text only
University of South Alabama
Home Index Search Directories Faq
USA Undergraduate/Graduate Bulletin 2007-2008


Chair: John A. Freeman (251) 460-6331
Graduate Coordinator: Brian Axsmith.
Professor: Axsmith, Boettcher, Freeman, McCreadie, Sherman
Associate Professors: K. Major, Mata
Assistant Professors: Morris, Ni Chadhain, O’Brien
Senior Instructors: Delaney-Tucker, C. Major
Instructors: Cinkovich, Hamil
Emeriti: Boyles, Lelong, Miller, Nelson
Department of Biology web site
The program of the Department of Biology is designed to contribute to a scientific background as part of a liberal education. The department offers a diversified, broadly based program, which can be designed to satisfy many areas of study. Our multitrack major can provide the traditional student with a well-rounded background in biology, or students may select courses to prepare them for a particular area of study. The multitrack curriculum can prepare students for graduate study, pre-health professional fields (such as medicine or dentistry), marine biology, or environmental science. The department has persons trained to advise in each of these areas. A list of advisors for a specific track or area of study can be obtained from the departmental office.
All first-time freshmen must successfully complete CAS 100: First Year Experience as a degree requirement. Students must enroll during their first term at USA, except for summer-entry students who must enroll in the fall semester following entry.
Students desiring to major in biology must meet the general requirements for a degree of Bachelor of Science in addition to the following requirements.
1. At least 37 hours of biology, including:
  a.  BLY 121 (L) and BLY 122 (L)................ 8 hrs
  b.  BLY 301, 302, 303.................................. 9 hrs
  c.  Upper level courses............................. 20 hrs
The upper-level choices will be based on career counseling provided by advisors using models of tracks including (but not limited to) Botany, Ecology and Evolution, Environmental Science, Marine Biology, Cell/Microbiology, and Zoology (see department web site for examples).
  NOTE: A "C" or better in BLY 121, BLY 121L, BLY 122, BLY 122L, or the equivalents, are prerequisites to all courses numbered 300 or above except by permission of the Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences. A year of college chemistry, or advanced high school preparation in biology and chemistry is highly recommended for these two introductory courses. Credit will not be allowed for both the non-major sequence (BLY 101, BLY 101L, and BLY 102, BLY 102L) and the major/minor sequence (BLY 121, BLY 121L, BLY 122, BLY 122L.)
  A "C" or better is required in BLY 301, BLY 302, and BLY 303 before any other BLY 300-400 level courses can be taken.
Upper level courses not listed here will count towards a biology major but do not satisfy the requirements above.
2.     Chemistry (CH 131, CH 132, CH 201)
3.     A year of Physics (PH 114, PH 115) or Geology (GY 111 and GY 112)
4.    Mathematics through Calculus (MA 115 and 125) or Statistics (MA 115 and ST         210)
Biology majors desiring a concentration in marine biology should follow the recommended four-year curriculum for biology majors. At least one term must be spent at the Marine Environmental Sciences Consortium at Dauphin Island or other approved marine lab, after the sophomore year. The department recommends that students select courses from: BLY 360, BLY 367, BLY 368, BLY 370, BLY 430, BLY 451, BLY 471, BLY 474 and BLY 475.
Dauphin Island Sea Laboratory publishes an Information Bulletin each year. Students may request a copy of the Information Bulletin by contacting the Registrar, Dauphin Island Sea Laboratory, Post Office Box 369-370, Dauphin Island, AL 36528, (251) 861-2141 or downloading from http://www.disl.org/.
Biology majors may select a traditional minor offered by departments in the College of Arts and Sciences or the Mitchell College of Business or select a minor in Related Sciences by taking CH 131/CH 131L, CH 132/CH 132L, CH 201/CH 201L and any two courses (a lecture and its laboratory component count as one course) from the following:
CH 202/CH 202L, CH 265/CH 265L, CH 414/CH 414L, CH 440, CH 441
GY 111/GY 111L, GY 112/GY 112L, GY 413, GY 461
Areas I, II, and IV of the General Education Requirements for Biology are specified in the College of Arts and Sciences section. Note that Area III requirements (Mathematics and Natural Sciences) are fulfilled by the major requirements specified above.
The Biology Senior Thesis Program offers bright, academically motivated undergraduate students the opportunity to develop research and communication skills in preparation for a graduate or professional career. To apply for admission into the program, a student must:
1.   Have completed BLY 121, 121L, BLY 122, 122L, CH 131, CH 132, plus one more upper division biology course.
2.   Have earned a 3.25 GPA or better in biology courses attempted.
3.   Have earned a 3.0 GPA or better overall.
4.   Obtain a recommendation from a faculty member.
In addition to fulfilling the requirements of the standard biology program, senior thesis students must complete:
1.   Participate in the Undergraduate Senior Thesis in Biology program for four terms; this may include summer terms.
