• Members of the Biology Department before the first faculty meeting of Fall 2022.

    Members of the Biology Department before the first faculty meeting of Fall 2022.

  • WCU Biology students Janelle Pedroza, Matt Fuchs, Barbara Bowen, and Miranda Davies collect stream sediment, water, and macroinvertebrates with Dr. Fork at Plum Run in West Chester.

    WCU Biology students Janelle Pedroza, Matt Fuchs, Barbara Bowen, and Miranda Davies collect stream sediment, water, and macroinvertebrates with Dr. Fork at Plum Run in West Chester.

  • Costa Rica

    WCU Biology students at the La Paz waterfall in Costa Rica, while on a study abroad field course.

  • Undergraduates in the Chandler lab (Matt Desko, Samantha Silverman, Jessica Bickel, and Carolyne Schiebel) spent their summer in the woods collecting forest composition and structure data for a spotted lanternfly study.

    Undergraduates in the Chandler lab (Matt Desko, Samantha Silverman, Jessica Bickel, and Carolyne Schiebel) spent their summer in the woods collecting forest composition and structure data for a spotted lanternfly study.

  • WCU Biology students learning about natural lands management at Delaware’s Mount Cuba Center.

    WCU Biology students learning about natural lands management at Delaware’s Mount Cuba Center.

  • WCU Biology students at Fuerte Caprón in Puerto Rico’s Guánica Dry Forest during a field course.

    WCU Biology students at Fuerte Caprón in Puerto Rico’s Guánica Dry Forest during a field course.

News

 

 

News Archive

2022 Highlights

Dr. Manu Ramalho co-authored a paper: “Identifying the Role of Elevation, Geography, and Species Identity in Structuring Turtle Ant (Cephalotes Latreille, 1802) Bacterial Communities” in the journal Microbial Ecology (2022)with Leland C. Graber (graduate student),  Scott Powell & Corrie S. Moreau. Check it out here: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00248-022-02128-z

Dr. Manu Ramalho co-authored a paper: “Impact of native vegetation cover near crops on the occurrence and molecular diversity of fire ants”   in the journal Agricultural and Forest Entomology (2022) with Victor H. Nagatani, Juliana M. C. Alves, Rodrigo F. Souza, Débora Y. Kayano, Nathalia S. Silva, Otávio G. M. Silva (all undergraduate and graduate students), Ricardo Harakava, Odair C. Bueno, Alexandre W. S. Hilsdorf and Maria S. C. Morini. Check it out here: https://resjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/afe.12545

Dr. Manu Ramalho gave a talk  at La Salle University, Philadelphia on October, 13th, 2022. The talk was titled "Symbiotic interactions shape animal biology and promote biodiversity". In addition to talking about the ant microbiome, she also talked about inclusion, diversity and outreach in the STEM fields.

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, was interviewed for a BBC Crowdscience – podcast “Why are fish fish-shaped.” The podcast is available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3ct3j7g 

Dr. Eric Sweet co-authored the following manuscript: Sweet, E. S., Lange, K. R., Fenner, M. R., Tseng, C. Y., Akum, B. F., & Firestein, B. L. (2022). Cypin binds to tubulin heterodimers and microtubule protofilaments and regulates microtubule spacing in developing hippocampal neurons. Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, 103783.

Dr. Manu Ramalho gave a talk at Embrapa (Brazil, RS) on October 4th, 2022. The talk was titled "Challenges of a women scientist after/during the pandemic era".  She talked about inclusion, diversity and outreach in the STEM fields.

Sarah Kerr (biology graduate student) with co-author Frank Fish, biology, published the paper “Biomechanical energetics of terrestrial locomotion in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) in the Journal of Experimental Biology 225: Jeb244163 (2022).

Dr. Jennifer Chandler received a $10,000 grant from United Plant Savers for her scientific outreach proposal titled “Reimagination and development of a dynamic web resource for wild American ginseng history, science, and conservation.” Dr. Chandler and her colleagues used the funds to create a web resource (www.wildamericanginseng.org) that translates complicated ginseng science to a broad scientific and non-scientific audience.”

