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☰ In This Section

Our professors are distinguished scholars, active researchers, published writers, and faithful Christians who demonstrate what it means to be both Christ-followers and leaders in their academic fields. As mentors and role models, they play a huge role in the integration of faith and learning at Bethel.

Department Chair

Kenneth Petersen

Department Chair and Professor of Biological Sciences | k-petersen@bethel.edu | Started at Bethel: 2003

Research interests

Petersen’s research interests include responses of wildlife populations and communities to habitat alterations.


Bryan Anderson

Associate Professor of Biological Sciences | andbry@bethel.edu | Started at Bethel: 1991

Research interests

Anderson’s research interests include water remediation, fossil excavation, forest and management.

Thomas Becknell

Professor of English | t-becknell@bethel.edu | Started at Bethel: 1983

Areas of expertise

Becknell teaches introductory and advanced courses on American literature, environmental writing, and modern myth makers. He received the Faculty Excellence Award for teaching in 1995. He is the author of a book of spiritual lessons from nature, Of Earth and Sky, and articles on American liter. . . read more.

Joyce Doan

Professor of Biological Sciences | j-doan@bethel.edu | Started at Bethel: 2004

Research interests

Dr. Doan’s main research interests are in the area of macrophage activation. Macrophages are multifunctional leukocytes that constitute a major first line of defense against infection. Resting macrophages are phagocytic, but macrophages activated by both intrinsic and extrinsic stimuli acqu. . . read more.

Amy Dykstra

Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences | abd24256@bethel.edu | Started at Bethel: 2011

Research interests

Dr. Dykstra’s research interests include the ecology and population genetics of native plants in fragmented prairie habitat.

Ian Johnston

Professor of Biological Sciences | i-johnston@bethel.edu | Started at Bethel: 1988

Research interests

Johnston’s research interests include microbial landscapes on the surfaces of reef-coral tissues in relation to coral disease, stewardship of coral reefs, and interactions between science and Christian faith.

Jeffrey Port

Professor of Biological Sciences | jport@bethel.edu | Started at Bethel: 2001

Research interests

Recent research topics include the use of restored prairies by grassland songbirds, small mammals and insects, and reproductive biology and natural history of Ecuadorian cloudforest songbirds. Dr. Port also is a federally licensed master bird bander and operates a MAPS (www.birdpop.org/pages/m. . . read more.

Sara Shady

Associate Professor of Philosophy | s-shady@bethel.edu | Started at Bethel: 2002

Areas of expertise

Shady’s interests include the construction of healthy communities and political societies; the role of religion in politics, especially inter-faith dialogue; and early to mid-20th century Continental philosophy.

Paula Soneral

Associate Professor of Biological Sciences | p-soneral@bethel.edu | Started at Bethel: 2008

Research interests

Soneral’s research interests include cell motility and the cytoskeleton and regulation of motor proteins in cilia/flagellar assembly.

Fred Van Geest

Professor of Political Science | f-van-geest@bethel.edu | Started at Bethel: 2007

Research interests

Intersection of Christianity and politics; teaching interests in comparative politics, public administration, and religion and politics

Ray VanArragon

Professor of Philosophy | rvanarra@bethel.edu | Started at Bethel: 2005

Areas of expertise

VanArragon explores the ways Christians ought to deal with religious diversity and disagreement about moral and political issues. His interests also include philosophy of religion, skepticism about religious claims, free will, and moral responsibility.

Sara Wyse

Associate Professor of Biological Sciences | s-wyse@bethel.edu | Started at Bethel: 2010

Research Interests

Dr. Wyse's research interests in ecosystem ecology include plant roles in the global carbon cycle and wetland ecology. In addition, Wyse is passionate about researching student understanding of complex systems, and professional development of graduate students and faculty.

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