Department of Biological Sciences (BSC)

The department offers programs leading to the Master of Science in Biological Sciences, Master of Science in Marine Science, and Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Sciences degrees. The graduate program is designed to provide broad training in the biological sciences, with specialization in the fields of Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB) or Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics (EES). Research foci within MCB include disease model systems; evolutionary and developmental genetics; microbiology and immunology; genomics; and protein biochemistry. Research foci within EES include population, community, and ecosystem ecology; microbial ecology; evolutionary biology; conservation genetics; animal behavior and physiology; and systematics, with a special emphasis on aquatic systems.

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Programs

Research facilities include: Molecular Biology Core Facility, Steven Johnson Molecular Systematics Lab, Optical Analysis Facility, Aquatic Chemistry Laboratory, Animal Care Facility, as well as extensive museum collections and databases in the Scientific Collections Facility.
 
Local field sites include: J. Nicholene Bishop (Tanglewood) Biological Station, The University of Alabama Arboretum, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Point Aux Pins Marsh Lab, and Talladega National Forest.

Faculty

Chair
  • Janis M. O’Donnell
Graduate Director
  • John Yoder
Academic Coordinator
  • Katrina Ramonell

Courses

Biological Sciences

Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

Courses at the 500 level are not open to students who have received credit for the same courses at the 400 level.

BSC
500
Hours
4
Vertebrate Funct Morphol

Morphology of animals, primarily vertebrates, with emphasis on functional aspects of anatomy. Laboratory deals mainly with comparative anatomy of the vertebrates. Offered fall semester.

BSC
503
Hours
2
Intro Bsc Instruction

Students in the MS program who are not teaching assistants may receive up to 2 hours' credit. Students in the PhD program who are not teaching assistants may receive up to 4 hours' credit provided they teach two different laboratories. Offered fall and spring semesters.

BSC
504
Hours
2
Intro Bsc Instruction

Students in the MS program who are not teaching assistants may receive up to 2 hours' credit. Students in the PhD program who are not teaching assistants may receive up to 4 hours' credit provided they teach two different laboratories. Offered fall and spring semesters.

BSC
506
Hours
1
Intro Research Biol Sci

Surveys research programs in biological sciences. Offered fall and spring semesters.

BSC
507
Hours
1-6
Research Tech In By

Individualized instruction and the application of research techniques to specific problems for graduate students in the department. Offered fall and spring semesters.

BSC
512
Hours
3
Limnology

A study of freshwater environments and organisms living in lakes, ponds, and streams. Offered fall semester.

BSC
515
Hours
3
Wetland Plant Ecology

An in-depth analysis of wetland ecology emphasizing the biology and ecology of vascular plants, including plant adaptations to anaerobic soils, reproductive adaptations, habitat, and plant zonation, and the role of plants in ecosystem function.

BSC
517
Hours
3
Environmental Modeling

An integrated survey of quantitative principles and computer-based solution techniques important for understanding environmental systems and for environmental problem solving. Offered alternate fall semesters.

BSC
520
Hours
4
Principles Of Systematics

An introduction to the principles, methods and applications of systematic zoology and the zoological classifications. Offered alternate fall semesters.

BSC
522
Hours
3
Biology of Cancer

This course is an introduction to the biological principals that explain the origins, development, pathology, and treatment of cancer. Students will work in teams assigned to particular types of cancer and will investigate what is known on various topics as related to that type of cancer.

Prerequisite(s): Must be enrolled in university graduate program.
BSC
524
Hours
3
Human Physiology

Examines the cardiovascular, digestive, endocrine, muscular, neural, renal, reproductive and respiratory systems. Offered spring semesters.

BSC
525
Hours
2
Human Physiology Lab

Centers on principles of physiology and instrumentation for physiology. Offered alternate fall semesters.

Prerequisite(s): None. Corequisite: BSC 524.
BSC
528
Hours
4
Biology Of Fishes

A survey of the structure, function, ecology, and classification of fishes. Offered alternate spring semesters.

