Graduate Catalog

2012 – 2013

Office of Graduate Studies and Extended Education
McKelvie Hall, 102 W. Rosedale Avenue
West Chester University
West Chester, PA 19383
Phone: 610-436-2943
Fax: 610-436-2763
gradstudy@wcupa.edu


Revised August 2012

Biology


175 Schmucker Science Center North
West Chester University
West Chester, PA 19383
610-436-2538
Dr. Waber, Chairperson
Dr. Fan, Graduate Coordinator

Professors [top]

Sharon E. Began, Ph.D., Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
John T. Beneski, Jr., Ph.D., Washington State University
Steven L. Broitman, Ph.D., Princeton University
Giovanni Casotti, Ph.D., Murdoch University
G. Winfield Fairchild, Ph.D., University of Michigan
Frank Eliot Fish, Ph.D., Michigan State University
Maureen T. Knabb, Ph.D., University of Virginia
Leslie B. Slusher, Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University
Harry M. Tiebout III, Ph.D., University of Florida
Jack Waber, Ph.D., University of Hawaii

Associate Professors

Xin Fan, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Gustave Mbuy, Ph.D., University of Cincinnati
Oné R. Pagán, Ph.D., Cornell University
Greg Turner, Ph.D., Fordham University

Assistant Professors

Josh Auld, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh
Anne Boettger, Ph.D., University of Alabama at Birmingham
Erin Gestl, Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University
Judith J. Greenamyer, D.V.M., Ohio State University
Jessica Schedlbauer, Ph.D., University of Idaho

Admission Requirements [top]

Applicants must meet the general requirements for admission to degree study at West Chester University. Applicants must submit two letters of recommendation as part of their application to graduate study. Applicants must include a one-page written statement that outlines their reasons for pursuing graduate study in biology and the specific area of biology in which they are interested. Applicants must fill out a supplemental application for graduate study in biology by the end of their first semester of study, available from the biology coordinator, in which they identify their preferred adviser and indicate whether they intend to pursue the thesis or nonthesis option, and whether they intend to be a full-time or part-time student.

Minimum academic prerequisites for admission include two semesters of general chemistry, two semesters of organic chemistry, one semester of physics, one semester of calculus, one course in statistics, one course in statistics, and 17 semester credits of course work in the biological sciences. Because of space and personnel limitations, admission of academically qualified applicants is contingent upon the availability of laboratory space, the adviser whom they identify, and the appropriateness of the student's background to the chosen area of concentration.

The M.S. in biology may be completed under either the thesis or nonthesis option. Switching between the two options is possible early in the program, but will require the student to organize a new advisory committee, take additional courses, and spend additional time completing the program.

The supplemental application form will not be required to be admitted into the graduate program. Instead, students (thesis and nonthesis) will have until the end of their first semester to choose an adviser and a committee. Continued enrollment in the program is contingent upon the student finding a faculty member who is willing to act as his or her adviser.

DEADLINE DATES FOR APPLICATIONS: April 15 for all students wishing to be considered for graduate assistantships for the following September; April 15 for the fall semester; October 15 for the spring semester. Students who do not wish an assistantship can apply throughout the year to enter the program.

Master of Science in Biology [top]

Curriculum - Thesis Option (30 semester hours)

  1. Required core (9 semester hours)
    BIO 591, 592*, 610 **
  2. * A letter grade must be assigned for BIO 591 before the student may enroll in
    BIO 592.
    ** A letter grade must be assigned for BIO 592 before the student may enroll in
    BIO 610.

  3. Research methods core (6 semester hours)
    Select two from BIO 511, 513, 514, 515
  4. Concentration courses (6 semester hours)
    Select two courses from BIO 535, 536, 537, 590
    BIO 535/536/537 (topics courses) may be repeated for credit as long as the topic is different.
  5. Electives (9 semester hours)
    Any course listed in II. or III. above
    Any other 500-level biology course
    Up to 6 semester hours of 400-level courses, where no 500-level component is available
    Up to 6 semester hours of graduate course work from another department or university, but only with prior departmental approval

To complete BIO 591 successfully, the student must present the thesis proposal to his/her thesis advisory committee and demonstrate a fundamental understanding of the principles of biology underlying the proposed research. At that time, the committee also will examine the student on his/her understanding of other related areas of biology. Students who demonstrate a poor understanding of their chosen field must correct their deficiencies.

