Dr. Megan Fork receives $390,381 grant from NSF
Dr. Megan Fork, together with a team of researchers, received a grant from the National Science Foundation for a project titled "Improving institutional diversity in professional society participation through virtual and hybrid conferencing". The team will investigate how and whether virtual and hybrid conferences in ecology, environmental science, and allied fields have increased participation by individuals from a diverse set of institutions, including academic organizations like universities and organizations outside of academia like government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and environmental consulting firms. With participants from a diversity of types of institutions, scientific conferences can improve collaboration and knowledge exchange and facilitate evidence-based environmental management. The project will also assess whether virtual and hybrid conferences are more inclusive of a diverse set of backgrounds and career stages and assess barriers, attitudes, and preferences related to conference access, attendance, and participation.
Dr. Jennifer Uehling joins Department of Biology
Jennifer Uehling will join the West Chester University Department of Biology as an Assistant Professor in August 2023. She is an avian behavioral ecologist and incorporates elements of foraging ecology, stress physiology, and movement ecology into her work. She likes thinking about why wild birds eat what they do, and how it affects their health and survival. At WCU, she will investigate how challenges like predation, inclement weather, and competition affect foraging behavior. For her research program at WCU, Jenny will study cavity nesting birds, including swallows, chickadees, and wrens, using a network of nest boxes that she and her students will set up throughout the West Chester region. As a core technique of her research program, she uses DNA metabarcoding of fecal samples to reconstruct birds’ diets (extracting and sequencing DNA from bird poop!). She is excited to mentor students on fieldwork techniques, lab work, and science outreach and communication.
Jenny looks forward to teaching courses in animal behavior, ornithology, and diversity in STEM. She is passionate about demystifying research opportunities and the graduate school application process, especially for students from underrepresented backgrounds in STEM, and she is broadly excited to be involved in diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts at WCU. Jenny is also eager to contribute to and advance public outreach opportunities. She has co-run a bird biology education program for elementary school students in Ithaca, New York for many years and plans to create a similar program for schools in the West Chester area.
Jenny is finishing her PhD from Cornell University’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. She earned her B. S. in Biology and B. A. in Environmental Studies from the University of Chicago in 2015. She grew up in Glenside, Pennsylvania and attended Springfield Township High School in Montgomery County. She is an avid Phillies fan and is excited to return home to the Philadelphia area.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Contribute to a Long-Term Study of Forest Dynamics in WCU’s Gordon Natural Area!
Dr. Schedlbauer is seeking two undergraduate students to work for a month this summer on a field-based research project. We’ll be working in the Gordon on a re-census of six long-term monitoring plots. For more info, see this flyer .
For more information, please see the Biology Faculty Research page.
- Dr. Casotti, Department Chair
- Dr. Chandler, Assistant Chair
- Dr. Turner, Graduate Coordinator
- Melissa Griffin, Administrative Assistant
The Department of Biology office is located in Room 175 on the first floor of Schmucker Science North.
Faculty office hours for Spring 2023 .
"I graduated from West Chester University in Spring of 2020 with a BS in Cellular Molecular Biology and minors in Chemistry, Psychology, and History."
"I graduated from West Chester University in the Spring of 2021 with a B.S. in Biology with a Cellular and Molecular concentration."
"I graduated from West Chester University in 2021 with a B.S. in Biology (Cell and Molecular Biology) and Science Education minor."