WSCC instructor Susanna Heinze shares passion for biology with millions on YouTube

Dec 12, 2023Dalton Bright
Susanna Heinze

Wallace State Community College biology instructor Susanna Heinze conducts a class at the start of the Fall 2023 semester at the Oneonta Academic Center.

Hanceville, AL — In an era dominated by internet media, Wallace State Community College biology instructor Susanna Heinze, has harnessed the power of YouTube to inspire and educate students from all over the globe. Heinze began making instructional biology videos and posting them on YouTube in 2010. Today, her YouTube channel has garnered 129,000 subscribers and over 10 million views.

Susanna HeinzeHer YouTube channel features an array of videos all about the field of biology, including lessons on topics like the human circulatory system, bone anatomy and the parts of a neuron. In each of these lessons, she sketches out notes and diagrams for students to visualize and better understand complex concepts. She also has videos that document animal dissections and teaches students standard laboratory procedures such as labeling test tubes and preparing bacterial smears on microscope slides. Heinze took inspiration from a friend and fellow teacher who began sketching out molecular diagrams and uploading them for her students to watch later.

“A coworker of mine —who is an amazing chemistry teacher — made a YouTube channel where she would post instructional videos. She would place her phone on a chemistry ring stand and write her notes on a sheet of paper underneath. I was like ‘I can do that!’ So, I brought home a ring stand and started making my videos in a similar fashion, and I made them that way for years. Now, I tend to use an actual document camera,” said Heinze.

Heinze said she refers students to her videos as a way to help them study or learn a concept. She also said her videos can help absent students stay up to date on lectures. She recommended her website over her YouTube channel as she said the course content is better cataloged on her site. She said this helps students best track down the topic they are studying and the video they need. The main landing page of her website is broken into categories including general biology, microbiology and anatomy and physiology. She even has a section for videos that contain coursework that is on the Test of Essential Academic Skills, or TEAS, which is a standardized exam taken by students applying to nursing school.

“I think it can be a bit confusing to find what you are looking for on YouTube, especially when you are seeking something specific. Let’s say, if a student was taking an anatomy and physiology class and the teacher presented on the anatomy of the cardiovascular system in class and they are looking for a video on it, they can go to my website, scroll to the topic they are looking for and then click to watch the video about that topic,” said Heinze. “I think my website is laid out better and allows students to find what they are looking for.”

Heinze is driven not only by her love for biology but also by her determination to perhaps ignite that same love for learning within her students. In 2021, Heinze began teaching at Wallace State Community College, but her love for education began when she was an undergraduate student at a small college in her home state of Oregon.

“My favorite professor had a PhD in physiology, and I was like ‘this is exactly what I want to do, I want to teach at a small liberal arts school with small classes and talk about physiology.’ I loved it. I got my undergraduate degree in biology with a minor in chemistry. I decided to go to graduate school and ended up going to the University of North Carolina in their physiology program.”   

Heinze said that while the instruction was great, the work-life balance she encountered during her time in graduate school wasn’t a lifestyle she wanted. She prided herself on small classrooms with passionate lecturers, not professors that ran off of coffee and didn’t know a single one of their students’ names.

“After I passed my qualifying exam, I left in pursuit of getting my master’s degree because I heard you could teach at a community college with a master’s degree. I was like ‘sign me up’ because that’s exactly what I wanted to do,” said Heinze. “I taught fifth through eighth grade science for four years right after I finished my master’s degree in physiology, and I really enjoyed that.”

Soon after, Heinze and her husband began discussing the prospect of having children, and to be closer to family, they relocated to Washington state. They both began teaching at a Christian high school in the area before her husband decided he wanted to pursue a second master’s degree in mathematics from Western Washington University. They moved to northwestern Washington where Heinze began teaching biology at Skagit Valley College, a community college located about an hour south of the Canada border.

“I worked there for about 15 years and taught similar classes to what I am teaching now. I did a lot of anatomy and physiology courses, which I love. I also taught microbiology there for 12 years and will get a chance to teach it for the first time at Wallace State this summer. I am just so excited – I am over the moon about that,” said Heinze. “I like learning more, so I really crave all the different fields of biology. It keeps me feeling fresh. Getting to work on a lot of courses is great.”

Sharing a passion for learning

Brie Miller is a nursing student at Wallace State. She has been taking courses at the college since she was enrolled in the Fast Track program as a student at Cullman High School. The first science class she took at Wallace State was Biology 103 with Heinze.

