Graduate Catalog : 2005-2007
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Biology, the study of living things, is an exciting and dynamic field that offers many areas of focus. Graduate studies in the biological sciences provide opportunities to study viruses, bacteria, fungi, plants, and animals and to investigate the biochemical, physiological, anatomical, behavioral, or ecological processes that make each organism unique. Specific areas of faculty research interests include terrestrial ecology and field biology, parasitology, entomology, vertebrate natural history, plant systematics and vegetation mapping, animal and plant physiology, and cell and molecular biology.

The Department of Biological Sciences is located in the Lee Drain Building, which houses facilities including teaching and research laboratories, the Sam Houston State Natural History Collections which includes the Warner Herbarium, Sam Houston State Vertebrate Museum and Texas Bird Sound Library, an animal rearing facility, insectary, greenhouse, outdoor aviary, and molecular, microbiology, electron microscopy and flow cytometry laboratories. The Department also operates the Center for Biological Field Studies, a 250 acre field station within 5 miles of campus that is dedicated to biological and environmental research and teaching.

The Department of Biological Sciences offers MA and MS degrees in Biology and is a contributing partner to the interdisciplinary MS degree in Forensic Science with the College of Criminal Justice and Department of Chemistry. The MA and MS degrees in Biology allow specialization in one of several areas of Biology and are designed for those students planning to pursue careers in biological/medical research and environmental biology with governmental agencies or industry and in science education. These degrees are also appropriate for students planning to continue their training in Ph.D. programs at other institutions or in professional schools. The MS degree in Forensic Science is degree prepares the student to work for or consult with various agencies in the criminal justice system. Students pursuing the Master of Education degree may specialize in Biology as a teaching field.


Students seeking admission to the graduate program in the Biological Sciences must submit the Graduate Studies Application for Admission with the one-time application fee to the Office of Graduate Studies, official transcripts of all college-level work (including the transcript that shows the date the undergraduate degree was conferred), and official GRE scores. Two letters of recommendation from the Biology faculty at the student’s undergraduate degree-granting institution are required with the application for admission. A score of 1000 on the GRE (adding the verbal and quantitative scores) is recommended and a 3.0 overall undergraduate GPA is required for admission into the Biological Sciences program. For a final admissions decision, GRE scores do not constitute the sole criterion for consideration of the applicant, nor do GRE scores and undergraduate GPA constitute the primary criteria to end consideration of an applicant. Based on review of a student’s undergraduate transcript, the Department of Biological Sciences may require completion of undergraduate stem courses as a condition for admission.

Master of Arts, 38 Semester Hours with a Minor, 32 Semester Hours without a Minor. This degree program is well suited for many training objectives, but it is most often recommended for secondary teachers who wish to prepare in two fields. A student may opt to include a minor. This plan requires 32 semester hours (38 with a minor field) of graduate credit. No more than two 400 level courses in the major field and one 400 level course in the minor field may be applied toward the degree. If opting for the MA with a minor, 26 hours are taken in Biology, including BIO 520 and 12 semester hours of graduate credit is required in a minor field that logically supports the major. A scholarly paper is required.

Master of Science, 32 Semester Hours with Thesis. This degree program is designed for those students who select all of their courses from those offered in the
Biology program unless otherwise authorized by the Graduate Advisor and the faculty research advisor. No more than two 400 level courses in the major fi eld and one 400 level course in the minor field may be applied toward the degree. Students with this degree are prepared for positions as professional biologists in the public or private sector, teaching at the college level or to begin doctoral programs in the biological sciences. This is a research-oriented degree requiring a thesis. This plan requires 32 semester hours of graduate credit, at least 26 of which must be in courses numbered 500 or above. Six hours of thesis (BIO 698 and 699) and BIO 520 are included in this 32-hour degree program.

Master of Science, 38 Semester Hours with a Minor and a Thesis. Students with this degree are prepared for positions as professional biologists in the public or private sector, teaching at the college level or to begin doctoral programs in the biological sciences. This is a research-oriented degree requiring a thesis. This plan requires 38 semester hours of graduate credit. No more than two 400 level courses in the major field and one 400 level course in the minor fi eld may be applied toward the degree. Included in the 38 hours are BIO 520, BIO 698 and 699 (6 hours of thesis), 18 hours of Biology courses and a minor of 12 hours in a fi eld that supports the major. The minor must be approved by the minor-granting program.

