Dr. Maureen Romine, Department Chair
Ivan Hilton Science Building, Room 324
The Department of Biology values teaching and research as equal and essential components of the education of our students and seeks to integrate research with teaching at every possible opportunity in the curriculum. Housed in the Ivan Hilton Science Center, students enjoy modern laboratories and instrumentation.
- Resources and Facilities
- Mission of the Biology Program
- Mission of the Natural Sciences Master’s Program with a Concentration in Biology
- Resources and Facilities
- MS in Natural Sciences
- Courses Description
Resources and Facilities
The department is housed in the new Ivan Hilton Science Center. Modern laboratory research spaces with state-of-the-art safety and teaching features provide students with hands-on, student-centered learning environments. Chemical instrumentation includes a high-field nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer, X-ray diffraction equipment, gas and liquid chromatographs, mass spectrometers, IR, UV, and visible spectrophotometers, and laser spectroscopy facilities. Students who major in chemistry are expected to become fully competent in the use of the instruments by the time they graduate. Students gain a practical perspective on chemistry through involvement with research projects. Graduates of the program are prepared to pursue exciting careers in industry and government, or advance to doctoral studies.
The mission of the Biology Program is to provide students with a high-quality education that includes experience with research and field projects. The program provides a scientific and technical background that empowers students to successfully pursue science and technology careers or proceed to advanced graduate studies. Faculty strive to make each student’s educational experience challenging and rewarding.
The Biology Program prides itself on its ability to place students into bioscience careers. Data suggest that our graduates are highly successful in being admitted to and completing medical, dental, and veterinary schools and graduate programs nationwide. The department attributes this success to intensive biology laboratory and field experiences with cutting-edge technology and instructors committed to individual student progress. Facilities include laboratories in physiology, microbiology, molecular biology, plant biology, and a greenhouse, as well as nearby field sites for ecological research. A computer laboratory with bioinformatics software is available for classroom and student use. Graduate students in biology are taught the practical use of common scientific instrumentation they will encounter in their careers.
The mission of the Master’s program in Biology is to provide graduate students with a high quality science education that includes experience with research and field projects. We offer a Thesis Track MS Program centered on an individual research project guided by a graduate faculty adviser and advisory committee and a Non-Thesis Track MS Program. Our Master’s Programs provide a scientific and technical background that empowers students to successfully pursue science and technology careers, or proceed to advanced graduate studies.
The Biology Department is situated in the Ivan Hilton Science Center. Our laboratory research is fully supported with modern and continuously updated facilities including molecular and cellular lab space and equipment, a teaching and research greenhouse, and organismal wet labs. Field research in evolution and ecology is comprehensively supported by a long-term research station at the Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge and the surrounding ecosystems of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and Great Plains. Our teaching labs are fully equipped for inquiry and research-based biology exploration.
Master of Science in Natural Sciences (MS)
Concentration in Biology
Required Core Courses: 19 credit hours
BIOL 600 Research Methods in Life Science (3)
BIOL 620 Advanced Topic in Biology* (2/2)
*Repeated for credit with different subject matter for a total of four credit hours
BIOL 650 Grad Seminar in Life Science* (1/1/1/1)
*Repeated four times for a total of four credit hours
BIOL 559 Fundamental Principles of Laboratory Safety (1)
INDP 692 Research Ethics and Integrity (1)
Choose at least two of the following:
BIOL 610 Environmental Physiology (3)
BIOL 640 Advanced Molecular and Cell Biology (3)
BIOL 630 Advanced Microbiology (3)
BIOL 689 Advanced Ecology (3)
BIOL 699 Thesis (1-7)
Non-thesis Option (requires approval of graduate committee chair):
BIOL 690 Independent Study (3)
BIOL 692 Independent Research (3)
Choose from the following courses in consultation with your adviser. Other 500- and 600-level courses offered in chemistry, forestry, geology, psychology, or other appropriate disciplines may be substituted for electives listed below with the approval of your biology adviser.Elective Courses,
