Heather Bergan-Roller

Heather Bergan-Roller

Associate professor

Research Focus

Recent national reports underscore the importance of biology education in equipping all students with a deep understanding of fundamental biological concepts. This knowledge empowers them to critically analyze situations, creatively devise solutions, and make informed decisions about pressing societal challenges both now and in the future. My research is aligned with these educational imperatives and centers on the following key areas:

  • Learning experiences of undergraduate science students: My research investigates the learning journeys of undergraduate science students, seeking to understand their experiences and challenges in biology education. This inquiry spans both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, focusing on both students and instructors.

  • Role of instructors: I explore the pivotal role instructors play in shaping the educational experiences of science students. This investigation includes an examination of instructors' methods, perspectives, and pedagogical approaches.

  • Interdisciplinary collaborations: At NIU, I have established interdisciplinary collaborations that bridge various fields, including geosciences, chemistry, physics, and mathematics. These collaborations foster a holistic approach to research and education.

  • Mentoring the next generation: My commitment extends to mentoring emerging scholars, and nurturing the future generation of researchers dedicated to enhancing student experiences and promoting academic success.

Fields of Interest

  • Biology education research
  • Science communication
  • Modeling
  • Anatomical sciences education
  • Scientific practices
  • Active learning
  • Learning interventions

Recent Projects

  •  Instructor practices and perceptions of including social justice topics in science courses
  •  Inclusion of diverse bodies and experiences in anatomy and physiology courses
  •  Developing a science communication framework for undergraduate biology courses

Representative Publications

For the most recent list of publications, please see my profile on Google Scholar.


Biology Education

*indicates student

Ballard, T.*, Sattar, S.*, Wright, K.*, Sabel, J.L., Bergan-Roller, H.E. 2021. Preparing for class: resources and actions of introductory biology students. Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education. 22(3), e00243-21. 

Cline, C.*, Santuzzi, A.M., Samonds, K.E., LaDue, N., Bergan-Roller, H.E. 2021. Assessing Value for Learning Communication Skills in Undergraduate Students. Anatomical Sciences Education. 15(6), 1032-1044. 

Shivni, R.*, Cline, C.*, Newport, M.*, Yuan, S., Bergan-Roller, H.E. 2021. Establishing a Baseline of Science Communication Skills in an Undergraduate Environmental Science Course. International Journal of STEM Education. 8, 47. 

Wack, J.*, Jaeger, C., Yuan, S., Bergan-Roller, H.E. 2021. A Framework and Lesson to Engage Biology Students in Communicating Science with Non-experts. The American Biology Teacher. 83(1), 17-25. 

Rupnow, R., LaDue, N., James, N., Bergan-Roller, H.E. 2020. A perturbed system: how tenured faculty responded to the COVID-19 shift to remote instruction. Journal of Chemical Education. 97(9), 2397–2407. 

Daemicke, A.K.*, Galt, N.J., Samonds, K.E., Bergan-Roller, H.E. 2020. Challenging Endocrinology Students with a Critical Thinking Workbook. Advances in Physiology Education. 44(1), 72-79. 

Wack, J.U, Jaeger, C., Yuan, S., Bergan-Roller, H.E. In press. A Framework and Lesson to Engage Biology Students in Communicating Science with Non-experts. The American Biology Teacher.

Bergan-Roller, H.E., Galt, N.J., Chizinski, C.J., Helikar, T., Dauer, J.T. 2018. Simulated Computational Model Lesson Improves Foundational Systems Thinking Skills and Conceptual Knowledge in Biology Students. BioScience 68, 612–621. 

Crowther, A., Bergan-Roller, H.E., Galt, N.J., Booth, C., Dauer, J.T., Helikar, T. 2018. Discovering Prokaryotic Gene Regulation with Simulations of the trp Operon. CourseSource

Bergan-Roller, H.E., Galt, N.J., Dauer, J.T., Helikar, T. 2017. Discovering Cellular Respiration with Computational Modeling and Simulations. CourseSource


Bergan-Roller, H.E., Sheridan, M.A. 2018. The Growth Hormone Signaling System: Insights into Coordinating the Anabolic and Catabolic Actions of Growth Hormone. General and Comparative Endocrinology 258: 119-133. 

Bergan-Roller, H.E., Ickstadt, A.T.U, Kittilson, J.D., Sheridan, M. 2017. Insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 modulate the lipolytic action of growth hormone by altering signaling pathway linkages. General and Comparative Endocrinology 248, 40-48. 

Curriculum Vitae


Postdoc, 2015-2017
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Biology Education Research

Ph.D., 2014
North Dakota State University
Cellular and Molecular Biology

B.S., 2010
North Dakota State University


Office: MO 447
Lab: MO 425
Dept. of Biological Sciences
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115

Lab website