BSC
529
Hours
3
Pathophysiology

Teh biological basis of disease at the cellular, organ and system level with emphasis on applications for health professionals.

BSC
531
Hours
3
Pathogenic Microbiology

A study of microorganisms related to health and disease. Offered spring semester.

BSC
532
Hours
3
Pathogenic Microbiol Lab

Practical experience in the isolation, characterization, and identification of pathogenic microorganisms. Offered alternate spring semesters.

BSC
533
Hours
3
Microbial Diversity

A one semester indepth survey of the diversity of microbial life forms. Writing proficiency is required for a passing grade in this course. Offered alternate spring semesters.

BSC
534
Hours
4
Plant Systematics

Characteristics and distribution of the major families of vascular plants, and practice in the collection and identification of flowering plants. One weekend field trip is required. Offered alternate spring semesters.

BSC
535
Hours
4
Immunology

Thorough exploration of various aspects of modern immunology at the molecular and cellular levels. Offered fall semester.

BSC
536
Hours
3
Immunology Lab

Practical experience in modern immunological techniques. Offered alternate spring semesters.

BSC
539
Hours
3
Bch/Molecular Biology Lab

A survey of the common analytical techniques used in molecular biology. Topics include protein purification and characterization, enzymology, DNA isolation and restriction endonuclease mapping, and gene cloning. Offered spring semester.

BSC
541
Hours
3
Developmental Biology

The course provides basic information about events in developing animal systems, emphasizing cellular, molecular, and genetic research approaches to the study of development. Offered spring semester.

BSC
542
Hours
4
Integrated Genomics

This advanced undergraduate/graduate level course will introduce you the major technologies and concepts in genomics, familiarize you with some publicly available of bioinformatics databases and tools, contribute to the public knowledge base through your own bioinformatics and literature based research, and give you hands-on experience with genomics wet lab methods. This course will also provide information on careers in biotechnology.

BSC
544
Hours
3
General Virology

The molecular biology of bacterial, animal, and plant virus replication, including the biophysical, biochemical, and biological properties of virus particles. Offered spring semester.

BSC
548
Hours
3
Animal Behavior

This course is designed to provide modern perspectives on the study of animal behavior, pulling from fields as diverse as evolutionary biology, ecology, neurobiology and economics. However there will be a historical undercurrent which will illustrate the roots of this truly interdisciplinary field.

BSC
549
Hours
3
Endocrinology

A detailed examination of the vertebrate endocrine system that uses a comparative approach to explore intricate relationships between the brain, endocrine glans, hormones and target organs.

BSC
550
Hours
3
Fundamentals of Biochemistry

A one-semester survey of protein structure, enzyme kinetics, bioenergetics, and metabolism and its regulation. Offered fall and spring semesters.

BSC
551
Hours
3
Bch/Molecular Biology II

A one-semester survey of the synthesis, processing, and degradation of DNA, RNA, and protein and the regulation of these processes. Offered spring semester.

BSC
552
Hours
3
Biology of Cancer

This course is an introduction to the biological principals that explain the origins, development, pathology, and treatment of cancer. Students will work in teams assigned to particular types of cancer and will investigate what is known on various topics as related to that type of cancer.

BSC
556
Hours
3
Microbial Ecology

A study of microorganisms in the environment, with emphasis on their roles in energy transformations, biogeochemical cycles, and biotic interactions. Offered alternate fall semesters.

BSC
560
Hours
4
Human Developmental Biology

Development of the human embryo and fetus, including molecular, physiological, and structural aspects of morphogenesis and functional development. Offered irregularly.

BSC
564
Hours
4
Biology Of Algae

Freshwater and marine algae and their structure, development, taxonomy, and distribution. Offered irregularly.

BSC
565
Hours
3
Principles Of Toxicology

No description available.

Prerequisite(s): BSC 300
BSC
569
Hours
4
Histology Of Vertebrates

No description available.