Master of Education in Secondary Education. This degree plan is designed primarily for the secondary teacher. All such degrees originate in the College of Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and require the completion of a minimum of thirty-six hours of graduate credit, thirty of which must be in courses numbered 500 or above. Twelve to twenty-four hours of professional education course work are required (twelve hours minimum for minor and 6 hours minimum for a second minor). A comprehensive examination is required. Students may elect from 12 to 24 semester hours in biology on this 36-semester-hour program. A thesis is not required. Course requirements are adjusted to meet individual student needs by the M.Ed. program and the graduate committee chair for Biology.


In order to receive the MA or MS degree, all graduate students are required to pass a comprehensive examination based on their course work and general biological
concepts. The nature of this examination, which may be written and/or oral, will be comprehensive examinations. For MA degrees, a scholarly paper is prepared in
consultation with the student’s faculty advisor. For MS degrees, students complete a thesis research project under supervision of the student’s thesis advisor, and present the thesis to the faculty in seminar format. The thesis must also be defended before the student’s thesis committee. Once enrolled in a thesis class, a student must be continually enrolled until graduation.


Competitive teaching and research assistantships are available to graduate students in Biology through the Department of Biological Sciences and individual faculty members. In addition, the department offers entrance scholarships to qualified incoming students and summer scholarships to support research activities. University scholarships are also available. The department also offers competitive research grants to support research activities and travel to scientific meetings. For details and application materials, contact the Graduate Committee Chair, Department of Biological Sciences, Box 2116, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX 77341-2116; (936) 294-1540; email Details are also available on the Department’s website at:




BIO 430 Vertebrate Natural History (Credit 3)
BIO 431 General Entomology (Credit 3)
BIO 432 Environmental Toxicology (Credit 3)
BIO 433 Aquatic Biology (Credit 3)
BIO 435 Immunology (Credit 3)
BIO 437 Microbial Ecology (Credit 3)
BIO 446 Parasitology (Credit 4)
BIO 449 Cytology (Credit 4)
*BIO 460 Philosophy of Biology (Credit 3)
BIO 461 Introductory Evolutionary Biology (Credit 3)
BIO 470 Animal Behavior (Credit 3)
BIO 471 Invertebrate Zoology (Credit 3)
BIO 474 Biostatistics (Credit 3)
BIO 480 Molecular Biology (Credit 3)
BIO 493 Endocrinology (Credit 3)


Master of Science in Forensic Science. This interdisciplinary degree is designed to produce graduate level forensic scientists. Formal graduate course work comes from the Departments of Chemistry, Biological Sciences and the College of Criminal Justice. Summer practicum and internships provide experiences in the collection, preservation, analysis and presentation of forensic evidence. The Master of Science in Forensic Science program requires completion of 42 graduate semester hours and can be completed in two years. Coursework focuses on the collection, preservation, analysis, and presentation of forensic evidence. Graduates of this scientist-practitioner program will be prepared to consult with various agencies within the criminal justice system. In order to receive a MS degree in Forensic Science, all graduate students are required to pass a comprehensive examination. This unique program is the first of its kind in Texas and one of only a handful of such programs in North America.

The competitive admissions process is based on a holistic approach taking all of the required materials into consideration. The desired profile includes an average GRE score of at least 1100 and an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0. Applicants with unique qualifications who do not meet all of the foregoing qualifications may be accepted into the program on probationary status at the discretion of the admissions committee and appropriate academic dean. The program will encourage diversity related to gender and ethnicity.

The Program of Study**

Required courses:

Required Courses
BIO 474 Biostatistics (Credit 3)
*BIO 534 Electron Microscopy (Credit 3)
BIO 595 Special topics: Forensic Analysis of Biological Evidence (Credit 3)
CHM 568 Analytical Spectroscopy (Credit 3)
CHM 585 Selected Topics in Advanced Chemistry (Credit 3)
CJ 531 Techniques for Crime Scene Investigation (Credit 3)
CJ 537 Law and Forensic Science (Credit 3)
CJ 560 Forensic Analysis of Pattern Evidence (Credit 3)
CJ 561 Principles of Quality Assurance (Credit 3)
CJ 562 Seminar in Forensic Science (Credit 3)
CJ 670 Internship (Credit 9)


After consultation with appropriate advisors, students will establish a focus in Biological Sciences, Chemistry or Criminal Justice with an additional 9 hours of coursework in that area including:

BIO, CHM or CJ Elective
BIO, CHM or CJ 698 Graduate Research/Thesis/Thesis Practicum
BIO, CHM or CJ 699 Thesis

*Subject to action by the Board of Regents, The Texas State University System, and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

**Please Note: Curriculum may be adapted to meet AAFS (American Academy of Forensic Science) program accreditation standards.


