Biological and Environmental Sciences
DongWon Choi (Department Head)
Location: Science Building, room 260, 903-886-5378
Biological and Environmental Sciences Web Site: https://new.tamuc.edu/department-of-biological-and-environmental-science/
The Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences offers a Master of Science degree in Biological Sciences and a Graduate Certificate in Environmental Sciences. The graduate programs in biology are designed to provide opportunities for students to pursue advanced training in particular fields of biology, to advance their professional goals, or to prepare students for entry into doctoral or professional health programs. The Master of Science degree in Biological Science offers both thesis and non-thesis options. The program is available face to face or online for students completing the non thesis option. Students wanting to enroll in the thesis option are encouraged to contact faculty members with similar research interests. Faculty research interests within the department include behavioral ecology, environmental science, microbiology, neuroscience, molecular, cellular and developmental biology, as well as wildlife ecology and conservation.
Programs of Graduate Work
Admission to a graduate program is granted by the Dean of the Graduate School upon the recommendation of the department. Applicants must meet the following requirements for admission in addition to meeting the general university requirements in Biological Science.
Students accepted in the graduate programs of the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences are expected to follow all of the rules and procedures established by the Department. Students in all programs except the graduate certificate must pass a final comprehensive examination. The comprehensive exam for the MS Biology program consist of a written examination of basic concepts covering five chosen topic areas. Comprehensive exams are proctored by faculty advisors for thesis option students, and are available in the BSC 595 course shell for non-thesis/online students.
Note: The Department reserves the right to suspend from the program any student who in the judgment of the departmental graduate committee, does not meet the professional expectations of the field.
Successful completion of the Comprehensive Exam is required of all students.
BSC 500 - Graduate Seminar
Graduate Seminar. One semester hour. Discussions and presentations of issues of current interest in the biological sciences and of related career opportunities. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.
BSC 504 - Quantitative Biology
Advanced Quantitative Biology - Three semester hours The objective of this course is to provide students with the knowledge and understanding of the methods of statistical analysis applicable to biological research. Emphasis will be placed on the concepts and application of statistical thinking. Basic probability theory, parametric and non-parametric statistics including t-test, analysis of variance, correlation, simple linear regression will be reviewed. Advanced statistical methods including multiple regression, logistic regression, model selection and other quantitative methods will be introduced. Prerequisite: An undergraduate degree in Biology, Wildlife, or related discipline or permission from instructor.
BSC 505 - Methods in Field Ecology
Methods in Field Ecology. Three semester hours. A study of advanced contemporary knowledge in field ecology. Prerequisite: An undergraduate degree in Biology, Wildlife, or related discipline or permission from instructor
BSC 509 - Microbial Ecology
Microbial Ecology, Three Semester Hours. This course is designed to provide in-depth understanding of the interrelationship between microorganisms and their living (biotic) and nonliving (abiotic) environments. The comprehensive understanding will help students evaluating and creating a holistic approach to sustainable environmental quality as all living organisms interplay to maintain ecological balance. The term “microbial ecology” came into frequent use only in the early 1960s. The current popularity of microbial ecology and the rapid development of this field are reflective of public interest in ecology and the scientific recognition of the essential roles of microorganisms in ecosystems.
BSC 510 - Community Ecology
Community Ecology - Three semester hours Community ecology is the study of biotic interactions in plant and animal assemblages. This course begins with a description of community types. More detailed material follows: competition and ecological niche, predator-prey interactions, food webs, habitat selection, and diversity. The material is supported by numerous examples from models and experimental studies.
BSC 511 - Advanced Ornithology
Advanced Ornithology - Three semester hours This course looks at current research in the areas of avian evolution, systematics, foraging ecology, mate choice, mating systems, and reproductive behavior and ecology. Prerequisites : undergraduate degree in Biology, Wildlife, or related discipline or permission from instructor
BSC 512 - Ecological Genetics
Ecological Genetics. Three semester hours. Ecological genetics is a study of the genetic processes that occur within and among populations and which contribute to population differentiation and microevolution. Topics covered include measures of genetic variation, genetic drift, natural selection and adaptation, phenotypic evolution, the evolution of life histories, sex and reproductive success. Prerequisite: An undergraduate degree in Biology, Wildlife, or related discipline or permission from instructor
BSC 513 - Molecular Genetics
This course is designed for students with a thorough background in biology and cell biology. This course provides students with an in-depth investigation into the development of gene concepts and practical application of genetic study and hereditary disease. Following a brief review of DNA structure, function, nature of genes and mendelian genetics, an extension of mendelian analysis is explored. Emphasis will be placed on eucharyotic gene mapping, recombinant DNA technology and practical applications. Next, comprehension of genetic mutations at the nucleotide, and chromosomal level is sought in the context of aging and human disease. Students are expected to gain an in-depth understanding of basic principles and concepts. Prerequisites: An undergraduate degree in Biology or related discipline or permission from instructor.
