Department Chair Assistant Chair Graduate Coordinator Administrative Assistant

Dr. Casotti
Email
610-436-2856

Dr. Auld
Email
610-436-0046

Dr. Turner
Email
610-436-3009

Melissa Griffin
Email
610-436-2538

 The Department of Biology office is located in Room 175 on the first floor of Schmucker Science North.  Faculty office hours for Spring 2020 .

News & Highlights Archive

Alumni

  • Kellie Matson

  • Nicole Havrilchak

  • Michael Mercadante

  • Lukas Bernhardt

  • Leah Kuntz

  • Kalin Konrad

  • Calvin Cooper

  • Brittney Semone

  • Scott Musser

  • Brett Mitchell

  • Joe Komar

  • Steve Broome

  • Renee Kojanis

  • Greg Barren

  • Jessica Bondy

  • Jacob Good

  • Christopher Leeson

  • Robyn Lomenzo

  • Amber Mays

  • Lauren Neel

  • Sofya Osharovich

  • Julie Storm

  • Morgan Bensinger

  • Robin Graney

  • Jess Capista

2020 Announcements

A special message to the class of 2020


 2020 News

Dr. Pagán featured in Ologies Podcast

"Planarian expert Dr. Oné Pagán shares his infectious enthusiasm for the teeny tiny ribbons of flesh that are helping scientists understand addiction, limb regeneration, stem cells, immortality and maybe aliens though probably not aliens."

To hear more, click the following link: https://www.alieward.com/ologies/planariology

OnePagan

Dr. Pagán interviewed by Main Line Today

Dr. Pagán was interviewed by Main Line Today on his use of science to entertain and educate. Below is an except from the article:

"Oné Pagán sees it as the ultimate challenge faced by any college professor: Holding the interests of students who in many cases don’t want to be there. It’s nothing personal. His students seem to like him. For most, however, his “Basic Biological Sciences for Non-Majors” course at West Chester University is a way to satisfy the school’s science requirement. “I’ve got to keep them entertained as well as educated,” says Pagán."

To read more, click here.

Oné Pagán

Fall 2019 Sigma Xi Poster Session

On December 5th, 2019, Sigma Xi hosted a poster session for Biology students. First place was awarded to Jonathan Barron (right) for his poster entitled "Effect of the G2019S LRRK2 Mutation on C. elegans Motility." Second place was awarded to two presenters: William Klinger (middle) for his poster entitled "The Effect of LRRK2 G2019S Mutation on Adult C. elegans Mobility" and Abigail Downs (left) for her poster entitled "STRECH: Strain Tension Recorder Engineered from Cheap Hardware." Congratulations and thanks to all students that participated in this event!

Fall 2019 Sigma Xi Poster Session

New Faculty members

Dr. Benjamin Chambers

Dr. Benjamin Chambers will be joining the Department of Biology as an Assistant Professor in August 2020. His research interests focus on the interaction between influenza virus and the innate immune response. The Chambers Lab will use CRISPR knockout technology and manipulations to the viral genome to investigate the host cell factors required for non-lytic clearance of influenza virus. His teaching responsibilities will include Introductory Microbiology (BIO 204) and Immunology (BIO 465).

Dr. Chambers received his Ph.D. in Microbiology, Virology, and Parasitology from the University of Pennsylvania (2016) and his B.S. in Microbiology from Penn State University (2012). He trained under Dr. Nicholas Heaton at the Duke University School of Medicine during his postdoctoral research, focusing on cellular pathways required for cells to survive direct infection with influenza virus.

Dr. Sean Buskirk

Dr. Sean Buskirk will be joining the Department of Biology as an Assistant Professor in August 2019. His research interests center on microbial evolution and the adaptive potential of microbial genomes. The Buskirk Lab will use experimental evolution – the continual propagation of an organism under well-defined conditions – as tool to study the molecular basis of microbial traits. His teaching responsibilities will include General Microbiology (BIO 214) and Pathogenic Microbiology (BIO 314).

Dr. Buskirk received his Ph.D in Infectious Diseases from the University of Georgia ('14) and his B.S in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Penn State University ('08). As a postdoctoral researcher studying microbial evolution, he trained under Dr. Vaughn Cooper at the University of New Hampshire and Dr. Gregory Lang at Lehigh University.

Dr. Jessica Sowa

Dr. Jessica Sowa earned her PhD in Human and Molecular Genetics from Baylor College of Medicine, and completed her postdoctoral work in host-pathogen interactions at the University of California San Diego. She is interested in understanding how the innate immune system has evolved to detect and defend against intracellular infections. In her postdoctoral work she investigated mechanisms of virus detection and regulation of the innate immune response in the nematode C. elegans. She intends to expand on this theme in her lab at WCU by studying the host response to viruses and other intracellular pathogens as well as identifying novel natural pathogens of nematodes.  Dr. Sowa will begin a new position as an Assistant Professor of Biology at West Chester University in August 2019.