BIO 520 PROFESSIONAL ASPECTS OF SCIENCE. This course provides the graduate student with an introduction to the professional and ethical responsibilities of science. It is intended to give the student a background in professionalism and ethics in conducting and presenting research and the process of preparing publications. Required of all graduate students in Biology Prerequisite: Graduate standing. Credit 2.

BIO 530 FORENSIC ENTOMOLOGY. The methods and materials necessary for use of insects as forensic evidence in legal investigation will be discussed. Laboratory included. Prerequisite: Introductory Entomology course and graduate standing. Credit 3.

BIO 531 CLASSIFICATION AND NATURAL HISTORY OF PLANTS. Classification and natural history of major groups of nonvascular and vascular plants are presented. Emphasis is on morphological recognition, ecological and physiological differences and economic importance of major taxa. Laboratory included. Prerequisites: Introductory Botany course and graduate standing. Credit 3.

*BIO534 ELECTRON MICROSCOPY. This course is designed to teach students the methods of preparing specimens for electron microscope analysis and to use the electron microscope as a tool to conduct research. Students will become competent in using the electron microscope for visual analysis or chemical elemental analysis. Prerequisites: 12 hours advanced biology. Credit 3.

BIO 548 COMPARATIVE ANIMAL PHYSIOLOGY. A study of the physiological adaptive mechanisms and the comparison of adaptive strategies across vertebrate taxa. Emphasis will be directed toward homeostatic mechanisms of water, energy and electrolyte balance, and metabolism. Two-hour laboratory to emphasize investigative skills employing modern laboratory techniques. Independent original research project required. Prerequisites: Organic Chemistry, General Physiology, or instructor’s consent. Credit 4.

BIO 562 ADVANCED PLANT PHYSIOLOGY. Further studies of the life processes of plants at the molecular, cellular and organismal levels with focus on current research and recent advances in this fi eld. A scholarly paper on a selected physiological topic is required. Three hours of lecture per week. Prerequisite: Plant Physiology and Organic Chemistry. Credit 3.

BIO 564 CELL STRUCTURE AND PHYSIOLOGY. Various aspects of membrane and organelle structure, biochemical synthesis and metabolic systems are explored at the cellular and molecular level. Laboratory experiments using current cell methods are assigned for individual student development. Prerequisites: Cell biology and organic chemistry. Credit 3.

*BIO 568 ADVANCED INVERTEBRATE ZOOLOGY. Invertebrates are the dominant form of life on earth, comprising greater than 75% of all described species. Students will be briefl y introduced to the phylum/class level characteristics of the major groups of invertebrate animals. The majority of the course will deal with the evolutionary history and phylogeny of invertebrates, invertebrate ecology, and the myriad solutions invertebrates have evolved to deal with the common problems of reproduction, feeding, osmoregulation, respiration, locomotion and developmental patterns. Prerequisites: 12 hours advanced biology, Invertebrate Zoology recommended. Credit 3.

BIO 571 EVOLUTION. This course is concerned with modern concepts of the evolution of organisms. Extended reading and classroom discussion supplement the lecture treatment. Three one-hour lectures a week are scheduled. Prerequisite: Introductory genetics. Credit 3.

BIO 575 BACTERIAL PHYSIOLOGY. A study of bacterial metabolism that will include fermentation, anaerobic respiration, bacterial photosynthesis and nitrogen fixation. This course will also discuss how bacteria sense their environment and adjust their metabolism accordingly. Three hours of lecture per week. Prerequisites: Microbiology, Genetics, and Organic Chemistry II or General Physiology. Credit 3.