To complete BIO 610 successfully, the student must present the thesis research in an open seminar and also pass a final thesis defense before the thesis committee. The degree will not be awarded until the thesis has been accepted by the student's committee and signed by the dean of graduate studies.

Part-Time Students

Part-time students will be required to take the same group of courses as full-time students except they must complete BIO 591 (thesis proposal) by the end of their third year. As with the full-time students, part-time students cannot sign up for BIO 592 unless they have obtained a letter grade for BIO 591. In addition, they must sign up for BIO 610 (thesis) by the start of their sixth year and complete it by the end of that year.

Nonthesis Option (36 semester hours)

  1. Required core (24 semester hours)
    BIO 511
    Three research techniques courses: BIO 513, 514, 515
    Three different course topics areas: BIO 535, 536, 537
    BIO 591
  2. Electives (12 semester hours)
    See general information for details and restrictions.

To complete BIO 591 successfully, the student must present the results of the project in an open seminar. In addition, during or immediately after the final semester of course work in the nonthesis program, the student must pass a written comprehensive examination prepared by the student's advisory committee. Students who fail this examination will not receive their degree.

General Information and Restrictions on Electives

With the prior consent of his or her advising committee, a thesis student may take a maximum of six semester hours at the graduate level in allied disciplines, and a maximum of six biology semester hours at the 400 level. A nonthesis student may take a maximum of nine semester hours at the graduate level in allied disciplines, and a maximum of six biology semester hours at the 400 level. All 400-level courses must be among those listed as acceptable for graduate students in the Graduate Catalog. With the consent of his or her advising committee, any student also may transfer in six semester hours of graduate-level work from another university.

BIO 593 may not be counted towards the 30 semester hours required for graduation in the thesis option.

BIO 592, 593, and 610 may not be counted towards the 36 semester hours required for graduation in the nonthesis option.

Course Descriptions [top]

Biology
Symbol: BIO

Courses are divided into three groupings: graduate only, combined graduate and undergraduate, and acceptable undergraduate courses.

Numbers in parentheses at the end of course descriptions indicate the number of hours of lecture and lab, respectively. Prerequisite for graduate course attendance is admission to the degree program or permission of the graduate coordinator and the dean of graduate studies. Prerequisites for specific courses are given.

The following are the graduate-only courses in the biology program:

511 Experimental Design and Analysis (3) An introduction to the design and analysis of biological research. An independently conducted research project is a required part of the course. Lab BIL 511 (2, 1) PREREQ: Basic statistics.

513 Research Techniques in the Biological Sciences I (3) An introduction to the theory and application of histological techniques, and light and electron microscopy. (0, 3)

514 Research Techniques in the Biological Sciences II (3) Introduces students to the theory and practical application of selected techniques in biological research, such as radioisotope labeling techniques, spectrophotometry, and various chromatographic procedures. (0, 3)

515 Research Techniques in the Biological Sciences III: Computer Applications in Biological Research (3) Use of computers in biological research and data analysis. Topics include image analysis, modeling, and database access for proposal or presentation preparation. (0, 3)

530 Human Genetics (3) Basic genetic theories as they apply to the study of humans; chemical basis of inheritance; biochemical variation; cytogenetics; somatic cell developmental, behavioral, and population genetics of man; immunogenetics; quantitative inheritance, treatment, and prevention of genetic disorders; relationships between viruses, genes, and cancer; social, legal, and psychological aspects of human genetics. (3, 0) PREREQ: Introductory genetics.

535 Course Topics in Biology I (3) Lecture/ seminar course on the latest topics in ecology, evolution, or organismal biology. Specific content varies depending on faculty involved. Offered in rotation with BIO 536 and 537. May be repeated for credit if a different topic is presented. (3, 0) This course may be taken again for credit.

