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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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Neural Tube Research Funded Print

neural tube

Dr. Jessica Sullivan-Brown was awarded $10,000 by the West Chester University Foundation to study the roles of folic acid metabolism genes in neural tube development.

The neural tube is a precursor to the brain and spinal cord, and neural tube defects, like spina bifida, are common and severe congenital conditions. Dietary supplementation of folic acid decreases the incidence of neural tube defects; however, the effects of folic acid on neural tube development are unclear. Folic acid metabolism has many important cellular roles and is thought to be critical for rapidly growing tissues like the neural tube.

Graduate student Patricia Bianchino will be analyzing the RNA expression of folic acid metabolism genes in the neural tube to determine if expression is enriched in the neural tube.  She will be analyzing the expression of folic acid metabolism genes during neural tube development in the frog Xenopus laevis. Xenopus laevis is a commonly used model system for studying neural tube defects because neural tube development is similar to humans and many genes are conserved.

 
Biology Highlights 2015 Print

Dr. Frank Fish published the following: "Comparative analysis of the flexural stiffness of pinnipeds vibrissae” in the on-line journal PLOS ONE (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0127941) (2015).The article was co-authored with former WCU Biology undergraduate student Carly Ginter Summarell and Dr. Christopher Marshall of Texas A&M University.

Dr. John M Pisciotta and Mary C. Fullington presented a poster on the “History of Bacteriophage Therapy Against Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria” at the 115th General Meeting of the America Society for Microbiology (ASM) on May 30th in New Orleans, LA. At the meeting the ASM Council Policy Committee (CPC) voted to approve the West Chester University Microbiology Club as a formal Student Chapter of the ASM.

Dr. Josh Auld published the following: Pannell, J. R., J. R. Auld, Y. Brandvain, M. Burd, J. W. Busch, P.-O. Cheptou, J. K. Conner, E. Goldberg, A.-G. Grant, D. Grossenbacher, S.M. Hovick, B. Igic, S. Kalisz, T. Petanidou, A. M. Randle, R. Rubio de Casas, A. Pauw, J. C. Vamosi & A. A. Winn. 2015. The scope of Baker’s law. New Phytologist in press.

Dr. John M. Pisciotta (1) presented a talk titled “Use of electricity to direct microbial metabolite production”, (2) organized a workshop on “Metabolomics Research Using Bioelectrochemical Systems” and (3) co-chaired a research presentation session with Dr. Giulia Guerriero of the University of Naples Federico II, Italy at the 4th International Conference and Exhibition on Metabolomics & Systems Biology from April 27 – 29 in Philadelphia, PA.

Dr. Frank Fish published the following: “Biomechanical model of batoid skeletal structure and kinematics: implications of bio-inspired design” in Bioinspiration & Biomimetics  Volume 10: 046002 (2015). The paper was co-authored with Scott Russo, Silvia Blemker, and Hilary Bart-Smith of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering of the University of Virginia. Dr. Fish also published the article "Flow dynamics of whale tubercles” in the journal De Physicus 26(2): 22-24 (2015).

Dr. Frank Fish and WCU Biology graduate student William Gough co-authored a paper "Aquatic burst locomotion by hydroplaning and running in common eiders (Somateria mollissima)” that was published in the Journal of Experimental Biology 218: 1632-1638 (2015).

Dr. Jessica Sullivan-Brown was awarded $10,000 by the WCU Foundation to study folic acid metabolism during neural tube development. As part of the study, Biology Graduate student Patricia Bianchino will be analyzing RNA expression by folic acid metabolism genes during neural tube development in Xenopus laevis.

Dr. One Pagán published the following: Evidence of Nicotine-Induced, Curare-Insensitive, Behavior in Planarians. Pagán OR, Montgomery E, Deats S, Bach D, Baker D. Neurochem Res. 2015 Jan 23. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 25614180. In addition, Dr. Pagán had the following articles posted on-line: (1) A Toxic Tale: This Scorpion Can Make Two Kinds of Venom; (2) 13 Things You Didn't Know About Planarians ; (3) People Behind the science and (4) NTN 24 Science news (part 1part 2)

Dr. Jessica Schedlbauer published the following paper: Malone, S.L., C. Keough, C.L. Staudhammer, M.G. Ryan, W.J. Parton, P. Olivas, S.F. Oberbauer, J. Schedlbauer, & G. Starr. 2015. Ecosystem resistance in the face of climate change: a case study from the freshwater marshes of the Florida Everglades. Ecosphere 6(4):57. http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/ES14-00404.1

Dr. Frank Fish published the following paper: “Estimation of shape of the sea lion for hydrodynamic analysis. Response to ‘Cambered profile of a California sea lion’s body’.” Journal of Experimental Biology 218: 1271-1272 (2015). 

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) 

 
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.

 
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.

 
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

 
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!

 

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