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Info for prospective students (undergrad and graduate) @ BHSU

Current students, please click here to access Ramsey course websites.

Located in Spearfish -- far western South Dakota, by the Wyoming border -- Black Hills State is at the intersection of the Great Plains and Black Hills mountains.  The area has high biological diversity and many public lands under federal and state management, including National Forests, National Monuments, and National Parks.  There are outstanding opportunities for outdoor recreation in the vicinity of Spearfish as well as cultural experiences.  Sturgis (home of the annual motorcycle rally) and the historic City of Deadwood are a short drive, while Rapid City (second-largest city in South Dakota) is ~50 miles away.

BHSU is a mid-sized public institution (~4,500 students) on a 123-acre campus.  Science facilities are in the new Johnson Life Sciences Laboratory and renovated Jonas Science Building, with instrumentation for genetics research (including "next-gen" sequencing), chemical analysis, and electron microscopy.  There is a major herbarium and plant growth facilities here as well as an experimental garden.  The Sanford Underground Research Facility (Homestake Mine, near Deadwood) and Sanford Education Research Facility provide venues for deep underground activities, including projects in environmental microbiology.


BHSU's School of Natural Sciences offers diverse undergrad coursework and degree programs.  The School has a low student-to-faculty ratio and provides a lot of hands-on, personal attention to students -- it is a small college learning environment with the science infrastructure of a larger public institution.

Students interested in environmental careers -- such as work for government agencies, nonprofit conservation organizations, and consulting agencies -- are served by our course offerings in organismal biology (Plant Systematics, Agrostology, Dendrology, Ethnobotany, Entomology, Mammology, Herpetology, Ornithology, Invertebrate Zoology, Animal Behavior) as well as field research and internship opportunities supervised by department faculty.  BHSU programs in Environmental Physical Sciences and Outdoor Education offer complementary coursework (including Environmental Geology, Historical Geology, and Environmental Interpretation) and may be completed as an academic minor.  BHSU has an excellent track record in placing environmental biology graduates into government agency positions regionally and nationally; many of our students also pursue graduate studies in the biological sciences.

BHSU Biology also serves students interested in the biomedical and health sciences.  We offer advanced lecture and lab courses across a range of topics (Genetics, Microbiology, Cell & Molecular Biology, Immunology, Physiology, Anatomy, Neurobiology) as well as outstanding opportunities for student participation in hands-on research via the South Dakota Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network fellowship program (which supports summer and academic-year positions).  BHSU programs in Chemistry and Exercise Science have complementary coursework (including Biochemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Medicinal Chemistry) and may be completed as an academic minor.  Graduates of our cell/physiology track have excellent placement into graduate and professional programs in the health sciences.

You can learn more about undergraduate opportunities at BHSU's School of Natural Sciences at our official websites, listed below.

Biology Program:

Chemistry Program:

Environmental Physical Sciences Program:

Outdoor Education Program:

Graduate Students

The School of Natural Sciences offers an MSc. in Integrative Genomics ("MSIG").  With guidance of a faculty mentor, students in the program conduct research, complete graduate-level coursework, and gain experience with modern techniques and instrumentation in the lab and field.  Genetics is a common denominator of the MSIG program, with research efforts spanning the disciplines of ecology, evolutionary biology, systematics, molecular and cell biology, microbiology, and biochemistry.  Prospective students are encouraged to contact graduate faculty from the list below to learn more about current research activities and lab openings; general inquiries may be emailed to Dr. Brian Smith.  Graduate Research Assistantships (RAs) are awarded to MSIG students and provide a competitive stipend (~$16,500 per year) plus funding for research (~$1,000 per year).  RAs receive a reduced tuition rate and assist with instruction of undergraduate-level science labs (~10-15 hours per week) in the fall and spring semesters.  The MSIG prepares students for advanced training via academic and biomedical programs (e.g., PhD, MD, and DVM programs) as well as professional pursuits in industry and with government agencies.

Graduate Faculty Research Areas & Contact Information

Dr. Cynthia Anderson  –  molecular genetics  –

Dr. Dan Asunskis – chemistry –

Dr. David Bergmann  –  environmental microbiology  –

Dr. Yun Seok Choi – biochemistry –

Dr. Justin Ramsey  –  plant ecology and systematics  –

Dr. Shane Sarver  –  molecular genetics and evolution  –

Dr. Brian Smith  –  animal ecology and systematics  –