Department of Biology
Chairperson: Dwayne D. Simmons
Graduate Program Director: Joseph H. Taube
The Department of Biology offers advanced study leading to doctoral (Ph.D.) and master’s (M.S., M.A.) degrees with emphases in ecology, evolution, and organismal biology (EEO) and in cellular, molecular, health, and disease (CMHD) biology.
Laboratory experiments and techniques to culture microorganisms. Analyses of biochemical tests, quantitative and qualitative procedures, and identification of unknown organisms.
Collection, preservation, identification, taxonomy and biology of medically important arthropods, especially insects. Survey collection required for graduate credit.
Modern experimental techniques of developmental biology.
Laboratory experiments illustrating modern concepts in plant physiological research, with emphases on form, function relationships, technological innovations, and organismal adaption.
Detection and identification of human parasite diagnostic forms. Power Point presentation required for graduate credit.
Basic principles of resistance to disease, host-antigen interactions, immunologic response mechanisms, immunologic techniques, and correlations of disease and the immune response.
An introduction to the major areas of microbiology, including microbial morphology, metabolism, genetics, evolution, taxonomy, ecology, and disease.
Identification, biology, and management of arthropod pests, especially insects, transmitting diseases affecting man, livestock and wildlife.
Techniques and strategies central to the analysis of genomic and genetic experimental data with emphasis on experimental design. Training in computational methods such as R and Unix; no previous computing experience is required.
The roles of biologically important molecules in cellular structure and function, emphasizing an integrated understanding of the characteristic of the four major classes of biological molecules and the chemical interactions that support living systems. May not receive credit for both BIO 4307 and CHE 4341.
Examination of mechanisms that regulate the development of multicellular organisms using biochemical genetic and cell biological approaches. Investigates the role that gene regulation, cell-cell communication, cell adhesion, cell motility, signal transduction, and intracellular trafficking play in the commitment, differentiation and assembly of stem cells into specialized cell types and organs.
Patterns of geographic distributions of animals and plants, and the physical and biological factors, and processes affecting geographic distributions.
Experimental studies of important physical and chemical processes related to plant function.
Pathophysiology of disease with emphasis on immunology, communicable disease, neoplasia, heredity, congenital problems, and degeneration as expressed in each organ system.
Introduction to study of parasites and vectors, emphasizing life cycles and control of those affecting humans. Research paper required for graduate credit.
Development of science leadership skills through community-based research on improvement of science education.
See GEO 4339 for course information.
See ENV 4344 for course information.
Introduction to medically relevant pathogens with an emphasis on bacterial pathogenesis.
Core principles in genetics and cellular and molecular biology to understand the causation, pathogenesis, and control of the major neglected tropical diseases, defined as a group of poverty-promoting chronic infectious diseases.
Processes which establish or eliminate variation in populations and how these mechanisms affect biological diversity.
See GEO 4386 for course information.
Lecture, laboratory, and field studies of lakes and streams. Emphasis on analysis and interpretation of physical, chemical, and biological factors relating to metabolism and production of aquatic communities. Overnight trips may be required.
Laboratory and field studies of lakes, streams, and estuaries. Primarily for advanced students of zoology and botany who are interested in aquatic organisms and their ecology. Emphasis is on collection, preservation, and identification of all aquatic biota except fishes. Overnight trips may be required.
See ANT 4416 for course description.
Taxonomy, ecology, structure, distribution, and economic significance of aquatic vascular plants.
Fish fauna of the area with emphasis on morphology, ecology, economics, and systematics. Overnight trips may be required.
Microscopic structure of vertebrate tissues and organs.
Evolution, morphology, physiology, behavior, reproduction, ecology, geography, and migration of birds of the world. Includes field identification of Central Texas species.
Graduate standing in biology and related fields. Topics of current interest in various subdisciplines of biology. Topics change each semester. Involves presentation of seminars by enrolled graduate students. May be repeated only with changes in topics.
Examination of various methods of scientific communication including leading undergraduate student groups in critical analysis and evaluation of scientific presentations and the current scientific literature.
To fulfill requirements for non-thesis master's students who need to complete final degree requirements other than coursework during their last semester. This may include such things as a comprehensive examination, oral examination, or foreign language requirement. Students are required to be registered during the semester they graduate.
Description and application of the major tools of professional biology, especially instruction on effective writing for obtaining graduate fellowships and research grants, and methods for presenting results of scientific research.
Application of the major tools of professional biology, especially introductory programming, data management and visualization, and exploratory data analysis.
Provides a comprehensive overview of major neglected tropical diseases, HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB and emerging infections in the context of lecture-based learning and student-led evaluation of current literature emphasizing the rapidly changing global infectious disease climate.
Reinforces the principles of public health as it applies to tropical medicine through epidemiologic investigations, statistical analyses, and evaluation of public health policy.