“It was the first semester she taught at Wallace State, and she was amazing! She made understanding biology easy, but also fun,” said Miller. “I loved her colorful notes and her stories she told us before class. She even has her own YouTube channel to help students understand concepts better. I would take her class again if I could!”

Heinze has a passion for learning. She loves to take deep dives into scientific topics and learn new things as often as she can. She said when she is compiling a list of notes for a class, she scours research papers, scientific articles and videos much like her own. Her passion for learning and sharing with others is apparent, but she says her biggest joy is when she can see the knowledge click to the person she is teaching to.

“I think I am the happiest after I bring a topic to completion. Students don’t know this – and luckily, I really enjoy doing it – but it takes me forever to compile a list of notes. It may take me 12 hours to get a page of notes that I will spend one hour presenting,” said Heinze. “But I really do enjoy the process. I can’t do it with every topic, but over time I get to add more and more, and that feeds me. Though, the real joy to me is going and working with the class and at the end of class feeling like the students were with me. When I can see some interest there and see it maybe click with them in a way that it hadn’t before – it’s that whole process that truly brings me joy,” said Heinze. “On the flip side though, if anything goes wrong or if the lecture falls flat, it leaves me feeling unfulfilled.”

Regardless of that feeling, biology always remains a source of inspiration to Heinze. She said the most inspiring part of biology to her is tackling the questions that even the greatest minds haven’t solved yet. She shared an anecdote from her own class, where a student was faced with conflicting information and couldn’t seem to find a conclusive answer to a question about the influenza virus. After a bit of research, Heinze found that most people, even expert researchers, struggled to find that same concrete answer.

“You would think if there was any virus that we knew the most about, it would be the flu, right? Well, when I started looking, it appeared that nobody really knew the answer. That is what I find the most fascinating, I think. The complexity of the human body is especially my favorite. Instead of getting frustrated that we don’t know something, for some reason, I love it. I think I get the most excited about the stuff that the smartest people in the world can’t figure out,” said Heinze.

Susanna Heinze

Wallace State Community College biology instructor Susanna Heinze poses for a photo with fellow biology instructor Dr. Dr. Dingguo Zhang.

This love of seeking a single bit of knowledge and learning even more along the way is a driving force for Heinze, and she said the like-minded faculty at Wallace State makes her and her passion feel right at home. She said her favorite part about being at Wallace State is the camaraderie between her colleagues in the biology department.

“Everyone in the biology department works very well together. Just the other day, my department chair let me borrow a crockpot,” said Heinze. “They are all just really nice. I would say camaraderie and talking with my colleagues about scientific ideas and shared interests in the biology field is what I love the most about Wallace State,” said Heinze. “I have two new coworkers with offices right beside mine, Cassidy Wright and Dr. Dingguo Zhang. They are both a lot younger than me, but it is so refreshing. We are brainstorming together, we are coming up with new activities to do in the labs, so I would say that has been really invigorating to me,” said Heinze.

Zhang began working at Wallace State in the fall semester of 2023. Originally from China, Zhang moved to Alabama and enrolled at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in 2015. He was awarded a PhD in 2020 and began work as a postdoctoral researcher at UAB, where he studied cancer biology as well as cardiovascular and kidney diseases. He said the faculty and staff at Wallace State have made him feel welcome during his first semester on campus, and that he also enjoys the camaraderie between colleagues, like Heinze.

“I interact with Susanna on a daily basis, sharing new thoughts and ideas, discussing ways to improve student learning outcomes,” said Zhang. “One of the things that drives us most is that we not only want students to do well in our class, but more importantly, develop a strong interest in biology and health sciences overall. I've learned a great deal from talking to Susanna and other faculty members here. Faculty members at Wallace State are extremely warm and welcoming. They are always there and willing to help whenever I need it,” said Zhang. “It's been a great and pleasant semester for me.”

With how many courses she teaches at Wallace State, Heinze has had less time to focus on making her videos. She said that while she hasn’t uploaded a new video in over six months, she still plans to film more. Next up on the docket is the anatomy of the human brain and spine.

“As I make new content while working here at Wallace State, I sometimes get around to uploading them to YouTube and my website, but for my next big project, I would really like to remake the videos I did on the nervous system,” said Heinze.

To watch educational videos created by Heinze, visit her website at or her YouTube channel at

Registration for the Spring 2024 semester is currently underway, with classes beginning Jan 8 for regular and Mini Term I and March 6 for Mini Term II. Registration for Flex Start I courses will be held Jan. 13-19, with classes starting Jan. 15 and registration for Flex Start II courses will be held Jan. 20-26, with classes starting Jan. 22. Visit to apply and register for classes.

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