Apr 13, 2024  
2022-2023 General Catalog 

Walter Maxwell Gibson College of Sciences

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Person IconInterim Dean
James Brandt – GEO 301 – (435) 586-5454
Fax IconCollege Fax
(435) 865-8550
Admin Assistant IconBusiness Manager
Patricia Palmer – SC 310 – (435) 586-7920
Advisor IconStudent Success Advisors
COS Advisement Website
  Website IconWebsite


The Walter Maxwell Gibson College of Sciences serves as a center of learning for the undergraduate STEM programs offered at SUU and as the resource center or scientific knowledge and expertise for southern Utah. COS hosts academic programs in biology, chemistry, geography, geology, and physics, housed in the departments of Biology and Physical Sciences. We operate or participate in the operation of several special learning environments that include an SUU Center for STEM Teaching and Learning; a Keck Foundation-sponsored undergraduate research lab; the Ashcroft Astronomical Observatory; a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) lab; a certified water lab; the Garth & Jerri Frehner Museum of Natural History; the Cedar Mountain Science Center; the Dahle Green House; the James E. Bowns Herbarium; and the Mountain Ranch. The Walter Maxwell Gibson College of Sciences provides comprehensive classroom, laboratory, field, and experiential learning that emphasizes critical thinking, problem solving, decision-making, and communication in STEM. The faculty is committed to providing high-quality education, individual guidance and assistance to students, and helping them grow intellectually, professionally, and personally while pursuing their academic goals.


The Walter Maxwell Gibson College of Sciences will be nationally recognized as a premier institution of learning known for enabling its students to honor thought and accomplishment, achieve excellence in their chosen field, and create positive change in the world. Our graduates will demonstrate high levels of academic achievement through admission to graduate and professional schools and/or gainful employment. Our faculty will model engaged pedagogy and scholarly activities, thereby increasing the value of our students’ degrees.


The values and beliefs that guide the Walter Maxwell Gibson College of Sciences in all activities and serve as our basic foundation are:

  1. Undergraduate education is our highest priority.
  2. Supporting students.
  3. Supporting faculty.

College Program Goals & Learning Outcomes

The observable, measurable goals of the Walter Maxwell Gibson College of Sciences and the objectives by which we will accomplish them are:

  1. Goal: Prepare students for graduate and professional schools.
    Objective: Offer coursework and active, engaged learning experiences appropriate to the prerequisites of specified post-baccalaureate programs.
    Assessment: Tabulate student reportage on application/acceptance to post-baccalaureate programs.
  2. Goal: Prepare students for careers using their baccalaureate and/or post-baccalaureate degree.
    Objective: Offer coursework appropriate for employment related to departmental majors or minors.
    Assessment: Require standardized, nationally-normed tests where available and regularly evaluate curricula to assure currency and appropriateness.
  3. Goal: Develop skills in analysis, critical thinking, problem solving, decision making, and communication.
    Objective: Offer well-planned and pedagogically sound learning experiences.
    Assessment: Annually examine and evaluate course syllabi, course materials, and student research experiences.
  4. Goal: Provide hands-on experiences with state-of-the-art scientific instruments and equipment.
    Objective: Provide coursework and research opportunities that include opportunities to use equipment.
    Assessment: Inventory and maintain current equipment, continuously update equipment, and evaluate the need for additional equipment.
  5. Goal: Provide highly skilled professors that are also respected scholars.
    Objective: Recruit Ph.D.-prepared faculty, reward good teaching, encourage faculty to conduct funded research and publish results, and encourage participation in professional organizations.
    Assessment: Annually evaluate faculty performances in teaching, scholarship, service, and collegiality using criteria and performance standards developed by Departments and the College.
  6. Goal: Provide exceptional learning opportunities.
    Objective: Utilize the Valley Farm, including the Mountain Ranch; Cedar Mountain Science Center; Ashcroft Observatory; Dahle Greenhouse; SUU STEM Resource and Tutor Center (providing equipment previously housed in the Voyager Mobile Science Lab); Water Lab; the Garth & Jerri Frehner Museum of Natural History; James E. Bowns Herbarium; the GIS lab and the Keck Molecular Genetics and Ecology labs; the SUU Center for STEM Teaching and Learning; and Internships with industry and government, and Community Partnerships.
    Assessment: Annually evaluate the use of our specialized learning environments.
  7. Goal: Maximize the utilization of our unique community and geographic resources.
    Objective: Foster and strengthen community and agency relationships.
    Assessment: Annually evaluate community and agency interaction.

Departments, Programs, & Centers

Department of Biology

Go to information for Department of Biology.


Bachelor’s Degree


Department of Geosciences

Go to information for Department of Geosciences.


Bachelor’s Degree

Certificate of Proficiency (Undergraduate)


Department of Physical Science

Go to information for Department of Physical Science.


