A paper originating from Carla Zilberberg's Master's thesis has been published with her advisor Dr. Peter Edmunds in Marine Ecology Progress Series. The paper's title is "Competition among small colonies of Agaricia: The importance of size asymmetry in determining competitive outcome." Dr. Edmunds also recently published papers in Marine Biology, "The effect of temperature and time of release on the biology of planulae from the reef coral Porites astreoides," and in Coral Reefs, "Normalizing physiological data for scleractinian corals."
A paper from Dr. Randy Cohen's lab recently was published in the Journal of Insect Behavior. Co-authored with Canielle Mahoney and Huong D. Can, both undergraduate students and the latter also a MARC and HOPE fellow. The publication is entitled "Possible regulation of feeding behavior in cockroach nymphs by the neurotransmitter octopamine."
A paper originating in the thesis of Jeannie Chari has been published with her advisor Dr. Paul Wilson in Canadian Journal of Botany. The paper was on "Factors limiting hybridization between Penstemon spectabilis and Penstemon centranthifolius."
A new paper from Dr. Steven Oppenheimer's lab is out: "Analysis of surface properties of fixed and live cells using derivatized agarose beads." The paper, published in Acta Histochemica, was co-authored by students Vanessa Navarro, Sherri Walker, Oliver Badali, Maria Abundis, Lylla Ngo, Gayane Weerasinghe, Marcela Barajas, Greg Zem and Dr. Oppenheimer.
Two papers authored by Dr. David Gray have just been published: "Is cricket courtship song condition dependent?" in Animal Behaviour, and "Divergence between the courtship songs of the field crickets Gryllus texensis and Gryllus rubens" in Ethology.
Two new papers are out by Dr. Robert Espinoza. "Lizards, lipids, and dietary links to animal function" appeared in Physiological and Biochemical Zoology. "Responses to prey and plant chemicals by three iguanian lizards: Relationship to plants in the diet" appeared in Amphibia-Reptilia.
Drs. Steve Dudgeon and Janet Kübler published a paper in Functional Ecology entitled "Natural variability in zygote dispersal of Ascophyllum nodosum at small spatial scales."
First prize for an outstanding presentation was awarded to Dang Huynh, a student working with Dr. Maria Elena Zavala, at the annual conference of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS). Dang's paper was on "Comparison of conformational flexibility of four homologous periplasmic binding proteins." Several other Cal State Northridge students also attended the conference where they met scientists from all over the country, learned about the latest scientific developments, and participated in career development workshops and cultural activities.
The marine biology faculty and their students attended the annual meeting of the Western Society of Naturalists, where Denise Weisman, a student working with Dr. Robert Carpenter, was awarded Honorable Mention for a presentation, "The effects of grazing by the sea urchin Centrostephanus coronatus on the benthic algal community." Prize for Best Paper went to a Cal State Northridge Biology alum, Ali Whitmer, now a Ph.D. at the University of Washington, for her presentation on population genetics of kelp metapopulations. Students attending the meetings and giving presentations included Maiko Kasuya, Casey Terhorst, Janna Fierst and Christin Slaughter.
Graduate student Cyrille Khalili and undergraduate (and MARC Fellow) Jaime Lopez represented Dr. Randy Cohen's lab at the meetings of the Society for Neuroscience. The two students presented their work on "Immunohistochemical localization of glutamate receptors in the cerebellum and hippocampus of the spastic Han-Wistar rat: Evidence of altered expression."
Drs. Lisa Banner and Maria Elena Zavala took students to the American Society for Cell Biology annual conference where graduate student Josephine Allen won first place for her outstanding poster presentation. Both Josephine and Michele Garrido won scholarships to attend the conference. At that conference Dr. Zavala participated in the Minorities Affairs session and presented "What happens when you leave the lab, or Balancing your professional and personal life." Dr. Zavala also was a table leader at the Women in Cell Biology Luncheon and at the Cell Biology Thespian Group. She also participated in the presentation ceremonies for this year's Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring.
Fifteen Biology and Genetic Counseling graduate students attended the annual meetings of the American Society of Human Genetics in San Diego. They were accompanied by Drs. Aïda and Stan Metzenberg. At the meeting Dr. Aïda Metzenberg presented two posters on X-linked (male lethal) chondrodysplasia punctata in surviving males. Upon their return to campus, she and many of the students gave a meeting report in Dr. Rheem Medh's Human Genetics class. Says Dr. Metzenberg, "The meetings were very exciting, with a particular focus on progress in gene therapy and small-molecule therapy for genetic disease, as well as progress in stem cell research."