BSC
570
Hours
3
Principles of Population Genetics

Population genetics is the study of how evolutionary forces (genetic drift, natural selection, mutation, and gene flow) affect allele and genotype frequencies in populations. Population genetics is a field with a rich theoretical history that has allowed scientists to make predictions about these evolutionary processes. With the advent of massive amounts of genetic data in many species, it is now possible to test these predictions, and a solid foundation in theory, its expectations, and assumptions is crucial for interpreting results from genetic analyses. Students should expect to learn how evolutionary forces acting on individuals affect patterns of inheritance and ultimately drive the changes we see between species.

Prerequisite(s): Must be enrolled in university graduate program.
BSC
571
Hours
3
Plant Physiology

Plant physiology is a survey sourse covering all aspects of plant transport, translocation of nutrients, plant biochemistry, plant metabolism and plant growth and development considered in depth.

BSC
572
Hours
4
Mycology

An introduction to the fungi and their biology, including aspects of their structure and function, taxonomy, genetics, and ecology.

BSC
573
Hours
3
Bioinformatics

Bioinformatics BSC 473/573 is a lecture course that covers the tools and approaches necessary to perform computational analysis of large datasets. We will focus on analyzing high-throughput sequencing data although the tools we will learn are applicable to a wide range of modern biological questions. Specific topics include operating in a UNIX/bash shell environment, scripting, genome assembly, alignment, and algorithms. BSC 473/573 is a writing course and writing proficiency within this discipline is required for a passing grade in this course.

Prerequisite(s): Graduate standing
BSC
575
Hours
4
General Entomology

A survey of the structure, function, classification, and habits of insects. Offered irregularly.

BSC
576
Hours
4
Aquatic Insects

A survey of aquatic insects, with emphasis on their identification, life histories, and ecology. Offered alternate spring semesters.

BSC
580
Hours
3
Plant Ecology

This course will examine the ecology of plants at different levels: individual, population and community.

Prerequisite(s): BSC 385
BSC
581
Hours
3
Foundations in Advanced Biostatistics with Applications to R

This course provides an overview to common statistical methods used in biological research, using case studies from biology, ecology, and natural resources management. The overarching objective of this course is to give students the ability to use and effectively evaluate biological data. We will demonstrate and conduct statistical analyses with an emphasis on utilizing the statistical computing language, R, to apply statistical concepts to biological and ecological data.

Prerequisite(s): Graduate standing or permission of the instructor.
BSC
582
Hours
3
Conservation Biology

A thorough examination of the principles of conservation biology. Offered alternate spring semesters.

BSC
583
Hours
3
Evolution

No description available.

BSC
584
Hours
1
Aquatic Biology Seminar

Review and discussion of current topics in aquatic biology. Offered spring semester.

BSC
586
Hours
4
Stable Isotope Ecology

An advanced 4 credit hour course on application of stable isotopes in ecological research, incorporating lectures, discussion about published data, and hands-on field and laboratory experience.

Prerequisite(s): None
BSC
587
Hours
3
Biogeography

Examination of the ecological and historical factors influencing the geographical distribution of plants and animals.

Prerequisite(s): Undergraduate or graduate-level course in ecology.
BSC
590
Hours
4
Stream Ecology

A thorough study of the structural (physical and biological) and functional (energy flow, nutrient cycling, community structure) attributes characteristic of stream and river ecosystems. Offered alternate spring semesters.

BSC
593
Hours
3
Cell Cycle Regulation

In-depth review and discussion of recent scientific research literature dealing with mechanisms of eukaryotic cell cycle regulation and their significance in human cancers. Provides a foundation for further studies in the cell cycle field, which impacts many areas of cell, molecular, and developmental biology.

BSC
594
Hours
3
Signal Transduction Neuroby

Seminar on current topics related to signal transduction, as it pertains to the molecular basis of neurobiology and development. Offered alternate fall semesters.

BSC
595
Hours
3
Advanced Cell Biology

Presents the structures, functions, and relationships of cellular organelles and the cytoskeleton. Offered fall semester.

BSC
596
Hours
3
Bioremediation

Study of the biological degradation of toxic chemicals in the environment. Offered irregularly.

BSC
598
Hours
1-15
Non-Thesis Research

Non-Thesis Research.

