Chad Heins

Associate ProfessorBiology Department

Prof. Chad J. Heins is an Associate Professor in the Biology department.

Teaching Philosophy

I love teaching.  I love learning.  I love working with students.  My goal is to make learning as fun for my students as it is for me. I believe that students learn the most when they are challenged and I prefer to lead students to the answer rather than provide it directly.   In today’s world of internet searches, it is easy to find an answer but more important for students to be able to develop critical thinking skills and use the answers they find to raise new questions.    My approach in the classroom and laboratory stresses the inseparable ideas of form and function.

Research Interests

The more I learn, the more I want to know.

Spiders of Minnesota

About ten years ago, during some biological inventory work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, I went in search of a list of Minnesota's spiders. When no such list was found, I realized there was an opportunity for someone to make significant contributions to the knowledge base. I just didn't know much about collecting spiders and identifying them. So I spent several years learning about spiders. I dug through the literature to determine spider distributions, learned methods for spider collection and curation, and taught myself how to dissect spiders in order to identify them. The preliminary checklist to Minnesota's spiders is now published online.

Bethany Hawkwatch

Bethany's campus is located on a beautiful river bluff overlooking the Minnesota River. Raptors such as vultures, eagles, hawks and falcons migrate along the bluffs and pass directly overhead on their way south in the fall. Bethany students and volunteers from the community count them as they pass through and our data are submitted to Hawkcount which helps scientists track raptor populations across North America. We've learned a lot about raptor migration through the valley since 2004 and the last two years have seen totals exceeding 9,000 raptors with our best day of 2,249 raptors on September 25, 2015!


I’ve been teaching at Bethany since January of 2000.  My wife and I have four children under the age of 14 which keep us plenty busy at home.  We love camping with the family and exploring Minnesota State Parks and National Parks across the country. In my free time I can normally be found outdoors playing with my kids, fishing, taking pictures, or birdwatching.

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