Elective Courses, Thesis Option: 12 hours
Elective Courses, Non-thesis Option: 18 hours
BIOL 505 Bacterial Physiology (3)
BIOL 515 Biotechnology (4)
BIOL 523 Molecular & Cell Biology (4)
BIOL 524 Molecular & Cell Biology Laboratory (1)
BIOL 525 Marine Biology (4)
BIOL 527 Immunology (3)
BIOL 532 Vertebrate Physiology (4)
BIOL 535 Selected Topics in Life Science (1-4)
BIOL 555 Wildlife Diseases (3)
BIOL 563 Nutrition (3)
BIOL 570. Comparative Animal Behavior (4)
BIOL 572. Human Evolutionary Behavior (3)
BIOL 574. Tropical Ecology (3)
BIOL 575. Field Tropical Ecology (1-4 VC)
BIOL 576 Evolution (3)
BIOL 577. Macroevolution (3)
BIOL 580 Parasitology (4)
BIOL 581 Develop Biology (4)
BIOL 585 Endocrinology (4)
BIOL 587 Histology (4)
BIOL 588 Soil Ecology (4)
BIOL 589. Molecular Evolution and Ecology (4)
BIOL 598. Applied Biological Research (1-4 VC)
BIOL 593 Field Botany (2)
BIOL 594 Field Zoology (2)
CHEM 581 Biochemistry 1 (3)
CHEM 582 Biochemistry 2 (3)
M.S. Thesis Defense
Open seminar and oral defense
M.S. Non-thesis Exam and Presentation
Comprehensive exam (≥ 75% will be considered as a passing grade) and formal oral and written presentation of independent study or independent research
Degree Total: 34 – 40
Thesis: 34 credit hours
Non-thesis: 40 credit hours
BIOL 505. Bacterial Physiology (4); 3,1 Var
This course covers aspects of the physiology and molecular biology of bacteria. The genetics, molecular structure and functional aspects of prokaryotic cells will be discussed. Bacterial metabolism will be studied, including energy production and use by aerobic and anaerobic microorganism. Concepts of cellular growth, biosynthesis and molecular genetics will also be addressed.
BIOL 515. Biotechnology (4); 2,4 Var
Introduces students to latest techniques in biotechnology with hands-on laboratories in recombinant DNA technology, bioinformatics, and molecular biology techniques used in genetic engineering, industrial microbiology, and agricultural biotechnology. A special fee is charged.
BIOL 523. Molecular & Cell Biology (4); Sp
This course is a detailed exploration of basic cellular chemistry, macromolecules, cell structure and functions, and mechanisms and regulation of gene expression. The laboratory will explore eukaryotic cell biology using molecular biology techniques. Topics include DNA and protein structure and functions.
BIOL 524. Molecular & Cell Biology Laboratory (1); Sp
This is the laboratory course to accompany BIOL 423/523. This lab is required of students that have satisfied the Molecular & Cellular lecture requirement but have not taken the laboratory portion.
BIOL 525. Marine Biology (4); 3,2 Fa, 3 yr cycle
Major groups of marine invertebrates and algae are observed and studied in their natural habitats. Students participate in a 10-day field trip during the spring break, with a transportation and room charge to be determined at the time of the class. Enrollment limited to 16.
BIOL 527. Immunology (3); 3,0 Alt Fa even
This course studies diseases of vertebrates with emphasis on host-parasite interactions. The course includes principles of isolation, characterization, and control of pathogenic organisms as well as principles of vertebrate response to infection, antigen-antibody interaction, hypersensitivity, and auto-immune diseases.
BIOL 532. Vertebrate Physiology (4) 3, 2 Var
Fundamental life processes in the vertebrates are covered in this course.
BIOL 535 – 635. Selected Topics in Life Science (1 – 4 VC); Var
Specialized course in exploring topic(s) in life science. May be repeated with change of content.
BIOL 540. Conservation Biology (3); Alt, Sp, Odd
This course intends to familiarize the student with the major conservation issues of our time and encourage them to think critically about the different problems facing the planet as it moves into the future. This course analyzes the interrelationship between human activities and the environmental crisis and studies alternatives for the preservation of biodiversity. Through the use of case studies and primary literature, students will get a deeper understanding of the complexities associated with the conservation of biodiversity.
BIOL 555. Wildlife Diseases (3); Var
An introduction to viral bacterial, and fungal diseases found in wildlife species. The diagnosis and management of the disease are explored.
BIOL 557. Advanced Wildlife Management (3); Sp, 3 yr cycle
This course presents advanced wildlife management concepts and is intended for senior and master-level students that have already taken, or are currently enrolled, in ecology or wildlife management courses. This course addresses the different goals of wildlife management: control of exotic species, restoration of endangered ones and harvesting species via game hunting or commercial use. Students will be expected to master concepts of population control, community ecology, and methods used to analytically calculate population parameters.
