Nov 28, 2023  
2017-2018 Catalog 
2017-2018 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Department of Biological Sciences

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Richard B. Aronson, Ph.D., Head

Director, Graduate Programs
David J. Carroll, Ph.D.

Director, Undergraduate Programs
Andrew G. Palmer, Ph.D.

Degree Programs

Biochemistry: Biology Emphasis, B.S.  
Biological Sciences - Aquaculture, B.S.  
Biological Sciences - Biomedical Science (Premedical), B.S.  
Biological Sciences - Biotechnology, M.S.  
Biological Sciences - Cell and Molecular Biology, M.S.  
Biological Sciences - Ecology, M.S.  
Biological Sciences - General Biology, B.S.  
Biological Sciences - Genomics and Molecular Genetics, B.S.  
Biological Sciences - Marine Biology, B.S.  
Biological Sciences - Marine Biology, M.S.  
Biological Sciences - Marine Conservation, B.S.  
Biological Sciences, Ph.D.  
Biomathematics, B.S.  
Conservation Technology, M.S.  

Undergraduate Minor Program

Biology Minor  

Richard B. Aronson, Ph.D., coral reefs, climate change, paleoecology, marine ecology, Antarctica.

Mark B. Bush, Ph.D., paleoecology, biogeography, Amazonian speciation, tropical conservation, wetland ecosystems.

Michael S. Grace, Ph.D., molecular control of photoreceptors in the retina and nonretinal photoreceptors of the brain, pineal and parietal organ.

Julia E. Grimwade, Ph.D., DNA replication, DNA-protein interactions, bacterial cell cycle control, antibiotic discovery.

Alan C. Leonard, Ph.D., molecular biology, microbial growth control, DNA replication, superhelicity and methylation as regulators of DNA bioreactivity, DNA-protein interactions.

Ralph G. Turingan, Ph.D., vertebrate functional morphology, community structure of fishes, ecological morphology of feeding systems.

Robert Van Woesik, Ph.D., population and community ecology of coral reefs, emphasis on mechanisms underlying large scale patterns in coral community structure and diversity.

Associate Professors
David J. Carroll, Ph.D., molecular basis of signal transduction at fertilization.

Charles D. Polson, Ph.D., application and development of biotechnology in undergraduate education, nucleic acid analysis, electrophoretic separation.

Jonathan M. Shenker, Ph.D., finfish aquaculture, biology and ecology of early life stages of fishes, environmental toxicology.

Shaohua Xu, Ph.D., protein structure, function and relationship to osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s, molecular imaging, nanoscience.

Assistant Professors
Toby Daly-Engel, Ph.D., molecular ecology, reproductive evolution, elasmobranch biology (sharks, skates, rays).

Tristan J. Fiedler, Ph.D., research administration and federal government relations, genomics, bioinformatics, molecular and cellular biology; genetics, marine biology, fisheries.

Spencer E. Fire, Ph.D., marine mammalogy, wildlife toxicology.

Eric Guisbert, Ph.D., biochemistry and molecular biology of the heat-shock response in animals.

Kenia P. Nunes Bruhn, Ph.D., vascular physiology, hypertension, diabetes, erectile dysfunction.

Andrew G. Palmer, Ph.D., host–pathogen interactions, plant–plant signaling, chemical biology.

Glenn A. Miller, Ph.D., coastal ecology.

Research Faculty
Lisa K. Moore, Ph.D.

Professor Emerita
Eleanor E. Storrs, Ph.D.

Professors Emeriti
Arvind M. Dhople, Ph.D.; Charles E. Helmstetter, Ph.D.; John G. Morris, Ph.D.; Richard L. Turner, Ph.D.; Russell C. Weigel, Ph.D.; Gary N. Wells, Ph.D.


Biology is an expansive discipline incorporating elements from across the natural sciences to answer fundamental questions about life. The department spans the breadth of biology, with experts in ecology, biochemistry, physiology, marine biology, toxicology and molecular biology. The diversity of expertise and research creates an environment in which students can develop skills, follow passions and prepare for the future. Coursework emphasizes the development of technical skills in both laboratory and field settings. From geographic information systems (GIS) to real-time PCR and electron microscopy, students have the opportunity to master important technologies to ensure job-readiness on graduation. Acquiring professional communication skills is a priority, using a variety of formats (posters, oral presentations, wikis, videos) for student’s work. Students are encouraged to participate in summer field-biology courses to locales that include Cuba, the Galapagos, Peru, Puerto Rico and the Appalachian Mountains.

Research is an integral part of the department, extending beyond faculty laboratories to the classroom and field courses. Students learn to design and run experiments and to analyze and interpret their data. Undergraduates are strongly encouraged to engage in the active faculty-directed research programs for course credit. Below is a brief summary of faculty research interests. More information about department activities may be found at and

Minor Program

A minor in biology is offered through the department. A complete policy statement regarding minors can be found in the Academic Overview  section. Information about current minor offerings is available through the individual colleges/departments.


Biochemistry, molecular biology and molecular genetics: Molecular, biochemical and chemical approaches are used by student and faculty researchers to address fundamental and applied questions. Current areas of research include cell growth and division, signal transduction, protein folding, stress responses, chemical signaling and vision. Research directly or indirectly addresses medically relevant issues such as bacterial pathogenesis, fertility, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Marine biology: The marine biology faculty have active research programs in marine ecology, paleoecology, functional morphology, evolution and aquaculture. Remote sensing, laboratory and field investigations explore the effects of climate change and disease on coral reefs. Other research includes adaptations of fish to changing environmental conditions, recruitment patterns of sportsfish and the effectiveness of marine protected areas.

Molecular marine biology: Collaborative research among diverse faculty and students fosters the application of molecular techniques to topics such as the genetic identification of fishery populations, adaptations to climate change, the response of marine organisms to pollution, genetic engineering in aquaculture and marine diseases.

Ecology and conservation biology: Research activities include studies of past and future climate change, paleobotany, paleoecology, biogeography, biodiversity, macroevolution, freshwater and marine aquaculture, coral reef ecology and fisheries. Study locations range from local to international, including the Indian River Lagoon, the Yucatan Peninsula, Pacific Panama, the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Galapagos Islands, Micronesia, Peru and Antarctica.

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