Dr. Jesús Rivas, 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, the facilities allow students to enjoy modern laboratories and instrumentation.
- Mission of the Biology Program
- Admission Requirements
- Resources and Facilities
- Concentration in Biology Thesis
- MS in Natural Sciences, Concentration in Biology Non-Thesis
- Course Descriptions
Graduate Program Faculty
Sarah Corey-Rivas, Ph.D.
Justine Garcia, Ph.D.
Eric Griffin, Ph.D.
Carol Linder, Ph.D.
Sebastian Medina, Ph.D.
Ben Nelson, DVM
Jesus Rivas, Ph.D.
Maureen Romine, Ph.D.
Mission of the Biology Program
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.
- Statement of educational goals
- 2 letters of recommendation
- Transcripts from all previously attended regionally accredited institutions (3.0 GPA or higher). Will consider those who do not meet the GPA requirement.
- Have a major or minor in biology or related field (forestry, environmental sciences, etc)
- Transfer students: GRE but no minimum threshold, waived for NMHU graduates.
Deadlines: Rolling admissions
Admit for fall and spring terms
Mission of the Natural Sciences Master’s Program with a Concentration in Biology
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 (thesis option)
Required Core Courses: 19 credit hours
BIOL 6000 Research Methods in Life Science (3)
BIOL 6200 Advanced Topic in Biology* (2/2)
*Repeated for credit with different subject matter for a total of four credit hours
BIOL 6500 Grad Seminar in Life Science* (1/1/1/1)
*Repeated four times for a total of four credit hours
BIOL 5590 Fundamental Principles of Laboratory Safety (1)
INDP 6920 Research Ethics and Integrity (1)
Choose at least two of the following:
BIOL 6100 Environmental Physiology (3)
BIOL 6400 Advanced Molecular and Cell Biology (3)
BIOL 6300 Advanced Microbiology (3)
BIOL 6990 Thesis (1-7)
Choose from the following courses in consultation with your adviser. Other 5000- and 6000-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, Thesis Option: 12 hours
BIOL 5050 Bacterial Physiology (3)
BIOL 5150 Biotechnology (4)
BIOL 5230 Molecular & Cell Biology (4)
BIOL 5240 Molecular & Cell Biology Laboratory (1)
BIOL 5250 Marine Biology (4)
BIOL 5270 Immunology (3)
BIOL 5320 Vertebrate Physiology (4)
BIOL 5350 Selected Topics in Life Science (1-4)
BIOL 5550 Wildlife Diseases (3)
BIOL 5630 Nutrition (3)
BIOL 5700 Comparative Animal Behavior (4)
BIOL 5720 Human Evolutionary Behavior (3)
BIOL 5740 Tropical Ecology (3)
BIOL 5750 Field Tropical Ecology (1-4 VC)
BIOL 5760 Evolution (3)
BIOL 5770 Macroevolution (3)
BIOL 5800 Parasitology (4)
BIOL 5810 Develop Biology (4)
BIOL 5850 Endocrinology (4)
BIOL 5870 Histology (4)
BIOL 5880 Soil Ecology (4)
BIOL 5890 Molecular Evolution and Ecology (4)
BIOL 5980 Applied Biological Research (1-4 VC)
BIOL 5930 Field Botany (2)
BIOL 5940 Field Zoology (3)
CHEM 5810 Biochemistry 1 (3)
CHEM 5820 Biochemistry 2 (3)
M.S. Thesis Defense
Open seminar and oral defense
Thesis Degree Total: 34
Concentration in Biology (non-thesis option)
Choose at least 9 credits from the following:
BIOL 6000 Research Methods (3)
BIOL 6100 Environmental Physiology (3)
BIOL 6300 Advanced Microbiology (3)
BIOL 6400 Advanced Cellular Biology (3)
PSY 6080 Introduction to Neuropsychology (3)
BIOL 6890 Advanced Ecology (3)
Other required courses:
INDP 6920 Research Ethics (1)
BIOL 6500 Graduate Seminar (1)
BIOL 5590 Lab Safety (1)
BIOL 6200 Advanced Topics (2/2)
Elective Courses, Non-Thesis Option (16)
Choose courses in consultation with your adviser in qualifying graduate classes from the graduate catalog: related fields with mentor approval (up to 12 credits from non-biology fields).
