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Ph. D. Program in Bio-Environmental Science

The Ph.D. Program in Bio-Environmental Science is a didactic and research-driven program with participating faculty from the Departments of Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, and Computer Science. The program resides within the Department of Biology, within the School of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences and utilizes an integrated interdisciplinary approach that is designed to offer flexibility in areas of specialization and training to meet the changing Bio-Environmental needs of the nation and global community in the 21st Century. The Ph.D. in Bio-Environmental Science offers research opportunities and instruction in five general areas of concentrations: Environmental Toxicology, Environmental Science, Environmental Chemistry, Environmental Health Sciences, and Environmental Biotechnology. The courses offered in the program are primarily for doctoral students, however, students enrolled in the Master’s degree programs may participate. For example, Biology, Chemistry, and Engineering majors can enroll in suitable 500 and 600 level Bio-Environmental Science graduate courses for credit toward their degrees. The student is responsible for making the necessary arrangements with an individual Bio-Environmental Science Graduate faculty member. The consent of the chairperson of the student’s major department is also required.

Goal

To produce highly skilled scientists who will apply knowledge derived from basic and applied research to address the multifaceted concerns of the Bio-Environmental science community in a changing global society.

Objectives

  1. To provide graduate students with essential academic knowledge, research and practical skills needed for successful careers in Bio-Environmental science related jobs at various private institutions, government agencies, academia, and industry.
  2. To train students on the interaction between various components/systems of the environment, and how to protect the health of humans in the changing environment.
  3. To provide interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research training that address the understanding of the underlining mechanism by which physical, chemical, and biological agents cause alterations in ecosystem integrity and cause morbidity and mortality in man, animals, and other organisms, especially those of commercial value.
  4. To develop cost-effective methodologies whereby the impact of various environmental pollutants and toxic substances may be prevented and/or controlled.
  5. Establish partnerships with other research-intensive universities, government agencies, museums, international organizations and the private sector that will provide training and internships to facilitate applied research activity and future career opportunities.
  6. To establish community outreach programs that provide awareness regarding the impact of physical, chemical, biological, and toxic agents generated by natural or anthropogenic events on human health.

Admission Policy

Admission to the Ph.D. program in Bio-Environmental Science is open to individuals holding a Bachelor's or Master's Degree in biology, chemistry, physics or related scientific disciplines. The applicant must have cumulative and science GPA’s of 3.0 and above. Each applicant is also required to take and demonstrate satisfactory performance on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test (verbal, quantitative, and analytical), and GRE Subject Test (biology, chemistry, or another science). These scores must be sent directly to the School of Graduate Studies as part of the graduate application for admission. In selected cases, academically strong applicants may be admitted to the program with the provision that they take and demonstrate satisfactory performance on the GRE by the end of their first year in the program. In addition to the above requirements, International students whose undergraduate training was not conducted in the English language must have scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOFEL) directly sent to the School of Graduate Studies.

As part of the admissions process, all applicants to the program are required to have three letters of recommendation submitted from faculty who can critically evaluate the student’s personal character, academic performance, and potential to complete the program. An official transcript of undergraduate and when appropriate, graduate course work is also required.

Summary of Procedures for Doctoral Degree

  • Admission as a potential degree candidate
  • Appointment of doctoral committee
  • Comprehensive Examinations
  • Completion of Language Requirements
  • Submission and approval of application for admission to candidacy
  • Submission of application for diploma
  • Payment of Graduate fees
  • Submission of dissertation to doctoral committee
  • Scheduling of Defense of Dissertation Examination
  • Defense of Dissertation Examination Doctoral Committee
  • Approval and Acceptance of final copy of dissertation and doctoral forms

Ph. D. Program in Bio-Environmental Science

Core Course Requirements

CHEM.600 Advances in Biochemistry
BIOL.631 Bioethics and Communications
BIOL.627 Experimental Design and Data Analysis
BIOL.531 Environmental Sciences
BIOL.540 Bioinformatics
CHEM.601 Environmental Chemistry
BIOL.625 Seminar on Modern Biology and Bio-Environmental Sc.

