Alice Heikens, Ph.D.

“As a biology professor, I am able to combine my passion for conserving our natural environment with my love of education.”


Professor of Biology; Liberal Arts Coordinator

Educational Background

  • Ph.D., Southern Illinois University – Carbondale, IL
  • M.S., University of Central Arkansas – Conway, AR
  • B.S., University of Central Arkansas – Conway, AR

Year Joined Franklin



I am a plant ecologist who specializes in endangered species and plant communities. My research focuses on individual endangered species, rare plant communities, and natural areas management with an emphasis on invasive species. I work in with state and federal government agencies as well as non-profit conservation organizations. My students and I often present our research at regional and national conferences.

Why study plants?

Plants play a fundamental role in our lives because without them we perish. It is impossible to fully understand biology and our natural world without knowledge of these green powerhouses. Plants have many unusual adaptations and relationships, making them some of our most interesting living organisms.

What field experiences does Franklin College offer?

Our students have opportunities to intern with various state, federal, and non-profits organizations in addition to conducting independent research with the field biology faculty. Our research projects range from population biology studies of unique plant species found in the Hougham Woods Biological Station and local nature preserves to wildlife studies in Indiana and Illinois.

What can I do with a degree in Conservation and Ecology?

Our students find exciting ways to gain employment with an Ecology and Conservation Biology degree. Some opt for graduate school while others choose to work for state, federal, and non-profit agencies as naturalists, conservation stewards, foresters, wildlife biologists, and botanists.

Selected Professional Accomplishments

My greatest professional accomplishments have been to mentor students and watch them grow as professionals.

Publications with Students

Wesche, S.L., E.L. Barker, and A.L. Heikens. 2016. Population ecology study of Epifagus virginiana (L.)W.P.C. Barton (Beechdrops) in central Indiana. Proceedings Indiana Academy of Science 125:69-74. Natural Areas Conference: First Place Student Paper Competition.
Smith, M.E. and A.L. Heikens. 2014. A two year population ecology study of puttyroot orchid (Aplectrum hyemale (Muhl. ex Willd.) Torr.) in central Indiana. Proceedings Indiana Academy of Science 123:131-137. Natural Areas Conference: First Place Student Paper Competition.

Honors and Awards

Indiana Academy of Science Fellow Award
Dietz Faculty Excellence Award
Faculty Teaching Excellence Award
Faculty Award for Excellence in Scholarship
Indiana Academy of Science President Elect

What Students Say

“Dr. Heikens is one of the primary reasons why I chose to attend Franklin College. She is an amazing professor, but she also excels outside of the classroom as a biologist and an environmental activist. Dr. Heikens wants her students to excel, doing everything in her power to make that happen—whether that be putting you in contact with a professional biologist, providing you with a research experience, or simply being there to talk to you when you most need it—she is always there to help.” – Spencer Wesche ’16

In My Spare Time…

I love hiking in remote areas where I can experience untamed nature and appreciate our natural environment.