Admission to graduate study in biological sciences requires a bachelor’s degree with a strong background in the biological and physical sciences, including calculus, organic chemistry, and physics. Results of verbal, analytical, and quantitative tests of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) are required of all applicants; you must score in at least the 50th percentile to apply. The GRE advanced subject test in biology or a physical science is recommended but not required. GRE scores; the application; transcripts; a short essay concerning prior training, research interest, and career goals; a list of faculty members with whom you are interested in working; and three letters of recommendation should be received by January 15 for you to be considered for financial support during the following academic year. Applicants whose native language is not English also must submit the results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or its equivalent; a score of at least 80 on the iBT TOEFL test is required for admission.
Master’s students must complete 30 semester hours, with at least 20 hours in formal courses and seminars. A nonthesis master’s program is available for secondary school and junior college teachers. Doctoral students must complete 90 semester hours beyond the bachelor’s degree, with at least 30 semester hours in formal courses and seminars. At least one semester of supervised teaching within the department is required of all master’s students, and two semesters are required of doctoral students.
Areas of Emphasis
Graduate education in the Department of Biological Sciences is conducted in three broad programmatic areas: cell, developmental and microbiology; physiology and neuroscience; and ecology and evolutionary biology.
The cell, developmental and microbiology program employs molecular and cellular approaches to study biological function. The cell group examines intracellular and intercellular interactions amongst a wide variety of cells. The developmental group studies how multicellular complexity is established and maintained over time. The microbiology group addresses questions concerning the role of microorganisms in environmental processes and in disease and immune responses.
The ecology and evolutionary biology program integrates research in functional morphology, phylogeny, genetics, population, and community ecology to understand the causes and consequences of biological diversity. Faculty use lab and field based research on model organisms and natural populations to study ecological and evolutionary patterns, processes, and mechanisms.
The physiology and neuroscience program includes research groups in muscle and exercise physiology; metabolic and comparative physiology; and neuroscience. The muscle and exercise physiology group focuses on the effects of exercise, nutrition, gender, and aging on human performance, as well as skeletal muscle histology, physiology, metabolism, injury, and healing. The neuroscience group addresses areas of research including computational biology; developmental neurobiology, emphasizing trophic interactions in the development of sensory systems; control of movement; central pattern generation; muscle biology; musculoskeletal mechanics; visual, auditory, and vestibular neurobiology; neuronal cytoskeleton and axonal transport; heavy metals and neurodegeneration; neuroendocrine control of development; and neural and neuroendocrine control of the autonomic nervous system.
The metabolic and comparative physiology group is actively conducting research in the following areas: insect physiology, cellular metabolism and ion transport, adaptational physiology and biochemistry, exercise and female reproduction, renal transplantation and diabetic cardiovascular and kidney disease.
The department also offers interdisciplinary studies in two areas:
Conservation biology—a plan of study leading to a graduate certificate in conservation biology, offered in conjunction with the Departments of Economics, Environmental and Plant Biology, Geography, Geological Sciences, and Political Science. (See “Conservation Biology.”)
Molecular and cellular biology— M.S. and Ph.D. programs offered in conjunction with the Departments of Chemistry and Environmental and Plant Biology. (See “Molecular and Cellular Biology.”)