Natural Science

Central’s natural science major prepares you for a variety of career options and graduate or professional schools. The program includes courses in biology, chemistry and physics. Students can also minor in global sustainability, which provides heightened knowledge and awareness of significant intergenerational issues, problems and solutions on a global scale.

A natural science major is excellent preparation for vet school
acres make up Central's outdoor laboratory and nature preserve
Graduates may also teach middle or high school science

The Central Difference


Central became a leader in environmental design when the Vermeer Science Center, which houses biology, chemistry, physics, natural science, mathematics and computer science departments, was awarded a silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) medal rating from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).  The science center was the first LEED-rated building in the state and the first LEED rated science building in the nation. The building contains 13 high-tech classrooms and a fully equipped GIS laboratory, as well as open computer labs and science labs where students can conduct their own research.

Central’s 62-acre Carlson-Kuyper Field Station serves as an “outdoor laboratory,” allowing students to utilize the nature preserve for labs as well as hands-on management experience in restoring prairie. Located about 12 miles from campus, the field station is adjacent to the extensive wildlife areas managed by the Corps of Engineers around Lake Red Rock, Iowa’s largest lake.  It is also the site of Central’s Biomass Prairie project, engaging students in research and demonstration to promote prairies while working to address the larger global issue of global warming.

The Art of STEM

Abigail Lowry ’22 is an ambitious student with a passion for the arts and STEM.

Research Opportunities

Natural science majors actively engage in research projects — some during the summer, some as independent senior honors projects and some assisting with faculty research. Students are encouraged take responsibility for a research project and often present results of their research at regional and national conferences, such as the Iowa Academy of Science.

Faculty are involved in many ongoing projects and are always willing to help nurture new ideas for research. Recent student projects include:

  • Study of mushroom extracts on cells and organic molecules that bind with phosphorylated compounds
  • Comparison of Monarch larvae feeding and growth rates on two species of Milkweed
  • Synthesis, coordination and characterization of ligands to strontium complexes
  • Cognitive impairments in Parkinson’s Disease: Promotion of o-synuclein detection for clinical diagnosis

Off-Campus Experiences

Central students can study off-campus — both internationally or domestically in the United States. These opportunities give students the chance to prepare to be global citizens, equipped to compete in the global job market. Students can check out experiences led by Central faculty or attend select academic programs across the world that provide opportunities for study, service, internships and other types of experiential learning. Options include experiences in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Central America, Ghana, England, the Scottish Highlands and more.

Beyond Central

Putting the “Hire” in Higher Education

  • Luke Rohe ’14, Solutions Trainer, Data Business Equipment, Inc
  • Jared Baker ’13, Engineering Technician, Yoh
  • Cassandra Reiling De Wald ’06, Research Manager, Pfizer
  • Gwen  Worster Waddingham ’06, IACUC Administration, University of Iowa

Central Engineering Student Chosen for Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship

Katherine Stroh ’24 is completing a U.S. Department of Energy undergraduate research internship for the summer at the Ames National Laboratory.


  • Bio-Chem Club
  • SCATE (Students Concerned About the Environment)
  • Health Professions Club
  • Physics Club
  • Tri Beta

Graduate Placement

  • The natural science major prepares students for a variety of graduate programs through courses in biology, chemistry and physics—particularly vet school.


Central’s powerful alumni network and the connections of our faculty ensure our students have access to numerous internships. In addition, Central helps students prepare for the internship/job search.

  • Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge
  • Iowa Hygienic Lab, Coralville
  • Vermeer Corporation, Pella
Central College student

Courses & Faculty

Central’s natural science major is designed for science enthusiasts who want to chart their own path. The program prepares you for a variety of career options and graduate schools. You'll have a strong science background, with courses in biology, chemistry, physics, geosciences and research. Students can also minor in global sustainability, which provides heightened knowledge and awareness of significant intergenerational issues, problems and solutions on a global scale.

Learn more about this discipline in the course catalog.

Meet the Faculty

Sample Coursework

First Year

  • Introduction to cells
  • General chemistry
  • Diversity of life
  • Calculus I

Sophomore Year

  • Calculus II
  • General physics I
  • General physics II
  • Inorganic chemistry

Junior Year

  • Genetics
  • Organic chemistry
  • Modern physics

Senior Year

  • Advanced laboratories
  • Analytical chemistry
  • Ecology


Learn More

Want to find out more about Natural Science at Central? Contact us to learn more about this discipline and our other strong academic programs.

Visit campus to observe classes and experience The Central Difference firsthand.


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