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Biological Sciences

Undergraduate Bachelor Programs

Special Programs and Research

Special Programs


These programs offer students the opportunity to get hands-on experience in finding solutions for real-world problems through both fieldwork and labwork.

NSF-IUSE Geopaths Catalina Scholar Program: Spring Break and Summer Research

This program provides early-level (first- and second-year) students with hands on research exposure to Geosciences and Environmental Sciences at the University of Southern California’s Wrigley Institute for Environmental Science located on Catalina Island. All student costs are fully covered, and students gain access to peer mentoring and exposure to career and graduate school options in the fields of environmental science and geoscience. Additionally, students receive $800 upon successful completion of the program.

Learn about the IUSE Program

Global Women in STEM and Policy (GWSTEM): International Field Research

Designed by Mount Saint Mary’s University faculty, GWSTEM is open to students majoring in biology, chemistry, political science, healthcare policy and global politics. Students accepted to the program form a cohort and engage in a three-semester, cross-discipline experience that culminates in a summer of field research focusing on a global perspective of breast cancer development. Students examine the role of biology, healthcare access and environmental effects on breast cancer outcomes. They also examine the effects of natural remedies used by indigenous women on the viability of cancer cells. In past years, students have traveled to Peru and India!

Tiny Earth: Student-Sourced Antibiotic Discovery

Students in Dr. Peterson’s BIO_002 Honors Lab join nearly 10,000 students worldwide as they investigate the soil for potential antibiotic-producing bacteria. Research-based labs like this are uncommon for first-year students. Participants gain concrete research and lab skills while tackling a problem that the World Health Organization calls “one of the biggest threats to global health, food security and development today.” Read more about the Tiny Earth project.

Hear About MSMU Students’ Experiences

On-Campus Research


Many of our faculty conduct research during the academic year as well as during summer vacation. Students can join research labs in either the Biological Sciences or Physical Sciences department; below are just some of the projects you might work on.

Dr. Adriane Jones: Aquatic Molecular Ecology

I am interested in relationships between community structure and function within microbial assemblages. I am particularly interested in microbial community variation over time and in response to environmental stressors, particularly at the urban coastal interface. I hope my research will provide environmentally relevant information about the status of aquatic microbial communities and how these communities might react to or buffer environmental change.

About Dr. Jones

Dr. Luiza Nogaj: Cancer, Diabetes, and Protein Aggregation Diseases

Part of my research involves the role of several candidate genes and proteins on the level of tumor suppressor gene expression. We characterize human biopsy samples to identify the markers of breast cancer progression and use biochemical methods to determine the mechanism of that progression.

I also study protein aggregation in neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes and cancer. Several diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer, are directly linked to the unwanted misfolding of proteins. Rather than being removed by the body, these misfolded proteins aggregate to form a toxic substance called amyloid. Students in my lab search for substances that are able to prevent the first step in the formation of amyloid. We then test those substances in mammalian cell culture for their ability to rescue living cells from the toxic effects of amyloid.

About Dr. Nogaj

Dr. Stacey Peterson: Bacterial Interactions and Antibiotic Discovery

Bacteria live in diverse communities and use a variety of strategies to survive in competitive environments. Understanding how bacteria compete with one another has several applications, including the control of biofilms and the treatment of bacterial infections. My lab explores bacterial interactions to better understand how bacteria compete and communicate with one another in their natural environments. Another project in my lab, done in collaboration with the Tiny Earth network, involves the discovery of new antibiotics. Students isolate and characterize antibiotic-producing bacteria from the soil on the Mount Saint Mary’s campus, followed by extraction and further analysis of the antibiotic. This research is especially important as more bacterial infections become untreatable due to antibiotic resistance. 

About Dr. Peterson