2.   Complete a minimum of six credits of directed research, three credits of which must be Honors Research in Biology (BLY 499).
3.   Complete a formal research prospectus including an introduction, proposed methods, and relevant literature citations. The prospectus must be submitted and approved during the first term of participation in the program.
4.   Complete a formal written report of the final research project in the form of a scientific paper.
5.   Present a formal oral defense of the final research project for the Department of Biological Sciences.
Complete a poster presentation at the USA Annual Research Forum or the UCUR Annual Research Forum.
Students participating in the Biology Senior Thesis Program who have a 3.5 GPA will also be eligible for University Departmental Honors status.
Biology students who are part of the University Honors Program will meet requirements for the Undergraduate Biology Senior Thesis as well as those of the University's program.
Twenty-five hours of biology are required, including:
1.    BLY 121, BLY 121L, BLY 122, BLY 122L (General Biology).
2. BLY 301, BLY 302, BLY 303
3. Eight hours in laboratory courses taken in the Biology department at the University of South Alabama.
Credit will not be allowed for both the non-major sequence (BLY 101, BLY 101L and BLY 102, BLY 102L) and the major/minor sequence (BLY 121, BLY 121L, BLY 122, BLY 122L.)
The Master of Science degree in Biology is designed to provide qualified students the opportunity to further their knowledge in generalized and specialized areas of biology, as indicated by course offerings and research interests of the faculty. In addition, the Department incorporates into its offerings some areas of study leading to concentrations in Basic Medical Sciences (through cooperative agreement with the College of Medicine - see next page) and in Marine Biology (through cooperative agreement with the Department of Marine Sciences and/or the Dauphin Island Sea Laboratory). Admission to the M.S. Program does not automatically qualify a student for entry into one of the special areas of concentration; students desiring such entry should familiarize themselves with the special conditions noted below and contact the Department for special rules and conditions.
Students are admitted each semester.
The following criteria supplement the Graduate School criteria (see Categories of Admission):
1.    Undergraduate major in Biology, Botany, or Zoology with a minimum GPA of 2.8         (on a 4-point scale) in all biological courses taken.
2.    Two years of chemistry.
3.    One year of physics or geology.
4.    Mathematics at least through calculus or statistics.
5.    Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score of at least 1100 on the Verbal and         Quantitative portions, with at least a score of 500 on Verbal. (An MCAT score of 24         may be substituted for the GRE by persons intending to enter a cellular/molecular         area.)
6.    Students who do not speak English as their native language must submit a         minimum TOEFL score of 600.
7.    Three letters of reference.
8.    A letter from the student indicating their research interests.
9.    A willing mentor from Biology (in this regard the student should contact the         Graduate Coordinator before applying to the program).
1.     Undergraduate major or minor (or equivalent) in Biology, Botany, or Zoology.
2.     A minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.5 (on a 4-point scale), with a minimum of 2.8         on all biological courses taken.
3.    Submission of GRE (or MCAT) score as outlined above, but without minimum         score requirements, and a minimum TOEFL score of 600.
4.    Three letters of reference.  
5.    A letter from the student indicating their research interests.
6.    A willing mentor from Biology (in this regard the student should contact the        Graduate Coordinator before applying to the program).
The Department of Biological Sciences accepts Non-Degree Graduate Students within the general admission and credit regulations of the University of South Alabama with certain reservations and limitations. Students should consult the Department concerning these limitations before applying for such status. Included, but not limited to, are the following:
1.     Students are restricted to enrollment in courses prefixed BLY that the Chair          determines will advance their career development in biological sciences. Only in          exceptional cases wherein it is determined to the satisfaction of the Chair that the          aforementioned career goals are enhanced will a non-degree student be          permitted to enroll in courses in other departments.
2.    Students must confer with the Chair or the Graduate Coordinator of the          Department of Biological Sciences before attempting to enroll in any class.
3.    Students seeking to change from non-degree status to a degree-granting          program must reapply and be evaluated as any other student who has not          previously applied to such program.
