Department of Natural and Applied Sciences

Welcome to the Department of Natural and Applied Sciences (DNAS). DNAS includes biologists, chemists, a geologist and a physicist.

Degree programs:

  • Biology: tracks that focus on 1) health professions, molecular biology, and cell biology, and 2) ecology and organismal biology.
  • Chemistry: foundational chemistry skills and knowledge with flexibility for an individually-designed curriculum
  • Environmental Science: an interdisciplinary three pronged approach (ecology, geology, and environmental chemistry) that includes significant field work.

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify and analyze significant scientific issues of local and global concern including appreciating ecological diversity.
  • Evaluate the ethics of behavior and decisions likely to be encountered in one's professional career.
  • Contribute significantly to multidisciplinary teams researching scientific problems.
  • Communicate results according to professional standards in the form of reports, maps, graphics, and presentations.
  • Gather and perform quantitative analysis of scientific data using current technology.
  • Demonstrate content knowledge progress through improving performance on standardized tests.
  • Embrace lifelong learning.

We also teach courses that are required as part of every student's Core curriculum and work with other departments, such as education, to provide training necessary for their degree programs. Please explore our degree programs and course listings, and feel free to email Gerald Zuercher, DNAS department head, at with any questions or suggestions.

You become part of a community. We go on field trips together, go out to eat, have departmental parties, and get to know you well. Our departmental student organization, Web of Life, plans activities, works on the campus recycling program, goes on camping and boating trips, and provides a forum for discussing issues.  A question any prospective student (or parent) should ask is, "Why should I make the investment to attend a private college?" Here are a few thoughts in response:

  • We have a strong undergraduate research program. Students learn science by doing science.
  • We teach our own labs. Your lab instructor will be a faculty member, not a graduate student.
  • We believe in experiential learning.  Students are encouraged to pursue internships and/or travel courses across the United States and around the world.
  • We take advising seriously. We help you plan your course schedules, arrange internships, and decide on your goals.
  • We have good facilities. We moved into the new University Science Center in January 2007. We have most of the equipment you'll need, including lab equipment, boats, and field equipment. We're committed to helping students obtain what they need for undergraduate research.
  • We provide support. On campus there is the Academic Success Center, but we also have tutoring space in our building, providing you easy access to faculty and staff who care.

Perhaps the best way to judge if UD is the right place for you is to come visit us. The Office of Admission will be glad to work with you to arrange a campus visit. Or call the campus switchboard, 563.589.3000, and ask to speak to Gerald Zuercher or any of the DNAS faculty.