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, was an invited speaker for a panel titled “Inspired by Nature: How sharks and marine mammals are inspiring designs of the future.” The event was hosted by the National Geographic Society and Ocean Exploration Trust. The event was broadcast live from the ship E/V Nautilus on September 27 (2022).

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, presented an invited seminar “The creation of innovative technology based on bio-inspired design from marine animals” to the Sigma Xi student group of the Indian Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University on September 26 (2022).

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, presented an invited seminar titled “Biomimetic AUVs Based on Charismatic Marine Fauna” to the Moss Landing Marine Labs of San Jose State University on September 22, 2022.

Dr. Manu Ramalho gave a talk at City College of New York on 29 September 2022. The talk was titled "Symbiotic interactions shape animal biology and promote biodiversity". In addition to talking about the ant microbiome, she also talked about inclusion, diversity and outreach in the STEM fields.

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, presented an invited presentation, “Biomimetic technologies for improved aquatic performance”, at the Marine Technology Society meeting on Bioinspired Marine Systems Seminar, Sensing and Hydrodynamic Performance of Underwater Swimmers that was held at the Potomac Science Center, Woodbridge, VA, on September 9 (2022).

Dr. Megan Fork published a manuscript titled "Urbanization and stream ecology: Moving the bar on multidisciplinary solutions to wicked urban stream problems" (2022, Freshwater Science). K. G. Hopkins, J. Chappell, R. Hawley, S. S. Kaushal, B. Murphy, B. Ríos-Touma, and A. H. Roy. were co-authors. DOI: 10.1086/721470

Dr. Megan Fork co-wrote a manuscript titled "Community-powered urban stream restoration: A vision for sustainable and resilient urban ecosystems" (2022, Freshwater Science). Mateo Scoggins led the manuscript and D. B. Booth, T. Fletcher, A. Gonzalez, R. L. Hale, R. J. Hawley, A. H. Roy, E. E. Bilger, N. Bond, M. J. Burns, K. G. Hopkins, K. H. Macneale, E. Martí, S. K. McKay, M. W. Neale, M. J. Paul, B. Rios-Touma, K. L. Russell, R. F. Smith, S. Wagner, and S. Wenger were co-authors. DOI: 10.1086/721150

Dr. Megan Fork co-wrote a manuscript titled "NSF supported socio-environmental research: How do crosscutting programs affect research funding, publication, and citation patterns?" (2022, Ecology and Society). Dr. Kendra Kaiser led the manuscript and A.E. Braswell was a co-author. DOI: 10.5751/ES-13281-270325

Dr. Megan Fork presented a talk at the 2022 Joint Aquatic Science Meeting in Grand Rapids, MI titled "Environmental conditions explain spatio-temporal variability of nutrients but not pharmaceuticals" on 16 May 2022.

Dr. Megan Fork gave a Science on Tap talk for the Chester Ridley Crum Watersheds Association at Ship Bottom Brewery in Swarthmore, PA on 30 August 2022. The talk was titled "Invisible Trash: Are Microplastics and Drugs in our streams?"

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, co-authored an article, “3D visualization processes for recreating and studying organismal form” in the journal iScience 104867 (2022).

Dr. Sean Buskirk co-authored the paper “G1-Cyclin2 (Cln2) promotes chromosome hypercondensation in eco1/ctf7 rad61 null cells during hyperthermic stress in Saccharomyces cerevisiae” in the journal G3. The paper was featured on the Saccharomyces Genome Database in an article titled “Cln2p Moonlights in Cohesion”.

Dr. Sean Buskirk co-authored the paper “Overdominant and partially dominant mutations drive short-term adaptation in diploid yeast” in the journal Genetics.

Dr. Sean Buskirk delivered an oral presentation titled “Avidian March Madness – Survival of the Fittest” at the Active LENS Congress hosted by Michigan State University.

