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History of the Biology Department

The appointment of Dr. Harry Cook, a zoologist, as the first faculty member in the natural sciences at the (then) King's College, marked the beginning of the Biology department in 1979. In the first years of the College, Dr. Cook offered two biology courses. The department expanded with the appointment of Dr. Hank Bestman in 1987, adding expertise in botany, genetics, cellular biology, and biochemistry. The appointment of Dr. John Wood in 1988 enabled the department to offer courses in ecology, limnology, invertebrate zoology, and phylogenetics. The King's College gained degree-granting status and became The King's University College in 1993. After 20 year's of service, Dr. H. Cook retired in 1999.

Biology at King's began an exciting new phase in 2000 with the appointment of Dr. Heather Prior, a specialist in ocular genetics and Zebra fish culture. That year, a new 4-year B.Sc. degree was approved with expanded course offerings. In the summer of 2004, virologist Dr. Sarah Richart, with expertise in the Herpes simplex complex and immunology, was appointed Assistant Professor of Biology. She currently covers courses in human anatomy, microbiology, and genetics. Sessional lecturers currently teach courses in vertebrate zoology and plant diversity. Support services are provided by a full-time laboratory co-ordinator, (Wendy Vanderwel), several part-time, course-specific laboratory instructors, and student teaching assistants.

The King's Centre for Molecular Structure (KCMS) officially opened on March 26, 2003. The Centre was made possible by awards from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Alberta Science and Research Authority, Bruker Canada and Varian Canada Inc. This state-of-the-art instrumentation (GC-Mass Spec and NMR) is proving invaluable for basic and applied research in biochemistry. A part-time instrument technician supports the KCMS Centre. (See the Chemistry Department home page for details).

In 1995, the Biology department was instrumental in establishing the Environmental Studies (ENVS) program at the The King's University College. It continues to be involved with courses, student research projects, and teaching. Dr. John Wood has been the ENVS Program Director since 2001.