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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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.
Biology Highlights 2014 Print

Dr. Frank Fish presented two invited seminars for the Goldstein Lecture Series to the Technion Autonomous Systems Program at the Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel on March 4 and 5, 2014. (1) “Lessons from animals and the development of a highly maneuverable AUV” and (2) “Biomimetics: Determining engineering opportunities from nature for efficient AUV propulsion.” 

Biology Undergraduate Student Joseph R. Mossman and Dr. John M. Pisciotta made the following presentation "Antiviral Water Filtration System" at the American Society for Microbiology’s annual Biodefense and Emerging Diseases Research Meeting in Washington DC on January 29th, 2014. 

Dr. Oné R. Pagán published the following book "The First Brain The Neuroscience of Planarians". 2014. Oxford University Press.

Dr. Frank Fish, Paul Legac, Terrie Williams, and Tim Wei published: “Measurement of hydrodynamic force generation by swimming dolphins using bubble DPIV” in the Journal of Experimental Biology 217(2): 252-260 (2014). 

Dr. Frank Fish and Dr. John T. Beneski published the book chapter “Evolution and bio-inspired design: Natural limitations” in Biologically Inspired Design: Computational Methods and Tools. 2014. (A. Goel, D. A. McAdams and R. B. Stone, eds.), Springer-Verlag, London, pp. 287-312. 

Biology Graduate Student Steven Bukowski and Dr. Josh R. Auld published the following article: Bukowski, S.J. & J.R. Auld. 2014. The effects of calcium in mediating the inducible morphological defenses of a freshwater snail, Physa acuta.  Aquatic Ecology 48:85-90.  

Dr. Josh R. Auld published the following articles: (1) Murren, C.J., H.J. Maclean, S.E. Diamond, U.K. Steiner, M.A. Heskel, C.A. Handelsman, C.K. Ghalambor, J.R. Auld, H.S. Callahan, D.W. Pfennig, R.A. Relyea, C.D. Schlichting & J.G. Kingsolver. 2014. Evolutionary change in continuous reaction norms. American Naturalist in press; and (2) Willis, C.G., C. Baskin, J. Baskin, J.R. Auld, D.L. Venable, J. Cavender-Bares, K. Donohue & R. Rubio de Casas. 2014. The evolution of seed dormancy: environmental cues, evolutionary hubs, and diversification of the seed plants.  New Phytologist in press.

Dr. Frank Fish presented the followng invited seminars: (1) "Biomimetic applications from the natural technologies of whales, at the STEM Education Series – Innovative Concepts in Engineering Design (ICED-T)" held at Bentley Systems in Lionville, PA on February 19, 2014; (2) "Biomimetic designs: Advances in technologies based on marine megafauna" at the Mechanical Engineering Department of Clarkson University on February 7, 2014; and (3) “Biomimetic applications from the natural technologies of whales for efficient propulsion” as the EvMorph Speaker of the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy of the University of Chicago January 23, 2014. 

Dr. Fish made the following presentations at the  Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, Austin, TX, January 3-8, 2014: (1) “The ‘dog paddle’: Stereotypic swimming gait pattern in different dog breeds” with co-author Nicole DiNenno (biology undergraduate); (2) “Body density of batoids in relation to ecology: Morphological control of buoyancy” with co-authors Janet Fontanella (biology undergraduate), Molly Gabler (biology graduate student) and, Medhi Saadat of the University of Virginia; (3) “Pectoral fin muscular architecture of batoids in relation to ecological lifestyle” with Molly Gabler (biology graduate student) and Dr. David Coughlin; and (4) “Aquatic burst locomotion by hydroplaning and running in Common Eiders (Somateria mollissima)” with William Gough and Stacy Farina of Cornell University. 

Cool Previous Biology Highlights (2013) 

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!

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

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

WCU Recruitment Campaign Print

The Department of Biology is featured prominently in WCU's new recruitment campaign!



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