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Undergraduate Studies

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Choosing Biology

The Department of Biology takes special pride in its teaching at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Courses at the undergraduate level, for example, provide a broad foundation in animal biology and allow students to pursue selected areas of interest in depth through research participation and advanced studies courses.

Biology is one of the most popular majors for students interested in a health professions career, and the curriculum provides an excellent base of preparation for a wide variety of careers or for postgraduate study. The Biology major program is designed to meet the needs of students who plan to enter graduate school in the biological sciences, to enter medical, dental, or veterinary college, or to work in specialized paramedical fields, environmental programs, or other careers in which biology would serve as an academic background.

The department encourages participation in the Honors College, the Zoological Society, and other opportunities for individualized educational enhancement. Several student clubs are sponsored by Biology faculty members and allow students with common interests to take field trips and hear talks about career planning and other important topics. The Biology Aid Program (ZAP) is composed of undergraduate students who volunteer to tutor other students in Introductory Biology. It is a rewarding experience for both the ZAP volunteers and those with whom they work.

The department strongly recommends that each student work closely with his or her adviser on a regular basis since not all courses are offered every semester. Majors or prospective majors should also work with the biology advisory office to plan a program which will meet their career goals. The advisory office can furnish information on courses, curricula and careers available to majors and will facilitate the assignment of a faculty adviser.

The Biology Department is actively involved in the Honors Program, and many undergraduate students carry out independent research projects under the guidance of faculty members with national and international reputations in their fields.

Biology majors may work also for the standard secondary teaching certificate in science. For information consult an academic adviser in the College of Arts and Sciences office.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Undergrad Research in Biology

In our department, undergraduate students have an array of opportunities to participate in cutting-edge research with professors who are internationally recognized experts in their fields. Research spans across multiple areas, including cellular/molecular biology, neurobiology, ecology, and evolution. Importantly, when students become members of our professors’ research teams, these students become involved in ongoing research at very high levels of participation, often designing and executing their own original research projects, or being put in charge of key projects within larger collaborative efforts. As a result, our undergraduate students routinely present their research findings at national and international scientific meetings. More impressive is the fact that many of these students ultimately become authors of peer-reviewed publications in top-tier scientific journals. Since 2010, undergraduates have authored numerous articles in highly-respected journals. In several of these publications, undergraduate students were the first author on the paper – a major accomplishment that indicating student was the main contributor to the work.

Peer-reviewed Publications with Undergraduate Authors
(2010-2016)

Undergraduate authors underlined

Bergey, E. A., Figueroa, L. L., Mather, C. M., Martin, R. J., Ray, E. J., Kurien, J. T., . . . Suriyawong, P.  2014). Trading in snails: plant nurseries as transport hubs for non-native species. Biological Invasions, 16(7), 1441-1451.

Broughton, R. E., Vedala, K. C., Crowl, T. M., & Ritterhouse, L. L. (2011). Current and historical hybridization with differential introgression among three species of cyprinid fishes (genus Cyprinella). Genetica, 139(5), 699-707.

Davis, D. R., A. D. Geheber, J. L. Watters, M. L. Penrod, K. D. Feller, A. Ashford, J. Kouri, D. Nguyen, K. Shauberger, K. Sheatsley,  C. Winfrey, R. Wong, M. B. Sanguila, R. M. Brown & C. D. Siler. Description of a new species of Philippine Slender Skink of the Brachymeles bonitae Complex (Reptilia: Squamata: Scincidae) from Tablas Island. Zootaxa.

Davis, D. R., J. L. Watters, G. Kohler, C. Whitsett, N. A. Huron, R. M. Brown, A. C. Diesmos & C. D. Siler. 2015. Redescription of the rare Philippine slender gecko Pseudogekko brevipes (Reptilia: Squamata: Gekkonidae) and description of a new species. Zootaxa. 4020:357-374.

