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

Chair: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  | Assistant Chair:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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

Temporary Faculty Position Available Print
Join a vibrant campus community whose excellence is reflected in its diversity and student success.  West Chester University's Department of Biology is hiring a full time (12 hours in class per week) temporary faculty member starting August 2018 to teach laboratories in our undergraduate courses.  Courses that we regularly need coverage in are General Biology (BIO 110), Cell Physiology (BIO 220) and Introductory Microbiology (BIO 204).  

Qualifications:  Masters degree required.  Ph.D. preferred.  

Applications materials should include a cover letter and curriculum vitae.  Materials should be submitted online here.  Search: 18-214.
Application review will begin on May 14, 2018. Questions regarding the position should be sent to  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Developing and sustaining a diverse faculty and staff advances WCU's educational mission and strategic Plan, Building on Excellence. West Chester University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. Women, minorities, veterans, and persons with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

All offers of employment are subject to and contingent upon satisfactory completion of all pre-employment criminal background checks.
Summer 2018 Courses Print

All of the Course Topics below (BIO 435, 436 and 438) can be used as Biology Elective credit. 

Why wait?  Sign up now.

Summer I (June May 29 - June 29)

Course Topics in Life's Survival Strategies (BIO 436): This course will discuss unusual survival strategies that plants, animals, and microorganisms use to survive in order to pass on their genes to the next generation.

Course Topics in Neuroethology (BIO 438): The Neuronal Mechanisms of Behavior: This course examines ethological principles, neurological circuits, the organization, control and coordination of behavior, the role of conscious thought and free will from a biological perspective.

Additional courses offered for the first time as summer classes include: Genetics, Molecular Biology Techniques, Molecular Genetics, Humans and the Environment.

Summer II (July 2 - August 3)

Course Topics in Global Climate Change (BIO 435): An Ecological Perspective: This course examines how global climate change impacts living non-human species on the planet. We will address projected changes in species' ecological functions, shifts in geographic distributions, and potential extinctions.  We will also consider the role of forests as carbon sinks and other conservation strategies to preserve biodiversity.

Additional courses offered for the first time as summer classes include: Molecular Biology Techniques.

Strange Survivors Print
Dr. Oné R. Pagán published the book: Strange Survivors: How Organisms Attack and Defend in the Game of Life. BenBella Books, 2018.
In the evolutionary arms race that has raged on since life began, organisms have developed an endless variety of survival strategies. In Strange Survivors, biologist Oné R. Pagán takes us on a tour of the improbable, the ingenious, and the just plain bizarre ways that creatures fight for life.
Biology Highlights 2018 Print

Dr. Jen Maresh was awarded a grant from the Elise Triano Biology Research Fund in support of her project, Detecting the eco-evolutionary responses of mesopredators to release from top-down control. This award will fund a pilot study with two WCU undergraduate students to detect and document evidence of the ecological ascension of mesopredators in North American wildlife communities as a response to the current, ongoing extirpation of apex predators.

 Dr. Frank Fish, biology, published the article, Experimental measurement of dolphin thrust generated during a tail stand using DPIV in the journal Fluids 2018, 3, 33; doi:10.3390/fluids302003. The article was co-authored with Dr. Terrie Williams of the University of California Santa Cruz and Dr. Timothy Wei of the University of Nebraska.  

Dr. John M. Pisciotta was awarded a $10,000 grant from PepsiCos Zero Impact College Sustainability Fund. For this project, researchers will build and test a novel solar photovoltaic mini-split HVAC system designed to partly offset conventional energy usage at the WCU Office of Sustainability.

Dr. Oné Pagán delivered the 2018 keynote talk of the WCU Chapter of Sigma Xi Society on April 24: The adventures of a scholar: From flatworm pharmacology to popular science writing.

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, presented an invited seminar, Biomimetics and the development of advanced technologies from charismatic marine megafauna at the American Museum of Natural History SciCafe in New York City on May 2, 2018.

 Dr. Schedlbauer published the following article: Schedlbauer, J.L., N. Fetcher, K. Hood, M.L. Moody, & J. Tang. 2018. Effect of growth temperature on photosynthetic capacity and respiration in three ecotypes of Eriophorum vaginatum. Ecology & Evolution 8 (7): 3711-3725. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.3939

 Dr. Jennifer Chandler was awarded a Provost Research Grant for her project Consequences of age-based vs. size-based harvest criteria on the sustainability of the American ginseng trade.  The purpose of this work is to bridge the gap between science and policy by identifying size-based harvest criteria that are biologically meaningful and conservation oriented, that are easily measured by harvesters, and that are verifiable by authorities.