Areas of Concentrations

Environmental Toxicology
BIOL.525 Advances in Cellular Biology
BIOL.526 Advances in Molecular Biology
BIOL.602 Environmental Immunotoxicology
BIOL.626 Environmental Physiology of Plants
BIOL.627 Molecular Toxicology of Diseases
BIOL.628 Environmental Carcinogenesis
BIOL.629 Developmental Neurotoxicology
CHEM.604 Analytical Techniques in Environmental Chemistry
Electives and Seminars (To Be Determined)
   
Environmental Chemistry
CHEM.533 Statistical Methods in Analytical Chemistry
CHEM.581 Techniques in Chemistry
CHEM.602 Pollutants in the Environment
CHEM.603 Physical Chemistry of Environmental Sciences
CHEM.604 Analytical Techniques in Environmental Chemistry
CHEM.605 Atmospheric Chemistry
Electives and Seminars (To Be Determined)
   
Environmental Science
BIOL.521 Bioecology
BIOL.603 Marine and Aquatic Biology
BIOL.604 Ecosystem Analysis
BIOL.606 Environmental Toxicology
BIOL.609 Environmental Microbiology
BIOL.626 Environmental Physiology of Plants
BIOL.619 Business Concepts for Environmental Managers
Electives and Seminars (To Be Determined)
   
Environmental Health Science
BIOL.627 Molecular Toxicology of Diseases
BIOL.610 Molecular Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases
BIOL.611 Food and Water Borne Diseases
BIOL.612 Advanced Environmental Health Sciences
BIOL.628 Environmental Carcinogenesis
BIOL.624 Environmental Biotechnology
Electives and Seminars (To Be Determined)
   
Environmental Biotechnology
BIOL.601 Molecular Biotechnology
BIOL.606 Environmental Toxicology
BIOL.626 Environmental Physiology of Plants
BIOL.620 Environmental Genetics
BIOL.621 Microbial Biochemistry
BIOL.624 Environmental Biotechnology
Electives and Seminars (To Be Determined)

BIOL.520 Biological Chemistry (3 hours; 3 credits)

Covers topics in protein structure and function, enzyme kinetics and mechanisms of enzyme action, metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids, amino acids and nucleotides, bioenergetics and energy considerations in biochemistry, and analyzes various techniques and instrumentations used in biochemical studies.

BIOL.521 Bioecology (3 hours; 3 credits)

Provides an in-depth understanding of the interrelationships between organisms and organisms and their environment, the major chemical, physical and biotic factors of the environment will be analyzed for their influence on the distribution and functional processes of plant and animal communities.

BIOL.522 Modern Research Techniques (3 hours; 3 credits)

Provides the first-year graduate student with an intensive hands-on approach to modern techniques and methodologies of biomedical research. Students will be introduced to theories and practices of qualitative and quantitative analysis of proteins, gel electrophoresis, enzyme assays, column chromatography, nucleic acid "blot-and-probe" techniques, differential centrifugation, cell culturing, and radioisotope methodology.

BIOL.525 Advances in Cellular Biology (3 hours; 3 credits)

The course integrates basic concepts of cellular biology with general topics in the areas of biochemistry, genetics and molecular biology, and covers topics in the research literature on current understandings of the structure, function and biogenesis of macromolecules and cellular organelles, cell membrane, the cytoskeleton network, membrane transport mechanisms, cell surface and intracellular communication, energy requirements for cellular activities, and synthesis and sorting in the normal and disease states. The experimental technologies used in these to studies will be discussed.

BIOL.526 Advances in Molecular Biology (3 hours; 3 credits)

The course will provide students with the theoretical basis for appreciating and understanding the basic principles and methodologies of modern molecular biology through lectures and discussions of the current scientific literature. The course is designed to integrate basic concepts of molecular biology with fundamental topics in other areas of cellular biology, biochemistry, microbiology, and molecular genetics.

BIOL.527 Microbiology of Emerging Pathogens (3 hours; 3 credits)

The course that addresses the microbiology of emerging pathogens with the hope of understanding the factors involved in disease emergence, prevention, the public health impact, and control; covers selective topics on pathogens such as hantavirus, emerging foodborne pathogens, HIV/AIDS and multidrug resistant tuberculosis among high risk groups. Selected topics in the current literature will be discussed.

BIOL.528 Immunobiology (3 hours; 3 credits)

The course emphasizes significant new advances in the field of immunology, immunobiology and immunotherapy. This multidisciplinary field of study integrates molecular biology, cell biology and physiology. Students will acquire an in-depth understanding of basic research in immunology that is applicable to the diagnosis and development of treatments for immunodeficiencies, autoimmune disease, cancer and AIDS. The course will also emphasize new biotechnological strategies for the development of novel vaccines.