Dr. Steve Oppenheimer's students Maria Khurrum and Greg Zem presented a poster entitled "Surface differences in human cancer cells detected with agarose beads" at the annual meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology. Student co-authors on the poster with Maria, Greg and Dr. Oppenheimer were Evelyn Soriano, Rashad Riman, Oliver Badali, Gayani Weerasinghe, Vanessa Navarro, Caroline Harieg, Lylla Ngo, Tharinee Sakhakorn, Lital Kirszenbaum, David Khatibi, Karolin Abedi, Marcela Barajas, Delilah Toledo, Jeannie Ching, Mary Soccar and Adit Kirszenbaum. Greg, a local teacher, is a participant in Dr. Oppenheimer's National Science Foundation-funded program.
Biology put on a good show at CSUN's annual Student Research Symposium.
Also participants in the oral competition were:
Graduate student participants in the poster category and their topics, were:
Undergraduates presenting their work in the form of posters included:
The City of Hope awarded Dr. Aïda Metzenberg $14,240 for her Clinical Cancer Genetics Fellowship Program. The funds will be used to plan and implement a new course in Cancer Genetics that will serve both Biology and Genetic Counseling students, as well as City of Hope Fellows.
The University of Puerto Rico has awarded Dr. Peter Edmunds a $27,212 Sea Grant. The funds will support a project in the Virgin Islands entitled "The demographics of changing coral community structure in St. John." In addition, the National Undersea Research Program has agreed to support a project of Dr. Edmunds using the Aquarius undersea habitat near Key Largo, Florida: "Global climate change and coral recruitment: the interactive effects of temperature and ontogeny on the biology of Porites astreoides larvae." The award is valued at more than $150,000.
The Elsa U. Pardee Foundation has awarded Dr. Rheem Medh $46,729 to support a continuation of her work on the "Role of c-Myc in glucocorticoid-evoked apoptosis of leukemic lymphoblasts."
A tenth grant of $30,000 was awarded to Dr. Steve Oppenheimer by the Joseph Drown Foundation for his Cell Adhesion Research Program. The award letter stated, "We are always pleased to read about how successfully you have leveraged past funding from the Joseph Drown Foundation and, more importantly, inspired students to excel in the sciences. We remain proud to continue our support of your work."
Dr. Larry Allen was awarded another $137,949 by the California Department of Fish and Game. This project will be on White Sea Bass. In addition, the City of Los Angeles has awarded Dr. Allen $130,613 to continue his efforts to monitor an artificial fishing reef.
The Biology Department continues to be a leader in K-12 Teacher Training. Drs. Steve Oppenheimer and Virginia Vandergon, together with Dr. Gerry Simila (Geoscience), Dr. Norm Herr (Secondary Education) and Mr. Tony Recalde (Reseda High School Science Magnet), have been awarded a $809,882 grant from the Eisenhower program of the California Postsecondary Education Commission to train K-12 teachers in two major areas: (l) the new California Science Standards and (2) hands-on research science. This new program, "The Los Angeles superfunded science leader initiative at Cal State Northridge," combined with Dr. Oppenheimer's National Science Foundation-sponsored research training program and his, Gini Vandergon's, Gerry Simila's and Ed Carroll's California Science Project, showcase the Cal State Northridge Biology Department as a national leader in science teacher education.
Dr. Lisa Banner received funds from an NIH MBRS-SCORE grant for her study of "Analysis of neuropoietic cytokines in peripheral diabetic neuropathy." She and her students are studying nerve damage (neuropathy) that is a common complication of diabetes. They will analyze the expression of a group of proteins, called cytokines, that are involved in normal nerve growth following injury to determine if they are also involved in diabetic neuropathy.
Dr. Robert Carpenter also received an MBRS-SCORE grant for his study of "Coupling between physiology and the physical environment using algae as a model system."
Dr. Robert Espinoza gave seminars at Cal State Fullerton and at UCLA. The Fullerton talk was entitled "Viviparity, adaptation, and cryptic speciation in Liolaemus lizards." The UCLA talk was "Herbivory and the evolution of life-history strategies in reptiles."
Dr. Dave Gray gave an invited seminar at UCLA in January: "Sexual selection, evolutionary genetics and speciation: Cricket communication as a model system." In February, he gave a talk at the Southern California Animal Behavior Conference: "Close encounters of the cricket kind: What is going on with courtship song?"