BIOL 559. Fundamental Principles of Laboratory Safety (1); Fa
This is an introduction to the principles of laboratory safety including the proper use of emergency safety equipment and personal protective equipment, instructions for the safe handling, labeling, storage and disposal of chemicals, and safety in the biology and physics labs. Emphasis will be placed on preparing science educators in safety procedures.
BIOL 563. Nutrition (3); Var
This course is designed to provide students with an understanding of animal nutrition and appreciation of the importance of nutrition in health and economics. Subjects to be covered will include digestive anatomy, physiology, and nutrition of various animal species.
BIOL 570. Comparative Animal Behavior (4); 3/2 Fa, 3 yr cycle
This course presents the basics of animal behavior and is intended for senior and graduate students that have already taken, or are taking, classes in evolution and ecology. The course spans from basic genetics of behavior to the learning and environmental-based issues within a comparative and evolutionary context. Students must understand the mechanisms and evolution of animal behavior. The topics we will explore include the history of the scientific study of behavior; tools and approaches used to study behavior; and the interrelationship with its ecological and evolutionary aspects.
BIOL 572. Human Evolutionary Behavior (3); Sp, 3 yr cycle
This course intends to familiarize students with evolutionary forces that shape human behavior. This emergent field deals with evolutionary interpretation of human behavior including, group living, mating preference, kin and sexual conflicts, and habitat preference. Students are expected to understand and incorporate principles of evolutionary thinking in designing scientific questions and testable hypothesis about human behavior. This course is also called Evolutionary Psychology in other universities.
BIOL 574. Tropical Ecology (3); Sp, 3 yr cycle
This course presents the basics of tropical ecology and is intended for senior or graduate students that have already taken, or are taking, classes in evolution and ecology. The course spans from basic definitions of tropics geographically, how basic ecological processes work under the particular conditions in the tropics. The course emphasizes the aspect related to the high diversity in the tropics in a comparative approach drawing from the students’ experiences in temperate systems.
BIOL 575. Field Tropical Ecology (1-4 VC); Su, 3 yr cycle
This course presents the basics of tropical ecology and is intended for senior or graduate students that have already taken an upper level class of tropical ecology. This is a hands-on course where students are expected to learn the natural history of representative organisms of the system they study. The practical exam will involve knowledge of taxonomy of plants and animals as well as their ecology and role in the ecosystem. Students are expected to keep a field notebook with carefully noted observations of the ecosystem as well as notes of their field project.
BIOL 576. Evolution (3); 3 Alt, Fa, Even
Evolution is studied in terms of molecular, Mendelian, and population genetics.
BIOL 577. Macroevolution (3); Fa, 3 yr cycle
Macroevolution is the study of patterns and processes driving the diversity of species on earth. In this course, students will learn how patterns of phylogenetic diversity are distributed geographically, and through time, particularly in relation to conservation challenges in the 21st century. Students will analyze data to learn how processes of evolution influence diversity at and above the species level. Topics include: speciation, hybridization, diversity, coevolution, the extinction crisis, phylogenetics, phytogeography, biogeography, contemporary evolution and humans, and related topics.
BIOL 580. Parasitology (4); 2, 4 Fa, 3 yr cycle
An introduction to the taxonomy and life cycles of vertebrate parasites and pathogenic effects upon their animal hosts: protozoan, trematode, scythed, nematode, and acanthocephalan parasites of domestic animals and man. Prerequisites: BIOL 532 or equivalent or permission of instructor.
BIOL 581. Developmental Biology (4); 3, 2 Fa, 3 yr cycle
This course investigates cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate animal development. Topics include fertilization cleavage, gastrulation axis specification, organogenesis, morphogenesis, and stem cells. Laboratory sessions focus on experimental manipulations of early invertebrate and vertebrate embryos and emphasize student-designed research projects.
BIOL 585. Endocrinology (4); 3, 2 Alt, Sp, Even
This course reviews the embryological origin, histological structure, and function of the endocrine glands. Individual organs, the hormones that it produces, and how its function may be integrated at the systemic and cellular level will be examined. Endocrine topics are presented with “real world” examples and in a comparative manner among species. Prerequisites: BIOL 532 or equivalent or permission of instructor.