536 Course Topics in Biology II (3) Lecture/ seminar course on the latest topics in microbiology, immunology, or molecular genetics. Specific content varies depending on faculty involved. Offered in rotation with BIO 535 and 537. May be repeated for credit if a different topic is presented. (3, 0) This course may be taken again for credit.

537 Course Topics in Biology III (3) Lecture/seminar course on the latest topics in cell biology, physiology, or development. Specific content varies depending on faculty involved. Offered in rotation with BIO 535 and 536. May be repeated for credit if a different topic is presented. (3, 0) This course may be taken again for credit.

538 Design, Analysis, and Adaptation Conceptual Science I (3) The pragmatic application of advanced biological content in secondary science lesson design, implementation, and assessment with respect to contemporary science education curricular standards. PREREQ: Minimum of three, 500-level graduate credits in biology, Pennsylvania secondary certification (or equivalent) in a science discipline, or permission of instructor.

539 Design, Analysis, and Adaptation of Conceptual Science II (3) The pragmatic application through collaboration of advanced biological content in secondary science lesson design, implementation, and assessment with respect to contemporary science education curricular standards. The emphasis is on thematic, integrated, and interdisciplinary unit design. PREREQ: BIO 538, a minimum of six 500-level graduate credits in biology, Pennsylvania secondary certification (or equivalent) in a science discipline, or permission of instructor.

590 Directed Study in Biology (3) In-depth study of the literature of a specific topic in biology, under the direction of a biology faculty member. Students will read, analyze, discuss, and summarize relevant peer-reviewed journal articles. Field or laboratory work may be part of the course, but no research project is to be required. PREREQ: At least one undergraduate course in the topic, plus permission of the department's graduate committee. BIO 590 may not be taken more than once in the student's graduate career.

591 Directed Research I (3) To be taken when the student begins his/her thesis research. Includes a comprehensive literature search and development of specialized techniques. This course should culminate in the acceptance of the thesis proposal by an appropriate committee of faculty and is required for degree candidacy.

592 Thesis Research (3) A continuation of thesis research. Credit is awarded for this course once all experimental work for BIO 610 (thesis) has been completed and approved at a meeting of the student's thesis committee proposed and initiated in BIO 591.

593 Directed Research III (3) A continuation of the research proposed and initiated in BIO 591. To be taken for credit only with the approval of the graduate coordinator. (Does not count towards 30 credits required for graduation.)

610 Thesis (3) Completion of the thesis project. Includes presentation at an open seminar, and the defense of the thesis as presented to the committee.

The following courses are combined graduate and undergraduate courses. Graduate students will be expected to complete additional course work beyond that required of undergraduate students, as described in the course syllabus provided by the instructor.

531 Molecular Genetics (3) This course exposes graduate students interested in gene manipulation to up-to-date information in procaryotic and eukaryotic genetics. (3, 0) PREREQ: Introductory genetics, one year of organic chemistry.

564 Microbial Physiology (3) Physiology and biochemical variations are studied in the prokaryotes and lower eukaryotes. Lab BIL 564. (3, 3) PREREQ: Microbiology, genetics, and organic chemistry.

565 Immunology (4) Immunoglobin structure and function, nature of antigens, cell-mediated immunity, hypersensitivity, regulation of immunity, and immunological diseases. Laboratory experience in immunological techniques. Lab BIL 565. (3, 3) PREREQ: Microbiology, one year of organic chemistry.

566 Plant Physiology and Biochemistry (3) Plant-cell physiology, including respiration, photosynthesis, enzyme catalysis, auxins, and membrane phenomena. Lab BIL 566. (2, 3) PREREQ: College botany, organic chemistry.

567 Endocrinology (3) An integrative look at the physiology of the mammalian endocrine system in the regulation and maintenance of homeostasis. The pathology associated with hormone imbalance will be included. (3, 0) PREREQ: Cell physiology and mammalian physiology.

568 General Animal Physiology (4) General theoretical and applied principles of the physiology of various animal cells, tissues, and organs, with an emphasis on homeostasis and mammalian physiology. Lab BIL 568. (3, 3) PREREQ: One year of organic chemistry, statistics.

