Biology at La Sierra University
La Sierra University is a Seventh-day Adventist university. This means that we take seriously our Biblical worldview and our faith, as well as our academic discipline. Because we believe that “all truth is God’s truth,” we seek honestly and openly to examine and interpret data from God’s book of nature. We recognize that our students represent a variety of beliefs and faith journeys, and we seek to teach and learn together in a context of humility and respect.
Our classrooms are not the only locations in which students find knowledge. Our professors offer an array of working laboratories for hands-on experience and learning. Dr. Eugene Joseph encourages his students to think outside the box when designing research projects to prevent or mitigate bone loss due to prolonged bed rest, space flight, osteoporosis, and other disorders of the bone. Dr. Natasha Dean supervises students as they aid in her research on microbes and how they interact with their environment. They are looking at ways to better control the growth of bacteria. Dr. Shereen Sabet takes her students into the field (pictured above, center) collecting samples of “salt loving” viruses. She is intrigued by a class of microorganisms known as extremophiles which survive in very extreme, harsh environmental conditions.
Summer research trips to Southeast Asia are supervised by Dr. Lee Grismer. “It is great to be in an untouched part of the world, being able to see God’s original design without the edits of civilization and being able to discover new species previously unknown to science,” says Dr. Grismer (see photo on back for an example of a newly discovered species). Students are able to continue their research on campus either in Dr. Grismer’s lab or with Dr. Lee Greer as they examine DNA samples from the specimens collected. Undergraduate students coauthor papers with their professors and are published in peer-reviewed journals. They engage in serious science, searching for cures and increasing knowledge. These are just a few of the projects in which our students participate, and share with the world the wonders of God’s creation.
Our biology curriculum offers a selection of classes with both breadth and depth. It should be pointed out that the theory of evolution is discussed, but not promoted, at La Sierra University. We believe that God the Creator is the source of all life. Students examine our denomination’s voted fundamental belief regarding creation and understand the data used to support our faith in creation. We believe that by providing a complete curriculum grounded in biological principles, paralleled and supported by a strong general education curriculum, students will be able to graduate with an integrated knowledge of their discipline as well as a stronger faith and understanding of God as their Creator and Saviour. The scientific data are presented just as they are at most other Seventh-day Adventist institutions, often with the same textbook. We believe that it is our responsibility to ensure that students receive a complete and comprehensive education as warranted by their given program of study.
Our biology faculty have heard, and taken seriously, the questions and concerns expressed by some in our church. We continue to take steps to ensure that our students understand the Adventist Church’s voted position on creation and to help them understand the arguments that are used to support the statement of fundamental belief in creation.
As Christian educators, we are committed to serving God by being mentors for each student who walks through our doors. We value the opportunity to pray with our students in and out of class, to sit next to them in University Worship on Thursday mornings at the church, and to engage in meaningful dialogue with them about life. We may not hear about every student whose life was touched, but when we do, it is an affirmation that we are where God wants us to be. Students testify of our care:
“I found La Sierra, and all the professors there, whether in science or religion, to be committed to a lived faith. At La Sierra I understood the broader meaning of being an SDA Christian: of discipleship, of service, and of participating actively in reflecting the Kingdom of God. I am very grateful for what La Sierra gave me.”
Kristel Tonstad ’04
“I love La Sierra and La Sierra loved me! I’m extremely blessed (in all ways) to attend LSU and be a science major. I think that God Himself led me here and there is no place that would have strengthened my faith as much as LSU did.”
Ivan Rybkin ’10 (pictured below center)
“I graduated with a biology degree from La Sierra in 2007, and my experience with the biology teachers was enriching, both academically and spiritually. I always felt that each and every one of them cared deeply about my education in biology as well as my spiritual growth. They make it clear that they believe in a creator God and that this belief is not challenged by any biological theory they accept.”
Casey Capolupo ’07
“Faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). To prepare our students for life requires more than reading a textbook or learning from a lab experiment. We help them use the talents that God has given them to share Him with others.
This year we watched our classroom studies on environmental conservation come to life as Dr. John Perumal took more than 150 students to participate in the Aliso Beach cleanup on April 23. Spring break was filled with service opportunities as our students worked with Dr. Lee Greer and Project Pueblo, assisting the Navajo Nation in researching uranium contamination that has polluted their water, homes, and air for decades. They also laid foundations for the future installation of solar panels.
The Pre-Med students and sponsor Dr. Eugene Joseph regularly do mission service in Guatemala where they interact with local orphanages and help with clinics during winter break. The passion to serve others, following the example of Jesus, is seen in our students and faculty.
We are dedicated to helping our students seek scientific truth, know the Lord as their personal Savior and Creator, and serve Him throughout their lives.