Alissa Hulstrand

Assistant Professor of Biology
Affiliated Faculty, Burke Center

Alissa Hulstrand faculty
Office:Center for Science and the Environment 127
Email:Send a message...


Earned and Honorary Degrees

PhD University of Iowa, Interdisciplinary Program in Genetics
BA College of Saint Benedict, Biology


I grew up in central Minnesota and have always considered the Midwest my permanent home. I grew up taking trips to northern Minnesota and Wisconsin, and probably visited Ashland several times as a kid without realizing it!

I've always had an interest in science, and biology in particular, and pursued a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and a PhD in Genetics. My favorite fields of biology are genetics, developmental biology, and microbiology.

Why Northland?

Northland is an amazing combination of small and friendly campus, dedicated faculty offering hands on and other experiential learning opportunities, and focused on the environment and sustainability.


I teach many different types of courses, from BIO 115 Concepts of Biology to BIO 480 Biology Senior Seminar. I also teach courses related to microbiology, molecular biology, and genetics. BIO 330 Genetics is a core course for the Biology and Natural Resources major programs, so what I like about that course is finding ways to have students apply the ideas of Genetics to their specific interests--like medicine or conservation!

One special course is BIO 420 Methods in Molecular Biology, which is a hands-on, lab-based course around learning how to work with DNA and use specific lab equipment and techniques, as well as design and carry out real-world research projects.


My research goals are to bring the techniques of genetics as a toolkit to apply to different projects. In the past, I have worked on isolating bacteria from environmental biofilms, identifying species through scat, and determining the size of clonal populations of quaking aspen.

My current projects are investigating how gene expression can be used to understand or indicate potential resistance of invasive sea lamprey to pesticides, and in collaboration with the Burke Center, identifying the sources of high levels of E. coli bacteria that can contaminate the local streams and beaches.

Student Involvement

I love to incorporate students in to real-world scientific projects as much as possible. In BIO 115, we work on a project in collaboration with the Burke Center to monitor campus stormwater for bacteria levels, especially after a rain event. In BIO 420, students design mini research projects based around their interests that they can use molecular techniques to study. Some of these students are able to apply this to work they have done for other professors, put into practice an idea from a previous class, or continue on the mini-project into a longer term research plan or capstone.


In the summer I love biking, swimming, and hiking. In the winter I prefer indoor activities, like sewing.