BIOL.531 Environmental Science (3 hours; 3 credits).

This course is designed to provide students with an in-depth understanding of fundamental scientific principles and concepts necessary for a better understanding of environmental science, environmental problems, causes and solutions. Emphasis is placed on urban environmental problems, issues and solutions; together with impact of man on the environment. Prerequisites: Bioecology.

BIOL.540 Bioinformatics (3 hours; 3 credits)

The course investigates the use of computational tools for the collection, analysis and dissemination of data relating to the genomes, genes and gene products of species of organisms.

BIOL.601 Molecular Biotechnology (3 hours; 3 credits)

The course introduces the student to the fundamental principles, applications, strategies, and societal concerns of molecular biotechnology. Students will learn the application of novel biotechnology techniques in solutions to various environmental problems.

BIOL.602 Environmental Immunotoxicology (3 hours; 3 credits)

Studies the adverse effects of environmental chemicals and toxins on the immune system. The course will examine the influence of environmental or toxic agents on immune function and the cellular and molecular mechanisms that lead to alterations in the immune response.

BIOL.603 Marine and Aquatic Biology (4 hours; 4 credits)

This course examines the broad and multidisciplinary approach to marine and aquatic life and the biological processes in shallow coastal waters and the open ocean. It examines and quantifies organismal physiological response to the abiotic and biotic environment. Aspects of population and community structure, reproduction and larval biology, and marine production systems are also examined. Prerequisite: Bioecology, Basic Statistics.

BIOL.604 Ecosystem Analysis (4 hours; 4 credits)

This course exposes students to ecosystem-level questions; demonstrates field-data collection and laboratory analysis; emphasize data manipulation on microcomputers; and introduces professional data presentation techniques (graphing, transparencies, slides, multi-media, etc.). Some student projects are expected to generate large enough data sets to test hypothesis and develop publishable conclusions. Class sessions comprise lecture and field/laboratory components. Prerequisite: core courses.

BIOL.606 Environmental Toxicology (3 hours; 3 credits)

Covers relevant problems in environmental toxicology, with an emphasis on the nature, distribution and effects of environmental toxicants; exposure and dose-response

characterizations, and risk assessment and risk management will be covered.

BIOL.609 Environmental Microbiology (3 hours; 3 credits)

Covers current topics in selected areas of environmental microbiology, with an emphasis on the genetics and pathophysiology of microorganisms.

BIOL.610 Molecular Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases (3 hours; 3 credits)

Application of molecular typing techniques to study of microbial pathogens to increase understanding of epidemiology of infectious diseases. Evaluation of methods used in outbreaks and epidemics reported in literature. Prerequisite - Advanced Cell & Molecular Biology

BIOL.611 Food and Water Borne Diseases (3 hours; 3 credits)

Study of identification and characteristics of chemicals and biological agents implicated in food and water borne disease outbreaks and conditions or circumstances by which food contamination occurs. Examination of food protection activities conducted by local and state government at the retail level. Principles, requirements of public water supply for protection of public health. Includes essential characteristics of water quality and sources, water treatment and distribution systems with associated health hazards; public health, epidemiology, risk assessment; surveillance, regulatory needs to assure safe public water supplies. Prerequisite: Environmental Sciences.

BIOL.612 Advanced Environmental Health (3 hours; 3 credits)

Examines health issues, scientific understanding of causes, and possible future approaches to control of the major environmental health problems in industrialized and developing countries. Topics include how the body reacts to environmental pollutants; physical, chemical, and biological agents of environmental contamination; vectors for dissemination (air, water, soil); solid and hazardous waste; susceptible populations; biomarkers and risk analysis; the scientific basis for policy decisions; and emerging global environmental health problems. Prerequisite: None.

BIOL.619 Business Concepts for Environmental Managers. (3 hours; 3 credits).

The course offers environmental managers a basic understanding of accounting systems to enable them to interpret financial data in corporate and governmental settings, to integrate traditional business concepts with those of sustainable environmental management, and to recognize the role of environmental management among the multiple interests within business negotiations. The first part of the course develops skill in financial accounting, and this knowledge is then applied to areas in environmental financial management, including budgeting, project finance, and business development and strategy. Prerequisite: none.