BIO 578 VIROLOGY. A study of viruses that infect plants, animals, and bacteria. Areas considered include chemical and structural properties of viruses, virus-host relations, infection and growth phenomena, including interference and regulation. Also included are the roles of viruses as agents of disease and malignancy, and as gene vectors in natural settings but also as tools in biotechnology and gene therapy. Three hours of lecture per week. Prerequisites: Microbiology, Genetics, and Organic Chemistry. Credit 3.

BIO 580 ADVANCED ECOLOGY. An advanced theoretical and practical study of biotic and abiotic ecosystem interactions encompassing the physiology of individuals, growth of populations including social and species interactions within populations, analysis of population composition and change, the distribution of communities, and the functioning of ecosystems. Independent study of a selected ecological topic required. Prerequisites: General Chemistry I and II, General Ecology. Credit 3.

BIO 581 ECOLOGICAL COMPUTER MODELING. An introduction to the development and application of computer models in ecology and population biology. Principles of modeling, programming concepts, specifi c model dynamics, and prepackaged computer models will be explored. Two hours lecture and two hours laboratory per week. Prerequisite: General Ecology. Credit 3.

BIO 582 ICHTHYOLOGY. Taxonomy, distribution, natural history and economic importance of fishes with emphasis on Texas forms. Field work will include techniques for determining populations, growth studies, food habits and propagation. Two-hour laboratory plus field work. Prerequisites: Introductory biology plus 12 hours advanced biology. Credit 3.

BIO 583 HERPETOLOGY. The taxonomy, systematics, evolution, anatomy and physiology, ecology, distribution, and natural history of amphibians and reptiles are investigated. Laboratories include the use of preserved specimens to study the taxonomy, systematics, and comparative anatomy among different amphibian and reptilian families. A laboratory field component will also introduce students to a variety of sampling and collecting techniques used to study the physiology, ecology, and natural history of these unique vertebrates. Proper documentation of species occurrence and common museum practices will be addressed. Two-hour laboratory plus field work. Prerequisites: Introductory biology plus 12 hours advanced biology. Credit 3.

BIO 584 ORNITHOLOGY. The classification evolution, anatomy, physiology, ecology, behavior and conservation of birds are studied in this course. Laboratories include general anatomy, taxonomy, identifi cation and field techniques used in the study of behavior and migration. Laboratories may include independent research projects related to topics discussed in this course. Two-hour laboratory plus fi eld work. Prerequisites: Introductory biology plus 12 hours advanced biology. Credit 3.

BIO 585 MAMMALOGY. Various groups of mammals are surveyed in this course. Investigations of problems relating to classifi cation, distribution and life history studies are included. Two-hour laboratory plus fi eld work. Prerequisites: Introductory biology plus 12 hours advanced biology. Credit 3.

BIO 590 LIMNOLOGY. Limnological techniques are stressed with special emphasis on physiochemical conditions of freshwater environments and their effects on aquatic life. Plankton analysis, a study of bottom fauna, lake and stream mapping and evaluation of aquatic productivity are included. Two-hour laboratory plus fi eld work. Prerequisites: 8 hours college chemistry plus 12 hours advanced biology. Credit 3.

BIO 591 ADVANCED GENETICS. This is an advanced study of the principles of heredity and the nature and function of the gene. Emphasis will be on molecular genetics with special attention to recent advances in DNA technologies. Laboratory studies include restriction enzyme analyses by electrophoresis, gene cloning, mutagenesis and chromosome banding. Two-hour laboratory. Prerequisite: Introductory Genetics with grade of C or better and organic chemistry. Credit 3.

BIO 595 SPECIAL GRADUATE TOPICS IN BIOLOGY. This course is designed to provide an avenue for selected graduate students to engage in independent studies. Registration is on an individual basis but is limited to students in residence. A topic of study is selected and approved by the Biology faculty. Prerequisites: Graduate standing in Biology and consent of department chair. Credit 3.

BIO 596 REPRODUCTIVE PHYSIOLOGY. Physiological control of animal reproduction is the subject of this course. Current literature relating to this subject is critically examined and evaluated. An individual research problem is undertaken by the student. Two-hour laboratory. Prerequisites: Introductory courses in physiology and organic chemistry. Credit 3.

BIO 698, 699 THESIS. Credit 3.