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Adventuring Beyond Iowa State

College is a fantastic time to travel to far flung parts of the country or the world, and the Biology Program offers students great opportunities to adventure beyond the Iowa State campus.

Field Trip Courses

Field trip courses or travel courses are offered by a variety of departments on campus, and those offered by the Biology Program provide a unique opportunity to learn about biology through hands-on experience.  These experiences may be within North America (BIOL 393) or international (BIOL 394), and count directly towards Biology degree requirements.  

Enrolling in field trip courses requires completing an application, and there are additional course fees or costs.  Each field trip course has a seminar that introduces the biology, environment, and culture of the location to be visited.  The field trips themselves occur over break periods or during the summer.  The Biology Program currently offers the following field trip courses:


International Field Trips (BIOL 394)

Course NameCreditsLocationInstructorsAvailabilityApplication Deadline

Caribbean Marine Biology

Coral Restoration Project

2Roatan Island, HondurasDon Sakaguchi & Jeanne SerbPlanned for March 7-15, Spring 2024October 19, 2023

The Tropical Ecology, Marine Biology, and Cultural Diversity of Belize

Tropical Ecology

3Belize City, BelizeCorinna Most & Andrew SomervilleSummer 2019January 3rd 2022

ISU on the Mediterranean

Valencia, Spain photo from trip.

6 to 9Valencia, SpainvariousSummer (every year)March 1st 2022

Additionally, the following field trip courses offered by other departments may also be of interest to Biology majors:

Other Field Trip Courses

Course NameDepartmentCreditsLocationInstructorsAvailabilityApplication
Natural History of AntarcticaNREM3AntarcticaStephen Dinsmore & Julie BlanchongTBDTBD
Service Learning Trip to UgandaNREM2UgandaRichard Schultz & Dorothy MasindeSpring 2022November 1st 2021
Montana CampNREMvariesMontana, USAvariesSummer 2023Permission of Instructor

Study Abroad

The flexibility of the Biology major makes it easy to study abroad and have those experiences count towards our degree requirements.  Start with the Study Abroad Center and identify programs of interest, then work with your advisor on a plan for fitting the experience in to your degree program.  If you’d like a starting point, we also have this spreadsheet (Download Study abroad courses Biology Jan 2016.xlsx) listing a few international institutions and some courses that can count for advanced biology credit at Iowa State.  

Additional Adventures Beyond Iowa State

Many institutions across the country offer summer research laboratories where students can have immersive field or lab experiences.  Students are welcome to investigate all such programs and work with their advisor to make it part of their program of study.  

One such program that Biology has a partnership with is the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Mississippi.  These summer courses focus on marine biology, and you can learn more information about the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory here.  

Iowa State also has a partnership with the School for Field Studies (SFS).  They offer full semester and summer programs in Australia, Bhutan, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, Tanzania, and the Turks & Caicos Islands.  

Students can also take advantage of the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory.  Founded in 1909, the 147-acre wilderness area near Okoboji Lake provides opportunities to study nature in nature on topics ranging from ecology to mammalogy.  Check out the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory website for more information.