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About Us - CNS

Explorers of the World!

The College of Natural Sciences was launched July 1, 2018. As part of a realignment, the College of Natural Sciences combined the strengths of the STEM majors with the growing leaders of research within four departments: Department of Biology and Microbiology, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Department of Geography and Geospatial Sciences, and Department of Physics. Each department brought closer together to enhance the student experience, engaging the problem-solvers and innovators in various disciplines, to be able to meet the challenges of the world around us. Through research and teachings, the College of Natural Sciences is a collection of interdisciplinary pathways where students will be able to explore their passions, build on their fundamental knowledge, and develop the skill set to impact the communities all across the world. Together, the College of Natural Sciences embraces diversity, recognizing and valuing the ideas of those who explore their surroundings to make a difference. 

Vintage Photo West Hall
Vintage Photo of West Hall

College of Natural Sciences was originally housed at West Hall. Historically, the West Hall building began as the city of Brookings hospital. The building once known for welcoming new life provided a fresh start to a new college. 

Our Departments

Each of our departments offer a wide variety of experiences, support, and research opportunities. Whether it's in the classroom, a lab, in the field, or abroad, students will further enhance their knowledge to impact the challenges of tomorrow. 

Select image below to go to each department's website.

Biology.Microbiology Image

Biology & Microbiology

Chemistry.Biochemistry Image

Chemistry & Biochemistry

Geography.Geospatial Sciences Image

Geography & Geospatial Sciences

Physics Image


Our People

Dr. Charlene Wolf-Hall

Dean Wolf-Hall earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in microbiology at South Dakota State. Dean Wolf-Hall earned her Ph.D. in food science and technology with an emphasis in food microbiology and food toxicology from the University of Nebraska after her time at South Dakota State University.

Prior to returning back to South Dakota State University, Dean Wolf-Hall had served as Vice Provost for Academic Affairs at NDSU since 2015. Dean Wolf-Hall's time at the university dates to 1996 when she was briefly a laboratory technician in the food and nutrition department. She then moved to assistant professor and associate professor before becoming the interim director for the Great Plains Institute of Food Safety in 2006. In 2009, Wolf-Hall was the assistant dean for the College of Graduate and Interdisciplinary Studies and then became department head for veterinary and microbiological sciences in 2011 after becoming a full professor in 2010. 

Layne Manson

The first smile you see when you visit the CNS office will be Layne!  She was the first full-time employee of the College of Natural Sciences, and the only full-time employee during the early months; she played an instrumental role in getting things up and running. 

Layne wears many hats throughout the day, assisting students, faculty members, the Dean, and collaborating with many other departments around campus.  Her talents and expertise come from her wide range of work history, ranging from non-profit work to time with a large, world-wide company.  She currently serves on several local committees and loves to be involved in the Brookings community.  All of these experiences have given her a true appreciation for SDSU and the culture here on campus!

Ian Charnley

Enjoy the journey! A motto Ian lives by each day. Born and raised in Nebraska, Ian developed the value of community and seeking knowledge to understand the world around him. Ian would begin his academic journey studying the human mind, exploring the depths of psychology of all ages and stages of life. Conducting research on the effects of mindfulness techniques on stress to analyzing the complexity of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on the human brain at Creighton University, Ian pursued learning about methods to help individuals achieve their full potential. After obtaining his Bachelors in Psychology, Ian's journey would continue down the path of mental health at Bellevue University. There, Ian studied and practiced therapeutic techniques on various mental disorders & issues (e.g. depression, anxiety, bipolar, PTSD, grief/loss). 

Ian started his professional life as a licensed professional counselor. Ian practiced mental health therapy in various settings, including in-home therapy, juvenile detention centers, group homes, and in private practice. Ian practiced several years before life's journey took him out west to California where he entered the field of Human Resources. His knowledge and skill set transferred from helping individuals achieve personal new heights to now professional satisfaction & fulfillment. Ian's areas of focus included recruitment, training, and employee relation issues. Ian worked for a natural foods store called New Leaf Community Markets before working for the University of California - Santa Cruz (UCSC) as an employee relations analyst. 

Ian's passion for enhancing the human condition continued to grow, looking for various ways to collaboratively support growth in those around him. Throughout his journey, Ian experienced the power of networking, connecting, and seeking of new knowledge. All of these things Ian identifies as being qualities higher education can bring. Now in his role as Recruitment and Outreach Coordinator for the College of Natural Sciences, Ian hopes to connect students, families, and community members to the opportunities which will expand their knowledge on the world around them. With this knowledge, each person can achieve new heights and begin to understand more of the world around them. And in return, Ian believes each person will feel more self-fulfillment and satisfaction within their life.