 Biology Highlights 2019

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, published the article "Advantages of aquatic animals as models for bio-inspired drones over present AUV technology” in the journal Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, volume 15, number 2, 025001 (2020).

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, published a book chapter “Biomimetics and the application of the leading-edge tubercles of the humpback whale flipper” in Flow Control Through Bio-inspired Leading Edge Tubercles (D. T. H. New and B. F. Ng, eds.), pp. 1-39. Springer (2020).

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, and Ariel Leahy, biology graduate student, presented a paper “Hydrodynamics of a crenelated delta wing design of the hindflippers of the California sea lion” at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, Austin, TX, January 3-7, 2020.

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, Abigail Downs, biology graduate student (presenter), and Allison Kolpas, mathematics, coauthored a presentation “Turning performance by bluefin tuna: Novel mechanism for rapid maneuvers with a rigid body” at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, Austin, TX, January 3-7, 2020. 

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, coauthored a presentation “The upper jaw of rorquals can act as a delta wing for stability during lunge feeding” at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, Austin, TX, January 3-7, 2020. 

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, Ariel Leahy, biology graduate student (presenter), and Sarah Kerr, biology graduate student coauthored a presentation “Value of the California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) hindflippers during porpoising and turning maneuvers” presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, Austin, TX, January 3-7, 2020. 

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, William Gough, former biology graduate student, and Danielle Adams, former biology graduate student, coauthored a presentation “Inverse dynamics analysis of dolphin swimming” presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, Austin, TX, January 3-7, 2020.

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, and William Gough, former biology graduate student, coauthored a presentation “The physics of whale movement: Drag and thrust production to measure whale propulsive efficiency” presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, Austin, TX, January 3-7, 2020.

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, was a co-author on the presentations “A low-order model of dolphin swimming dynamics: Fluke flexibility and energetics” and “ Scaling of swimming performance in the largest animals” at the World Marine Mammal Science Conference 2019, Barcelona, Spain, December 9-12, 2019.

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, was interviewed for the radio broadcast by Matthew LaPlante "UnDisciplined: The morphological physiologist ad the migration ecologist” (https://www.upr.org/post/undisciplined-morphological-physiologist-and-migration-ecologist) on UPR Utah Public Radio on September 6, 2019.

Dr. Michael Rosario co-authored the following article: Michael V Rosario, Jeffrey P Olberding, Stephen M Deban (2019). Playing with Power: Mechanisms of Energy Flow in Organismal Movement. Integrative and Comparative Biology. Volume 59, Issue 6. https://doi.org/10.1093/icb/icz146

Dr. Michael Rosario co-authored the following article: Jeffrey P Olberding, Stephen M Deban, Michael V Rosario, Emanuel Azizi (2019). Modeling the Determinants of Mechanical Advantage During Jumping: Consequences for Spring- and Muscle-Driven Movement. Integrative and Comparative Biology. Volume 59, Issue 6. https://doi.org/10.1093/icb/icz139

Dr. Oné Pagán was interviewed by Main Line Today regarding his approach to making biology classes both entertaining and educational. http://www.mainlinetoday.com/Main-Line-Today/December-2019/TWest-Chester-University-Professor-Uses-Weird-Science-to-Entertain-and-Educate/

Dr. Eric Sweet coauthored the following article: Lachance,V., Wang, Q., Sweet, ES., Choi, I., Cai, CZ., Zhuang, XX. Zhang, Y., Jiang, J., Blitzer, RD., Bozdagi-Gunal, O., Zhang, B., Jia-Hong Lu, JH., and Yue, Z. (2019) Autophagy protein nrbf2 shows reduction in alzheimer's brains and modulates memory and amyloid-beta homeostasis in mice. Mol Neurodegener.

Dr. Eric Sweet coauthored the following article: Kana, V., Desland, FA., Casanova-Acebes, M., Ayata, P., Badimon, A., Nabel, E., Yamamuro, K., Sneeboer, M., Tan, IL., Flanigan, ME., Rose, SA., Chang, C., Leader, A., Le Bourhis, H., Sweet, E., Tung, N., Wroblewska, A., Lavin, Y., See, P., Baccarini, A., Ginhoux, F., Chitu, V., Stanley, ER., Russo, SJ., Yue, Z., Brown, BD., Joyner, AL., De Witte, LD., Morishita, H., Schaefer, A., and Merad, M. (2019) CSF-1 controls cerebellar microglia and is required for motor function and social interaction. J Exp Med. 10, 2265-2281

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, co-authored a paper titled “Scaling of swimming performance in baleen whales” in the Journal of Experimental Biology, volume 222, DOI: 10.1242/jeb.204172 (2019).