BSC 514 - Pharmacology
Pharmacology - Principles and Practice - Three semester hours This course is designed for graduate students with a thorough background in biology and cell biology. Therefore, this course provides students with a greater understanding of general concepts of pharmacology. Specific drugs and sites of drug action are examined beginning with the peripheral, followed by the central nervous system. We then will focus on the pharmacology of the endocrine system and conclude with drugs affecting the immune system. Emphasis will be distribution, metabolism and transport as well excretion of drugs. In each system pharmacological effects, cautions and contraindications are discussed. Clinical indications and hypothetical scenarios are discussed. Students are expected to gain an in-depth understanding of basic principles and concepts of drugs at the molecular levels, to learn to reason scientifically, and to understand and describe the cooperative function of pharmacology in body systems. Prerequisites: An undergraduate degree in Biology or related discipline or permission from instructor.
BSC 515 - Adv Cell Biology
Advanced Cell Biology - Three semester hours This course is designed for graduate students with a thorough background in biology and cell biology. Therefore, this course provides students with a greater understanding of molecular mechanisms of cellular function. Emphasis will be placed on internal organization of the cell. Students are expected to gain an in-depth understand of basic principles and concepts of eukaryotic cells at the molecular levels, to learn to reason scientifically, and to understand and describe the cooperative function of organelles in the specialized cells. Prerequisite: An undergraduate degree in Biology or related discipline or permission from instructor
BSC 516 - Medical Microbiology
Medical Microbiology. Three semester hours. This is a course for biology graduate students designed to provide knowledge of pathogenic microorganisms and infections and to help students develop a means of analyzing the nature of infectious diseases. Specific topics covered during this class include pathogenic microorganisms, diagnostic procedures, infection control & treatment, and emerging diseases. This course will focus on the pathogenic mechanisms of microorganisms aided with corresponding individual case studies of diseases in order to foster critical thinking and problem solving techniques. Prerequisite: Graduate standing, An undergraduate degree in Biology or related discipline or permission from instructor. Prerequisites: Graduate standing, An undergraduate degree in Biology or related discipline or permission from instructor.
BSC 517 - GLB/Stem Cell Biology
This course will provide students with an in-depth account of stem cell biology, various forms of stem cells and their application to regenerative medicine. Special reference will be made to molecular, epigenetic, and genetic control of stem cell differentiation and specializations. Existing and potential clinical use of stem cells, its derivatives, and induced pluripotent stem cells also will be discussed. Since this is rapidly developing field with sweeping social implications, strong emphasis will be placed on understanding the current controversies surrounding stem cell research.
BSC 518 - Thesis
Thesis. Six semester hours. A problem is chosen in the student's major field of interest with approval of the major professor. No credit is given until an acceptable thesis is completed. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.
BSC 519 - Advanced Gene Regulation
Advanced Gene Regulation - Three semester hours This course will provide a rigorous and advanced knowledge in regulation of gene expression so that students will be ready for Ph.D. level courses. This course will emphasize the molecular biology gene expression in eukaryotes. Based on the review of the seminal works in gene regulation, presentations and discussions, this course will familiarize the student with current technology and driving principles of the field of gene regulation.
BSC 520 - Advanced Immunology
Advanced Immunology - Three semester hours This course is designed for graduate students with a thorough background in biology and cell biology. Therefore, this course provides students with a review of basic immunological principles and the generation of immune responses. Emphasis will be placed on human physiology and the cooperative interplay between innate and acquired immunity. An in-depth view of the immune system will be sought in the context of immune effector mechanisms as well as the immune system in health and disease. Principles and applications of antibody-antigen interactions will also be discussed. Students are expected to learn the principles and concepts of immunology both at the molecular and cellular levels, to learn to reason scientifically, and to understand and describe the function of immune systems in the human body. Prerequisites: An undergraduate degree in Biology or related discipline or permission from instructor.