Biology, entomology, and transmission dynamics of vector-borne diseases as they relate to the human and animal hosts.
Introduction to key principles and practices of a biotechnology operation, including lectures on management and project planning, product discovery, development and testing, clinical development, and the regulatory and quality management systems.
Fundamentals of pre-clinical models used for vaccine development. The course emphasizes basic immunologic principles applied to vaccine development, natural and experimental animal models for efficacy testing, and design and execution of GXP animal studies. Additionally, fundamentals of US and international regulations governing human therapeutic development are covered.
Fundamental principles of discovering and designing modern biopharmaceuticals including recombinant vaccine antigens. Discussion of issues facing the transition from bench to bedside.
Introduction to key topics of advocacy and policy to communicate scientific or technical information effectively in a variety of public and professional interactions. Lectures include best practices for use of different communication methods and understanding the different types of public audiences.
Provides a comprehensive overview of how dynamic geospatial and environmental factors influence human health and how GIS-based tools can be applied for analysis.
Examination and evaluation of modern molecular and other point-of-care methods for detection of tropical and emerging infectious diseases.
Investigation of the parameters necessary for effective experimental design and interpretation in the biological and biomedical research fields.
In addition to concurrent enrollment in the Medical Sciences M.S. degree program. Provides a framework for applying fundamental principles of human anatomy and physiology to the diagnosis and treatment of disease.
Special and advanced topics in biology. May be repeated up to three times with change in content.
Material covered includes viral replication, molecular regulation, cellular life cycle, and pathogenesis; evolution, emerging diseases, and epidemiology; and prevention and control of viral diseases. Viruses which infect humans, domestic animals, and plants will be the focus. The global health perspective will be addressed throughout.
Relationships among animal behavior, ecology, and evolution. Emphasis is on integrating current models with comparative and experimental evidence on how a particular behavior pattern contributes to an animal's chances of survival and its reproductive success.
This course examines recent developments in both DNA and RNA fields. Topics include nucleic acids structure, protein-nucleic acid interactions, techniques applied to nucleic acids, RNA decay, noncoding RNAs, RNA regulons, riboswitches, RNA bioinformatics and micro RNAs.
This course provides the opportunity to synthesize the principles and current research in the discipline of Ecosystem Biogeochemistry through student-led teaching modules and a research synthesis project.
Research in molecular genetics and its implications for evolutionary theory. Topics to be discussed include the evolutionary role of plasmids, temperate phage, transposons, introns, multigene families, organelle DNA, and DNA sequence divergence.
Advanced topics in current cell biology research, including organelle and cytoskeleton structure and function, intra- and inter-cellular signaling, intracellular trafficking, cell cycle regulation, and cell division.
Microorganisms, especially their mechanics of pathogenesis with emphasis on their distribution in nature, their beneficial and detrimental effects on humans, and the potential role of certain organisms in biowarfare.
Principles and practice of classical and modern genetic analysis as applied to eukaryotic organisms, including yeast, nematodes, Drosophila, mice, and humans; isolation and analysis of mutations; gene mapping; suppressor analysis; chromosome structure; control of gene expression; and developmental genetics.
This course concerns new principles of genome science and explores their applications in infectious disease research. Topics include how pathogen and vector genomes are studied, how they function, and how they evolve. The importance of comparative and functional genomics along with use of arthropod disease vectors in identifying control mechanisms of human pathogens are highlighted.
First principle approaches that are used to describe microenvironments of living organisms and the energy and mass transfer between organisms and their external environment.
This course provides an opportunity to explore advanced evolutionary theory and its implementation. Emphasis on evolution as an integrative principle of biological science.
Biological forces influencing scarcity and diversity, emphasizing: genetics, fitness, population viability, extinction, endemism, habitat fragmentation, and community structure and stability.
Biological and conservation responses to naturally and human-induced climate change. Greenhouse gas levels, recent climate trends, range and abundance changes, phenological changes, evolutionary effects, climate change models and projections, designing landscapes and seascapes for change, managing the landscape matrix, and the future of biodiversity.
Interactions among ecosystem elements are formalized in computer simulation. Identification of ecosystem sources/sinks, reservoirs, and flux pathways is presented with the biological interpretation of mathematical representation of ecological processes.
This course provides an important foundation of knowledge of the biology of disease vectors, followed by current topics in vector biology, cell and developmental biology, physiology, gene drive system, old and new strategies in vector control and control of vector-borne diseases and vector/pathogen/host interactions.
Overview of effective grant writing skills, mechanics of proposal writing, and approaches to grantsmanship. Skills are developed for honing a scientific rationale and tailoring a proposal to the interests of specific audiences.
