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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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BIO 435: Course Topics in Biology - Tropical Ecology Print

Students Explore the Ecosystems of Puerto Rico

Eleven students enrolled in BIO 435, spent Spring Break 2015 exploring the ecosystems of Puerto Rico with Dr. Jessica Schedlbauer, as part of the Department of Biology’s first study abroad course.

Students explored high elevation, cloud-shrouded, elfin forests in the Luquillo Mountains, visited the mangrove ecosystems that line the island’s coasts, kayaked at night through a bioluminescent bay, and hiked through rare coastal dry forests.  

The class also met with faculty from the University of Puerto Rico-Utuado to learn about organic coffee production and coffee grading, a process used to improve the quality of coffee produced on the island.  

Students also had the opportunity to meet with a non-profit organization focused on watershed protection with the goal of improving water quality in the rivers and coastal ecosystems of Puerto Rico.

 
Biology Highlights 2015 Print

Dr. Jessica Schedlbauer published the following: J.L. Schedlbauer. Serpentine ecosystem responses to varying water availability and prescribed fire in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region. Ecosphere in press

Dr. Frank Fish presented the following: (1) an invited seminar "Underlying physics derived from nature: Examination of mobuliform swimming and the development of a high-performance AUV" at the Biology Department of Adelphi University on March 27, 2015; (2) an invited symposium talk “Flying fish and swimming birds: adaptations for locomotor performance at the air-water interface” at the Founders Symposium of the Western Interior Paleontological Society on Fossils and Flight at the Colorado School of Mines Green Center in Golden, CO on March 15, 2015; and (3) an invited talk “Anatomical and performance attributes of thunniform propulsors” at the Office of Naval Research-MURI Meeting: Hydrodynamics of non-traditional propulsion bio-inspired flexible propulsors for fast, efficient swimming: What physics are we missing? That was held at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA on March 2, 2015. 

Dr. Josh Auld published the following: Murren, C.J., J. R. Auld, H. Callahan, C. Ghalambor, C. Handelsman, M. A. Heskel, J. G. Kingsolver, H. Maclean, J. Masel, H. Maughan, D. Pfennig, R. A. Relyea, S. Seiter, E. Snell-Rood, U. K. Steiner & C. D. Schlichting. 2015. Constraints on the evolution of phenotypic plasticity: Limits and costs of phenotype and costs of plasticity. Heredity in press.

Dr. Frank Fish was a co-organizer with Dr. Paolo Domenici of the National Research Council of Italy for the symposium “Unsteady Aquatic Locomotion with Respect to Eco-Design and Mechanics” held at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology Meeting in West Palm Beach, FL., January 3-7, 2015 . At the same meeting Dr. Fish presented “Stability design and response to waves by batoids” with West Chester University Biology graduate student Jessica Hoffman, and “Swimming turned on its head: Stability and maneuverability of the shrimpfish (Aeoliscus punctulatus)” with Dr. Roi Holzman of Tel Aviv University and co-authored “Development of a batoid-inspired autonomous underwater vehicle” with Dr. Hilary Bart-Smith of the University of Virginia, “Understanding the role of fin flexion in rays’ forward swimming” with Dr. Haibo Dong of the University of Virginia, and “Unsteady forces form in flapping foils and depend on fluid-solid coupling in water but not in air” with Dr. Thomas Daniel of the University of Washington. 

Cool Previous Biology Highlights (2014) 

 
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.

 
Sigma Xi Student Research Symposium Print

Student research conducted by Zack Signora, Kenda McMillin, Kelly Ryan, Lauren Neel, Dana Charitonchick, Julie Storm, Jessica Bondy, Bill Collins, and Jesse Armine was presented at the annual Sigma Xi Student Research Symposium on April 12, 2014 at St. Joseph's University.  Student research presented at the Symposium was conducted in collaboration with Biology faculty members Drs. Josh Auld, Jessica Schedlbauer, Win Fairchild, Greg Turner, and Xin Fan. Posters presented include:

  • Jesse Armine (undergraduate student) and DrJessica Schedlbauer. Effect of trail type on the diversity of native and invasive plant species in the Bull Mountain Wilderness, Maryland.
  • Jessica Bondy (undergraduate student), Julie Storm (undergraduate student), and DrXin Fan. The pathogenesis of Haemophilus influenzae LicB in vivo.
  • Dana Charitonchick (graduate student) and DrJessica Schedlbauer. Determining the seed bank composition of an eastern deciduous forest fragment in southeast Pennsylvania.
  • Bill Collins (undergraduate student) and DrWin Fairchild. The effects of light and age on phenotypic plasticity in an invasive vine species, Celastrus orbiculatus (oriental bittersweet).
  • Lauren Neel (undergraduate student) and DrJosh Auld. When to mate when death is on the line in Physa acuta.
  • Kelly Ryan (undergraduate student) and DrGreg Turner. Forest health status at the Gordon Natural Area.
  • Zack Signora (undergraduate student), Kendra McMillin (undergraduate student), and DrGreg Turner. An assessment of white ash (Fraxinus americana) as part of an emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) management plan for the Robert B. Gordon Natural Area.
 