Drs. Steve Oppenheimer and Aïda Metzenberg were invited panelists discussing the topic of stem cell research on the program, On Point, Channel 36, last October.
Dr. Steve Oppenheimer presented a keynote address at the Valley Grant Workshop held on campus in January. The talk was at the invitation of Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg, Chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky, and Los Angeles Mayor Jim Hahn. Dr. Oppenheimer's topic was "The do's and don'ts of grant writing." In it he provided tips that have helped him obtain many millions of dollars in grant funding. The workshop was attended by representatives of non-profit organizations seeking grant support and of organizations that provide funding.
Dr. Maria Elena Zavala presented the keynote address at the NASA/NSL 7th Annual Pre-Service Teachers Conference. Her topic was "Preparing to teach in a diverse classroom." In May, she will accept the National Science Board's Public Service Award on behalf of SACNAS. The award will be presented at the State Department in Washington, DC.
Faculty are Commission Members, Officers, Editors
Dr. Stan Metzenberg serves on the the California Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Performance Level Setting Panel for Science. The committee analyzes student performance state-wide on the standards-based science tests and recommends "cut scores" to the State Board of Education. Dr. Metzenberg also serves on the Content Review Panel that designs the high school science exams each year, and the California Science Project Advisory Board that oversees state-funded professional development for science teachers. Moreover, Dr. Metzenberg was recently appointed to the Alignment Congruence Committee for Science, a unit of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. This Committee is responsible for comparing the Credentialing Commission's proposed subject matter requirements for high school science teachers with the California State Board of Education's Academic Content Standards in Science.
Many Biology faculty currently serve as officers or editors of national scientific societies. Dr. Nancy Bishop is President-elect of the Southern California Branch of the American Society for Microbiology. Dr. Maria Elena Zavala is President of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science. Dr. Peter Edmunds is the recording secretary of the International Coral Reef Society. Dr. Robert Espinoza was recently appointed associate editor of Herpetological Review. Dr. Paul Wilson serves as associate editor of Systematic Botany.
Conservation Research by Master's Students Makes a Difference
A number of Biology Master's students have done or are doing their thesis studies on conservation in the National Park system. The following projects have direct implications for management of national park lands.
Sandy Ng studied the use by wildlife of corridors under highways in the Santa Monica Mountains. Sarah Kimball looked at the effects of livestock grazing on native and alien plants at Carrizo Plain National Monument. Jake Kerby analyzed the barriers to dispersal by alien crayfish in streams of the Santa Monica Mountains. Gary Busteed is studying the effects of habitat fragmentation on reptiles and amphibians in the Santa Monica Mountains. Andrew Ellis is analyzing disturbance of cryptogamic crusts at the Carrizo Plain.
Some of the studies are guided jointly by Cal State Northridge faculty and by colleagues in the involved agencies.
Mrs. Maria D'Addario, Associate Director of the Genetic Counseling Program, organized a Genetic Counseling conference held on campus this past November. The conference was attended by students from both Cal State Northridge's and UC Irvine's Genetic Counseling programs, as well as by practicing genetic counselors from greater Los Angeles and Orange County. The featured speaker was Dr. Seymour Kessler, one of the founders of the field of genetic counseling.
In January, the Genetic Counseling Program also hosted a two-day conference on Embryology and Fetal Pathology. The featured speaker was Dr. Ronald Bachman from Kaiser Permanente, San Francisco. In addition to Genetic Counseling students, the conference attracted many Cal State Northridge Biology students and faculty, students from UC Irvine and Cal State Dominguez Hills, and an array of physicians and genetic counselors. Many attendees earned Continuing Education units for attending.
Students interested in the Master's program are encouraged to check out the Biology Department web site (www.csun.edu/biology). Applicants should choose one or a few potential major professors, take the general and biology GRE (the April test is okay), and submit both a University and a Biology program application. Applications are due March 15th for fall, October 15th for spring.
Kristin Short, Director of Admissions at the University of the Pacific, spoke to the pre-dental students about the qualities UOP is looking for in applicants. According to Ms. Short, UOP admissions officers are seeking students with good communication abilities, interpersonal skills, motivation and experience. They also expect applicants to have at least 40 hours of volunteer experience or actual experience in the field. A score of 19 and 20 or above on the DAT is considered competitive. UOP's San Francisco Dental School is having open house on April 28.
According to Dr. Mary Corcoran, Pre-dental Advisor, the next talk for students interested in dentistry will be by Master Sergeant Smith sometime in March. Sgt. Smith will discuss the Armed Services Scholarship program. The scholarships pay full costs plus a stipend while in dental school. Scholarship holders must serve as a dentist in the armed services for a few years after graduation.
