Academic Programs

Natural and Computational Sciences - Faculty and Staff

Todd J. Lafrenz, Ph.D.
Chair - Natural and Computational Sciences Division
Associate Professor - Chemistry

Dr. Lafrenz has worked both in private industry and higher education for more than 15 years. His experience in higher education has included teaching general, inorganic and organic chemistry, as well as advising students majoring in chemistry, biology and pre-professional health programs. Prior to moving to Springfield, Dr. Lafrenz taught chemistry at Metropolitan State University (St. Paul, MN) where he was also co-chair of the campus sustainability committee. Dr. Lafrenz started working at Benedictine in 2011, where he helped develop several new programs in his role as Director of Pre-Professional Health Programs. He is currently Chair of the Natural & Computational Sciences Division.

Professors and Staff in the Natural Sciences

Gwen Baumann, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor - Chemistry

Dr. Baumann joined the Benedictine Faculty in 2011 and brings teaching experiences from Millikin University, Miami University (Ohio), Armstrong Atlantic University, and Rutgers University. She also spent several years doing research for the food industry and agricultural industry. She teaches Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, General Chemistry, and Nutrition. Her love for travel has led her to be involved in travel courses. She has been invited to develop and teach an Interdisciplinary Seminar: Science and Policy. Dr. Baumann serves as an academic advisor to pre-nursing students and is advisor to the Chemistry Club.

Torrie Buchanan, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor - Biology

Dr. Buchanan developed a love for teaching when she began private tutoring in 1994. She has since gained classroom teaching experience from Illinois Central College and Eureka College. She came to Benedictine in 2010 and teaches Genetics, Cell and Molecular Biology, Great Ideas in Biology and Medicine, Immunology, Introductory Microbiology, and Nutrition. She is honored to have been invited to develop and teach courses outside her division as well, including Science Meets Art and Interdisciplinary Seminar: The Dark Side of Technology. Dr. Buchanan serves as an academic advisor to students in the Biology and Health Science majors and related programs.

Brian Carrigan, Ph.D.
Associate Professor – Physics

Dr. Carrigan brings his experience from Juniata College, Millikin University, MacMurry College and University of Illinois at Springfield to Benedictine. He has published papers on nonlinear gamma-ray transport in astrophysics and on the properties of short-period eclipsing binary stars. Dr. Carrigan teaches Physics and Astronomy.

Sylvia Fromherz, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor - Biology

Dr. Fromherz earned a B.A. in Biology from Oregon State University and a Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology from Brandeis University. She joined Benedictine University in 2012 after teaching for several years at the University of Colorado at Boulder and in the SIU School of Medicine (Carbondale, IL). Sylvia is excited to share her passion for research and science education with the students of BenU!

Amanda Harwood, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor - Biology

Dr. Harwood came to Benedictine in 2013 from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, where she did research in environmental toxicology. Her interests include environmental chemistry, toxicology, analytical chemistry, and ecology. She teaches Environmental Toxicology, Introductory Chemistry, and Biostatistics. She is an advisor to the Health Sciences Club.

J. David Holland, M.A., Th.M.
Associate Professor - Biology

Mr. Holland has taught at Springfield College in Illinois/Benedictine University for fifteen years. He also taught in a public high school in Kenya, a private high school in Michigan, and at universities in Michigan and New York. He teaches a variety of biology courses as well as some religion courses. Mr. Holland has monitored two streams in Sangamon County annually, as a part of the Illinois River Watch Program, for the last ten years. He is also a co-advisor for the Green Club on campus.

Julia Leischner, M.A.
Assistant Professor - Biology

Before coming to Benedictine, Mrs. Leischner taught courses for Illinois College and Lincoln Land Community College. Drawing on her professional experience in the environmental, microbiological, and holistic health fields she brings an interdisciplinary experience to the classroom. She currently teaches Human Anatomy & Physiology I & II, Wellness, and Nutrition. Mrs. Leischner is a co-advisor of the Green Club and teaches weekly yoga classes for the campus.

Annie Paul, M.A.
Director, Pre-Professional Health Programs

Ms. Paul joined the Benedictine University at Springfield community in 2013 after working at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine as the Assistant Director for Student Affairs and Recruitment Programs. She began at Benedictine working in admissions and transitioned to Director, Pre-Professional Health Programs in 2014. She has her bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Dayton and a master's degree in Higher Education Administration from the University of Louisville. She is excited to be in Springfield and to help the Health Sciences students prepare for post-graduate life!

Nathan Yoder B.S.
Natural Sciences Lab Manager

Mr. Yoder earned his B.S. in Chemistry from Bradley University. He worked in an environmental testing laboratory for over five years before transitioning into academics. His time as a laboratory technician both at the Milwaukee School of Engineering and at Virginia Tech provided him with valuable experience. In his role as Laboratory Manager, his duties include: preparing labs for faculty and students, maintaining the chemical inventory, overseeing lab safety, and beyond.

Professors in the Computational Sciences - Mathematics

Alice Gutiérrez, M.M., M.A.
Associate Professor - Mathematics

Mrs. Gutierrez began teaching on the Benedictine University at Springfield campus in 1985, then Springfield College at Illinois, as an adjunct instructor in the music department. After completing a Masters' degree in Mathematics in 1989, she became a full-time faculty member. In addition to being a faculty member, she has contributed to the campus in many other ways: Chairperson for the Mathematics and Computer Science Department (SCI, 1989-94), Director of the Cheerleading Squad (SCI, 1994-2000), Director of Computing Services (SCI, 1994-2004), and was an academic advisor for several SCI programs.

Teresa A. Saner, M.A.
Associate Professor - Mathematics

Ms. Saner joined the faculty at Benedictine University at Springfield (formerly Springfield College in Illinois) as an adjunct professor in 1994 while completing her Master's Degree in Mathematics from St. Louis University. She also brings teaching experience to Benedictine from Lindenwood University, St. Charles MO, and St. Louis Community College - Forest Park, St. Louis MO. Ms. Saner teaches a wide range of mathematics courses at Benedictine, from Developmental Mathematics through the Calculus sequence of courses. As a tenured faculty member, Ms. Saner has also had, or currently has, other Academic/Professional positions at the university including: Division Chair of the Natural and Computational Sciences, Director of Advising, Director of the Faculty Mentoring Program, Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society Advisor, and Chair of the Faculty Affairs Committee.

Steven Stowers, M.S.
Associate Professor - Mathematics

A native of Springfield, Mr. Stowers has been teaching mathematics here at Benedictine University at Springfield (formerly Springfield College in Illinois) since 1993. He has a B.A. from Carleton College in Northfield, MN and an M.S. in Mathematics from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.

Deanna Tebrugge, M.A.
Assistant Professor - Mathematics

Mrs. Tebrugge received her Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Mathematics from Saint Louis University. After teaching in St. Louis and in Florida, she moved back to her home town of Springfield and was a member of the Springfield College of Illinois faculty from 1999 – 2001. Mrs. Tebrugge returned to the campus, now Benedictine University at Springfield, in 2005 as an adjunct, and has been a full-time faculty member since 2012.