Diesmos, A. C., J. L. Watters, N. A. Huron, D. R. Davis, A. C. Alcala, R. I. Crombie, L. E. Afuang, G. Gee-Das, R.V. Sison, M. B. Sanguila, M. L. Penrod, M. J. Labonte, C. S. Davey, E. A. Leone, M. L. Diesmos, E. Y. Sy, L.J. Welton, R. M. Brown & C. D. Siler. 2015. Amphibians of the Philippines, Part I: Checklist of the Species. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences. 62:457-537.

Durica, D. S., Das, S., Najar, F., Roe, B., Phillips, B., Kappalli, S., & Anilkumar, G. (2014). Alternative splicing in the fiddler crab cognate ecdysteroid  receptor: Variation in receptor isoform expression and DNA binding properties in response to hormone. General and comparative Endocrinology, 206, 80-95.

Elson, M. S., & Berkowitz, A. (2016). Flexion Reflex Can Interrupt and Reset the Swimming Rhythm. The Journal of Neuroscience, 36(9), 2819-2826. doi:10.1523/jneurosci.3587-15.2016

Eskridge, B. E., Valle, E., & Schlupp, I. (2015). Emergence of Leadership within a Homogeneous Group. PLoS  ONE, 10(7), e0134222.

Gaffin, D. D., Bumm, L. A., Taylor, M. S., Popokina, N. V., & Mann, S. (2012). Scorpion fluorescence and reaction to light. Animal Behaviour, 83(2), 429-436.

Geheber, A. D., D. R. Davis, J. L. Watters, M. L. Penrod, K. D. Feller, C. S. Davey, E. D. Ellsworth, R.L. Flanagan,  B. D. Heitz, T. Moore, M. D. C. Nguyen, A. Roberts, J. Sutton, M. B. Sanguila, C. W. Linkem, R. M. Brown & C. D. Siler. In press. Description of a new species of Philippine Slender Skink of the Brachymeles bonitae Complex (Reptilia: Squamata: Scincidae: Brachymeles) from Lubang Island. Zootaxa.

Hao, Z. Z., Meier, M. L., & Berkowitz, A. (2014). Rostral spinal cord segments are sufficient to generate a rhythm for both locomotion and scratching but affect their hip extensor phases differently. Journal of Neurophysiology, 112(1), 147-155.

Hao, Z. Z., Spardy, L. E., Nguyen, E. B. L., Rubin, J. E., & Berkowitz, A. (2011). Strong interactions between spinal cord networks for locomotion and scratching. Journal of Neurophysiology, 106(4), 1766-1781.

Heitz, B. B., E. D. Ellsworth, N. A. Huron, A. D. Geheber & C. D. Siler. 2015. Geographic range note on Sonora semiannulata. Herpetological Review. 46(4):577.

Heitz, B. B., E. S. Freitas, A. M. Anwar, E. G. Gorgone, M. L. Penrod, C. Whitsett & C. D. Siler. 2015. Geographic range note on Kinosternon subrubrum. Herpetological Review. 46(4):565{566.

Holmes, J. R., & Berkowitz, A. (2014). Dendritic orientation and branching distinguish a class of multifunctional turtle spinal interneurons. Frontiers in Neural Circuits, 8.

Hopkins, P. M., Durica, D., & Washington, T. (2010). RXR isoforms and endogenous retinoids in the fiddler crab, Uca pugilator Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology a-Molecular & Integrative Physiology, 151(4), 602-614.

Knowlton, E. D., & Gaffin, D. D. (2010). A new tip-recording method to test scorpion pecten chemoresponses to water-soluble stimulants. Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 193(2), 264-270.

Knowlton, E. D., & Gaffin, D. D. (2011). Functionally redundant peg sensilla on the scorpion pecten. Journal Of  Comparative Physiology A-Neuroethology Sensory Neural And Behavioral Physiology, 197(9), 895-902.

Lakiza, O., Miller, S., Bunce, A., Lee, Eric M.J., McCauley, D. W (2011). SoxE gene duplication and development of the lamprey branchial skeleton: Insights into development and evolution of the neural crest. Developmental Biology 359 (2011) 149–161.