570 Population Biology (3) A quantitative second course in ecology, emphasizing distributional patterns and fluctuations in abundance of natural populations. Lab BIL 570. (2, 3) PREREQ: General ecology, statistics, calculus.

571 Wetlands (3) A course designed to provide practical experience in wetlands classification, delineation, regulation, management, and mitigation practices. The abiotic and biotic characteristics of inland and coastal wetlands are emphasized. Lab BIL 571. (2, 3) PREREQ: Eight hours of biology or permission of instructor.

575 Plant Communities (3) A survey of ecological, morphological, and physiological strategies of plants from seed through adult stages. The integration of these strategies to explain the major plant communities of North America will be covered. Lab BIL 575. (2, 3) PREREQ: General biology.

576 Freshwater Ecology (3) The environmental and biological characteristics of freshwater. Emphasis is placed on field methods, water quality evaluation based on the interpretation of comprehensive datasets, and management strategies for lakes, ponds and streams. Lab BIL 576. (2, 3) PREREQ: General chemistry.

580 Light Microscopy and the Living Cell (3) Theory and practical techniques of all types of light microscopy and their uses in investigating living cells. Also includes techniques such as microinjection, cell electrophysiology, and others. Strong emphasis on "hands-on" work with equipment. (2, 2)

584 Epidemiology (3) A general study of the epidemiology of both infectious and environmentally related health problems. Methods of interviewing and data collecting also are included. (3, 0) PREREQ: Microbiology.

The following courses are senior-level undergraduate courses that are acceptable for graduate students. Graduate students should expect to be graded by the same standards as the undergraduate students. Selection of these courses must be done with the approval of the student's adviser.

421 Cell and Molecular Biology (4) A lecture and laboratory course covering the molecular bases of cellular life. Eukaryotic cell structure and function will be emphasized. Lab BIL 421. (3, 3) PREREQ: Cell physiology, one year of organic chemistry.

428 Animal Histology (3) Structure and function of animal tissues and organs. Lab BIL 428. (2, 2) PREREQ: Zoology.

435-438 Course Topics in Biology (1-3) Courses in this series are of timely interest to the student. Topics may include biological terminology, laboratory techniques, mycology, among others.

448 Animal Development (4) Introduction to principles of animal development with laboratory study of selected vertebrate embryos. Lab BIL 448. (3, 3) PREREQ: Cell physiology, genetics, zoology.

452 Parasitology (3) Morphology and life cycles of the important parasites of man and animals. Emphasis is on identification of diagnostic forms and understanding of diseases associated with parasites. (3, 0) PREREQ: Zoology, microbiology.

454 Mycology (3) An introductory course, including a general study of the biology of fungi and a survey of the field of medical mycology. (3, 0) PREREQ: Microbiology.

456 Virology (3) Molecular biology of bacterial, plant, and animal viruses; virus classification, ultrastructure, mechanisms of replication, and effects of virus infection on host cells. (2, 3) PREREQ: Genetics, microbiology, one year of organic chemistry.

457 Functional Animal Morphology (3) A study of the structure, form, and function of morphological adaptations in animals as examined through a mechanical, ecological, and evolutionary perspective. (3, 0) PREREQ: General zoology.

473 Conservation Biology (3) The application of basic biological and ecological principles for the preservation of biological diversity. Emphasis will be on understanding the threats to biodiversity, the values of biodiversity, and preservation strategies including ecological risk assessment and the management of endangered species, habitats, and ecosystems. PREREQ: Botany or zoology and ecology.

474 Microbial Ecology (4) Theory and application of modern microbial ecology. Lectures will focus on topics such as microbial communities, interactions with other organisms, biogeochemistry, and biotechnology. Lab BIL 474. (3, 3) PREREQ: Microbiology, ecology, general chemistry.

485 Systematic Botany (3) Principles of taxonomy and biosystematics. Selected plant families from tropical and temperate zones. Each student develops a proficiency in the use of modern flora and knowledge of the common species of the spring flora of Chester County. Lab BIL 485. (2, 3) PREREQ: Botany.