Department of Biology

The Department of Biology offers exceptional education in biological disciplines, rooted in theoretical knowledge, and enriched by interactive, hands-on learning.

Studying Biology at Simmons University

We offer degrees in Biology, Biochemistry, Environmental Science, Health and Exercise Science, and Neuroscience & Behavior. Our curriculum prepares students for graduate study and careers in many fields, including basic science, engineering, biotechnology, and medicine. We believe interdisciplinary training is the best preparation for future scientists, and strive to cultivate critical thinking, teamwork, innovation, and leadership in every student.

As a small teaching university, we provide a high level of student/faculty interaction, in the classroom and the laboratory. Students participate directly in faculty research, often authoring papers and conference presentations. Simmons’ location in Boston’s Longwood Medical Area creates unparalleled opportunities for research and internships at world-class institutions. Students in all our degree programs benefit from collaboration with Simmons health sciences, such as nursing, physical therapy, and behavior analysis.

We are proud of our reputation for training well-rounded scientists, with the knowledge and experience to succeed and lead in their chosen careers. In all our programs, the Department of Biology embraces the Simmons values of leadership, social justice, women-centered education, and science and practice for the social good.

Highlights of Biology at Simmons

  • Faculty members are known for outstanding teaching and cutting-edge scholarship.
  • Hands-on learning is integrated into all majors, beginning freshman year and culminating in the senior capstone project.
  • Our Biochemistry and Neuroscience & Behavior majors are offered jointly with the departments of Chemistry & Physics and Psychology, respectively.
  • We have active chapters of several student organizations, including Sigma Xi (National Science Honor Society) and Tri-Beta (National Biological Honor Society).

One of our greatest assets is the students themselves. They are incredibly motivated learners and innovative thinkers.

- Jane Lopilato, Associate Professor of Biology and Department Chair

Outstanding education and training in biological disciplines

  • Simmons is making major investments in our campus to provide students with optimized spaces for interdisciplinary teaching, research, and collaborative learning in the sciences.
  • Exercise Science is the department’s most popular major and is among the largest at the University, offering excellent preparation for rewarding health and fitness careers.
  • Our location provides students with research and internship opportunities at world-class institutions such as the Broad Institute (Harvard/MIT), Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.
  • Student research at Simmons reflects a high level of innovative, independent work, and intellectual rigor unusual for undergraduate programs. Seniors have the opportunity to present their capstone projects at the Eastern New England Biological Conference, the Simmons Biology Symposium, and/or the Biology Poster Session.
  • Simmons encourages dynamic major/minor combinations, such as neuroscience and music, biology and economics, and biology and computer science.


Graduates of our department work in biochemistry, genetic counseling, microbiology, environmental science, pharmaceuticals, and many other fields. Others are pursuing doctoral degrees at prestigious schools such as T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University, Cornell University, and Boston University School of Medicine. The Boston-metro area has the highest employment of biological scientists of any area in the nation.

Learn More About The Department of Biology

Biology Faculty and Staff

Our 9 full-time faculty members are recognized for outstanding teaching and innovative research. Current faculty research includes: anthropogenic impacts on our ecosystems; global regulators of gene expression and antibiotic resistance; formation and function of neuronal connections; effects of natural products and environmental contaminants on cell behavior; applied microbiology, hygiene science, and public health; and the developmental evolution of amphibian neural patterning and formation of appendages.


