Biology faculty

Todd T. Tracy, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Biology

Ph.D., Colorado State University
M.S., Colorado State University
B.A., Cornell College

VPH 211


Dr. Tracy is one of two ecologists in Northwestern's biology department. His research interests include avian vocal communication, prairie restoration, plant genetics, and the impacts of invasive species on the forests and prairies of the Midwest. He and his students present their research at the Iowa Academy of Science conference every spring. Prior to joining Northwestern’s faculty in January 2002, he taught at Kirkwood Community College, Front Range Community College, Colorado State University, and Colorado Christian University.


  • Introduction to Earth Science

    Introduction to Earth Science

  • Topics in Ecology

    Topics in Ecology

    (1-4 credits; a minimum of 4 credits will be offered per year) Advanced studies of the function and structure of local ecological communities and/or life forms. Courses will emphasize the use of fieldwork, research projects and/or primary literature. Prerequisites: BIO205 or permission of instructor.
  • Introduction to Environmental Science

    Introduction to Environmental Science

    (4 credits) (IGE option under Science and the Natural World) An introduction to an understanding of earth's basic life support systems, the impact of human activity on such systems, and the ethical basis and strategies for human response to environmental degradation.
  • General Biology: Molecular and Cellular Biology

    General Biology: Molecular and Cellular Biology

    (4 credits) (IGE option under Science and the Natural World) An introduction to molecular and cellular biology, with an examination of the processes common to living organisms and an introduction to the diversity of life, emphasizing unicellular organisms. This introduction will provide students with a basic understanding of macromolecules, cell structure and function, respiration and photosynthesis, the cell cycle, meiosis, genetics, mechanisms of evolutionary change, and Christian perspectives on evolutionary biology.
  • General Biology: Ecology and Organismal Biology

    General Biology: Ecology and Organismal Biology

    (4 credits) (IGE option under Science and the Natural World) An introduction to organismal biology and ecology. Structure and function of representatives from the plant and animal kingdom are emphasized. In addition, students will be introduced to basic ecological concepts and Christian perspectives on stewardship.
  • Genetics


    An introduction to the principles of heredity and their practical application.Prerequisites: BIO115 or 116.(4 credits)
  • Ecology


    (4 credits) A study of the processes determining the distribution and abundance of organisms in space and time, their exchange of matter and energy with their environment, the measurement of these phenomena, and the application of ecological knowledge in the care of creation. Prerequisites: BIO115 and 116
  • Vertebrate Zoology

    Vertebrate Zoology

    (4 credits; alternate years, consult department) An in-depth study of the major groups of vertebrate species. Topics include vertebrate taxonomy, classification, comparative vertebrate anatomy, physiology, behavior, and life histories. Prerequisites: BIO115 and 116.

Publications and presentations

  • Selected publications and presentations:
  • Tracy, T., H. Zasadny, J. Erickson, and J. Siemers. 2009. Syllable and song sharing in a recently established population of House Finches (Carpodacus mexicanus). Auk. To be published in October 2009.
  • Iowa Academy of Science annual conference – 2009 (Des Moines University):
  • E. Brogan, J. Gaster, J. Noble, H. Doty, E. Boyd, T. Tracy, M. Vander Molen. Effects of Eastern Redcedar and its removal on invertebrate abundance and richness in two relict prairies.
  • J. Knibbe, E. Heeg-Truesdell, T. Tracy. PCR Analysis as a Possible Means for Sex Determination of Eastern Redcedar (Juniperus virginiana).
  • E. Boyd, T. Tracy, J. Noble, E. Brogan, J. Gaster, and H. Doty. The Allelopathic Properties of Fruit and Leaf Extracts of the Invasive European Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) and White Mulberry (Morus alba).
  • Iowa Academy of Science annual conference – 2008 (Kirkwood Community College):
  • T. Tracy, J. Nieuwenhuis, J. Knibbe. Predation of artificial nests placed in invasive vs. native shrubs and trees.
  • G. Dubois, J. Noble, L. Walters, T. Tracy. Allelopathy in an invasive shrub: A comparison of European buckthorn to other species.
  • L. Furlong, T. Tracy, L. Walters, J. Knibbe, J. Nieuwenhuis. Monitoring the effects of European Buckthorn removal from a forest community: Ground beetle richness and abundance.
  • J. Noble, T. Tracy, J. Nieuwenhuis, J. Gesink. Effects of red cedar on invertebrate abundance and morphospecies richness.

Professional experience

  • Board of Directors, Iowa Academy of Science
  • Advanced Placement Environmental Science Exam Grader and Table Leader, Educational Testing Service
  • Interim Coordinator of Undergraduate Programs, School of Professional Studies, Colorado Christian University
  • Affiliate Professor, School of Professional Studies, Colorado Christian University
  • Instructor and Visiting Professor, Department of Biology, Colorado State University
  • Adjunct Faculty, Science and Math Department, Front Range Community College
  • Laboratory Coordinator, Department of Math/Science, Kirkwood Community College
  • Laboratory Instructor, Kirkwood Community College
  • IOWATER volunteer water quality monitor
  • Au Sable Institute Academic Advisory Council


  • Iowa Academy of Science
  • American Scientific Affiliation
  • Sioux County Birders Club


  • NWC Scholarship Grant, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009
  • Mellon Foundation Environmental Research Initiative (with student Erin Brogan), 2008-2010
  • Iowa Science Foundation grant #ISF-07-10, 2007-2008
  • Iowa Science Foundation grant #ISF-06-08, 2006-2007
  • Graduate Assistant Teaching Award, Colorado State University