Supporting the university community during the ongoing Mid-East conflict 

Dear West Chester University Community,

This week’s atrocities in Israel and Gaza have put a pall on our nation and our communities. While our thoughts are with those impacted, one thing is certain: as advocates for peace, justice and treating all individuals with respect and dignity, West Chester University stands firmly against any acts of violence that target innocent lives in all corners of our world. Our paramount concern is to support all West Chester University students and our community of educators affected by the continuing situation in the Middle East and at home. We must always be a supportive learning community that takes care of our students and each other. We are one.

As we shared on Monday, our Counseling Center is staffed with caring and compassionate professionals who are available to speak with students who would like to talk more; the Center may be reached at (610) 436-2301. Valley Creek Crisis Center is also available after business hours and can be reached at (610) 918-3100. In addition, please remember that the National Crisis Line can always be accessed by calling or texting 988. Further, the State Employees Assistance Program (SEAP) is available for all faculty and staff of West Chester University who would wish to seek support. SEAP is available 24/7, is free of charge to all employees and members of their households regardless of whether they engage in our healthcare benefits plan and is always confidential; no one at West Chester University will be notified if you contact SEAP.

 Sincerely,

Chris Fiorentino

President

 

  • WCU students at Baker Beach, California

    WCU Biology undergrad and graduate students in San Francisco for the summer Ecology of Northern California field course.

  • WCUPA students during Ecology of Northern California summer field course

    Ecology of Northern California summer field course students at Muir Overlook coastal bluffs.

  • Students from Bio 464 course

    Students from the Spring 2023 Microbial Physiology Course.

  • 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.

  •  Ecology and Conservation Concentration students learned from WCU Alum Brittney Semone about field jobs in ecology.

    Ecology and Conservation Concentration students learned from WCU Alum Brittney Semone about field jobs in ecology. Thanks to Brittney for the amazing advice and perspective!

  • 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.

Student Development Calendar

02/26 - Requirements to apply for grad school; Resume/CV tips

Requirements to apply for grad school; Resume/CV tips

Program: Biology Grad School 101: Navigate Your Next Steps
Date: 02/26/2024
Time: 5:00-6:30pm
Location: MER 109
Facilitators: Dr. Ben Chambers and Dr. Jenny Uehling

03/04 - Paint eggs and egg shaped rocks!

Paint eggs and egg shaped rocks!

Program: Biology DEI Committee
Date: 03/04/2024
Time: 12:00-1:00pm
Location: Center for STEM Inclusion
Facilitators: Dr. Eric Sweet

03/25 - Resume/CV peer-review workshop; Personal statement tips

Resume/CV peer-review workshop; Personal statement tips

Program: Biology Grad School 101: Navigate Your Next Steps
Date: 03/25/2024
Time: 5:00-6:30pm
Location: MER 109
Facilitators: Dr. Ben Chambers and Dr. Jenny Uehling

Full Schedule

Requirements to apply for grad school; Resume/CV tips

Program: Biology Grad School 101: Navigate Your Next Steps
Date: 02/26/2024
Time: 5:00-6:30pm
Location: MER 109
Facilitators: Dr. Ben Chambers and Dr. Jenny Uehling

Paint eggs and egg shaped rocks!

Program: Biology DEI Committee
Date: 03/04/2024
Time: 12:00-1:00pm
Location: Center for STEM Inclusion
Facilitators: Dr. Eric Sweet

Resume/CV peer-review workshop; Personal statement tips

Program: Biology Grad School 101: Navigate Your Next Steps
Date: 03/25/2024
Time: 5:00-6:30pm
Location: MER 109
Facilitators: Dr. Ben Chambers and Dr. Jenny Uehling

Biology Department Boardgame Night

Program: Biology DEI Committee
Date: 03/28/2024
Time: 5:00pm
Location: Center for STEM Inclusion
Facilitators: Dr. Eric Sweet

Gordon Natural Area Wander

Program: Biology DEI Committee
Date: 04/10/2024
Time: 3:00-4:00pm
Location: Gordon Natural Area - Meet at Sturzebecker parking lot
Facilitators: Dr. Eric Sweet

End of Year Celebration

Program: Biology DEI Committee
Date: 04/26/2024
Time: 2:00pm
Location: TBD
Facilitators: Dr. Eric Sweet

Personal statement peer-review workshop; Interview prep

Program: Biology Grad School 101: Navigate Your Next Steps
Date: 04/29/2024
Time: 5:00-6:30pm
Location: MER 109
Facilitators: Dr. Ben Chambers and Dr. Jenny Uehling

News

 

 

 

 

 

News Archive

2024 Highlights

Dr. Manu Ramalho and other collaborators have published a new paper on Wolbachia and turtle ants! Check out the paper here: https://doi.org/10.3390/biology13020121  

2023 Highlights

Dr. Manu Ramalho was a keynote speaker at Mirmeco (Oct 2023) - the largest international symposium for myrmecologists (researchers who study ants! 🐜), held in the Amazon (Manaus, Brazil). In addition to presenting on microbiomes and women in science, Dr. Ramalho had the opportunity to embark on a small expedition into the Amazon forest, where he encountered fascinating ants!