Jane Lopilato photo

Jane Lopilato

Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Biology

Full-time Faculty

Anna Aguilera photo

Anna Aguilera

Associate Professor

Headshot Photo of Tim Hanway

Tim Hanway

Assistant Professor of Practice and Internship Coordinator for the Health and Exercise Science Program

Photo of Seth Johnson

Seth Johnson

Assistant Professor

Eric Luth

Eric Luth

Associate Professor

Charlotte Russell photo

Charlotte Russell

Teaching Professor

Michael Welche Profile Photo

Michael Welch

Assistant Teaching Professor and Director of the Health and Exercise Science Program

Photograph of Ling Xin

Ling Xin

Assistant Professor

John Young headshot

John Young

Assistant Professor

Part-time Faculty

Ali Ahrabi

Adjunct Faculty

Sydney Aten

Adjunct Faculty

Kelliann Banaian

Adjunct Faculty

Roberto De Luca

Adjunct Faculty

Carrie Hetzel

Adjunct Faculty

Michael Iannessa

Adjunct Faculty

Jonathan Lee

Adjunct Faculty

Nicole Lynch

Adjunct Faculty

Maghnus O'Seaghdha

Adjunct Faculty

Sarah Phenix


Gina Powers

Adjunct Faculty

Headshot of Ester Quintana

Ester Quintana

Adjunct Faculty

Karen Talentino

Professor Emerita


Maggie Clancy

Animal Care Laboratory Technician

Tracy Machcinski

Lab Manager

Jyl Richards

Senior Lab Manager

Samantha Royle

Research Fellow

The Department of Biology in the News

Professor Randi Lite while giving her 2020 Commencement address.

Award Named in Honor of former Professor Randi Lite

The Clinical Exercise Physiology Association (CEPA) Annual Conference Committee has established the Randi Lite Lifetime Achievement Award. Named for former Biology Professor of Practice and Director of Exercise Science Randi Lite, who was a founder and first president of CEPA...

A model of a Perfluorooctanoic acid molecule.

Associate Professor of Biology Eric Luth Co-Authors Scientific Article with Former Students

Neurobiologist Eric Luth recently co-authored a peer-reviewed article in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A (October 2021) with several of his students: Celine Breton ’21, Kaitlyn Kessel ’23, Ariel Robinson ’19, and Kainat Altaf ’22. The piece traces developmental abnormalities among worm populations after exposure to environmental contaminants.

The 2023 faculty award winners

Simmons Celebrates Exemplary Research, Teaching, and Service at the 2023 Faculty Awards

On October 11, the Simmons community gathered to honor the outstanding achievements of six faculty members representing five disciplines. This year’s awardees received recognition for superlative undergraduate and graduate teaching, research, service, and a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Simmons MCB in Fall

Passionate Leaders Project: Fall 2022 Cohort

The Passionate Leaders Project (PLP) supports undergraduate students by funding research opportunities that transcend traditional coursework. Participants of the PLP develop research and critical thinking skills and bring the insights of academia to real world issues. This year’s cohort addresses mental health, neuroscience, environmental science, the foster care system, and technology.

Simmons University Main College Building in the fall

Simmons Faculty Recognized for Innovative Teaching During the Pandemic

Simmons University received a $10,000 Presidential Grant through the Davis Education Foundation to fund a Post-Pandemic Innovative Teaching Award.

From top left: Catherine Cox '23, Brianna Desharnais '22, Julia Hart '21, Lauren Howard '22, Evangeline Kennedy '21, Irmana Monem '21, and Graciella Rios Ortega '21

Passionate Leaders Project: Spring 2021 Cohort

The Passionate Leaders Project supports undergraduate students seeking to enrich their academic and professional interests by funding learning opportunities beyond the boundaries of the traditional classroom. Learn what the Spring 2021 cohort is up to!

Headshot of Sandi Fenwick

Celebrating Visionary Leader Sandi Fenwick ’72

Sandi Fenwick ’72, CEO of Boston Children’s Hospital, is the recipient of the inaugural Helen G. Drinan Visionary Leader award. Prior to the ceremony, we asked Fenwick her thoughts on the award, her career, and what it means to be a visionary leader.

Headshot of Bruce Gray

Remembering Professor Emeritus of Biology, Bruce Gray

President Lynn Perry Wooten shares the news of the passing of Bruce Gray, Professor Emeritus of Biology, former Chair of the Biology Department, and founding member of the Faculty Senate and the Multicultural Affairs Advisory Committee.