The purpose of this track is to provide qualified beginning graduate students with an opportunity to become research scientists in biology with an emphasis in basic medical science. Course work and research opportunities are offered in the Departments of Biochemistry, Microbiology/Immunology, Pharmacology, Physiology, and Structural and Cellular Biology in the College of Medicine, as well as in the Department of Biological Sciences. Students fulfill the normal criteria for the MS degree in Biology. Students must complete thesis research in basic medical sciences. This track prepares the student for additional graduate study in the basic medical sciences leading to the Ph.D. degree. A non-thesis option is not available.
Students are expected to define a thesis topic by the end of the first year in residence. The student and the major professor select an advisory committee consisting of the major professor, who may be from either Basic Medical Sciences (with a co-major professor from Biological Sciences) or the Department of Biological Sciences, and at least one other member from Biological Sciences.
     Dauphin Island Sea Laboratory
The Dauphin Island Sea Laboratory is supported by nineteen colleges and universities in Alabama to form one marine campus. Students in the MS program Biological Sciences at the University of South Alabama may take courses through the sea laboratory and apply credits earned toward fulfilling requirements for the MS degree. Students frequently choose to spend part of their time, particularly in the summers, at Dauphin Island and the rest of their time on the main campus in Mobile. Other arrangements are also possible.
The Department offers several types of assistantships to qualified students. Application forms for assistantships with primary responsibilities in teaching and preparing laboratories are available from the departmental office. In addition, some assistantships with primary responsibility in research are usually available each year. These assistantships are associated with grants and contracts that support the research of individual faculty members. In all cases, assistantships are approved by the Dean of the Graduate School upon recommendation of the appropriate sponsor within the University. To be eligible for an assistantship, MCAT or GRE scores must be submitted to the Biology Department.
Students will find detailed explanation of special departmental requirements in a document, “Special Policies and Procedures Regarding the Master’s Degree Program in the Department of Biological Sciences.” This document is available from the departmental office or the Biology web site, and describes initial orientation for new students, administration of the comprehensive examination, departmental seminars, and the like.
The curriculum for each student will be developed by the student’s advisory committee in view of the student’s professional goals. If, in the opinion of a student’s committee, the student lacks adequate undergraduate preparation or English skills, the student will be required to make up such deficiencies.
All requirements must be met in five years. In addition to satisfying the general requirements of the Graduate School, the candidates for the Master of Science degree in Biology must satisfy the following requirements:
Thesis Program
1. Complete, with a minimum grade of “B”, thirty hours of course work at the 500 level. All Biology graduate students, including those with a BMS or Marine Biology concentration, must complete at least six hours of formal coursework in BLY (excluding directed studies and thesis) listed courses. No course at the 400 level or below may be taken for graduate credit. A maximum of six credit hours may be granted for Directed Studies (BLY 594). All courses must be accepted by the student’s graduate advisory committee. The student’s graduate committee may, at its option, after consultation with the student, require demonstration of additional proficiency in mathematics, computer skills, statistics, and/or require the student to take additional course work beyond the twenty-four hour minimum.
2. Complete a thesis representing original research. A maximum of six hours credit will be granted for the thesis. Enrollment in BLY 599 (Thesis) is not permitted until the student’s research prospectus has been approved by the advisory committee and the Directory of Graduate Studies, College of Arts and Sciences.
3. Enroll in Biology Seminar during at least two semesters of residency.
4. After submission of the written research prospectus to the committee, students will schedule a committee meeting and comprehensive qualifying exam. The exam will be oral and will start with a presentation of the prospectus and, where applicable, a progress report. Students will first be examined on the prospectus and progress report, and then any area of study closely or broadly related to the student's area of specialization. The exam committee will consist of the student's thesis committee.

The student will be graded by all committee members, following a rubric that considers various aspects of the presentation and has three possible scores for each category: 1 (insufficient), 2 (meets expectations), and 3 (above expectations). In order to pass the exam, a student will have to score an average of 2 or higher. Students are encouraged to look at the rubric before the presentation to be aware of the committee's expectations.

Students who fail the exam will be given a second opportunity.
5. Make an oral defense of the thesis.

University of South Alabama - Mobile Alabama 36688-0002 / 1 (251) 460-6101
For questions or comments Contact Us
Last date changed: March 3, 2011 1:56 PM

University of South Alabama