BSC
599
Hours
1-15
Thesis Research

Thesis Research.

BSC
601
Hours
1
Biological Sciences Seminar

This course will introduce graduate students to a diversity of current topics and expand their knowledge of the methodology and application of research and research methods in the biological sciences. In addition to attending seminars by invited speakers and departmental faculty members, the course will also provide graduate students with instruction and practice in the oral presentation of research data.

BSC
602
Hours
1
Adv Molecular Res Sem

Student presentations of research background and current results. Students may enroll each semester. Offered fall and spring semesters.

BSC
604
Hours
3
Scientific Writing and Data Presentation

This course will teach students writing skills for grant proposal and research paper preparation as well as other data presentation techniques in the biological sciences.

Prerequisite(s): Graduate standing or permission of the instructor.
BSC
605
Hours
1
Ecology Systematics Sem

Seminar.

BSC
606
Hours
1
Adv Ecology & System Sem

Students attend and participate in a one-hour weekly seminar and present a 45-minute seminar during the semester. The seminar presented should be a synthesis of research on a particular topic in ecology or systematics, requires a practice session, and includes written evaluations by the faculty. Offered fall and spring semesters.

BSC
607
Hours
1-6
Adv Research Tech In By

Individualized instruction and the application of research techniques to specific problems at an advanced level for graduate students in the department. Offered fall and spring semesters.

BSC
613
Hours
4
Ecosystem and Global Ecology

Analysis of the structure of and functional interactions and fluxes among physical, chemical, and biological components of aquatic ecosystems. Functional commonalities are sought among diverse ecosystems (lakes, rivers, reservoirs, shallow waters, land-water interfaces). Offered irregularly.

BSC
620
Hours
4
Molecular Systematics

Theory and methods of phylogenetic analyses using molecular sequence data. Students will be able to select appropriate loci for the desired level of phylogenetic analysis, align sequences, generate phylogenetic hypotheses with a variety of inference methods, generate and evaluate branch-support values, and infer evolutionary patterns of from phylogenetic trees. Students will be able to critically evaluate phylogenetic methods and the support for conclusions reached in the phylogenetic literature for organisms across the Tree of Life.

Prerequisite(s): BSC 520
BSC
635
Hours
3
Developmental Genetics

A course in the genetic and molecular mechanisms of development for graduate students. Offered alternate fall semesters.

BSC
651
Hours
3
Population Ecology

Theory and practice of population ecology (plants and animals); sampling, population processes, regulation, interspecific interactions, age structure analysis, and applications in resource management. Offered alternate fall semesters.

BSC
652
Hours
3
Community Ecology

Thorough investigation of theory and empirical studies of ecological communities (plant, animal, microbial), including methods, community structure, diversity, succession, links to ecosystem function, resource management. Offered alternate spring semesters.

BSC
653
Hours
4
Ecosystem & Global Ecology

A comprehensive coverage of ecosystem concepts and processes at scales from local to the biosphere. This course encompasses the full range of biotic diversity and ecosystems.

BSC
654
Hours
3
Sediment Biogeochemistry

An advanced 3 credit hour course on how processes occurring in the top few centimeters to meters of sediments influence processes at the local scale and global cycling of many elements.

Prerequisite(s): None
BSC
656
Hours
4
Microscopical Techniques

An introduction to the methods and applications of electron microscopy in biological research, including techniques for preparation of biological specimens, operation of the transmission and scanning electron microscopes, and photography. Offered irregularly.