BIOL.620 Environmental Genetics (3 hours; 3 credits)

Studies the effects of exposure to various environmental chemicals and carcinogens on genetic diseases. The course examines the alteration of the genetic make-up of model organisms by environmental chemicals and other carcinogens, and the influence of such environmental factors on the alteration of target gene expression and development of carcinogenesis.

BIOL.624 Environmental Biotechnology (3 hours; 3 credits)

The course examines the use of biotechnology techniques and methods for the analysis and solution of environmental problems. Areas of particular interest include the use of novel microorganisms for applications in the removal of pollutants, toxic chemicals, and hazardous wastes from the environment.

BIOL.625 Seminar Topics in Modern Biology and Environmental Sciences (2 hours; 1 credit)

Gives an in-depth review of modern topics in the biological and environmental science fields. It enables students to review the research literature and provide discussions on the topics. These seminars emphasize contextual and integrated understanding, analysis and synthesis, conflicts and ethical issues, enhanced communication and teamwork.

BIOL.626 Environmental Physiology of Plants (3 hours; 3 credits).

The course examines the regulation of plant growth and development, nutrition, and the effects of environmental stress, chemicals, and pollutants on the physiology and development of crop plants of economic importance.

BIOL.627 Molecular Toxicology of Diseases (3 hours; 3 credits)

Advanced discussion of molecular mechanisms whereby chemical, physical, and biological agents produce their harmful effects on biological tissues. Prerequisite: Advanced Cell & Molecular Biology.

BIOL.627 Experimental Design And Data Analysis (3 hours; 3 credits)

The course deals with experimental design, critical evaluation and analysis of multivariant biological data, and testing of biological models.

BIOL. 628 Environmental Carcinogenesis (3 hours; 3 credits)

Biochemical and molecular basis of carcinogenesis induced by chemical and physical agents in the environment, including detailed discussion of multi-stage process of carcinogenesis, mechanisms of action of specific chemical and physical carcinogens; current approaches to identification of carcinogens, and chemoprevention strategies. Prerequisite:

BIOL.629 Developmental Neurotoxicology (3 hours; 3 credits)

This course will introduce students to the full spectrum of environmental effects on the developing nervous system. This includes pre-and postnatal effects of toxicants on the developing nervous system along with the discussion of physical, psychological and sociological constraints of nervous system development. Special emphasis will be given to effects on the development of the mammalian Central Nervous System [CNS], however, Peripheral Nervous System [PNS] effects and other vertebrate models will be discussed where and when relevant.

BIOL.630A Seminar I: Global Enviroment and Public Health (2 hours; 1 credit)

Explores the impact of development and industrialization on the global environment, such as disease transmission, desertification, deforestation, collapse of marine fisheries, declining agricultural production, and biodiversity loss. Provides an overview of scientific and policy issues surrounding global environmental health issues.

BIOL.630B Seminar II: Reproductive and Developmental Toxicology (2 hours; 1 credit)

Investigates chemicals that can induce adverse reproductive and developmental outcomes. Discussion topics include identification and characterization of specific classes of toxic agents, mechanisms of action of these agents at the molecular and cellular level, and risk assessment and regulatory issues. Prerequisite: Advanced Cell and Molecular Biology.

BIOL.630C Seminar III: Biotechnology, Bioinformatics, and Ecogenetics (2 hours; 1 credit)

Methodologies currently used for characterization, storage, and retrieval of genetic information relevant to gene-environment interactions that contribute to diseases of public health importance. Working knowledge of molecular genotyping and phenotyping, genomics, and bioinformatics related to genetic testing provided. Prerequisite: Advanced Cell & Molecular Biology.

BIOL.630D Seminar IV: Neuroepidemiology and Environmental Risk Factors (2 hours; 1 credit)

Focus on neurologic diseases and etiology. Presentation of descriptive epidemiology, clinical features, and risk factors, including stroke, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and other disorders. Prerequisite: Advanced Environmental Sciences.

BIOL.631 Bioethics and Communications (3 hours; 3 credits).

Students in this course analyze, discuss and write on traditional philosophical theories regarding the nature of the moral good. They then apply these theories to critical issues and selected cases involving experiments with human subjects, organ transplantation, in vitro fertilization, the use of animals in research, the collection and publication of research data, peer review, conflicts of interest, and other topics of current concern. The course also emphasizes how to write scientific papers for peer-reviewed journals, for in-house scientific progress reports, for lay audiences, and for grant applications. Approaches to making formal oral presentations and posters are also presented. Class discussions center around writing and speaking skills and the author/speakers’ responsibility to present accurate accounts of results, applications, and implications of their research. Students have weekly writing and reading assignments. Prerequisite: none.

