Department of Biology, West Chester University Print

The main office for the Department of Biology is located in Room 175 on the first floor of Schmucker Science North. If you have questions, you may contact us at: 610-436-2538

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Department of Biology, 730 South Church Street, West Chester University, West Chester, PA, 19383. 

Biology Highlights 2017 Print
Dr. John M. Pisciotta received a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency for $14,950 to to develop a Wind-Actuated Vibrating Electrochemical (WAVE) Digester (EPA Grant SU836778). The objective of this research project is to electrochemically treat wastes while storing renewable forms of energy.
Dr. Frank Fish received a grant from the National Science Foundation for $37,153 for “Collaborative Research: Scaling of unsteady locomotor performance and maneuverability” (IOS-1656676). This grant is to collaborate with Dr. Jeremy Goldbogen of the Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University and Dr. Jean Potvin of St. Louis University to study the turning performance of large whales. Dr. Fish also received a grant from the Office of Naval Research for $300,000 for “Investigating sea lion locomotion as the basis for shape changing UUVs” (N00014-17-1-2312). This grant is to collaborate with Dr. Megan Leftwich of George Washington University and Drs. James Tangorra and Harry Kwatny of Drexel University to examine the movements of sea lions as the basis of constructing a biorobotic sea lion.
Dr. Teresa Donze-Reiner published the following article: Donze-Reiner, T., Palmer, N., Scully, E., Heng-Moss, T., Bradshaw, J., Twigg, P., Amundsen, K., Sattler, S., Sarath, G. 2017. Transcriptional analysis of defense mechanisms in upland tetraploid switchgrass to greenbugs. BMC Plant Biology, 17(1), p. 46.
Dr. Josh Auld published the following article: Grossenbacher, D. L., Y. Brandvain, J. R. Auld, M. Burd, P.-O. Cheptou, J. K. Conner, A. G. Grant, S. M. Hovick, J. R. Pannell, A. Pauw, T. Petanidou, A. M. Randle, R. Rubio de Casas, J. Vamosi, A. Winn, B. Igic, J. W. Busch, S. Kalisz & E. E. Goldberg. 2017. Self-compatibility is overrepresented on islands.  New Phytologist _:_-_. 
Dr. Frank Fish presented the following papers at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, New Orleans, LA, January 3-7, 2017: (1) "Tail Stands in dolphins: Experimental measurement of force generation using Bubble DPIV" with Dr. Terrie Williams of the University of California Santa Cruz and Dr. Timothy Wei of the University of Nebraska; (2) "Chordwise flexibility of bottlenose dolphin flukes during static exercise" with Dr. Terrie Williams; and (3) "How smooth is a dolphin" with Dylan Wainwright and Dr. George Lauder of Harvard, Dr. Terrie Williams, and Dr. Judy St. Leger of Sea World. 
Dr. Frank Fish, biology graduate student Kelsey Tennett, and Dr. Daniel Costa of University of California Santa Cruz presented "Terrestrial locomotion of a massive amphibious mammal: Constraints of northern elephant seals on land" at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, New Orleans, LA, January 3-7, 2017.
Dr. Frank Fish, biology graduate student William Gough, Gregory Lewis and Dr. Hilary Bart-Smith of the University of Virginia presented "Physical properties and anisotropy in the central tissue layer of cetacean tail flukes" at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, New Orleans, LA, January 3-7, 2017. 
Dr. Frank Fish, biology graduate students Danielle Adams, William Gough and Kelsey Tennett, and biology undergraduate student Erin Gallagher presented "Passive spanwise flexibility of harbor porpoise flukes: Equivalence of dorsal and ventral flexion" at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, New Orleans, LA, January 3-7, 2017.

Cool Previous Biology Highlights (2016)

Neuroscience Journal Club-Spring 2017 Print


Arctic Sedge Under Investigation Print



Dr. Jessica Schedlbauer received a Research Opportunity Award from the National Science Foundation to study the effects of climate change on a dominant sedge species in the Alaskan tundra in a project titled "An investigation of photosynthetic optima in locally adapted Eriophorum vaginatum ecotypes exposed to elevated temperature".  This research was a collaboration with scientists from Wilkes University, the Marine Biological Laboratory's Ecosystems Center, and the University of Texas at El Paso.


Dr. Schedlbauer and Biology undergraduate student Katherine Hood spent the summer of 2016 north of the Arctic Circle working on this project. The pair were based out of the Toolik Field Station, part of the University of Alaska Fairbank's Institute of Arctic Biology.  The station provides a summer home for arctic biologists from around the world in a remote part of Alaska that is shared by caribou, grizzly bears, and musk ox.