Dr. Michael Rosario was interviewed by the Journal of Experimental Biology to give his experience as an early-career researcher. https://jeb.biologists.org/content/222/20/jeb214924

Dr. Jessica Schedlbauer and Biology graduate student Sarah Polohovich presented the poster, Current and future carbon storage capacity in a southeastern Pennsylvania forest, at the Northeastern Ecology Conference held on September 28th at the Lacawac Sanctuary and Biological Field Station.

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, published the article “Swimming turned on its head: Stability and maneuverability of the shrimpfish (Aeoliscus punctulatus)” in Integrative Organismal Biology 55: E57-E57 (2019) https://academic.oup.com/iob/advance-article/doi/10.1093/iob/obz025/5581358?guestAccessKey=e30ade32-c01d-428b-ba7e-e71a7fdcd0af.

Biology undergraduate student Samantha Silverman presented a poster titled “Probability of spotted lanternfly capture depends on life stage and band type” at the Northeastern Ecology Conference at Lacawac Sanctuary. Samantha was supervised by Dr. Jennifer Chandler.

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, co-authored a paper, “Bio-inspired robotic dog paddling: kinematic and hydro-dynamic analysis” in Bioinspiration & Biomimetics 14(6): DOI: 10.1088/1748-3190/ab3d05 (2019).

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, hosted the ONR MURI Review Meeting, “Hydrodynamics of Non-Traditional Propulsion Bio-Inspired Flexible Propulsors for Fast Efficient Swimming: What Physics Are We Missing” at West Chester University, September 24-25, 2019.

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, and Abigail Downs, biology graduate student, presented a talk, “Tuna tendon and turning and tail stand fluke flexibility”, at the ONR MURI Review Meeting, “Hydrodynamics of Non-Traditional Propulsion Bio-Inspired Flexible Propulsors for Fast Efficient Swimming: What Physics Are We Missing” at West Chester University, September 24-25, 2019.

Together with colleagues working in the Florida Everglades, Dr. Jessica Schedlbauer co-authored the following article: Zhao, J., S.L. Malone, S.F. Oberbauer, P.C. Olivas, J.L. Schedlbauer, C.L. Staudhammer, & G. Starr. 2019. Intensified inundation shifts a freshwater wetland from a CO2 sink to a source. Global Change Biology 25:3319-3333, https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.14718

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, co-authored a paper “Water entry impact dynamics of diving birds” that was published in Bioinspiration and Biomimetics (2019) https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-3190/ab38cc.

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, and Dr. Maura Sheehan, health emeritus, presented a paper “Biomechanics of Different Dog Breeds on Land and in Water” in a symposium “The Dog-Human Connection: Evolution, Morphology and Behavior” at the 12th International Congress of Vertebrate Morphology (ICVM12) in Prague, Czech Republic on July 23, 2019.

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, co-authored an article entitled, “ How smooth is a dolphin? The ridged skin of odontocetes” in Biology Letters 15: 20190103 (2019).

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, co-authored a paper with Danielle Adams, biology graduate student, entitled, “Odontocete peduncle tendons for possible control of fluke orientation and flexibility” in the Journal of Morphology (2019) DOI: 101002/jmor.21033

Dr. Teresa Donze-Reiner was awarded the Research in Mathematics and Sciences Award entitled, Analysis of genetic variants associated with psychiatric disorders ($7,000). This work will be done in collaboration with Drs. Anita Foeman and Bessie Lawton in the Department of Communication at WCU and Drs. Richard Crist and Benjamin Reiner in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Teresa Donze-Reiner was awarded the College of Science and Mathematics Diversity Grant entitled, Are Human Skin Microbiome Racial? ($5,000) This work will be done in collaboration with Associate Dean, Dr. Vishal Shah.

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, co-authored a paper "Toward a bio-inspired variable-stiffness morphing limb for amphibious robot locomotion." in the 2019 2nd IEEE International Conference on Soft Robotics (RoboSoft), pp. 704-710. The paper was co-authored with Dr. Rebecca Kramer-Bottiglio of Yale University.

Dr. Frank Fish, presented a talk "Investigating sea lion locomotion as the basis for shape changing UUVs" at the ONR Bio-Inspired Autonomous Systems Review held in Arlington, Virginia on May 16, 2019. The talk was presented with collaborators Dr. Megan Leftwich of George Washington University and Dr. James Tangorra of Drexel University.

Dr. Frank Fish, presented an invited seminar “Engineering animals: Bio-inspiration from charismatic marine megafauna” to the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University on April 26, 2019.