Non-Thesis Degree Total: 32
Students in the non-thesis program will complete a comprehensive exit exam and compile a research portfolio in order to fulfill their degree requirements.
BIOL 5050. 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. Previous NMHU BIOL 505.
BIOL 5150. 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. Previous NMHU BIOL 515.
BIOL 5220. Plant Physiology (4); 3, 1 Var
The physiology of germination, growth, flowering, fruiting, and senescence in plants. Students interested in this course must be classified as a graduate student or permission of the instructor
BIOL 5230. 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. Previous NMHU BIOL 523.
BIOL 5240. Molecular & Cell Biology Laboratory (1); Sp
This is the laboratory course to accompany BIOL 4230/5230. This lab is required of students that have satisfied the Molecular & Cellular lecture requirement but have not taken the laboratory portion. Previous NMHU BIOL 524.
BIOL 5250. 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. Previous NMHU BIOL 525.
BIOL 5270. 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. Previous NMHU BIOL 527.
BIOL 5320. Vertebrate Physiology (4) 3, 2 Var
Fundamental life processes in the vertebrates are covered in this course. Previous NMHU BIOL 532.
BIOL 5350 – 6350. 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. Previous NMHU BIOL 535 – 635.
BIOL 5400. 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. Previous NMHU BIOL 540.
BIOL 5550. 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. Previous NMHU BIOL 555.
BIOL 5570. 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. Previous NMHU BIOL 557.
BIOL 5590. 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. Previous NMHU BIOL 559.
BIOL 5630. 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. Previous NMHU BIOL 563.
BIOL 5700. 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. Previous NMHU BIOL 570.
BIOL 5720. 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. Previous NMHU BIOL 572.
BIOL 5740. Tropical Ecology (3); Spa, 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. Previous NMHU BIOL 574.
BIOL 5750. 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. Previous NMHU BIOL 575.
BIOL 5760. Evolution (3); 3 Alt, Fa, Even
Evolution is studied in terms of molecular, Mendelian, and population genetics. Previous NMHU BIOL 576.
BIOL 5770. 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. Previous NMHU BIOL 577.
BIOL 5810. 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. Previous NMHU BIOL 581.
BIOL 5850. Endocrinology (4); 3, 2 Alt, Spa, 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 5320 or equivalent or permission of instructor. Previous NMHU BIOL 585.
BIOL 5870. 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 5320 or equivalent or permission of instructor. A special fee is charged. Previous NMHU BIOL 587.
BIOL 5880. Soil Ecology (4) 3, 2 Var
Soil as a habitat, including chemical and physical properties of soil, classification of soils, soil organisms (emphasis on soil fungi and bacteria), and nutrient cycling. Prerequisite: Graduate status or permission of the instructor.
BIOL 5890. 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. Previous NMHU BIOL 589.
BIOL 5930. 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. Previous NMHU BIOL 593.
BIOL 5940. Field Zoology (3); 0, 6 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. Previous NMHU BIOL 594.
BIOL 5980. 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. Previous NMHU BIOL 598.
BIOL 6000. 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. Previous NMHU BIOL 600.
BIOL 6100. 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. Previous NMHU BIOL 610.
BIOL 6200. Advanced Topic in Biology (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. Previous NMHU BIOL 620.
BIOL 6300. 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. Previous NMHU BIOL 630.
BIOL 6400. 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 5320 or equivalent or permission of instructor. Previous NMHU BIOL 640.
BIOL 6500. Graduate Seminar in Life Science (1); Fa, Sp
Seminar presentations on current topics in life science. May be repeated for credit. Previous NMHU BIOL 650.
BIOL 6890. 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. Previous NMHU BIOL 689.
BIOL 6900. Independent Study (1 – 4 VC); Fa, Sp, Su
Independent study arranged with an instructor. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. Previous NMHU BIOL 690.
BIOL 6920. Independent Research (1 – 4 VC); Fa, Sp, Su
Independent research arranged with an instructor. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. Previous NMHU BIOL 692.
BIOL 6990. Thesis (1 – 7 VC); Fa, Sp, Su
Individual research and writing in preparation of a graduate thesis. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. Previous NMHU BIOL 699.