BSC 521 - Epigenetics
Epigenetics - Three semester hours This course will provide students with a rigorous foundation in epigenetics and epigenomics. This course will emphasize the epigenetic process of gene regulation, its involvement in disease processes, therapies and recent advances in assessing epigenetic changes. Based on the review of the seminal works in epigenetics course will familiarize the student with current technology and driving principles of the field of epigenetics.
BSC 522 - Reproductive Physiology
Students will acquire familiarity with the vocabulary of reproductive physiology. Gain a fundamental understanding of the basic biological aspects of animal reproductive anatomy, physiology and endocrinology. Understand sexual determination and differentiation. Understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms controlling Reproduction. Understand the comparative differences and similarities among several mammalian species.
BSC 523 - Vertebrate Endocrinology
Introduces graduate students to programming business applications in the large enterprise system environment. Programming logic and design, documentation, debugging and testing.
BSC 524 - Endocrine Toxicology
The course incorporates the study of basic endocrine functions and how these functions may be impaired or altered by environmental chemicals. It considers endocrine organs, including the pituitary, thyroid, parathyroids, adrenals, testes, ovaries and the pancreas as toxicological targets of environmental endocrine disruptors as well as the consequences of target organ changes on other body systems. In addition, the course reviews evidence of environmental endocrine disruption in fish and wildlife, and its relevance to human health. Prerequisites: Graduate Standing. Prerequisite: An undergraduate degree in Biology or related discipline or permission from instructor.
BSC 525 - Advance Neuroscience
Advanced Neuroscience - Three semester hours This course is designed for graduate students with a thorough background in biology and cell biology. Therefore, this course provides students with a greater understanding of molecular, developmental, and network mechanisms of neuronal function. Emphasis will be placed on molecular and cellular components of neurons at their most basic level as well in unique specific systems particularly sensory, and movement systems as well as cognitive development & aging. Students are expected to gain an in-depth understand of basic principles and concepts of neurons at the molecular levels, to learn to reason scientifically, and to understand and describe the cooperative function of organelles in the specialized cells. Prerequisite: An undergraduate degree in Biology or related discipline or permission from instructor
BSC 526 - Developmental Biology
This course is intended for master's level students who understand genetics and cell biology/biochemistry. This course examines the molecular mechanisms of development covering fertilization through senescence. It is organized around an in depth analysis and careful reading of primary research papers taken from the current literature. Topics vary but include events in early embryogenesis such as fertilization, embryonic stem cells, gastrulation and layer determination, and axis formation. Later events in embryogenesis covered include tissue specific stem cells, digit formation, cell differentiation, muscle formation, neural development, and synapse formation. Postembryonic development includes studies on hormonal regulation, aging, and senescence. A variety of organisms are introduced, with common mechanisms of development emphasized. Prerequisite: An undergraduate degree in Biology or related discipline or permission from instructor.
BSC 527 - Human Physiology
Human Physiology - Three semester hours. This advanced course focuses on human physiology. It provides a comprehensive understanding of how each organ/tissue works down to the cellular level and what role(s) each organ system plays in maintaining homeostasis. This information is then used to solve case studies involving human physiology.
BSC 528 - Case Studies in Endocrinology
Case Studies in Endocrinology (Three semester hours). This advanced course in physiology focuses on the human endocrine (hormonal) system. Students will learn how to differentiate between endocrine, paracrine, and autocrine systems and they will understand the major mechanisms of action of peptides, steroid, and thyroid hormones. The course materials will allow students to compare and contrast hormone actions exerted via plasma membrane receptors with those mediated via intracellular receptors. Other topics include the role of hormone-binding proteins, feedback control mechanisms of hormone secretion, the effects of secretion, degradation, and excretion on plasma hormone concentrations and hormone measurements (eg, radioimmunoassay, immunometric assay) and their interpretation.
BSC 529 - Workshop
Workshop - Three semester hours Topics may vary
BSC 530 - Virology
Virology - Three semester hours An advanced detailed study of contemporary knowledge of virology. Prerequisite: An undergraduate degree in Biology or related discipline or permission from instructor.
BSC 531 - Biogeography
Biogeography - Three semester hours Biogeography is the study of the geological, evolutionary, and ecological processes that have resulted in the geographic patterns of biodiversity that we see today. This course provides a comprehensive overview of this most fascinating subject. The material begins with an overview of ecological communities and the geographic patterns of biodiversity. It then follows with coverage of the interactions of geological and evolutionary histories and ends with a brief discussion of on-going human impacts.