Dr. Jen Maresh presented the paper, along with former WCU students Danielle Adams and Sarah Kerr, "Maternal Investment Strategies in Marine Mammals: A Phylogenetic Comparative Approach" at the 24th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals on August 4th, 2022, in Palm Beach, FL.

Dr. Frank Fish was a co-author on the article “Slamming dynamics of diving and its implications for diving-related injuries” in Science Advances volume 30, 29 July (eabo5888).

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, and Dr. Anthony Nicastro, physics emeritus, presented “Spin-leap performance by cetaceans is influenced by moment of inertia”. at the 24th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, held in Palm Beach, FL, August 1-5. Dr. Fish was also a co-author on the presentations “The biomechanical energetics of terrestrial locomotion in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus): Efficiency of quadrupedal galloping” with Sarah Kerr, biology graduate student, and “Control surface-body size relationships in toothed and baleen whale species.”

Ariel Leahy (biology graduate student) presented the paper “Hole-y tendons! Anatomy & novel tendon morphology of the California sea lion hindflipper” with co-authors Dr. Frank Fish (biology), Sarah Kerr (biology graduate student), Katherine Riordan (biology undergraduate student) at the meeting Evolution 2022 that was held June 24-28 in Cleveland, Ohio.

Dr. Jessica Schedlbauer and former WCU Master’s student Jason Miller published the following article: Schedlbauer, J.L. and J. Miller. 2022. Edge effects increase soil respiration without altering soil carbon stocks in temperate broadleaf forests. Ecosphere 13: http://doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.4092

Dr. Josh Auld published the following manuscript: Johnson, S. L., J. R. Auld, M. Knabb, & L. Rieser-Danner. 2022. Correcting misconceptions about evolution: An innovative, inquiry-based introductory biological anthropology laboratory course improves understanding of evolution compared to instructor-centered courses. Evolution: Education and Outreach 15:6.

Dr. Michael Rosario authored a presentation, "Making Materials Testing and High Speed Kinematics Accessible with Open Source Tools" at the Fast Movements: Nature, Robotics, and Materials Symposium in Durham, North Carolina, July 19, 2022.

April Wallace, graduate student, and Dr. Gregory Turner presented the poster “Cladonia subtenuis cover, morphology, and photosynthetic properties from contrasting Pinus rigida stands” at the Northeast Natural History Conference, Albany, N.Y. April 22-23, 2022.

Dr. Gregory Turner co-authored the paper “Tree composition and size structure based on nativity and deer resistance at an urban forest in southeast Pennsylvania” along with former undergraduates Kelly Ryan, William Ricci, and Kendra McMillin and with Gerry Hertel, former Director of the Gordan Natural Area. It was published in Rhodora 122(992): 274-289. The volume is for 2020 but was delayed due to backlogging from Covid issues.

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, co-authored an article “Effect of manta ray pectoral fin-like kinematics on forward swimming performance” in the journal Biomimetics, volume 7:45, doi.org/10.3390/biomimetics7020045.

Dr. Oné Pagán published a manuscript entitled "In Vivo Evaluation of the Acute Systemic Toxicity of (1S,2E,4R,6R,7E,11E)-Cembratriene-4,6-diol (4R) in Sprague Dawley Rats" (20022).

Dr. Megan Fork co-wrote a manuscript titled "Resolving the Drivers of Algal Nutrient Limitation from Boreal to Arctic Lakes and Streams" (2022, Ecosystems). Dr. Fork and Dr. Maria Myrstener co-led the manuscript and A.K. Bergström, I.C. Puts, D. Hauptmann, P. D. F. Isles, R. M. Burrows & R. A. Sponseller were co-authors. DOI: 10.1007/s10021-022-00759-4

Dr. Megan Fork published a manuscript titled "Physical and chemical tracers of the propagation of urban stormwater pulses through reservoir embayments" (2022, Urban Ecosystems). R. McManamay and J.B. Heffernan were co-authors. DOI: 10.1007/s11252-022-01218-7

Dr. Megan Fork co-wrote a chapter in the 2nd edition of the Encyclopedia of Inland Waters (2022, edited by T. Mehner & K. Tockner) titled "Inputs, Occurrence and Effects of Pharmaceuticals and Microplastics in Freshwater Ecosystems". The chapter was led by E.J. Rosi and T. Hollein, J.J. Kelly, and E. Richmond were co-authors. DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-12-819166-8.00130-4 

Dr. Megan Fork presented an invited seminar at the University of Nevada at Reno titled "Beyond warming: Freshwaters on the front lines of global change" on 14 April 2022.

