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Biological Sciences


The program leading to the Master of Science provides students with the opportunity to gain a solid foundation in modern interdisciplinary biology in preparation for careers as professional biologists in industry, government, or education and research organizations or for further professional training.

Areas of specialization available through the Department of Biological Sciences are:
• Wetlands Restoration
• Parasitology and Microbiology
• Morphological and Molecular Evolution
• Speciation and Ecological Genetics
• Nuclear structure and Function
• Plant Responses to Environmental Stressors
• Comparative & Ecological Physiology
• Cellular Mechanism in Skin
• Scientific Inquiry in Learning and Teaching
• Evolutionary Biology
• Exercise Physiology
• Endocrinology
• Freshwater Ecosystems
• Large-scale ecology, Conservation, and Forest Ecology

Instructional areas within the department consist of formal course work, laboratory research, and special topic seminars. In order to provide flexibility and an interdisciplinary approach, specific prerequisites for many graduate courses are not listed. However, areas of prior training are recommended for students in order to obtain maximum benefits. In addition, the other life science departments (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Anatomy and Physiology, Pharmacology and Toxicology) as well as the Departments of Chemistry, Geological Sciences, Mathematics and Statistics, Physics, Psychology, and the College of Engineering and Computer Science, currently offer courses that support the biology program. A graduate in biology, therefore, may receive exposure to subjects in the field of specialization, in related biological fields, and in supporting disciplines outside the department.

Students may pursue an M.S. degree in biology through one of two options. Option One requires the submission and oral defense of a thesis based on original research performed while enrolled as a graduate student at the university. Although there is little specific course work required for this option, candidates will be advised to enroll in graduate-level courses deemed appropriate for successful understanding of the research to be undertaken. Option Two is a course work option that requires the successful completion of 45 quarter credits of graduate-level course work, including a critical literature review, a laboratory rotation, and a final oral examination. The desired option can be elected by students only after consultation with the chair of the graduate committee. Consideration for electing the appropriate option must be given to the availability of research topics and advisors and to the student’s research and educational interests.

All candidates, regardless of the option chosen, are required to obtain a major advisor and an advisory committee. The advisory committee will help formulate a study program, provide counseling, and evaluate student progress. If a student is uncertain of a major field of interest or of an appropriate option, the department graduate committee will assign a temporary advisor who will function in place of an advisory committee until the student selects an option and is accepted by an advisory professor.

All candidates must meet requirements for the Master of Science degree defined in the section Degree Requirements. They must, in addition, meet the specific requirements of the option chosen.

For additional information on the department and its programs, you might wish to consult our web site at http://biology.wright.edu.

Environmental Sciences Core
The requirements for the Master of Science degree in biology are quite flexible, and include a thesis and nonthesis option. The department also permits a student to pursue an advanced course of study that ensures an interdisciplinary environmental perspective. Both the thesis and nonthesis M.S. degree options in biological sciences can be specialized to provide an interdisciplinary environmental prospective. For this option, a student’s advisory committee must include a member from outside the department, e.g., a member of the geology or chemistry faculty. And, in addition to meeting the general requirements for the Master of Science degree in biology, course requirements for the environmental core include:

• Environmental chemistry
• Geologic and environmental applications of geographic information systems
• Environmental statistics
• Risk assessment
• Environmental sciences seminar
• Two environmental sciences electives outside the biology department

A student completing these requirements will receive an M.S. degree in environmental sciences.


To meet the minimum requirement for admission to the graduate program in biological sciences, applicants must fulfill the requirements for admission established by the School of Graduate Studies. In addition, a bachelor’s degree in the biological or biochemical sciences including course work in organic chemistry, physics, and calculus is generally required. Admission preference is given to students with a grade point average of 3.0 or better on a 4.0 grading scale. Letters of recommendation and GRE General Test scores are also used in evaluating students for admission.
MCAT and LSAT scores can substitute for GRE scores.

Degree Requirements

Students who are candidates for the Master of Science degree in biology must meet the following requirements:

1. The candidate must complete a minimum of 45 quarter credits. A maximum of 12 credits of graduate courses may be transferred from other institutions. At least 30 quarter hours must be at the 600-800 level in biological sciences and related fields.

2. One course in scientific or technical writing (such as BIO 608 or ENG 533 and 544) is required.

3. Candidates must be registered in the quarter in which they defend their thesis.

4. The candidate must maintain a 3.0 cumulative average; no more than 9 credit hours of “C” grades may be applied to the degree.

5. The degree options have the following requirements:

Option 1:

a. Candidates must complete at least four graduate seminars. Three of the four graduate seminars must be offered by the Department of Biological Sciences faculty as BIO 800.

b. The College of Science and Mathematics requires a Program of Study to be filed with the School of Graduate Studies by the start of the third quarter of enrollment for full-time students, and by the time 18 hours have been taken for part-time students.

c. Candidates must submit an approved thesis proposal with the Graduate Committee by the end of the third quarter. This proposal should be prepared in consultation with the student’s advisory committee. Students who have not done so will not be permitted to continue enrollment in BIO 899 (Graduate Research). Upon acceptance of the thesis proposal by the advisory committee, one copy is filed in the graduate student’s file. Research may deviate from the original proposal; however, suitable supplementary information must be submitted to the advisory committee.

d. Candidates must submit and orally defend a thesis based on original research performed while enrolled as a graduate student at the university.