New BioFaculty: Fall 2016 Print
mareshWe welcome Dr. Jennifer Maresh as a new assistant professor in the Department of Biology. She received her B.S. in Biology from West Chester University in 2003, her Master's in Coastal Environmental Management in 2005 from Duke University, and her Ph.D. in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology from the University of California - Santa Cruz (UCSC) in 2014.
Dr. Maresh's background is with swim behaviors and mechanics as they relate to foraging in marine mammals and her research has included work with wild bottlenose dolphins, North Atlantic right whales, Weddell seals and northern elephant seals. As a postdoctoral researcher at UCSC her research focused on animal bioenergetics which is an understanding of how energy flows through living systems from ingestion of prey up through the building of an animal and its offspring. She is interested in the decisions animals make while foraging and the energetic costs and pay-offs of those decisions under both natural and 'disturbed' conditions, as a way of understanding how resilient they might be to a rapidly changing environment.
Dr. Maresh is excited to return to her alma mater where she will continue her bioenergetics work with marine mammals. She would like to develop an additional research program directed at understanding the role of terrestrial mesopredators in both disturbed and intact ecosystems from a bioenergetics perspective. She looks forward to working with students to develop independent research projects in her lab, and to teaching Physiology and other biology classes at West Chester University.

The Department of Biology also welcomes Dr. Eric Sweet as a new assistant professor. Dr. Sweet received his B.S. in Biology from Virginia Tech in 2002 and his Ph.D. from Rutgers University in 2011.
Dr. Sweet is a neuroscientist and electrophysiologist interested in neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease. As a postdoctoral fellow at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, his research focused on the role mutations in the Parkinson’s disease associated gene encoding LRRK2 play in learning and memory. He also worked on identifying new molecular factors that influence learning and memory. He is excited to join the WCU community and will continue to investigate the role that genetic and environmental factors play in the substantial non-motor deficits experienced by those suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
Dr. Sweet is looking forward to working with students while they learn and perform research in the fields of neuroscience, cell biology, and neurodegenerative diseases. 
2016 Sigma Xi Student Research Symposium Print

sigma xi 2016

Student research conducted by Undergraduate Student Brett Pugliese, Graduate Student Jon Klein, and Undergraduate Student Dina Torjman was presented at the 27th Annual Sigma Xi Student Research Symposium held at St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, April 15th 2016.  Student research presented at the Symposium was conducted in collaboration with Biology faculty members Dr. Erin Gestl and Dr. Greg Turner.

2016 JEB Calendar Print
The 2016 Journal of Experimental Biology Calendar included the above image that was derived from the following article published by WCU Biology graduate student William Gough and Dr. Frank Fish: Gough, W. T., Farina, S. C. and Fish, F. E. 2015. Aquatic burst locomotion by hydroplaning and running in common eiders (Somateria mollissima). Journal of Experimental Biology 218: 1632-1638.
Can you identify these Birds? Print
Have you ever seen a bird and wondered what kind it was or what it was doing? Did you know there are ~30 species to identify on campus alone? Do you already enjoy birding and are looking to meet like-minded people?  If so, come join the fledging West Chester University Student Birding Club!  Any experience level welcome!

Birds are one of the most diverse, strikingly beautiful, and highly visible groups of animals.  Learning to identify birds by sight and sound can provide years of free entertainment.  Whether or not you can tell an American Crow from a Fish Crow, a Northern Flicker from a Pileated Woodpecker, or a House Sparrow from a Song Sparrow, come and join us! 

Research on Underwater Propulsion funded by MURI Grant Print

Dr. Frank Fish received a grant from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) for $1,055,297 for the Multi-University Research Initiative (MURI) program. The proposed research is a collaboration with the University of Virginia, Princeton University, Harvard University, Lehigh University and West Chester University. Over the next five years, the research team will receive $1.5 million per year to investigate the Hydrodynamics of Non-Traditional Propulsion.

The research team's project is titled "Bio-inspired Flexible Propulsors for Fast, Efficient Swimming: What Physics Are We Missing?" The project will look at fast swimmers with flexible flukes (dolphins, whales, tuna and trout) to explore the possibility of a system that could replace propellers for underwater propulsion.

The Army Research Office, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the Office of Naval Research solicited proposals for 24 research projects that directly support the DOD and the military services. Initially, 361 white papers were received, 88 of which were selected for more detailed proposals. The highly competitive MURI program complements other DOD basic research efforts by supporting multidisciplinary teams with larger and longer-term awards in carefully chosen research topics identified for their potential significance and sustainable progress. MURI awards provide strong support for the education and training of graduate students in cutting edge research. The 24 research proposals selected in the fiscal 2014 competition will include participation by 64 different academic institutions.


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