Sciences Department

Biology, Chemistry, Geology,
Physics & Astronomy

  • laboratory gas valves
  • student using a microscope
  • student putting chemicals into a beaker
  • periodic table closely croppd
  • two students laughing
  • several beakers with caps
  • view of the Grand Canyon


 Biology (BIO)

Biology classes cover a wide range of biological disciplines, from organismic biology and natural history to human biology, as well as the most recent advances in cellular and molecular biology.

Name....... Bio.......
Ellen SavoiniEllen Savoini, PhD; A&P Department Chair Prescott: 928.776.2335;

Ellen (Hollander) Savoini completed her Bachelor's of Science with honors at the University of Oregon in 1992.

She majored in Exercise Physiology while working with faculty in both Biology and Exercise Science laboratories as an assistant and practicum student and later as a lab instructor for the Physiology courses in the Biology department.

She completed her Master's degree at the University of Calgary under the supervision of Dr. Henk ter Keurs. During that time she was an assistant in the Human Anatomy courses. In Dr. ter Keurs' laboratory she worked on the force-calcium relationship in cardiac muscle utilizing phosphorescent dye to detect intercellular calcium concentrations and a laser to determine sarcomere length. She then began working in Dr. John V. Tyberg's laboratory to earn a Doctorate in Cardiovascular and Respiratory Physiology & Biophysics, which was completed in 1998 from the University of Calgary.

During her doctoral work, she studied the effects of left atrial pathology on the pulmonary circulation and left ventricular filling. After completing the work on the left side of the heart, she studied the mechanics of the right side of the heart and pulmonary circulation under normal and hypoxic conditions. Since completing her doctorate work, she has pursued further studies in endocrinology, neurology, and advancements in cardiac physiology.

Chris DunnChris Dunn, M.S. Prescott: 928.776.2338;

Chris is an Arizona native who graduated from Northern Arizona University in 1984 with a dual major in Chemistry and Biology. He received his M.S. degree in Chemistry and Biochemistry from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1988.

His research included studying protein DNA interactions in eukaryotic replication origins and telomeres in the laboratory of 1989 Nobel Prize winner Tom Cech.

Upon returning to Arizona he taught chemistry at NAU, worked as an environmental consultant and endangered species biologist for the Bureau of Reclamation, SWCA Inc., and the Arizona Game and Fish Department. He has been teaching at Yavapai since 2000.

Mark MuchnaMark Muchna, DVM Prescott: 928.717.7628;

Mark received a BS in Biology from the University of Illinois in 1979, followed by a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (also from the University of Illinois) in 1983.

He practiced mixed animal medicine in rural Iowa for fifteen years, completed a one year internship in aquatic animal medicine through Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, then moved to Arizona in 2000 practicing small animal medicine.

After several semesters of teaching as an adjunct instructor at Yavapai College, he started to teach anatomy and physiology classes full time at the college in 2011.

Jeb BeversJeb Bevers, PhD; Biology Department Chair Prescott: 928.717.7617;

I have instructed biology at several institutions in Oregon, New Mexico and Washington states. I also instructed a course in Ecology, Conservation Biology and Environmental Education in Asunción, Paraguay through a Fulbright Scholar grant.

Besides academic work, I have instructed environmental science and other science related camps for grade school aged children and worked in the National Parks Service and National Marine Fisheries Service.

Before full time work, I did a bit of walkabouts and bicycle touring across Australasia and North America. Now I tend to hike into the Miocene in search of fossil materials more locally.

Steve SparksSteve Sparks, PhD Prescott: 928.776.2370;

Steven R. Sparks received a B.S. in Biology from the University of California, Irvine, an M.S. in Biology from California State University, Fullerton, and a Ph.D. in Ecology in a program run jointly by San Diego State University and the University of California, Davis.

His graduate research focused on physiological adaptations of plants to drought and fire. Following graduation, he worked in ecological research for 8 years at San Diego State University, Utah State University, and for the U. S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station. Much of his research involved the effects of human-caused and natural disturbance on ecosystems, and on how ecosystems are likely to respond in the future to increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Before coming to Yavapai College, he taught at Arizona Western College in Yuma, Arizona, and previously taught part-time at San Diego State University, Southwestern College, and Mira Costa College, all in the San Diego area.

He currently teaches Biology Concepts (BIO 100), General Biology II (BIO 182), and Environmental Biology (BIO/ENV 105) at YC.

Josh SchmidtJosh Schmidt M.Ed ATC L/AT Prescott: 928.717.7376;

Josh has a Bachelor’s of Science Degree from California State University at Fresno in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Sports Medicine.

Upon completion of graduation at Fresno State, he obtained his National Certification in Athletic Training (ATC) and is also licensed (L/AT) as a health care provider in the State of Arizona.

Josh then went on to obtain a Master’s Degree from Northern Arizona University. While obtaining his Master’s Degree, he worked as a graduate assistant in the Sports Medicine program at NAU

Paul EvansPaul Evans, PhD Prescott: 928.776.2370;
  • Ph.D Microbiology, Oregon State University, 1990
  • B.Sc Chemistry, Northern Arizona University, 1983
Joanne OellersJoanne Oellers, M.S. Verde: 928.634.6578;

Joanne (Yavapai College ’83) earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Physical Science from Northern Arizona University and her Master’s degree in Biology (Sin Nombre Virus ecology) from Prescott College.

She has always loved science (her daughters think she should read a romance novel sometime) and nature (especially arid landscapes) and strives to transmit that love to her students. She believes the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature and that we each have important roles in protecting species and their habitats.

