Department Chair Assistant Chair Graduate Coordinator Administrative Assistant

Dr. Casotti

Dr. Auld

Dr. Turner

Melissa Griffin

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

Faculty office hours for Fall 2020 .


News & Highlights Archive


  •  Nicole Havrilchak
  • Carly Farrell

  • 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

  • Sam Henderson

  • Briana Yusiewicz

  • John Musgnung

College of Science and Mathematics Antiracism Statement

We in the College of the Sciences and Mathematics are heartbroken and outraged by recent events, including the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. We mourn with the families and friends of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and the many other Black persons who have lost their lives to senseless violence. We grieve with our students, staff, and faculty of color who face injustice. We stand with a nation that is ready to end racism and create a just and equitable society.

Click here to read the full statement

We in the College of the Sciences and Mathematics are heartbroken and outraged by recent events, including the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. We mourn with the families and friends of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and the many other Black persons who have lost their lives to senseless violence. We grieve with our students, staff, and faculty of color who face injustice. We stand with a nation that is ready to end racism and create a just and equitable society.

This time of national crisis, the tragic deaths of Black Americans, the incitement of violence directed at racial/ethnic minorities, and xenophobic hatred have again brought attention to this country’s systemic inequities on the basis of race, ethnicity, and skin color. These events highlight the present-day structural oppression of racism that influences nearly all aspects of our society. These realities of our nation involve deep injustice, pain, suffering, and loss—but also a strong movement towards change, justice, and equity. Recognizing the hope that can arise from actions and desires for societal change, the West Chester University College of the Sciences and Mathematics seeks to foster a shared commitment to the work we do as educators, researchers, scholars, support staff, and students---work that has the power to make the invisible visible and to give voice to important issues, including those related to ending racism, promoting social justice, and upholding the values of dignity and human rights.

As scientists and mathematicians, we are dedicated to evidence-based learning, community engagement, and personal and societal change. As citizens in a global society, we encourage our faculty, staff, and students to take advantage of opportunities for personal and collective action:

  • The CSM administration, faculty, and staff commit to holding each other accountable to the college’s mission to support the success of the whole student—academic, social, personal, and emotional, and to promote critical thinking, evidence-based problem-solving, timely approaches to current issues, professional and ethical conduct, and cultural competence.
  • We encourage our students to help us identify ways in which we can better meet this mission and make the College ever more representative of and responsive to our students and their needs.
  • We call for a College-wide commitment to social change that promotes equity, social justice, and respect for human rights, and that eliminates all forms of systemic and institutional racism, injustice, and inequity, while empowering our students to be well-informed agents of social change.
  • We strongly encourage members of our college—faculty, staff, and students—to learn more about issues of structural inequality and systemic injustice, including the historical antecedents, its causes and symptoms, and evidence-based solutions. For students, this might mean taking advantage of the many related courses offered in CSM departments such as Anthropology and Sociology, Political Science, and Psychology. For all, this may include participating in the training and educational opportunities provided by the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and many other groups on campus. In addition, CSM faculty and staff will curate a collection of informational materials available to all members of the college. We encourage everyone to visit the site regularly, to contribute and share widely.
  • If you are a member of the college experiencing or witnessing harassment, discrimination, or other forms of injustice on campus, please reach out to the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
    May we collectively choose to be the change we want to see in the world (Mahatma Gandhi).

2020 Announcements

Prospective Student Video - WCU Experience Day

If you are a prospective student considering enrolling in Biology at West Chester University in fall 2021, watch this helpful video that provides insight into the programs we offer. Come to WCU Experience Days virtually and a faculty member from Biology will be able to answer any questions you may have. WCU Experience days are on September 21st (5pm), October 12th and November 9th 2020.

Faculty Job Search

Freshwater Ecologist

Tenure track ASSISTANT PROFESSOR position available August 2021.  Earned doctorate in Ecology or related discipline required; research focused on some area of freshwater ecology, with a field-based component.  The successful applicant must be qualified to teach Wetlands and Freshwater Ecology lecture and laboratory, upper division or graduate courses in the candidate’s area of expertise, and General Biology and Ecology lecture and/or laboratories.  The successful candidate is expected to establish an active, externally funded research program involving graduate and/or undergraduate students.  Applicants must successfully complete an interview process that includes a teaching demonstration and research seminar to be considered as a finalist.  To apply, upload a cover letter, curriculum vitae, teaching philosophy statement, research statement, diversity statement, and copies of all unofficial university transcripts to Three letters of recommendation must also be uploaded by references to the website above.  Review of completed applications begins October 5, 2020 and continues until the position is filled.  For more details and full ad visit the website above or contact Dr. Jessica Schedlbauer at  The filling of this position is contingent upon available funding.  All offers of employment are subject to and contingent upon satisfactory completion of all pre-employment criminal background checks.  Developing and sustaining a diverse faculty and staff advances WCU’s educational mission and Strategic Plan.  West Chester University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.  Women, minorities, veterans, and persons with disabilities are encouraged to apply.