BSC 532 - Adv. Behavioural Ecology
Advanced Behavioral Ecology - Three semester hours Behavioral ecology is the study of the adaptive value of behavior in its ecological context. This course looks at current research in the areas of foraging ecology, mate choice, mating systems, reproductive behavior and ecology, decision making, game theory and optimality in animals. Prerequisite: An undergraduate degree in Biology, Wildlife, or related discipline or permission from instructor
BSC 533 - Invertebrate Zoology
Invertebrate Zoology. Three semester hours. A study of advanced contemporary knowledge in invertebrate zoology. Prerequisite: An undergraduate degree in Biology, Wildlife, or related discipline or permission from instructor
BSC 534 - Vertebrate Zoology
Vertebrate Zoology. Three semester hours. A study of advanced contemporary knowledge in vertebrate zoology. Prerequisite: An undergraduate degree in Biology, Wildlife, or related discipline or permission from instructor
BSC 535 - Evolution
Evolution. Three semester hours. This course deals primarily with macroevolution. Topics include models of gene flow, agents of evolution, natural selection, isolating mechanisms, geographic variation, phylogenetics, the fossil record, the species concept and speciation, adaptation and the evolution of morphological traits. Prerequisite: An undergraduate degree in Biology, Wildlife, or related discipline or permission from instructor
BSC 536 - Plant Diversity & Conservation
Plant Diversity and Conservation. Three semester hours. An advanced study of plant diversity and conservation strategies at the species, population and landscape levels. Prerequisites: BSC 307.
BSC 537 - Behavior and Conservation
The Role of Animal Behavior in Conservation Biology - Three semester hours This course begins with a brief description of the principles of animal behavior and behavioral ecology. It then focuses on how a consideration of animal behavior affects the design and effectiveness of conservation programs.
BSC 538 - Respiratory Physiology
Respiratory Physiology (Three Semester Hours). This is an advanced course in respiratory physiology. Couses topics include detailed examinations of pulmonary ventilation, alveolar ventilation, pulmonary circulation, pulmonary gas exchange, oxygen and carbon dioxide transport, respiratory control, and non-respiratory lung functions.
BSC 539 - Herpetology
An investigation of the study of amphibians and reptiles, with emphasis on diversity, evolution, and natural history of extant groups. Current controversies, conservation, and behavior will be topics of note.
BSC 540 - Animal Behavior
An investigation of the principles of animal behavior with an emphasis on evolution and the proximate and ultimate causes of behavior. Aspects of methods of observations, physiology and development of behavior, instinct and learning, and modern cognitive ethology will be addressed.
BSC 541 - Genetic Engineering
This course will provide graduate students with basics and applied aspects of genetic engineering. The course is organized into three parts. Part I of the course will introduce the field of genetic engineering and provide basics of cell and molecular biology, the scientific driver of genetic engineering. Part II discusses the methodologies and principles of recombinant DNA technology and strategies for gene manipulation. In Part III, applications and use of genetic engineering. Since this is rapidly developing field with sweeping social implications, ethics surrounding recombinant DNA technology will be discussed. Prerequisites: An undergraduate level course in Cell Biology, Genetics, Biochemistry, or Molecular Biology.
BSC 542 - Reproductive Physiology
This graduate level course is designed for students interested in advancing their contemporary knowledge in reproductive physiology. In addition to exploring basic human reproductive physiology, the course includes current topics such as reproductive aging, hormone therapies, fertility studies and treatments, sexual behavior, and the latest issues related to pregnancy as well as contraception. The study of human reproductive physiology is supplemented by review of primary research literature in alternative vertebrate models. Prerequisites: Graduate student status.
BSC 550 - Microbial Physiology
Microbial Physiology. Three Semester Hours. This is an advanced microbiology course designed for graduate students majoring in biology. Microbial physiology is a study of the cell structure, growth factors, metabolism and genetic composition of microorganisms and the interrelatedness of microbiology, biochemistry, and genetics in the context of a functional bacterial cell. This course provides a survey of microbial physiology with emphasis on metabolism, regulation, cell walls, membranes, ecology, and adaptation to extreme environments.
BSC 551 - Ecophysiology
Ecophysiology. Three Semester Hours. A study of physiological adjustments made by animals to changes in their external environment. The topics include fundamental mechanisms of adaptation, central issues in comparative physiology such as water balance, osmoregulation, metabolism and energy supply, respiration and circulation, temperature and its effects, excitable tissues as well as hormonal and chemical controls that allow adjustments in the changing aquatic and terrestrial environments.