WCU Biology Students take Silver for Algal Biofuel Experiment. Print
On December 23, 2013, Biology Undergraduate Students Joe R. Mossman and William (Billy) Schultz and Graduate Student Zehra Zaybak took the Silver Medal at the international science competition sponsored by Bluesens Company of Germany for their entry: “Enhanced waste-to-fuel conversion with a bioelectrochemically controlled autotrophic bioreactor”. Oil rich algae are considered by many companies to be an ideal domestic replacement feedstock for imported petroleum. Algae are also rich in protein and can be used as an animal feed after oil extraction. However, in conjunction with light intensity, the very low concentration of CO2 in the air (0.04%) can severely limit algal growth rates. Their invention used a mild voltage to bacteriologically accelerate the release of CO2 during the treatment of organic waste in order to facilitate the growth of green algae.  With their prize money, the WCU team plans to further develop this promising technology for overcoming limitations imposed by low CO2 concentrations. The silver medalist team worked under the guidance and direction of Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. John M. Pisciotta. Funding for initial device construction and testing was provided by a WCU College of Arts and Science Faculty Development Grant.
 
New BioFaculty: Fall 2014 Print

Sullivan-brown

 We welcome Dr. Jessica Sullivan-Brown as a new assistant professor in the Department of Biology. She received her Bachelor's degree in Biology from James Madison University in 2000 and her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from Princeton University in 2008.

Her research interests include studying the cellular and molecular mechanisms of embryonic development and how defects in development result in disease. As a postdoctoral researcher at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she studied the genetic components involved in neural tube defects, a common and severe type of birth defect.  

She will continue this research at West Chester University using both the worm Caenorhabditis elegans and the frog Xenopus laevis as model systems.  She is excited about teaching biology classes at West Chester University and working with students to develop independent research projects.  In addition to her interests in research and teaching, she enjoys communicating science to a broad audience through science outreach activities.

 
Careers in Biology Print

aibs logoAccording to the AIBS website "Pursuing a career in biology can be immensely rewarding and exciting. Studying biology teaches us to ask questions, make observations, evaluate evidence, and solve problems. Biologists learn how living things work, how they interact with one another, and how they evolve. They may study cells under a microscope, insects in a rainforest, viruses that affect human beings, plants in a greenhouse, or lions in the African grasslands. Their work increases our understanding about the natural world in which we live and helps us address issues of personal well being and worldwide concern, such as environmental depletion, threats to human health, and maintaining viable and abundant food supplies."

For more information visit the AIBS web site to learn about career opportunities, preparation, schools, job outlook, salaries, and much more!

 
Happy Birthday Darwin! Print

DarwinOn 12 February scientist around the world celebrate the birthday of Charles Darwin. Although Darwin's elegant theory of Organic Evolution can be summarized rather simply, it is arguably the most profound tenet of modern biology. Organic Evolution provides a solid, unifying framework for modern biology as well as a unifying thread for continued investigation.

The anniversary of Darwin's birth (February 12, 1809) is widely celebrated as Darwin Day throughout the scientific community. The special significance of Darwin Day has spawned numerous activities and special events throughout the world.

Darwin's book "On the Origin of Species" (first published 24 November 1859) is a seminal scientific publication and a landmark event in evolutionary biology.  In it, Darwin introduced the theory that populations change over time through the process of natural selection. Darwin's book provides evidence that the diversity of life arose through a branching pattern of evolution and common descent.

seemore....the Card....the Publications....the Dangerous Idea

 
Introducing a new Marine Science concentration Print

marinesciThe B.S. BIOLOGY: MARINE SCIENCE concentration provides the opportunity for interested students to obtain a strong educational background in marine biology and other topics in a field that stretches from marine organisms to biotechnology and even oceanography interests from the coastal waters to deep oceans.

The required core curriculum and electives will allow students the opportunity to draw on educational resources at West Chester University and Marine Field stations, such as the Wallops Island Marine Science Consortium, VA.

Course work emphasizes techniques in biological sciences, oceanography, chemistry, physics and mathematics. Field and laboratory courses form a strong foundation of this program and students are encouraged to engage in directed research projects or internships.

 
Online video for transfer students. Print
The Biology Department has created an online video for transfer students to view.  The video takes you through the Undergraduate Handbook and what courses you should select when, in order that you graduate in a timely manner.  Please view the video prior to your on campus meeting with the Assistant Chair.  Meeting with the Assistant Chair is mandatory in order that you have access to online scheduling for your classes.  You can schedule an appointment by contacting the Biology Department secretary.

....View the Video

 

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