New Graduate Student Class, Fall 2020

The department is excited to welcome our new students to the Graduate Program. These students hail from many undergraduate schools including: Cheyney University, University of Delaware, Delaware Valley College, Lincoln University, University of Maryland (College Park), Millersville University, State University of New York (Environmental Science and Forestry), Penn State (State College), Penn State (York), University of Phoenix, and West Chester University. We wish each of them well on their start and continued success! Note that this cohort will the first to begin fully under the new WCU BIO MS program based on 30 credits, down from our former program based on 36 total credits.

A special message to the graduate student class of 2020

CONGRATULATIONS to the Graduating Graduate Student Class of 2020!

Four students received their M.S. in Biology degrees this spring. Octavia Allen, Patricia Butler, and Tran Nguyen, all worked with Dr. John Pisciotta, while Jason Miller worked with Dr. Jessica Schedlbauer. The department wishes them the best of luck as they move on to medical school, doctoral programs, and research based careers.

A special message to the class of 2020

2020 News

Dr. Pagán interviewed on The Wild Life Podcast

"Tattoos, superheroes, opportunities, regeneration, Men in Black, phallic fencing, 1st brains, discoveries, cocaine, addiction, belly button mouths, and so much more. So, wherever you are, maybe a floaty in a pool gliding around like a flatworm in a petri dish, get ready for our conversation with Dr. Oné R. Pagán ! His enthusiasm will have you hooked. By the end, you'll never want to stop talking about flatworms in any and all social settings, no matter how appropriate or inappropriate."

To hear more, click the following link:

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:


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

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.

Biology Highlights 2020

Dr. Sean Buskirk presented a poster entitled "Adaptive evolution of nontransitive fitness in yeast" at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory Conference (September 2020).

Dr. Sean Buskirk published the following research article "Turner CB, Buskirk SW, Harris KB, Cooper VS. 2019. Negative frequency-dependent selection maintains coexisting genotypes during fluctuating selection. Molecular Ecology."

Dr. Sean Buskirk published the following research article "Mhatre E, Snyder D, Sileo E, Turner CB, Buskirk SW, Fernandez NL, Neiditch MB, Waters CM, Cooper VS. 2019. One gene, multiple ecological strategies: a biofilm regulator is a capacitor for sustainable diversity. PNAS."

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, was a co-author on “Investigating sea lion locomotion as the basis for shape changing UUVs” at the ONR Bio-Inspired Autonomous Systems Review, Arlington, VA, June 2-4, 2020.

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, co-authored a paper, “ Kinematics and hydrodynamics of a dolphin in forward swimming” in AIAA Aviation Forum, 10.2514/6.2020.3015 (2020).

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, published the research article “A 60:40 split: Differential mass support in dogs” in the Anatomical Record, 10.1002/ar.24407. The article was co-authored with Dr. Maura Sheehan, health emerita, and biology graduate students Danielle Adams, Kelsey Tennett, and William Gough.

Dr. Micheal Rosario published the following research article "Rosario, Michael V., and Thomas J. Roberts. "Loading rate has little influence on tendon fascicle mechanics." Frontiers in physiology 11 (2020): 255."

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, co-authored an article “Energetic and physical limitations on the breaching performance of large whales” in eLife, volume 9:e51760 (2020).

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, co-authored an article “Three-dimensional scaling laws of cetacean propulsion characterize the hydrodynamic interplay of flukes’ shape and gait“ in Journal of the Royal Society Interface, volume 17:20190655 (2020).

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, co-authored an article "Variable stiffness morphing limb for amphibious legged robots inspired by chelonian environmental adaptations" that was published in Bioinspiration & Biomimetics volume 15(2), 2020.

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, published a research paper, “Comparative histological examination of the integument of odontocete flukes,” in Aquatic Mammals, volume 46(4): 367-381 (2020). The article was co-authored with biology graduate student Jennifer Garten.

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. 

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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