water and compare the levels of the mcyE to toxin produced. This is the first step to determining if the presence of mcyE of the mycrocystin synthestase gene cluster in Microcystits, Planktothrix and Anabaena cells can be used as the quantitative measurement in an early detection warning system for recreational and drinking waters.

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