Student looking into microscope

Successful Alumni

More than two-thirds of Coe's biology graduates each year go on to graduate studies or medical schools. Others have gone into careers as zoologists, genetic counselors, industrial research scientists, environmental analysts and high school biology teachers. Here are some examples of what Coe biology graduates have accomplished:

Photo Not Available

Keenan Laraway graduated from Coe in 2011 with majors in biology and neuroscience and minors in chemistry and political science. The Marion, Iowa, native completed his medical training at the Carver College of Medicine and is a resident physician in internal medicine at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

"The biology program at Coe provides students with extraordinary opportunities in the classroom, in the laboratory and in the field. From the Wilderness Field Station to our renowned REU associations and the development of new cross-disciplinary courses, Coe's biology department is truly growing into one of the strongest and most regarded on campus! As a pre-medical student, I conducted my own research with the direction of Professor Tom Lackner. We coordinated work in the botany lab course with new techniques available through the departments of chemistry and biology. As a result, I was asked to speak at regional and national conferences of the American Chemical Society. When I came to Coe, I would have laughed if you told me that would happen! I strongly encourage students to take advantage of as many opportunities as they can. If you jump in and work hard, when you look back four years later, you'll be amazed at what you've accomplished."


Alex Michaud graduated from Coe in 2009 with majors in biology and environmental science. As a graduate student at Montana State University, he conducted research in Antarctica as a member of the WISSARD (Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling) team. Click here to read Alex's blog, "Journey to Subglacial Antarctica."

Michaud was awarded a Doctorate of Philosophy in Ecology and Environmental Sciences with a focus in Environmental Microbiology from Montana State University in 2016. Dr. Michaud is completing a two-year post-doctoral appointment at Aarhus University in Aarhus, Denmark. His post-doctoral research focused on Arctic marine sediment microbiology and the coordination of an international research team and expedition to the Norwegian Arctic.

Other notable alumni include:

  • Kristie (Boner) Beckwith (2011) recently started a position as a Senior Scientist in Analytical Development at Elanco in Fort Dodge, Iowa.
  • Hilary Gehin (2012) received a MS in Life Sciences Communication from UW Madison and is now the Research and Technical Writer at Wisconsin's Equity and Inclusion Laboratory at UW-Madison.
  • Kayla Rohr (2015) is a Neuroscience PhD candidate at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. Studies cellular communication between neurons in the master clock and how these signals are integrated to control circadian rhythms throughout the brain and body.
  • Jeff Kolodzinski (2005) received a Master’s degree from Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia in 2009. My current title is “Supervisory Wildlife Biologist.” I work for the Port Authority of NY & NJ and my office is at the World Trade Center in Manhattan (specifically 4 World Trade Center). PANYNJ operates 5 airports, the World Trade Center, numerous bridges, tunnels, bus terminals, and ports. I work for our aviation department and can be found at Newark, JFK, or our other two airports depending on the day/needs of the airport. Interestingly, I was hired as a direct result of the Miracle on the Hudson that occurred in 2009.
  • Katie Cranston (2011) graduated with a B.A. in Biology with an emphasis in Molecular Biology from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 2011. Katie completed her Master's in the Molecular and Cellular Biology Interdisciplinary Graduate School Program in August 2013. She joined the Tucker Lab as a Research Assistant just after graduation. Her main responsibilities are to serve as the lab Purchasing Officer and to differentiate human iPSCs for disease modeling and therapeutics. 
  • Jeff Nekola (biology) earned his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is now an Assistant Professor of Biology at University of Wisconsin Green Bay.
  • Marianne Wellington (biology) is a staff member, International Crane Foundation, Baraboo, WI
  • Mark R. Wiesner (biology) earned his Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering, Johns Hopkins University and is now an Assistant Professor at Rice University.
  • Nedra Foster Hecker (biology), is chief of mammalogy at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, MD