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, presented an invited seminar, “Creation of Innovative Technologies Based on Bio-Inspired Designs from Marine Animals” to aerodynamics students in the University of Washington Aeronautics and Astronautics Department on January 3, 2024.

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, co-authored a research paper “Examining the interplay between body shape and stiffness for improving water entry” that was presented at the 76th Annual Meeting of the Division of Fluid Dynamics, Washington, DC, November 19-21 (2023). The paper was co-authored with Bart Boom and Dr. Ed Habtour of the University of Washington, and Dr. Tadd Truscott of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia.

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, is a co-author on a research article, ”Thrust generation and propulsive efficiency in dolphin-like swimming propulsion” that was published in Bioinspiration & Biomimetics 18(5): 056001 (2023). The article was co-authored with Dr. Haibo Dong of the University of Virginia.

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, co-authored a research paper “Water entry dynamics of avian inspired divers” in the Proceedings of the ASME 2023 Conference on Smart Materials, Adaptative Structures and Intelligent Systems (2023). The paper was co-authored with Bart Boom and Ed Habtour of the University of Washington, Adam Summers of the Friday Harbor Lab, and Tadd Truscott of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia.

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, along with former biology graduate students William Gough and Danielle Adams, published a book chapter  “Dolphin muscles and movement” in The Physiology of Dolphins (Fahlman, A. and Hooker, S., eds.), published by Academic Press, London (2023).

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, co-authored a presentation, “Water entry of avian inspired projectile” that was presented at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) conference on Smart Materials, Adaptive Structures and Intelligent Systems (SMASIS 2023) in Austin, TX, September 11-13 (2023). The presentation was co-authored with Bart Boom and Dr. Ed Habtour of the University of Washington and Dr. Tadd Truscott of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia.

Sage Forsythe presented her research Redefining American ginseng harvest regulations: Using size rather than age as a conservation-minded harvest criterion at the Ecological Society of America meeting in Portland Oregon in August, 2023. Sage is an undergraduate research student in Dr. Chandler’s Plant Conservation Biology lab.

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, published a book chapter titled “Hydrodynamics” in the book Physiology of Marine Mammals: Adaptations to the Ocean, which was edited by M. A. Castellini and J-A. Mellish by CRC Press (2023). The chapter was co-authored with Dr. Jean Potvin from St. Louis University and Jeremy Goldbogen from Stanford University.

Dr. Jen Maresh published a book chapter with colleagues:
Noren, S.R., J.L. Maresh & T.M. Williams. 2023. "Energy for Exercise: The Cost of Motion in Marine Mammals", in Physiology of Marine Mammals: Adaptations to the Ocean (eds. M.A. Castellini and J. Mellish). CRC Press, pp. 27-50. DOI: 10.1201/9781003297468-2

Dr. Manu Ramalho conducted a workshop on host-microbiome interactions using R software at Universidade Estadual Paulista in Brazil in August 2023.

Dr. Manu Ramalho was an invited speaker at Universidade Estadual Paulista in Brazil (August, 2023). She shared her research on the ant microbiome with Brazilian students and discussed the significance of diversity and inclusion in science.

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, presented a paper “Morphology and kinematics of amphibious marine vertebrates for transition to biorobotic systems” at the meeting of the International Congress of Vertebrate Morphology in Cairns, Australia, July 28-August 1, 2023. The presentation was co-authored with biology graduate students Caitlyn Swiston and Matt Wileyto, and with Dr. Rebecca Kramer-Bottiglio of Yale University, Dr. Megan Leftwich of George Washington University, and Drs. James Tangorra and Harry Kwatny of Drexel University.

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, was a co-author on a research paper “Hydrodynamics of dolphin in forward propulsion” that was published in the Bioinspiration & Biomimetics volume 18: 056001 (2023).

Josephine Szczyrbak, Biology undergraduate student, presented a research poster titled “The development of isopropanol tolerance by Staphylococcus aureus” at the TriBeta National Honor Society NE District 2 Annual Convention at Penn State Schuylkill on April 1, 2023. Josephine was mentored by Dr. Sean Buskirk, Biology.

