Dr. Scott L. Rollins



Scott L. Rollins
Chair, Life Sciences Department
Spokane Falls Community College
3410 W. Fort George Wright Dr.
MS 3280
Spokane, Washington 99224-5288

Post-Doc, University of California, Santa Cruz
Ph.D., Michigan State University
M.S., Portland State University
B.S., Portland State University
A.S., North Idaho College



BIOL 244 Genetics

This course introduces basic principles of inheritance, the significance of the cell cycle events to variation, genetic links to physical traits, mutations, DNA repair, gene analysis and linkage. Applications and molecular techniques such as DNA sequencing, cloning, genomics and proteomics are introduced. Classical experimental methods and findings are examined in detail. Problem-solving skills that require logic and mathematical understanding are emphasized. Either BIOL& 160: General Biology, BIOL& 222: Cell and Molecular Biology, or instructor permission is required.

BIOL& 222 Cell and Molecular Biology

Intended for students majoring in life sciences, this course provides an introduction to celluar and molecular biology. Topics include cells, cellular respiration, photosynthesis, the cell cycle, and genetics. This class meets the A.A. degree lab science requirement. It also fulfills introductory biology requirements for the health sciences. A prior course in chemistry is highly recommended.

BIOL& 160 General Biology

This course provides an integrated view of the living world including the nature of sciences, evolution of biological organization, composition and organization of living substances, metabolism, control, reproduction, heredity and ecological relationships. Meets A.A. degree lab science requirement. Offered all quarters.

ENVS& 101 Introduction to Environmental Science

This course covers the basic concepts of ecology, including ecosystem structure and function, energy flow, biochemical cycles, limiting factors, population dynamics and community interactions. Emphasis is placed on the use of the scientific method to investigate man's current environmental problems and to propose possible solutions. Meets A.A. degree lab science requirement.


ECOL 101 & MATH 107 Learning Community: Organisms, Mathematics, and the Environment, Instructor, Spokane Falls Community College

BS 111 Cell and Molecular Biology, Instructor, Michigan State University

ZOL 890 Graduate Seminar on Applied Multivariate Statistics, Coordinator, Michigan State Univeristy

PLB/ZOL 355L Ecology Lab, Coordinator and Lab Instructor, Michigan State University

BS 110 Organismal and Population Biology, LON-CAPA Instructor, Michigan State University

BS 111 Cell and Molecular Biology, Technology Teaching Assistant, Michigan State University

BS 111L Cell and Molecular Biology Lab, Lab Instructor, Michigan State University

BIOL 251L Principles of Biology I Lab, Lab Instructor, Portland State Univeristy

BIOL 252L Principles of Biology II Lab, Lab Instructor, Portland State Univeristy

BIOL 253L Principles of Biology III Lab, Lab Instructor, Portland State Univeristy

Teaching Philosophy

As a teacher, my goal is to help students learn to think critically and to develop their abilities to interpret, apply, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information about biology and environmental science. Research suggests that knowledge is constructed, as opposed to received; thus, I feel that my role as a teacher is to help students who have different levels of pre-existing knowledge, experiences, and potential misconceptions to build individual conceptual frameworks. I prefer teaching methods that incorporate active, inquiry-based learning that present students with realistic problems and encourage them to develop their own questions. Like a foreign language, it is possible to learn biology by memorizing rules and vocabulary, but this knowledge is likely to be shallow and short-lived. On the other hand, when students are confronted with situations where they must use their knowledge, it is likely to be more concrete. I believe that these approaches help students become better problem solvers who can think like scientists, rather than simply recall facts about science.

Research Interests

I try to maintain an active research program that involves students. I believe that research makes me a more effective teacher by providing a "real world" perspective on topics in biology. Furthermore, I believe that students learn more by doing science than by sitting through science lectures. Students interested in getting research experience are highly encouraged to see me about assisting in my research or starting their own research project. While my expertise is in freshwater ecology, I am interested in various aspects of applied and basic ecology.

Research Biography
I am landscape ecologist interested in the effects of environmental change on aquatic ecosystems. I am particularly interested in a field of research called ecoepidemiology, which attempts to monitor and evaluate ecosystem health, and to diagnose causes of ecosystem impairment. Using a combination of algal ecology, ecotoxicology, and statistics, I attempt to evaluate the risk of changes in algal species composition, abundance, and toxicity under various environmental management practices. An important part of this process is determining what a "healthy" algal community should look like. Algae play several important roles in aquatic ecosystems. They provide the base of many food webs, can reduce oxygen levels too low for fish survival, and many are toxic, just to name a few. Historic data are rarely available to provide a reference for what algal communities looked like prior to many environmental changes that exist today. For my dissertation research at Michigan State University I developed methods to infer site-specific reference conditions in streams and rivers.