BSC 552 - Comparative Animal Physiology
Comparative Animal Physiology. Three Semester Hours. A comparative study of the general principles of organismal function in terms of similarities that exist between very different animals and the exceptions to the general rules. The focus will be on understanding how whole animals, both invertebrates and vertebrates, solve particular challenges of living in different habitats.
BSC 560 - Landscape Ecology
Students will study the relationships between ecological processes in the environment and particular ecosystems using a variety of landscape scales, development of spatial patterns, and organizational levels of research and policy.
BSC 561 - Bioremediation
Students will study the use of either naturally occurring or deliberately introduced microorganisms or other forms of life to consume and break down environmental pollutants, in order to clean up a polluted site.
BSC 562 - Ecotoxicology
Students will study of the effects of toxic chemicals on biological organisms, especially at the population, community, ecosystem level. Ecotoxicology is a multidisciplinary field, which integrates toxicology and ecology.
BSC 589 - Independent Study
Independent Study . One to four semester hours. Individualized instruction/research at an advanced level in a specialized content area under the direction of a faculty member. May be repeated when the topic varies. Prerequisite: Consent of department head.
BSC 595 - Research Literature and Techniques
Research Literature and Techniques.
BSC 597 - Special Topics
Special Topics. One to four semester hours. Organized class. May be repeated when topics vary.
ENVS 502 - Phase I Site Assessment
Phase I Environmental Site Assessment - Three semester hours Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (often known as “due diligence) are the bread and butter of most environmental consulting firms. In this course, you will learn why these are important and the proper protocols involved. In this course, you will be required to conduct three phase I’s on abandoned industrial or commercial properties.
ENVS 503 - Env. Law, Reg., Ethic
Environmental Law, Regulation, and Ethics. Three semester hours Internet-Course This Course is designed familiarize students with an overview of environmental law and regulation, to provide them with the skills required to navigate through the regulations, and to provide them with the tools to stay current with regulatory changes as they occur. In addition, this course will acquaint students with numerous environmental ethical issues that influence the development of environmental policy and regulations. Pre-requisites: None
ENVS 505 - Hydrology
Hydrology - Three semester hours Internet-Course This Course is designed to familiarize students with all aspects of the hydrologic cycle, but the bulk of the course is devoted to hydrogeology, the study of groundwater. Characteristics of groundwater flow and practical methods of aquifer characterization will be discussed particularly as it relates to the evaluation of groundwater supplies and groundwater contamination and remediation. Pre-requisites: None
ENVS 506 - Renewable Energy
Renewable Energy Resources - One semester hour A brief survey of the state of non-renewable energy resources, and a then detailed survey of types, advantages and disadvantages, recent advances, and the commercial availability of products related to our renewable energy resources.
ENVS 508 - Environmental Remediation
Environmental Remediation - Three semester hours A detailed survey of the various methods used in the remediation of contaminated soil and groundwater. Includes numerous case studies
ENVS 589 - INDEPENDENT STUDY
Independent Study - Hours: One to four Individualized instruction/research at an advanced level in a specialized content area under the direction of a faculty member. Prerequisites Consent of department head. Note May be repeated when the topic varies.
ENVS 597 - Special Topic
Special Topic in Environmental Science 1 to 3 semester hours. Organized class maybe repeated when topics vary.
Biological and Environmental Sciences
BS., Kerala Agricultural University, India, MS., Indian Agricultural Research Institute, India, Ph.D., Indian Agricultural Research Institute, India, Postdoctoral Fellow Research Associate, Tufts University School of Medicine
Associate Professor (Department Head)
B.E., Taegu University; M.S., Ball State University; Ph.D., Iowa State University
B.S., M.S., University of Puerto Rico; Ph.D. Texas A & M University - Kingsville
Haydn A. Fox
Assistant Professor and Associate Dean of Science & Engineering
B.A., Ambassador College; B.S., M.S., Southeast Missouri State University; Ph.D., University of South Carolina.
B.S., M.S., Nanchang University; Ph.D., The University of Akron
B.S., M.S., Aligarh Muslim University; Ph.D., Banaras Hindu University
Jeffrey G. Kopachena
B.S., M.S., University of Manitoba; Ph.D., University of Toronto.
Lucina Marcia Kuusisto
B.S., Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Brazil; M.S., Texas Tech University; Ph.D., University of Texas at Arlington
Assistant Professional Track Faculty
B.A., University of California; M.S., Ph.D., University of Tennessee.