BSC
666
Hours
3
Disease Models and Mechanisms

A graduate level seminar on current topics related to use of animal model systems, as they pertains to the molecular basis of human disease. This course is designed to expose students to recent research in a variety of diseases. The instructor and students will give lectures that provide a general survey of current disease research topics. During each class, a student will give an introduction on the particular disease being discussed that week. This introduction usually contains some basic information about the disease (e.g. symptoms, incidence rate, diagnosis and prognosis) as well as the known and unknown aspects of what causes the disease. Detailed student presentations will then follow on specific and recent literature within that topic with a focus on molecular mechanisms. This is designed to foster interactive class discussion and to strengthen the analytical and presentation skills of graduate students in cell and molecular biology. Emphasis on critical thinking and evaluation of scientific approaches and application of methods will be a major component of this course. In addition to the presentation of a disease topic and participation of the course in each class, as a final assignment, students will be asked to write a “News and Views” type “preview” article on a recent or in-press article related to human disease modeling. If demonstrating appropriate scholarly value, select articles might be revised under the supervision of the instructor and then submitted for publication to an appropriate journal, such as Disease Models and Mechanisms or the Journal of Neuroscience. Specific guidelines for this assignment are provided. Assessment of student progress in terms of pre-test/post-test, written critiques of presentations and writing assignments will be provided. Following each class, Dr. Caldwell will provide immediate feedback on their presentation and suggest areas for improvement. Outline of Course Topics: 1) the molecular basis of select diseases 2) strengths/weaknesses of specific animal model systems (worms, flies, mice, zebrafish) 3) role of genetic, cellular, and molecular processes in disease 4) application of model systems toward therapeutic development.

Prerequisite(s): Graduate Student Status
BSC
675
Hours
3
Global Change Biology

Students will take a detailed look at climate change across a variety of scales (species to biomes) using primary literature sources. Each student will lead a discussion in an area of climate change of their choice (e.g. climate change leading to disease, climate change and biological feed backs, alteration in climate and storm intensity, decline of amphibians); these topics need not be limited to biological subjects. Students will be expected to participate in critiques of primary literature, class discussions, and the development of an individual proposal (including preproposal, budgets, and panel discussions of funding).

Prerequisite(s): Must be enrolled in University Graduate Program.
BSC
681
Hours
1
Topics in Drosophila Biology

This is a graduate level course on the current genetic research methods and technologies using Drosophila as a model system. The course covers topics including using Drosophila to model human disease, developmental biology, evolution and development, and ethics and professionalism in science.

BSC
695
Hours
1-4
Spec Topics Biolog Sci

Courses with this number may address any biological topic not covered by existing courses. The credit hours and format are arranged as appropriate to each topic. The specific course title is added at the time the course is taught. Offered irregularly.

BSC
696
Hours
2-6
Resident Study

Credit for the course is determined by the extent of the coursework. Offered fall and spring semesters.

BSC
698
Hours
1-15
Res Not Rel Dissertation

Research Not Related to Dissertation.

BSC
699
Hours
1-15
Dissertation Research

Dissertation Research.

Marine Science

Courses offered at DISL carry the same credit toward graduate degrees as those taught on The University of Alabama campus by the Department of Biological Sciences.

MS
304
Hours
4
Marine Geology

Credit earned in this course may not be applied to the requirements of the biological sciences major or minor. Field sampling techniques, laboratory analysis of sediments, topography, sediments, and history of the world oceans.

MS
306
Hours
4
Marine Biology

Survey of the invertebrates, vertebrates, and marine plants as communities, with emphasis on local examples.

MS
408
Hours
4
Marine Invertebrate Zoology

Comparative study of the major marine invertebrate phyla, protozoa through protochordates. The focus is on their morphology, physiology, ecology, and phylogenetic relationships.

MS
419
Hours
4
Marine Ecology

Bioenergetics, community structure, population dynamics, predation, competition, and specialization in marine ecosystems.

MS
433
Hours
2
Coastal Zone Management

Review of ecological features, physical management policies for coastal communities, and a description of relevant federal and state programs.

MS
448
Hours
4
Intro Oceanography

A general introduction to the oceans, with emphasis on chemical, physical, and geological processes and their relation to biological systems.

MS
452
Hours
4
Marine Vertebrate Zoology

Systematics, zoogeography, and ecology of marine vertebrates.

MS
453
Hours
4
Marine Botany

Reproduction, taxonomy, systematics, distribution, and ecology of the major marine plant groups.

MS
497
Hours
1-4
Special Topics

A marine science topic not covered in other courses. The credit hours and format are determined as appropriate to the topic. Offered according to demand and instructor availability.