BIOL 587. Histology (4); 2, 4 Alt, Sp, Odd
This course covers microanatomy and functional organization of basic tissues: epithelium, connective tissue, cartilage, bone, muscle, and nerve. The course covers the histology of the blood and lymph vascular systems, glands, and secretion, especially in humans. Prerequisite: BIOL 532 or equivalent or permission of instructor. A special fee is charged.
BIOL 589. Molecular Evolution and Ecology (4); 3/2, Sp, 3 yr cycle
Molecular ecology explores the application of molecular techniques to attain a deeper understanding of ecological systems. Themes of evolutionary and ecological theory, behavioral ecology, genetics, phytogeography, and conservation genetics will be covered. Application-based content will include molecular identification techniques for individuals and species, landscape and population genetics, hybridization, genomic methods for ecology, and measuring adaptive variation. Technical applications will include data analysis using current software in the field.
BIOL 593. Field Botany (2); 1, 2 Var
Qualitative and quantitative techniques of community analysis, including floral sampling techniques for estimating population demographic patterns are covered in this course. The taxonomy and natural history of representative groups of land plants are studied in the field.
BIOL 594. Field Zoology (2); 1, 2 Alt, Fa, Odd
This course covers the qualitative and quantitative techniques of community analysis, including faunal sampling techniques for estimating population demographic patterns. The taxonomy and natural history of representative groups of land animals will be studied in a field setting.
BIOL 598. Applied Biological Research (1-4 VC); Fa, Sp
In this capstone course students participate in a research project where they have the opportunity to apply the results of their college preparation. Each class will conduct research toward a biological hypothesis or question chosen by the instructor. Each student will investigate a specific aspect of the broader question culminating with the preparation of a poster, presentation, and/or paper. Students will participate in an applied hands-on research project generating original data that they will compile, analyze, and communicate their results.
BIOL 600. Research Methods in Life Science (3); 3 Fa
This is an introduction to research methods in life science. Topics covered include libraries as research tools, introduction to statistical inference.
BIOL 610. Environmental Physiology (3); Sp
An advanced physiology course that integrates functional adaptations of organisms to aquatic and terrestrial environments. Physiological responses of organisms to environmental extremes and contamination will be discussed.
BIOL 620. Advanced Topic in Life Science (2); 2 Fa, Sp
This course is in-depth consideration of a specific topic of interest to faculty and the graduate student population. Subject matter will vary from semester to semester, and the course may be repeated for credit.
BIOL 630. Advanced Microbiology (3); 3, 0 Var
Advanced concepts of the physiology and molecular biology of microorganisms are covered. The genetics, molecular structure and functional aspects of prokaryotic cells will be discussed. Emphasis will be given to energy and biosynthetic metabolism in aerobic and anaerobic microbes. The role of prokaryotic organisms in global elemental cycles and how they sense and respond to their environment will also be covered.
BIOL 640. Advanced Molecular and Cell Biology (3); 3 Sp
This course covers advanced concepts of molecular and cellular biology. The genetics, molecular structure, and functional aspects of eukaryotic cells, both in isolation and as part of multicellular systems, will be discussed. Prerequisite: BIOL 532 Vertebrate Physiology or equivalent or permission of instructor.
BIOL 650. Graduate Seminar in Life Science (1); Fa, Sp
Seminar presentations on current topics in life science. May be repeated for credit.
BIOL 689. Advanced Ecology (3); Fa
This course is an integrative one that connects knowledge students are expected to have in different fields. This course provides students with a comprehensive theoretical tool kit–tools needed to better understand ecological process and to make predictions about future changes and their ecological consequences. Students will write a review paper about a topic of their choosing.
BIOL 690. Independent Study (1 – 4 VC); Fa, Sp, Su
Independent study arranged with an instructor. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.
BIOL 692. Independent Research (1 – 4 VC); Fa, Sp, Su
Independent research arranged with an instructor. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.
BIOL 699. Thesis (1 – 7 VC); Fa, Sp, Su
Individual research and writing in preparation of a graduate thesis. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.
Interdepartmental courses (InDp)
InDP 692 Research Ethics and Integrity (1); 1; FA
In this seminar course we will discuss contemporary issues in research ethics and integrity. We will examine relevant case material, and use this to outline the value conflicts inherent in research. We will spend a lot of time discussing grey areas of the field, where it is unclear whether or how the research should progress. Finally, we will try to develop a clear understanding how the federal guideline apply to the decisions made by Institutional Review Boards.