Bachelor’s Degree


Centers & Special Learning Environments

The College of Sciences operates, or partners with, several special programs that provide students opportunities for enrichment of their classroom learning:

  • The Cedar Mountain Science Center offers summer science camps for children and courses for pre-service teachers and in-service teachers, held at the College Cabin on the SUU 2,629 acre mountain ranch property.
  • Colorado Plateau Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit provides students and faculty with opportunities among all state and federal lands. Cedar Breaks National Monument, the U.S. Forest Service, and the BLM all have Cedar City offices and work closely with SUU.
  • The SUU Ashcroft Observatory offers college credit courses and weekly community astronomical viewing activities located near the SUU Valley Farm. Call (435) 586-1409 for more information.
  • The G.I.S. Lab offers college course work and services to community and regional planners requiring expertise in geospatial mapping.
  • The Garth & Jerri Frehner Museum of Natural History offers campus and community members the opportunity to view museum specimens from our regional ecosystems. For more information call (435) 865-8549.
  • The SUU Water Lab is a certified analytical lab that offers students specialized training in analytical techniques and services to the public for their water quality needs. Call (435) 586-7914 for more information.
  • The Rural Health Scholars Program is an enhancement program for pre-health students planning to apply to graduate-level programs. These students include but are not limited to the following: pre-medical, podiatry, optometry, dental, pharmacy, physical therapy, physician assistant, and nursing.  The program provides opportunities for students in the following areas: research, community service, job shadowing, patient exposure, MCAT/DAT/PCAT prep, application assistance, enhanced advising, cultural immersion experiences in health care, medical skill training, medical Spanish, and special seminars. Call (435) 865-8520 or see www.suu.edu/ahec/index.html for more information.
  • The Alliances for Education (between SUU and Bryce Canyon National Park and the Zion Canyon National Park Group) is a ground-breaking educational partnership with the National Park Service that provides SUU students and faculty with opportunities to conduct research, classes, internships, and other educational activities with and within the National Parks.
  • Mountain Ranch Forest Stewardship Plan and Demonstration Forest Memorandum of Understanding (between SUU and the Utah Department of Natural Resources and Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands) is a program that will utilize the forest and range resources of the SUU Mountain Ranch, promote sound forest management, and provide a demonstration forest to educate SUU students, faculty and staff, Division staff, natural resource professionals, the public, and others about the techniques and outcomes of forest and range management.
  • The SUU Center for STEM Teaching and Learning was established in the spring of 2014. Our mission is to bring together people and resources to facilitate cutting-edge STEM Initiatives that enhance teaching and learning in the preK-16 environment. With three strategic areas of influence – professional development, student engagement, and college & career readiness – our center works in a six-county area of southwestern Utah. Projects are facilitated by a dedicated cadre of SUU faculty and student volunteers.

Other Information


In 2010, the Chemistry - Professional emphasis B.S. degree program obtained approval from the American Chemical Society (ACS), the established national chemical oversight organization. Approval of our Chemistry - Professional emphasis program assures that SUU graduates meet national standards in curriculum and preparation for graduate studies.


Many companies and governmental institutions provide exceptional opportunities for students to develop skills in a professional environment. Students’ internship assignments are jointly supervised by company management and Southern Utah University faculty members. Academic credit is awarded for internships and financial compensation may be available. More information is available from the departments.

Pre-Dental, Pre-Medical, Pre-Veterinary, & Other Health Professions Curricula

Note that the courses that you take toward a pre-professional program are determined in part by the intended transfer institution (e.g. the U. of Utah’s Medical School or the College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State U., etc.). Therefore, you should coordinate closely with the admission requirements of the institution to which you plan to apply as well as the requirements for graduation from SUU. Undergraduate research experience is essential for admission to most of these programs.

Pre-Graduate School

Plan your SUU baccalaureate degree with sufficient math and science courses to qualify you for admission to the graduate program of your choice. Be cognizant of the admission requirements of the graduate program of your choice. Undergraduate research experience is essential for admission to graduate school programs.

Something to Consider

Many students either find themselves waiting a year for graduate/professional school acceptance, or recognize that a graduate-level credential would improve their career preparation. The MBA program in the SUU Dixie L. Leavitt School of Business welcomes applicants with undergraduate degrees in any program. There are admission requirements, but they are minimal and relatively low cost. Please contact Nathan McNamee, MBA Program Director, at (435) 865-8578, or Miranda Gubler, the Online and Graduate Coordinator for the School of Business, at (435) 586-5462.


Scholarships are available to students demonstrating potential for excellence in disciplines within the Walter Maxwell Gibson College of Sciences. During the 2018-2019 academic year, over $388,402 in scholarships were distributed among majors. Students must submit the appropriate applications by February 1st. Interested students should contact the Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships, Sharwan Smith Center, Room ST 167, (435) 586-7735.

Student Organizations

The way to get the best SUU experience is to participate in one of the excellent college student organizations. Among the many student organizations of interest to Science and Engineering majors are the following:

  • American Chemical Society Student Affiliate Chapter (ACS) / Chem Club
  • Animal Ambassadors
  • Beta Beta Beta (TriBeta) (National Biological Honor Society)
  • Biology Club
  • Ecology Club (University Chapter)
  • Kappa Omicron Nu
  • Sigma Gamma Epsilon (National Earth Science Honorary Society)
  • Geology Club
  • National Science Teachers Association (NSTA)
  • PA Club (Physician Assistant)
  • Phi Beta Lambda
  • Skills USA
  • Women in Science and Engineering (WISE)
  • Utah Wildlife Society

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