Kelly TrainorKelly Trainor, PhD Prescott: 928.717.7951;

Kelly was hired as full-time faculty in 2006. He spent a few years teaching various agriscience and biology classes as part of the Agribusiness Department on the Chino Valley campus.

He then transferred to the Prescott campus where he has been teaching Human Anatomy and Physiology and Human Biology classes.

Kelly graduated with a BS in Agriculture from The University of Arizona in 1996 with a major in agricultural education and a minor in watershed management.

Kelly received a PhD in Microbiology from Arizona State University in 2008. His PhD research focused on vaccinia virus evasion of the host cell‐mediated antiviral response, as well as the use of vaccinia virus mutants as recombinant vaccine vectors in the treatment of various human cancers.

 Chemistry (CHM)

Chemistry courses cover a full year of general chemistry as well as a full year of organic chemistry, and includes foundational/preparatory studies in chemistry.

Chemistry courses fulfill general education requirements as well as course requirements for chemistry, biology, geology, physics and other science and engineering majors. Chemistry coursework is required for many medical professional programs.

Students learn the foundational principles of chemistry including laboratory technique and instrumental analysis. Students may pursue independent study chemical research in collaboration with YC and the chemistry departments at the University of Arizona and Arizona State University.

Chemistry for Allied Health is and introductory course structured to teach fundamental principles with an emphasis on applications of concern to nursing and other health care professional degree programs.

Name ....... Bio .........
Larry EddyLarry Eddy, M.S. Prescott: 928.717.7692;

Larry has taught chemistry for almost 40 years. He has been at Yavapai since 2004, and was at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Oregon for 31 years.

Larry grew up in Williams, AZ and graduated from NAU with a BS in Chemistry-Educ. He moved to Oregon and received his MS in chemistry from Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon.

Larry’s specialty is teaching Chemistry for Allied Health (CHM 138). He is an active grandfather, an avid cyclist and loves the outdoors.

Paul SmolenyakPaul Smolenyak, PhD Department Chair Prescott: 928.776.2326;

Paul (a.k.a. Smo) is a graduate of Yavapai College. He earned his AA from YC in 1987 and went on to complete a dual major BS in biology and chemistry at Northern Arizona University in 1990. He received a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Arizona in 1998.

He was a lecturer with the chemistry department at NAU from 1998-2000 and settled in back at Yavapai College in the fall of 2000.

Paul is a Grand Canyon River guide and has worked summers in the Canyon since 1990.

Gino RomeoGino Romeo, PhD Verde: 928.649.4582;

Gino first came to Yavapai College August 2007 to teach Chemistry and Math. Gino’s degrees include an AAS from Middlesex County College in Edison, NJ, a BS in Engineering Science from The College of New Jersey in Trenton, NJ, and finally a Ph.D. in Chemistry from University of Arizona in Tucson.

Gino has been teaching chemistry at community colleges in Arizona since 1999, coming full circle from his start at a community college in New Jersey. Gino has been an active participant in the YC college community and in the Verde Valley, helping cultivate the burgeoning viticulture program and fostered two student internships at the AZ Strong Winery - one of which turned into a fulltime lab tech position. He continues to perform wine analysis for local wineries.

Gino has been a drummer for many years and in his spare time he performs regularly with Tom Tayback and the Daddy Os' Graffiti Gold Show and fills in for drummers in several local bands playing at clubs around the Verde Valley.

 Geology (GLG)

Geology classes cover topics ranging from the study of rocks and minerals, fossils, topographic and geologic map reading, to plate tectonics and its many and far-reaching implications.

Three of our classes, GLG 101, 102 and 110 satisfy lab science requirements at all three Arizona state universities. In addition, GLG 100 plus an additional 2-credit geology class satisfies the lab science requirement at ASU.

Name ......... Bio .........
Beth BoydBeth Nichols Boyd, PhD Prescott: Office: (928) 776-2331;

Beth has a BA in Geology & Chemistry from Oberlin College, an MS in Geosciences from the U of A, and a PhD in Professional Studies in Education from Capella University. She completed her mapping thesis of Yavapai County when the world was still young and has been at YC more than 30 years. She has run over 500 days of field trips in AZ/Southwest. Her first book, Geologic Highlights of the Prescott Area, will be published soon.

 Physics & Astronomy (PHY)

Physics and astronomy courses fulfill general education requirements, as well as major requirements for physics, engineering, pre-med, architecture, and fire science, among others.

The Physics department offers students a well-equipped physics laboratory, as well as numerous small telescopes.

Name ......... Bio .........
Diane DutkevitchDiane Dutkevitch, PhD; Department Chair Prescott: 928.776.2336;

Diane has been teaching physics and astronomy at Yavapai since 1999. She earned her B.A. in Math/Physics with a Minor in Music from Wells College, her M.A. in Physics from the University of Rochester, and her Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

She loves to hike, and is quite fond of the local trails. She is active in the Prescott Astronomy Club, and the Yavapai Amateur Radio Club. And, she’s a regular at the Prescott Farmer’s Market where she appreciates the wonderful local food.

Facilities & Features

  • Fully-equipped morgue that houses up to three cadavers for student instruction.
  • State-of-the-art equipment, including microscopes, dissection tools, and chemistry equipment.
  • Extensive geological specimen collection, including access to meteorite samples.
  • Herbarium with unique plant specimens.
  • Organic life specimen collection, including birds, fish, reptiles, insects, and mammals.
  • Bone and fossil collection.