Dr. O.R. Pagán was interviewed Utah’s Public Radio show “Undisciplined”. https://www.upr.org/post/undisciplined-superlatives-and-survival.

Dr. O.R. Pagán published the paper: The brain: a concept in flux. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2019 Jun 10;374(1774):20180383. This paper is part of a special issue of the journal on the topic of ‘Liquid brains, solid brains: How distributed cognitive architectures process information’, based on the proceedings of a working group at the Santa Fe Institute, New Mexico.

Dr. Frank Fish presented an invited seminar “Biomimetics and the development of advanced technologies from charismatic marine megafauna” to the Department of Biology of the High Point University, High Point, NC on April 12, 2019.

Biology undergraduate student Sarah Polohovich and graduate student Jason Miller presented posters describing their forest carbon cycle research at the recent Pennsylvania Academy of Science Annual Meeting. Both students were supervised by Dr. Jessica Schedlbauer.

Frank Fish presented a talk "Moment of inertia influences spin-leap performance by cetaceans” at the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic marine Mammal Symposium (SEAMAMMS) at Georgetown University, Washington D.C., March 29-31, 2019.

Dr. Frank Fish presented the invited seminar "Bio-inspiration from charismatic marine megafauna: What animals can teach us in the development of new technologies" to the Department of Integrative Biology of the University of California Berkeley on March 11, 2019.

Dr. Oné Pagan published the book chapter, Cotinine as a Possible Allosteric Modulator of Nicotine Effects in Various Models. In: Neuroscience of Nicotine: Mechanisms and Treatment. Edited by Dr. Victor Preedy. Academic Press.

Dr. Jen Maresh and Dr. Larry Udell (Philosophy) received a WCU Campus Sustainability Research and Creative Activity Award for their project, “Moving into Living Spaces, Not Landfills.” Funds from this award will be used in support of an initiative to reduce the amount of “waste” removed during student Move Out Day by providing students alternative, simple options for diverting suitable household items towards recycling or re-sale to incoming students. This will be a collaborative effort among many members of the WCU community that brings the university closer to its Climate Action Plan’s Zero Waste goals while simultaneously providing a service to incoming students with financial need.

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, co-authored the paper, “Body flexibility enhances maneuverability in the world’s largest predator.” in Integrative and Comparative Biology pp. 1-13, doi:10.1093/icb/icy121, 2018.

Dr. Oné R. Pagán was invited to serve as a panelist after the showing of the documentary film "My love affair with the brain: The Life and Science of Dr. Marian Diamond", sponsored by Philly pod of 500 Women Scientists, December 29, 2018. Article.

Fish, F. E. A tale of a dolphin tail: As told by a fish. (Presented to North County Men’s Shed Association, West Palm Beach, FL, January 9, 2019.

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, with co-author Dr. Anthony Nicastro presented a talk, “Spin-leap performance by cetaceans is influenced by moment of inertia” at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, Tampa, FL, January 3-7, 2019.

Dr. Fish was also a co-author with Dr. Maura Sheehan, emeriti professor of health, and former biology graduate students Danielle Adams, William Gough, and Kelsey Tennett on the presentation, “Differential weight support in dogs” presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, Tampa, FL, January 3-7, 2019.

Dr. Fish was a co-author with Abigail Downs, biology graduate student, and Allison Kolpas, mathematics, on the presentation, “Turning performance by bluefin tuna: Novel mechanism for rapid maneuvers with a rigid body” presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, Tampa, FL, January 3-7, 2019.

Dr. Fish was a co-author with Danielle Adams, former biology graduate student, on the presentation “Properties and function of tendons in the peduncle of odontocetes”  presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, Tampa, FL, January 3-7, 2019.

Dr. Fish was co-author with William Gough, former biology graduate student, on the presentation “Comparative kinematics and hydrodynamics of mysticete cetaceans: Morphological and ecological correlates with swimming performance” presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, Tampa, FL, January 3-7, 2019.

Dr. Fish was also a co-author on the presentations, “Evaluating airship drag as a predictor of baleen whale drag” and “Computational fluid dynamics study of baleen whale drag” presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, Tampa, FL, January 3-7, 2019.

Dr. Fish presented an invited seminar, “A tale of a dolphin tail: As told by a fish” to North County Men’s Shed Association, West Palm Beach, FL, January 9, 2019.

Stratton, C., A. Kolpas, & J. R. Auld. 2018. Optimal mating strategies for preferentially outcrossing simultaneous hermaphrodites in the presence of predators. Bulletin of Mathematical Biology 80:2652-2668. 

Auld, J. R. 2018. The effects of diet and mating system on reproductive (and post-reproductive) lifespan in a freshwater snail. Ecology & Evolution 8:12260-12270.

 

Our Primary Mission

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.

Biology Department 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

 

 

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