Dr. Megan Fork presented an invited seminar at Ryerson University (Toronto, Canada) titled "This is not a pipe: Ecological function and emerging contaminants in urban streams and headwaters" on 19 January 2022.

In February 2022, Sarah Lancaster, undergraduate in Biology: Cell and Molecular Biology Concentration, received a full scholarship for MCAT prep class from Proton Guru.

In March 2022, Dr. Teresa Donze-Reiner was awarded a travel grant from the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions to attend the national NAAHP meeting in Colorado.

Dr. John Pisciotta and former graduate student Samantha Blessing  published a book chapter "Microbial Bioelectricity Generation and Product Electrosynthesis"  in the book Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology (P. Verma, ed.), Springer Publishing (2022).

Dr. Jen Maresh published the following book chapter: Costa, D.P. and J.L. Maresh (2022). Reproductive energetics of phocids. In Ethology and Behavioral Ecology of Phocids (eds. D.P. Costa and E.A. McHuron), part of the Ethology and Behavioral Ecology of Marine Mammals book series. Springer. pp. 281-309

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, co-authored a paper, “Scaling of maneuvering performance in baleen whales: larger whales outperform expectations” in the Journal of Experimental Biology, volume 225(5): jeb243224. The research was performed with the colleagues from the Hopkins Marine Laboratory of Stanford University.

Sarah Stamis published the following article: Stamis, S. A., Heath, E. I., Lucas, S., Boerner, J., & Slusher, L. B. (2022). Alcohol dehydrogenase expression patterns in normal prostate, benign prostatic hyperplasia, and prostatic adenocarcinoma in African American and Caucasian men. The Prostate.

Dr. Michael Rosario was awarded a seed grant ($50k) from the Center for Engineering and Mechanobiology for the following project: "The functional role of collagen fibril crimping on muscle contraction at variable rates"

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, co-authored a presentation, “Avoiding the tyranny of wave drag in large whales” that was presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in Phoenix, AZ, January 3-7, 2022.

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, co-authored the paper “Velocity field measurements of the California sea lion propulsive stroke using bubble PIV” along with West Chester University graduate students Danielle Adams, Ariel Leahy, and Abigail Downs. The paper was published in Fluids 7.3 (2022).

Highlights Archive

Mission Statement

The primary mission of the Department of Biology is to provide a high quality educational experience to both undergraduate and graduate students. This is achieved by maintaining small class sizes staffed by full-time faculty. Virtually all courses have a laboratory component, facilitating participatory learning. An integrated core curriculum is intended to strengthen the communication, quantitative and analytical skills of all biology majors. Several focused concentrations within the undergraduate curriculum offer options of either specializing for immediate employment upon graduation, or preparing for postgraduate education. 

Masters students receive training as biological scientists primarily for career advancement. Although most students come from the Delaware Valley region, their educational experience is intended to equip them well for careers anywhere. Biology majors are required to perform independent projects in many courses, and are encouraged to work closely with faculty in collaborative research. The combination of unusually broad course selection and individual attention allows students from very diverse backgrounds to excel within the program. A part of the department's mission is to participate in the process of scientific inquiry.

The department expects its faculty to engage in scholarly activity, and encourages research publication and the acquisition of extramural funding. Scholarship enhances the stature of the Department and University, adds exceptionally current information to lecture material, and has helped to secure technologically up-to-date laboratory equipment. The department's research environment also provides an ongoing framework into which graduate and undergraduate student research projects can beincorporated. A strong record of collaborative faculty-student research is one reason for the successful placement of most Biology Department graduates. 