Current research:
One of my primary research interests is the application of biological indicators and advanced statistical models to transfer scientific data into information relevant to environmental decision making. I am currently working on a project monitoring algae in streams and rivers in the central California coastal region. The results of this study will be summarized in an environmental risk framework that will help water quality managers establish regulatory targets for nutrients entering surface waters and will provide them with tools to evaluate the effectiveness of regulatory actions.

Additional projects at various stages of development or completion:

  1. Open Course Library - Compiling and developing digital materials for teaching BIOL& 160, General Biology, reducing textbook cost for students. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
  2. Examining effects of the largest U.S. dam removal to date on algal communities in the Elwha River watershed.
  3. Examining ecological factors influencing the production of cyanotoxins in surfacewaters of the Inland Northwest.
  4. Application of Bayesian methods for assessing instructional approaches in life science courses.


Stevenson, R. J., and Rollins, S. L. 2006. Ecological assessments with benthic algae. In Hauer, F. R, and Lamberti, G. A., eds. Methods in Stream Ecology, 2nd ed. Academic Press, San Diego, CA.

Soranno, P. A., Spence Cheruvelil, K., Stevenson, R. J., Rollins, S. L., Holden, S. W., Heaton, S., and Torng, E. K. Developing lake-specific nutrient criteria: Integrating predictive modeling with biological response gradients. Limnology and Oceanography 53(2): 773-787.

Professional Meeting Presentations

Rollins, S. L. 2006. Using periphyton to help establish numeric water quality criteria and nutrient reduction targets. 13th Annual Meeting of the California Aquatic Bioassessment Workgroup.

Rollins, S. L., et al. 2006. Water quality in the nation's salad bowl: Assessment and diagnosis in the Pajaro River Valley. Northwest Biological Assessment Workgroup Meeting.

Rollins, S. L., et al. 2005. Predicting diatom assemblages in minimally-impacted streams using a new hybrid modelling approach. Bulletin of the North American Benthological Society 22(1): Abstract. Awarded Best Presentation Emphasizing Methodology.

Zhang, B. H., Patterson, R., Richmond, G., Parker, J., Merrill, J., Urban-Lurain, M., Rollins, S. L., Webber, E., and Long, T. 2005. Using self-response systems and online learning environment in large college science classes - the technologies, instructional design, and implications. 2005 International Conference on Computers in Education.

Zhang, B. H., Richmond, G., Parker, J., Merrill, J., Patterson, R., Urban-Lurain, M., Rollins, S. L., Webber, E., and Long, T. 2005. A model-based reasoning framework for science teaching and learning. Proceedings of Teacher Education for the Schools We Need, The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto.

Rollins, S. L., Parker, C. A., Gross, K. L., and Mittelbach, G. G. 2004. The Relative Importance of Biodiversity in the Stability of Plant Populations in Successional Communities. W. K. Kellogg Biological Station LTER All Investigator Meeting and Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting: Abstract

Rollins, S. L., Benbow, M. E., and Merritt, R. W. 2003. Road salt effects on wetland algal assemblages. 17th North American Diatom Symposium, Islamorada, FL.

Rollins, S. L., and Stevenson, R. J. 2003. Diatom species' responses along environmental gradients: Are they Gaussian? Bulletin of the North American Benthological Society 20(1): Abstract

Benbow, M. E., Rollins, S. L., and Merritt, R. W. 2003. Road salt effects on community structure and function in small wetland mesocosms. Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting: Abstract

Rollins, S. L., Stevenson, R. J., and Hawkins, C. P. 2002. Predicting Periphyton Biomass in western United States Reference Streams. Bulletin of the North American Benthological Society 19(1): Abstract

Hawkins, C. P., Stevenson, R. J., Roberts, D. W., Rollins, S. L., Cao, Y., Olson, J. R., Creutzburg, B. R., and Anderson, A. 2002. The Western Streams Reference Assessment Project: Evaluating the Performance of Reference Classification Methods. Forum on Research, Teaching, and Outreach Programs in Land Use at Michigan State University.

Rollins, S. L., Stevenson, R. J., and Hawkins, C. P. 2001. Ecological Determinants of Algal Biomass in Western United States Streams. 16th North American Diatom Symposium, Ely, MN.


2007-2011. $660,000. Algae Biomonitoring and Assessment of Central California Coast Watersheds. Consolidated Grants Program, California State Water Resources Control Board.

2010-2011. $16,000 subaward of a $1,801,000 project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to compile and develop digital materials to teaching BIOL& 160, General Biology at a textbook cost to students <$30.

2003. $2000. Factors influencing the ability of algal communities to respond to environmental change. National Women's Farm and Garden Association of Michigan and The University of Michigan Biological Station.

2001-2011. ca. $4000. Various competitive travel, supply, and instructional development grants from the North American Benthological Society, Michigan State University, the Organization Committee for the North American Diatom Symposium, the Hanes Trust, Spokane Falls Community College, and The Evergreen State College.