Dr. Frank Fish published the article, Kinematics of swimming of the manta ray: three-dimensional analysis of open-water maneuverability, in the Journal of Experimental Biology (2018) 221, jeb166041, dot:10.1242jeb.166041. The article was co-authored with Dr. Allison Kolpas and Dr. Andrew Crossett (Mathematics), Michael Dudas from the West Chester diving shop, Dudas Diving Duds, Dr. Keith Moored from Lehigh University, and Dr. Hilary Bart-Smith from the University of Virginia.

Accelerated B.S./M.S. student Jason Miller, under the supervision of Dr. Jessica Schedlbauer, was awarded a 2018 Pennsylvania Academy of Science Research Grant to study how edge effects influence soil carbon cycling at forest edges in a thesis project titled, The influence of edge effects on soil carbon storage and CO2 efflux in temperate deciduous forests of southeastern Pennsylvania.

Dr. Frank Fish co-authored the article, Morphology of the core fibrous layer of the cetacean tail fluke, with William Gough (biology graduate student) in  the Journal of Morphology, 2018, DOI: 10.1002/jmor.20808. Additional co-authors included Dylan Wainwright of Harvard University and Hilary Bart-Smith of the University of Virginia. Dr. Fish also presented an invited seminar, Lessons from charismatic marine fauna: Biomimetic applications for the development of advanced technologies, to the Department of Biology and Marine Biology at the University of North Carolina Wilmington on March 23, 2018.

Dr. Oné Pagán was interviewed by The Cool Science Radio show. To view the interview click here.  He was also interviewed at the Ikonokast – A Science advocacy Podcast. The interview can be found here.

Dr. Oné R. Pagán published the book: Strange Survivors: How Organisms Attack and Defend in the Game of Life. BenBella Books, 2018.
Dr. Frank Fish published the book chapters “Locomotion. Terrestrial” Pp. 552-554 and “Streamlining” Pp. 951-954 in the Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals, Ed. 3. 2018 (W. F. Perrin, B. Würsig, and J. G. M. Thewissen, eds.) by Academic Press, San Diego.

Dr. Jen Maresh published the following book chapter: Costa, D.P. and J.L. Maresh. 2018. Energetics in Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals, 3rd ed. (W.F. Perrin, B. Wursig, J.G.M. Thewissen, eds). Academic Press. Pp. 329-335.

Dr. Frank Fish presented the paper “Fluke flexibility during propulsion in neonate and adult humpback whales” at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in San Francisco, CA, January 3-7, 2018. The paper was co-authored with Ramya Muthukrishnan, Henderson High School student, and Nan Hauser of the Cetacean Research Institute in the Cook Islands. In addition, Dr. Fish co-authored a presentation “Properties and functions of tendons in the cetacean peduncle” that was presented by Danielle Adams, biology graduate student, and Dr. Fish was co-authored a presentation “The role of flippers, flukes, and body flexibility in blue whale maneuvering performance” at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in San Francisco, CA, January 3-7, 2018.
New BioFaculty: Fall 2017 Print
Dr. ChandlerWe welcome Dr. Jennifer Chandler as a new assistant professor in the Department of Biology.  Dr. Chandler received her B.A. in Business Management from Transylvania University in 2004, her B.S. in Biology from Northern Kentucky University in 2009, and her Ph.D. from West Virginia University in 2016.
Dr. Chandler’s background is in herbaceous plant response to both discrete disturbances that prompt acute, short-lived responses and to chronic disturbances that occur on longer timescales and elicit long-lasting “legacy” responses.  She is interested in the effects that both natural disturbances and anthropogenic disturbances have on plant populations.  Recent research has investigated the response of the medicinal plant, American ginseng, to both timber harvest and natural canopy disturbances in the eastern deciduous forest, as well as the response of a dominant tundra sedge, cottongrass, to climate change in northern Alaska.  Dr. Chandler will continue this work at WCU, but also plans to incorporate new research that focuses on the harvest of wild American ginseng, and the development of new harvest criteria that bridges the gap between science and policy to promote sustainable harvest.
Dr. Chandler is looking forward to working with undergraduate and graduate students at WCU both in class and in research, and is excited to get students interested in the outdoors, in ecology, and in the conservation of our natural resources.
Tropical Ecology of Puerto Rico Print

Puerto Rico


Nine Biology majors spent their 2017 Spring Break exploring the island of Puerto Rico in Dr. Jessica Schedlbauer's Tropical Ecology of Puerto Rico class.  

Students visited and learned about tropical rainforests, dry forests, and coastal ecosystems, and they also met with local conservation ecologists to learn about methods used to protect and restore degraded ecosystems.  

The class visited the University of Puerto Rico, Utuado and learned from both students and faculty about agroforestry systems, as well as sustainable agriculture on the island.

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! 


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