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

 
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.

 
Biology Highlights 2016 Print

Biology undergraduate Cheryl Mauch, Dr. Jessica Schedlbauer, and Biology undergraduate Lukas Bernhardt presented "Baseline soil pH and texture at the Mount Cuba Center’s experimental reforestation experiment, Hockessin, DE" at the 2016 Virtual Poster Showcase, American Geophysical Union, March 30-April 28.

Biology Undergraduate Student Nicole Bishop was awarded a grant from the WCU College of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Fund to support her project, “Effects of Lead Toxicity on Hatching Success and Embryonic Development in a Freshwater Snail (Physa acuta).”

Dr. Frank Fish hosted program review meeting for the Office of Naval Research (ONR)-Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) on “Bio-inspired flexible propulsors for fast, efficient swimming: What physics are we missing?” at West Chester University, PA on March 8-9, 2016.

Dr. Frank Fish and biology graduate student William Gough presented a talk “Morphological design and flexibility in the flukes of cetaceans” at the ONR-MURI Program Review Meeting: Hydrodynamics of non-traditional propulsion bio-inspired flexible propulsors for fast, efficient swimming: What physics are we missing? held at West Chester University, PA on March 8-9, 2016.

Dr. Frank Fish made a presentation “Natural swimmers and the development of advanced biomimetic technologies” to the 7th grade class of the Village Community School in New York City, NY on March 10, 2016.

Dr. Frank Fish has his research on the Humpback whale tubercles and Mantabot on exhibit in “The Machine Inside: Biomechanics” that is currently at the Boston Museum of Science. The exhibit, which was created by the Field Museum, Chicago, will be on display at various location through 2020. 

Dr. Jessica Schedlbauer published the following: Schedlbauer, J.L., L. Nadolny, & J. Woolfrey. 2016. Practising conservation biology in a virtual rainforest world. Journal of Biological Education DOI:10.1080/00219266.2015.1117510

Dr. Frank Fish published a book chapter titled “Hydrodynamics” in the book  Marine Mammal Physiology: Requisites for Ocean Living  from CRC Press (2016). The chapter was co-authored with Dr. Jeremy Goldbogen of Stanford University and Jean Potvin of St. Louis University. 

Dr. Frank Fish presented the paper “Flexibility of the flukes of free-swimming cetaceans” at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology that was held in Portland, OR on January 3-7, 2016. The paper was co-authored with WCU graduate students Will Gough and Kelsey Tennett, WCU, undergraduate student Danielle Adams, and Dr. Judy St Leger of SeaWorld. Also at the meeting, Dr. Fish co-authored the papers “Assessment of swimming records for thunniform propulsors”, which was presented by WCU undergraduate student Danielle Adams and co-authored with WCU undergraduate student Griffin Lewis, “ Physical properties of the sub-dermal fibrous layers in cetacean tail flukes”, which was presented by WCU graduate student Will Gough, “Kinematics of terrestrial locomotion of northern elephant seals”, which was presented by WCU graduate student Kelsey Tennett and co-authored with Daniel Costa of the University of California Santa Cruz, and “Effects of fluke flexibility on flow modulation in orca’s steady swimming”, which was presented by Yan Ren and co-authored with Dr. Haibo Dong of the University of Virginia.

Cool Previous Biology Highlights (2015)

 
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.
 
 
Bio 387 - Invertebrate Zoology Print

Bio387During the summer of 2015, students from 5 PASSHE Universities (Millersville, West Chester, East Stroudsburg, Kutztown and Lock Haven) experienced the invertebrate fauna of the Chincoteague Bay Field Station (formerly Wallops Island Marine Science Consortium).

The course (BIO 387 – Invertebrate Zoology), was instructed by Dr. S. Anne Boettger of West Chester University. Invertebrate Zoology is the study of animals lacking a backbone, a group that includes more than 90% of all animal species. As part of the course students gained first hand experience with a variety of large equipment that included the RV Parker (a research vessel that was used to examine the Atlantic marine environments on and off the continental shelf), the Flatfish and the Mollusk (two shallow water monitors that were used within Chincoteague Bay), and sea kayaks.

The location of Chincoteague Bay Field Station provides easy access to all environments along the Eastern Shore, the Chesapeake Bay and the deeper waters of the Atlantic Coast including sandy beaches, mudflats, rocky environments, salt marshes and seagrass beds. In addition, its location allowed visits to educational resources such as VIMS (Virginia Institute of Marine Science), industrial sites (shedding houses for softshell crabs and oyster/clam farms) and natural preserves (including Indian River Inlet, DE; Assateague Island, VA; Savage Neck Beach, VA and Kiptopeke State Park, VA).

Cool....Bio 387 Image Gallery

 
Can you identify these Birds? Print
birds
 
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! 
 

 
New BioFaculty: Fall 2015 Print
donze
We welcome Dr. Teresa Donze-Reiner as a new assistant professor in the Department of Biology. She received her Bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln (UNL) in 2004, her Master’s degree in Biology in 2006 from the University of Nebraska - Kearney, and her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Microbiology from UNL in 2011.
 
Dr. Donze-Reiner’s research interests include understanding how plants defend themselves against insect pests and pathogens, including viruses. She has worked on many model plant systems such as Arabidopsis, soybeans, switchgrass, and sorghum to identify key genes that are necessary for resistance against biotic stresses. As a postdoctoral researcher at the UNL, she studied the defense response of susceptible and resistant switchgrass genotypes against greenbug aphids infestations. She also worked on understanding gender development in buffalograss, a common turf grass.
 
She will continue this research at West Chester University using both switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) and buffalograss (Bouteloua dactyloides) as model systems.  She is excited about teaching Genetics and other 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 doing educational outreach activities with the surrounding community and K-12 education.
 
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.

 
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.

 

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