An introduction to the Python language and its specific application to genomic, proteomic, and environmental research. Emphasis on strings, data storage/access, and creating custom modules. Weekly coding projects will be based on each student's dissertation research. No coding experience is required.
A Python-based course covering protein structure, phylogeny, DNA sequencing and transcriptome analysis, Markov chains, clustering, and machine learning. Weekly coding projects will be completed which are relevant, where possible, to each student's dissertation research. Strong skills in Python are required.
Provides comprehensive instruction on the analysis of genomic data. An overview of basic genome biology, study design, NGS technology, and galaxy analysis tools is provided in addition to current best practices in the analysis of genomic data. Genomic Analysis focuses on analysis and detection of variants and transcriptomics from next-generation sequencing data including RNA-seq, ChIP-seq, and SNP-seq.
The biology of invasive alien plants and animals, emphasizing evolutionary ecology, impacts on native species, and effects on biodiversity. Biological invasion causes, pathways, vectors, and management strategies in terrestrial and aquatic systems.
Ecological factors influencing landscape structure and dynamics. Emphasis on landscape structure, exchanges among landscape components, and landscape stability and management.
Application of the basic principles of nutrition to the study of fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals in their natural environments.
This course provides in-depth training on how to formulate research hypothesis and questions and how to present the specialized areas of student research to general and professional audiences.
Basic concepts and current research in population genetics. Topics covered include genetic variation in natural populations, evolutionary forces causing change in gene frequency, linkage disequilibrium, quantitative variation, and the genetics of speciation.
Interactions and transformations of microorganisms in soil, air, and water. Emphasis on methodology and practical relationships of microorganisms in the environment.
Diversity and phylogenic development of all non-vertebrate phyla. Current areas of research in invertebrate biology are examined.
Topics include life tables, census techniques, single-species population and metapopulation dynamics, population regulation, population dynamics in competitive and predator/prey interactions, and the conservation of populations. Includes an independent research project.
Prerequisite(s); BIO 3403 or equivalent. Lecture, laboratory, and field studies of the ecology and management of North American wetland environments. Emphasis will be placed on the ecology of aquatic and wetland plants and their role in determining wetland structure and function. Overnight field trip required.
Physical, chemical and biological organization of streams. Topics include geomorphology and hydrology, water chemistry, ecosystem processes in streams, watershed-stream linkages, and bioassessment methods.
Discussion and laboratory experiences on the processes, pathways, and rate of biological energy transformation.
Plankton comprise the most important community of oceans and most lakes. Their metabolism drives the global carbon cycle and supports global fisheries. We consider all plankton, but focus on the middle of the food web, i.e., the zooplankton as an intermediary between the phytoplankton producers and the fish consumers. The course has a strong hands-on component with experimental laboratory experiences.
Basic concepts and current research in cancer biology. Topics include the cell intrinsic regulation of growth control, the accumulation of mutations, and the cell biological and micro-environmental changes associated with cancer, as well as therapeutic strategies. Current literature is discussed.
Principles and methods for experimental design, quantitative analysis, and interpretation of biological data, including application of mainframe computer packages.
Current approaches to analyzing and interpreting complex biological data. Emphasis on integrative analysis strategies using modern statistical modeling techniques. Hands-on analysis of data sets using the statistical package R.
Use and operation of the transmission electron microscope and ancillary equipment as instruments of biological research, with special emphasis on tissue preparation, sectioning, examination, data acquisition, and photography.
Use and operation of the scanning electron microscope and support equipment. Specimen preparation, specimen examination, data acquisition, and data analysis are emphasized.
Basic concepts and current laboratory techniques in molecular ecology. Emphasis is on use of these skills in addressing basic and advanced ecological questions.
In addition to concurrent enrollment in the Medical Sciences M.S. degree program. The primary aim of this course is to aid MSMS students in concentrating on the fundamental concepts of immunology and microbiology pertaining to medicine and biomedical science. The topic of microbiology consists of the classification of microorganisms, microbial transmission, and viral multiplication.
Advanced work in biology. Subject and hours of credit agreed upon by student and professor prior to registration. For master's and doctoral students.
Research, data analysis, writing, and oral defense of an approved master's thesis. At least six hours of BIO 5V99 are required.
The research rotation allows students to become familiar with different areas of research, learn new experimental techniques, obtain experience in different research laboratories, and ultimately identify a lab in which to conduct dissertation research.
For research credit prior to admission to candidacy for an advanced degree. Credit will be given for the amount of work done. May be repeated for credit through 45 hours.
Supervised research for writing a dissertation research proposal and designing experimental approaches that will be the subject of a preliminary exam that will admit students to candidacy. A student may repeat this course for credit, with a maximum of 4 total hours.
Research, data analysis, and writing and oral/written defense of an approved doctoral dissertation. At least twelve hours of BIO 6V99 are required.