Nevy Harris, Biology undergraduate student, was accepted to participate in the 2023 Summer Undergraduate Research Institute (SURI). She will be mentored by Dr. Sean Buskirk, Biology, on her project titled “Investigating the Development of Hydrogen Peroxide Tolerance in Staphylococcus aureus”.

Dr. Sean Buskirk, Biology, received a Provost’s Enrollment Planning Investment grant to support his proposal to develop “a workshop series to improve student preparedness in biology”.

Dr. Manu Ramalho delivered a lecture at the Center for the Study of Social Insects in São Paulo, Brazil.

Dr. Manu Ramalho gave a talk entitled 'Untangling the Complex Interactions between Turtle Ants and Their Microbial Partners' at the Evolution Meeting 2023 in Albuquerque, NM.

Dr. Manu Ramalho along with other collaborators, published a paper in the journal Neotropical Entomology titled "Hitting the Road: Haplotype Diversity of Brazilian Fire Ant 🐜 Nesting in Disturbed Habitats by the Atlantic Forest." You can access the paper here.

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, gave two presentations “Locomotion and transitions of an amphibious system: Biologic to robotic” with Dr. Megan Leftwich of George Washington University and Dr. James Tangorra and Dr. Harry Kwany of Drexel University, and “Autonomous environmental transitions of an amphibious turtle inspired robot” with Dr. Rebecca Kramer-Bottiglio and Dr. Robert Baines of Yale University. The presentations were made at the Office of Naval Research Bio-Inspired Autonomous Systems Review that was held at the University of Maryland, May 16-18, 2023.

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, coauthored a research article “Some like it hot: Temperature and hydrodynamic factors influence Xenobalanus globicipitis attachment to cetaceans” in Marine Mammal Science 2023:1-15. Doi: 10.1111/mms. 13022 (2023), with Milan Dolezal and Dr. Janet Mann of Georgetown University.

Sage Forsythe, Biology undergraduate student, presented the research poster “Redefining American ginseng harvest regulations: Using size rather than age as a conservation-minded harvest criterion” at the Mid-Atlantic Ecological Society of America meeting in Newark, DE on April 1, 2023. The presentation was co-authored with Dr. Jennifer Chandler, Biology.

Biology undergraduate student Sage Forsythe received the Outstanding Poster Award at the Mid-Atlantic Ecological Society of America meeting in Newark, DE for her research “Redefining American ginseng harvest regulations: Using size rather than age as a conservation-minded harvest criterion.” The presentation was co-authored with Dr. Jennifer Chandler, Biology.

Dr. Manu Ramalho together with other authors published a paper entitled "Investigating the Diversity of Wolbachia across the Spiny Ants (Polyrhachis)". Check the paper here: DOI: https://www.mdpi.com/1424-2818/15/3/348

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, published a chapter, titled “Aquatic locomotion: environmental constraints that drive convergent evolution” in the book Convergent Evolution. Fascinating Life Sciences Series. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-11441-0_15. (2023).

Abigail Downs, biology graduate student, published a research paper “Multiple behaviors for turning performance of Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis)” in the Journal of Experimental Biology (2023) 226: jeb244144. doi:10.1242/jeb244144. The paper was co-authors with Dr. Frank Fish, biology, Dr. Allison Kolpas, mathematics, and Dr. Barbara Block of the Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University.

Dr. Manu Ramalho published a paper about fire ants - The Facet of Human Impact: Solenopsis invicta Buren, 1972 Spreading around the Atlantic Forest. Diversity, 2023, 15, 194. Check it out here: https://doi.org/10.3390/d15020194

Dr. Pisciotta received US patent #11,492,713 for an "Energy Storage and Metal Upcycling System” which is useful for production of hydrogen and water disinfection.

Dr. Pisciotta co-authored with former WCU graduate student Azar Saikali a book chapter “Nanobiotechnology in Enzyme-based Biorefinement and Valorization of Waste” in the book Enzymes in the Valorization of Waste. December 19, 2022, CRC Press.

Dr. Pisciotta and former WCU graduate student Azar Saikali and current WCU undergraduate Kevin Phillips presented a poster “Effect of Metal-containing Nanoparticles on Biofilms and the Microbiome of Girardia tigrina” at the Infection and Immunity Forum in Philadelphia, PA on December 12, 2022.

Dr. Manu Ramalho co-authored the following manuscript: Ramalho, M.O. & Moreau, C.S. Untangling the complex interactions between turtle ants 🐜 and their microbial partners. Animal Microbiome 5, 1 (2023). Check it out here: https://doi.org/10.1186/s42523-022-00223-7

Steven Snipes, Biology graduate student, presented a research poster “Modeling Dynamic Muscle-Tendon Interactions in Interrupted Movements” at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in Austin, TX on January 3-7, 2023. The presentation was co-authored with Dr. Michael Rosario, Biology.