Option 2:

a. Candidates must complete 45 credit hours of graduate course work. For all Option 2 students, except those in the Environmental Sciences program, a maximum of 12 credits can be earned in departments other than life science departments.

b. Four graduate seminars are required, two of which must be taken in the Department of Biological Sciences.

c. Candidates must form an advisory committee and file a Program of Study before the end of their third quarter (or 25 credit hours).

d. Candidates must complete 4–6 credit hours of BIO 699 (Special Problems in Biology). A copy of their written report must be put in the student’s department file. A maximum of 6 credit hours of BIO 699 and BIO 899 together can apply to degree requirements.

e. Candidates must write a critical review (BIO 799) and pass an oral exam administered by the advisory committee upon completion of course work. A maximum of 6 credit hours of BIO 799 can apply to degree requirements.

Related Graduate Programs

In addition to the Master of Science degree in Biological Sciences, faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences participate in several other graduate programs. The department supports The Interdisciplinary Master of Science in Teaching (M.S.T.) program offered by the College of Science and Mathematics. Several faculty in the Department are affiliated with the Master of Science degree in Microbiology and Immunology. Faculty also supervise graduate students in two doctoral programs leading to the Ph.D. degree: one program is in Environmental Sciences; the other is in Biomedical Sciences. See elsewhere in the graduate catalog for descriptions of these four programs.


The Department of biological Sciences is housed in two buildings, the Biological Sciences building and the Matthew O. Diggs Laboratory for Life Science Research. The Biological Sciences building was completed in 1975 and presently is being renovated. It contains approximately 100,000 square feet and houses facilities of the Biological Sciences; Biomedical Sciences; Clinical Laboratory Science; and the Neuroscience, Cell Biology, and Physiology. The new Matthew O. Diggs III Laboratory for Life Science Research, which opened in November 2007 is at the forefront of "green" building design. The facility is one of the first university research laboratories in Ohio registered under Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

The LEED Green Building Rating System(TM) is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability through a variety of energy-saving methods. A research laboratory typically consumes four times more energy than a normal classroom building, but the new facility will use far less energy than most facilities of its kind.

The green building technologies in the 45,000-square-foot building include:
1. A 30 percent reduction in water use by installing waterless urinals, low- flow lavatories and other plumbing fixtures;
2. A reduction in "heat island effect" through an Energy Star roof that reflects more sunlight back into the atmosphere using fewer dark surfaces;
3. Day lighting to 75 percent of the building through vertical glazing, which accepts more winter solar heat;
4. Sunshading devices that help manage solar heat gain;
5. Low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emitting adhesives and sealants, paints, carpet and composite wood are used throughout;
6. At least 75 percent of the waste from construction and demolition will be recycled or salvaged, instead of sent to landfills and incinerators;
7. Reduced energy consumption through heat recovery, efficient HVAC equipment and increased insulation;
8. Continuous measurement and verification of energy consumption.

The department maintains classrooms and research laboratories with specialized instrument rooms, cold rooms, constant temperature rooms, animal rooms, a greenhouse, radioisotope laboratories, an electron microscopy center including complete darkroom capability. Major items of available research equipment include liquid scintillation counter; amino acid analyzer; infrared, visible, and ultraviolet spectrophotometers; spectrofluorometer; DNA and protein chip technology; flow cytometer; confocal microscope; greenhouse and experimental garden; field and aquatic sampling gear; preparative ultracentifuges; nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer; mass spectrometer; a wide range of instruments for light microscopy; transmission and scanning electron microscopes; preparative and analytical chromatography instruments; specialized cell and tissue culture facilities, and facilities for recombinant DNA research; and computer services, A biological preserve plus additional wooded areas on campus totaling 200 acres provide opportunities for field-oriented research and teaching experiences. Nearby natural areas include an extensive wetlands and a wide variety of aquatic habitats.

The department has excellent working relationships with other departments on campus, with the scientific complex of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and with several facilities that are affiliated with the Wright State University School of Medicine.


James P. Amon, (emeritus) microbial ecology, including molecular biology, cell biology, and electron microscopy
Larry G. Arlian, (emeritus) medical entomology, immunoparasitology, physiology
Donald Cipollini, Jr., plant physiological ecology
David L. Goldstein (chair), comparative physiology of osmoregulation, physiological ecology, ornithology
Barbara E. Hull, cell biology, histology, electron microscopy, reconstruction of skin in vitro
Dan E, Krane, molecular and genome evolution, human population substructuring
James R. Runkle, plant ecology, general ecology

Associate Professors
Scott E. Baird, developmental genetics
Mark D. Mamrack, cellular biochemistry, signal transduction, carcinogenesis
Mill W. Miller, (Graduate Program Director) cellular and developmental biology/nuclear transport
Roberta L. Pohlman, exercise physiology
James H. Tomlin, science education, learning theory
Yvonne Vadeboncoeur, aquatic ecology

Assistant Professors
Volker Bahn, large-scale ecology & conservation biology
Paula Bubulya, nuclear structure & gene expression
Katherine Excoffon, virology & cell biology
Lisa Kenyon, scientific inquiry in learning and teaching
Jeff Peters, molecular ecology
Tom Rooney, conservation biology
Melissa Schen, scientific reasoning skills as it pertains to undergraduates
John Stireman, evolutionary biology

Financial Assistance

Graduate teaching assistantships (GTA) and tuition scholarships are available on a competitive basis, and graduate research assistantships (GRA) may be available by arrangement with individual faculty. These appointments carry a waiver of most tuition and instructional fees for both residents and nonresidents, and GTA and GRA appointments also include a stipend. Appointments are made for the academic year and may be renewed for a second year. Additional assistantship support may be available for the summer quarter. See the “Financial Assistance, Fees, and Tuition” section of the graduate catalog for details.

Graduate School
E344 Student Union
Voice: (937) 775-2976
Fax: (937) 775-2453
E-mail: wsugrad@wright.edu
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