The Biology Department serves the University by supporting coursework for other disciplines, principally in Nursing, Health, Kinesiology and the Forensic and Toxicological Chemistry program, and is actively involved in maintaining the high quality of the Preprofessional Program. The department is working closely with the School of Education in training Secondary school biology teachers, and is strengthening ties with other departments in environmental science. Department faculty serve the community as consultants to government, non-profit organizations, other schools and industry.

Facilities

The Department of Biology occupies ~37,000 ft2 of classroom, office, and research space in Merion Hall and the adjacent Schmucker Science Center. The Biology wing of the Schmucker Science Center has undergone a complete renovation and was re-opened in time for the Spring 2004 semester. Teaching and research laboratories are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment. The equipment available to students includes a single-side band microscope (the world's second), fluorescence microscopes, apparatus for video microscopy, cryostat, tissue culture equipment, liquid scintillation counter, gamma ray counter, patch clamping equipment, ion suppression chromatograph, and scanning and transmission electron microscopes. A fully equipped molecular biology laboratory, funded by the NSF includes equipment for RFLP, PCR, DNA sequencing, and in situ capabilities. Additionally, the department has field inversion electrophoresis equipment for DNA analysis.

Other facilities include: research and teaching greenhouses, a biosafety level 3 facility, a student computer laboratory with full multimedia capabilities, a GIS computer laboratory with a GPS first order community base station and mobile GPS units, the Robert B. Gordon Natural Area for Environmental Studies, the William Darlington Herbarium, the B. Harry Warren Ornithological Collection, and the largest collection of halophilic bacteria in North America.

The Robert B. Gordon Natural Area for Environmental Studies consists of about 120 acres of woodland, old field, and wetland habitat located on the university's South Campus. Dedicated in 1973, the area was named for Robert B. Gordon, faculty member and chair of West Chester University's Department of Science from 1938-1963.

The William Darlington Herbarium (DWC) is the second oldest collection of preserved plant specimens in the United States. The collection is a highly regarded historical collection of specimens dated primarily from 1815 to 1860. Among the more than 20,000 specimens are those collected by such famous explores as Captain John Freemont, Thomas Nuttall, Sir William Hooker, C.S. Rafinesque, and George Englemann. The herbarium was started by Dr. William Darlington, a prominent West Chester physician, educator, banker, historian and botanist.

The B. Harry Warren Ornithological Collection contains approximately 2000 bird specimens dating back to the late 1800's

image of Merion

image of student walking down the steps outside of Schumucker

Research and Internships

Several options exist for undergraduate Biology students interested in pursuing research and/or external internships for credit. Students interested in these opportunities can find more information here.

Research Opportunities

Host-Virus Dynamics

Dr. Jessica Sowa is looking for students interested in doing research to discover and characterize new viruses originating in wild nematodes that can infect the model nematode C. elegans. This work will involve learning genetic, molecular biology, and microscopy techniques. Assistantships may be available; contact Dr. Sowa at jsowa@wcupa.edu if interested.

Aquatic Organismal Morphology and Energetics

Dr. Frank Fish is looking for students interested in research on the morphology of fish, turtles, sea lions, dolphins, and whales. Students will be analyzing video or conducting experiments on live animals.

More Opportunities

For more information, please see the Biology Faculty Research page.

Contact Information

The Department of Biology office is located in Room 175 on the first floor of Schmucker Science North. 

Faculty office hours for Fall 2022 .

Faculty Login

Recent Alumni

  • >Maya Sengha

    Maya Sengha

    "I graduated from West Chester University in Spring of 2020 with a BS in Cellular Molecular Biology and minors in Chemistry, Psychology, and History."

  • Sophia Martonick

    Sophia Martonick

    "I graduated from West Chester University in the Spring of 2021 with a B.S. in Biology with a Cellular and Molecular concentration."

  • Emily Cooper

    Emily Cooper

    "I graduated from West Chester University in 2021 with a B.S. in Biology (Cell and Molecular Biology) and Science Education minor."

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