BIOL. or CHEM. 800-804 Supervised Doctoral Research – (9 Credits)

These courses are designed to allow students to participate in doctoral research in areas of their choosing under the supervision of a research mentor and also to defend their thesis for the doctoral degree. Students are required to submit their research findings in a seminar topics series.

CHEM .533 Statistical Methods in Analytical Chemistry (3 hours; 3 credits).

This course covers a variety of computer-aided models to treat and interpret laboratory experimental data. Topics to be covered include: Errors in measurement, bi and multi variate data analysis, analysis of variation (ANOVA) and anciliary techniques including Monte Carlo simulations. Prequiste: Chem 314 or equivalent.

CHEM .581 Techniques in Chemistry (3 hours; 3 credits).

This course address advanced techniques in the synthesis, characterization, identification and quantification of chemical compounds. Both the underlying theories and instrumentation in the topics will be covered. Such topics will include modern synthetic methods in inorganic and organic chemistry, analysis of reaction products using absorptiometric-fluorometric, electrochemical, separation and various optical techniques Prerequisite: Chem. 314, 408 and 312 or equivalent.

CHEM .600 Advances in Biochemistry (3 hours; 3 credits).

This course will cover major subjects of biochemistry such as chemistry of the amino acids, peptides and proteins, the chemistry of enzyme action and regulation of metabolism. Special emphasis will be given to the toxic effects of environmental substances on biochemical systems. Prerequisite: Chem. 304 or equivalent.

CHEM .601 Environmental Chemistry (3 hours; 3 credits).

Environmental chemistry course is designed to introduce students to the importance of chemistry in solving the myriad of environmental problems ­ the atmosphere, biosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere and the anthrosphere. Most of the pollutants are made during the normal course of daily activities. Environmental chemistry studies the production of pollutants, their distribution in the environment, overall health effects and their remediation using chemical knowledge and its attendant techniques. Prerequisite: Chem. 204 and MATH 114 or equivalent: Recommend CHEM. 207 or permission of the Instructor.

CHEM .602 Pollutants in the Environment (3 hours; 3 credits).

This course involves a rigorous treatment of materials and particulates that contribute to environmental hazards. Their origin and production will be covered in great depth. Rigorous quantitative methods of analysis and the general instrumental techniques will be covered. Prerequisite: Chem. 314 and/or Chem. 601.

CHEM .603 Physical Chemistry of Environmental Sciences (3 hours; 3 credits).

This course will cover the importance of fundamental thermodynamics and kinetics in the treatment of environmental problems. Topics covered will include first, second and third laws of thermodynamics, phase transformations, free energy, equilibrium, transport phenomena, catalysis. Prerequisite: Chem. 308 or equivalent.

CHEM .604 Analytical Techniques in Environmental Chemistry (3 hours; 3 credits).

This course involves a rigorous treatment of materials and particulates that contribute to environmental hazards. Their origin and production will be covered in great depth. Rigorous quantitative methods of analysis and the general instrumental techniques will be covered. Prerequisite: Chem. 533 and 581.

CHEM .605 Atmospheric Chemistry (3 hours; 3 credits).

Chemistry of the lower atmosphere (troposphere and stratosphere) including photochemistry, kinetics, thermodynamics, box modeling, biogeochemical cycles, and measurement techniques for atmospheric pollutants; study of important impacts to the atmosphere which result from anthropographic emissions of pollutants, including acid rain, the greenhouse effect, urban smog, and stratospheric ozone depletion. Prerequisite: Chem. 603.

MATH.631 Biostatistics (3 hours; 3 credits)

A first course in statistics with emphasis on applications in biological and health sciences, including organizing and summarizing data, basic probability, probability distributions, sampling distributions, drawing inferences from population samples via estimation and significance tests, linear regression, analysis, analysis of frequencies, vital statistics, and exposure to analysis of variance. Students will perform computer projects via statistical software systems.

MATH.633 Applied Regression and Correlation Analysis (3 hours; 3 credits)

The study of relationships among variables, including linear regression with one or more independent variables, methods of estimating parameters and testing hypotheses, diagnostics and remedial measures, selection of independent variables via stepwise and other forms of regression techniques, model building, nonlinear regression, and time series.

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