The department offers programs leading to the Master of Science in Biology, Master of Science in Marine Science, Master of Arts in Biological Sciences, and Doctor of Philosophy in Biology degrees. The graduate program is designed to provide broad training in the biological sciences, with focused areas of study 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.
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, and Talladega National Forest.
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.
Morphology of animals, primarily vertebrates, with emphasis on functional aspects of anatomy. Laboratory deals mainly with comparative anatomy of the vertebrates. Offered fall semester.
This graduate level course presents topics designed to accelerate the progress and success of incoming and early stage graduate students as they transition into a M.S. or Ph.D. program in Biological Sciences. As a career preparation course, it aims to provide graduate students the practical skills and tools that will be applicable throughout their careers, regardless of their research focus.
Individualized instruction and the application of research techniques to specific problems for graduate students in the department. Offered fall and spring semesters.
A research-based laboratory course that isolates and characterizes bacterial viruses (phages) using modern microbiology, microscopy, and molecular biology techniques.
A study of freshwater environments and organisms living in lakes, ponds, and streams. Offered fall semester.
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.
This class will focus on the study of host-pathogen interactions within the context of their environment and evolution.
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.
An introduction to the principles, methods and applications of systematic zoology and the zoological classifications. Offered alternate fall semesters.
This course will examine biological techniques that are advancing medical research and care. Topics include personalized medicine, direct-to-consumer genetic testing, predictive medicine, pharmacogenomics, and preimplantation genetic diagnosis. It will also explore concomitant ethical, legal, and societal ramifications related to many of these discoveries, such as ownership of biological material, informed consent for human experimentation, the burden of knowledge regarding genetic information, eugenics, and the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act.
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.
Examines the cardiovascular, digestive, endocrine, muscular, neural, renal, reproductive and respiratory systems. Offered spring semesters.
Centers on principles of physiology and instrumentation for physiology. Offered alternate fall semesters.
Computational Biology Lab introduces the programming skills, statistical methods and conceptual foundations necessary to pursue computational analysis and modeling of biological systems. This course is designed for biology students, and it is not expected that students will have prior with experience with computing or programming.
A survey of the structure, function, ecology, and classification of fishes. Offered alternate spring semesters.
This course will cover the basic principles of pharmacology including mechanisms of drug action and drug absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion.
A study of microorganisms related to health and disease. Offered spring semester.
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.
Thorough exploration of various aspects of modern immunology at the molecular and cellular levels. Offered fall semester.
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.
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.
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.
The molecular biology of bacterial, animal, and plant virus replication, including the biophysical, biochemical, and biological properties of virus particles. Offered spring semester.
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.
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.
A one-semester survey of protein structure, enzyme kinetics, bioenergetics, and metabolism and its regulation. Offered fall and spring semesters.
A one-semester survey of the synthesis, processing, and degradation of DNA, RNA, and protein and the regulation of these processes. Offered spring semester.
This course is an advanced laboratory course which will introduce students to some basic concepts and common modern techniques used in biochemical/molecular biology/cell biology research. A broad spectrum of techniques will be presented to students, including native protein purification from animal tissue, chromatography, electrophoresis, characterization of molecular weight and sequences of the purified protein through mass spectrometry, enzymatic kinetics studies, and spectroscopic analysis. For students who have interest and aspire to pursue a research career in biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology, immunology and/or other related biological science areas, this course will provide basic training and experience for a smooth start for their future laboratory work.
Chemical interactions underlie and generate the biotic environment in which we live. This course will examine chemical interactions between organisms that can happen on different levels, from cell-cell interactions, intraspecific and multitrophic-level interactions, to community-wide interactions and ecological processes.
A study of microorganisms in the environment, with emphasis on their roles in energy transformations, biogeochemical cycles, and biotic interactions. Offered alternate fall semesters.
A research-based laboratory course that focuses on the identification of new drug leads from natural products using modern pharmacognosy, phytochemistry and phytopharmacology techniques.
Development of the human embryo and fetus, including molecular, physiological, and structural aspects of morphogenesis and functional development. Offered irregularly.
Freshwater and marine algae and their structure, development, taxonomy, and distribution. Offered irregularly.
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No description available.
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.
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.
An introduction to the fungi and their biology, including aspects of their structure and function, taxonomy, genetics, and ecology.
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.
A survey of the structure, function, classification, and habits of insects. Offered irregularly.
A survey of aquatic insects, with emphasis on their identification, life histories, and ecology. Offered alternate spring semesters.
The classification, morphology, evolution, and ecology of invertebrate animals.
This class focuses on the study of host-microbiome interactions within the context of their environment, evolution, and global health.
This course will examine the ecology of plants at different levels: individual, population and community.
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.
A thorough examination of the principles of conservation biology. Offered alternate spring semesters.
No description available.
Review and discussion of current topics in aquatic biology. Offered spring semester.
This course provides an introduction to the foundational ideas of forest resources and conservation. The course includes a history of the forestry profession and a variety of perspectives to develop students' knowledge of forestry field and research methods. This course also helps students develop an understanding and appreciation of the diversity of forest resources both here in Alabama and globally.
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.
Examination of the ecological and historical factors influencing the geographical distribution of plants and animals.
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.
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.
Seminar on current topics related to signal transduction, as it pertains to the molecular basis of neurobiology and development. Offered alternate fall semesters.
Presents the structures, functions, and relationships of cellular organelles and the cytoskeleton. Offered fall semester.
This independent research course partially fulfills required master’s-level research thesis hours toward the master’s degree in Biology. The course is conducted under the guidance of the thesis advisor. Material covered will be of an advanced nature aimed at providing master's students with an understanding of the latest research and current developments within the field. Discussion and advisor guidance will be directed towards readings of research articles and development of research methodology, with the aim of producing an original research contribution that represents a novel development in the field, or a novel perspective on a pre-existing topic in the field.
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.
Student presentations of research background and current results. Students may enroll each semester. Offered fall and spring semesters.
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.
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.
Discussion of topics associated with teaching biology at the college-level, including reviews of the literature associated with science education, metacognition, and the scholarship of teaching and learning.
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.
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.
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.
This course provides individual training on the use of different equipment in the Optical Analysis Facility in support of graduate student research. Emphasis will be placed on sample preparation techniques and advance microscopy usage (e.g., confocal microscopy, transmission electron microscopy and scanning electron microscopy).
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.
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).
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.
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.
Credit for the course is determined by the extent of the coursework. Offered fall and spring semesters.
Research Not Related to Dissertation.
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.
A general introduction to the oceans, with emphasis on chemical, physical, and geological processes and the relationship of these processes to biological systems.