Daniel Wagner, physics and biomedical engineering undergraduate student, presented a research poster “Drag Reduction in the Snailfish Tail Curl” at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in Austin, TX on January 3-7, 2023. The presentation was co-authored with Dr. Michael Rosario, Biology.

Rajal Vyas, physics and biomedical engineering undergraduate student, presented a research poster “The Effect of Activation Dynamics on the Muscle-Tendon Unit’s Ability to Decelerate Mass” at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in Austin, TX on January 3-7, 2023. The presentation was co-authored with Dr. Michael Rosario, Biology.

Dr. Michael Rosario, biology, presented a research poster “STRECH: Strain Tension Recorder Engineered from Cheap Hardware” at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in Austin, TX on January 3-7, 2023. The presentation was co-authored with biology graduate student, Abigail Downs and Biology undergraduate student, Hailey Smith.

Dr. Molly Gabler, biology graduate student (currently a post-doctorate student at Harvard University) and Dr. Frank Fish, biology, published the paper “Morphological and histochemical characteristics of the pectoral fin muscle of batoids” in the Journal of Morphology 2022: e21548, (2002).

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, presented research paper “Taking a new heading: the sea lion head as a control surface” at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in Austin, TX on January 3-7, 2023. The paper was co-authored with Caitlyn Swiston, biology graduate student, Scott Moon, mathematics graduate student, and Dr. Allison Kolpas, mathematics.

David Kramer, biology undergraduate student, presented a research poster “Thrust production and chordal flexion of the bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) performing tail stands at different efforts” at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in Austin, TX on January 3-7, 2023. The presentation was co-authored with Dr. Maura Sheehan, health emerita, and Dr. Frank Fish, biology.

Matt Wileyto, biology graduate student, presented an oral research paper “Turning corners in sea turtle maneuvering performance” at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in Austin, TX on January 3-7, 2023. The presentation was co-authored with Dr. Frank Fish, biology.

Caitlyn Swiston, biology graduate student, presented an oral research paper “On the flip side: Hydrodynamic function of the hind flippers of three otariids” at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in Austin, TX on January 3-7, 2023. 2023. The presentation was co-authored with Dr. Frank Fish, biology.

Alexa Cesari, physics and biomedical engineering undergraduate student, presented a research poster “Biological and biomechanical properties of tendons in the peduncle of harbor porpoise” at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in Austin, TX on January 3-7, 2023. The presentation was co-authored with Dr. Jessie Placone, physics and biomedical engineering, Dr. Nicole Ramo, physics and biomedical engineering, K. V. Saini, physics and biomedical engineering undergraduate student, Dr. Michael Rosario, biology, and Dr. Frank Fish, biology.

Highlights Archive

Mission Statement

The primary mission of the Department of Biology, including its faculty, staff, and administrators, 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. Many of the courses have a laboratory component, facilitating participatory learning. An integrated core curriculum is intended to strengthen the written and verbal communication, quantitative and qualitative analysis, and problem-solving skills of all biology majors. As a responsibility of a future scientist, the role of ethics and diversity in science is also discussed in courses as warranted. Several focused concentrations within the undergraduate curriculum offer options of either specializing for immediate employment upon graduation or preparing for postgraduate education. An important role of the Faculty is to advise students in coursework to ensure progress towards a degree and their future careers with the aim for the students to become lifelong learners.

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 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, integrates advancements into the teaching and mentoring, and helps 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 be incorporated into their education. Students may also gain experience and credit through off-campus internships. Both of these opportunities provide real lab experience for students allowing many Biology Department graduates to further their career goals.

The Department serves the University by supporting the principles of academic integrity and responsibility in coursework in Biology and 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 Science Complex. The Biology wing of the Science Complex 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.

Are you looking for a Summer Research Internship in STEM? Start here!

Biology Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Suggestion Box and Help Tool: Follow this link to drop a note in our online suggestion box, get more information about the Biology department DEI committee, or connect to resources that can help solve problems.​

Suggestion Box

Research Opportunities

Plastic Pollution On Campus and in Local Streams

The Aquatic Ecosystems Lab at WCU is seeking at least four undergraduate students to participate in a study about plastic pollution on campus and in local streams, beginning August 2023. Interested students should schedule a meeting during Dr. Fork's office hours to discuss the project and their questions. More information at https://aquaticecosystemswcu.weebly.com/opportunities.html

More Opportunities

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

You can also view the faculty research slideshow for more information on ongoing faculty research.

Contact Information

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

Faculty office hours for Spring 2024 .

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."

More Alumni