Makowicz, A. M., Tanner, J. C., Dumas, E., Siler, C. D., & Schlupp, I. (2016). Pre-existing biases for swords in mollies (Poecilia). Behavioral Ecology, 27(1), 175-184.

Martin, R. J., & Bergey, E. A. (2013). Growth plasticity with changing diet in the land snail Patera appressa (Polygyridae). Journal of Molluscan Studies, 79, 364-368.

McCoy, E., Syska, N., Plath, M., Schlupp, I., & Riesch, R. (2011). Mustached males in a tropical poeciliid fish: emerging female preference selects for a novel male trait. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 65(7), 1437-1445.

Mui, J. W., Willis, K. L., Hao, Z. Z., & Berkowitz, A. (2012). Distributions of active spinal cord neurons during swimming and scratching motor patterns. Journal of Comparative Physiology a-Neuroethology Sensory Neural and Behavioral Physiology,198(12), 877-889.

Ray, E. J., & Bergey, E. A. (2015). After the burn: factors affecting land snail survival in post-prescribed-burn woodlands. Journal of Molluscan Studies, 81, 44-50.

Siler, C. D., D. R. Davis, E. S. Freitas, N. A. Huron, A. D. Geheber, J. L. Watters, M. L. Penrod, M.Papes, A. Amrein, A. Anwar, D. Cooper, T. Hein, A. Manning, N. Patel, L. Pinaroc, A. C. Diesmos, M. L. Diesmos, C. H. Oliveros & Rafe M. Brown. Description of a new species of Slender Skink of the Brachymeles bonitae Complex (Reptilia: Squamata: Scincidae) from the northern Philippines. Zootaxa.

Siler, C. D., L. J. Welton, D. R. Davis, J. L. Watters, C. S. Davey, A. C. Diesmos, M. L. Diesmos & R.M. Brown. 2014. Taxonomic revision of the Pseudogekko compresicorpus Complex (Reptilia: Squamata: Gekkonidae), with descriptions of three new species. Herpetological Monographs. 28:110-139.

Siler, C. D., C. W. Linkem, †K. Cobb, J. L. Watters, S. T. Cummings, A. C. Diesmos & R. M. Brown. 2014. Taxonomic revision of the semi-aquatic skink Parvoscincus leucospilos (Reptilia: Squamata: Scincidae), with description of three new species. Zootaxa. 3847(3):388-412.

Sinnett, P. M., & Markham, M. R. (2015). Food deprivation reduces and leptin increases the amplitude of an active  sensory and communication signal in a weakly electric fish. Horm Behav, 71, 31-40.

Smith, B. N., Ghazanfari, A. M., Bohm, R. A., Welch, W. P., Zhang, B., & Masly, J. P. (2015). A Flippase-Mediated GAL80/GAL4 Intersectional Resource for Dissecting Appendage Development in Drosophila. G3 (Bethesda), 5(10), 2105-2112.

Taylor, M. S., Cosper, C. R., & Gaffin, D. D. (2012). Behavioral evidence of pheromonal signaling in desert grassland scorpions Paruroctonus utahensis. Journal of Arachnology, 40(2), 240-244.

Vinnedge, J. E., & Gaffin, D. D. (2015). Determination of in-lab site fidelity and movement patterns of Paruroctonus utahensis(Scorpiones: Vaejovidae). Journal of Arachnology, 43(1), 54-58.

Watters, J. L., S. T. Cummings, R. Flanagan & C. D. Siler. 2016. Review of morphometric measurements used in anuran species descriptions and recommendations for a standardized approach. Zootaxa. 4072(4):477{495.

Watters, J. L., R. L. Flanagan, D. R. Davis, J. K. Farkas, J. L. Kerby, M. J. Labonte, M. L. Penrod & C.D. Siler. Preliminary screening of natural history collections for historical presence of amphibian infection disease in Oklahoma. Herpetological Review.