Students on Dr. Corcoran's mailing list will be notified of the date and location of the talk. Others should watch for announcements posted outside her office in Science 3216B. She is available for consultation on Mondays and Wednesdays, 2:00˝4:00.
"The Nation's Report Card: Science 2000," a report released by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), summarizes the results of a survey conducted by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Among its disturbing findings are data placing the average science test scores of California students among the lowest in the nation.
Says Dr. Virginia Vandergon, "There is a clear-cut correlation between teacher preparation and students' scores. The more science content a teacher has, the better scores their students achieve on the science survey." Future teachers are graduating from universities with a poor background in sciences, yet are expected to teach science in their classrooms.
Last fall Dr. Vandergon initiated a special section of Introductory Biology (BIOL 100) specifically to address the problem. Her class was restricted to students in the Integrated Teacher Education Program (ITEP), a four-year fast-track to a BA in Liberal Studies and a California multi-subject teaching credential.
A primary goal of the class was to familiarize her students with the California Science Teaching Standards and identify ways they could integrate the standards into innovative lesson plans. Much effort was also devoted to finding ways to excite middle school students about science and to dispel myths portraying science as difficult and boring.
As part of the class, seventh grade students came to campus after school weekly for eight weeks where they interacted with the university class of prospective teachers. The seventh graders served as a training ground as the university students tried their skills at explaining basic science concepts.
According to Dr. Vandergon, "The goal of the class was to help the prospective teachers develop a greater awareness and appreciation of the living world, to increase their knowledge base, to give them real-life experience with middle school pupils, and to help them gain confidence in their abilities to teach science." Another goal, since many of the seventh graders' parents had not gone to college, was "to expose them to a positive experience on a college campus and help them see that college is a real possibility."
Using several assessment instruments it was clearly demonstrated that the course was a success. Both the middle-schoolers and ITEP students showed marked improvements in their science content scores after the experience. For the ITEP students, science content knowledge improved 17% above that of students in the typically-taught BIOL 100 sections. The seventh grade participants improved their science knowledge by 23% in the areas covered by the activities. Perhaps equally important, the attitude of the middle-schoolers about science became much more positive with many of them wanting to continue with an after-school "science club."
The course will be taught again next fall, this time with more students. Moreover, the methodology will now be incorporated into other science courses. Eventually, a year-round after-school program with eight-week components of Biology, Earth Science, Physical Science, and Environmental Science is planned.
The course was partially funded through the generosity of the Superfunded Science Project awarded to Cal State Northridge by the Eisenhower Professional Development Grant Program. Drs. Vandergon and Maureen Rubin are co-directors.
"The Biology Honors Program is a great way for undergraduates to get research experience," says Dr. Cheryl Hogue, Honors Program Director. "That experience in turn will enhance their academic careers and better prepare them for graduate and professional schools."
Students who complete the program will have a special notation on their transcripts and be honored publicly at the Biology Department honors ceremony during commencement week. At this ceremony, each Honors student receives a special certificate from the Biology Department acknowledging his or her participation in the program.
To be considered for admission to the Honors Program, an applicant must have completed 90 units of college work, hold a G.P.A. of 3.50 both in the major and overall, and have a faculty sponsor. Students in the program conduct a research project and write a senior thesis under the direction of a research sponsor. The thesis is then submitted to the Honors Committee for approval.
If interested in the program, contact Dr. Cheryl Hogue at 677-3349 or by email at email@example.com.
E & E Reading Group
Wednesdays at noon, students and faculty discuss current articles on a variety of ecological and evolutionary issues. All are welcome. The week's reading is available for copying on Dr. Polly Schiffman's office door, Science 1324.
Faculty Invite Students To Do Research with Them
Dr. Maria Elena Zavala is looking for a dedicated and hardworking student to join her lab. Her research is on root growth and cell cycle regulation.
Dr. Steve Oppenheimer welcomes students interested in doing research in the areas of cell surface interactions in cancer and development. His lab is in the basement of Science 2, room 2005.
Dr. Cheryl Hogue is looking for a student to assist with a study on the effects of parasitism on mate choice in fish. Interested students can contact her at 677-3349 or send an e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. David Gray seeks students interested in studying the evolution of insect behavior, especially reproductive behavior in crickets. Says Dr. Gray, "The pay is non-existent, but watching crickets have sex has its own rewards." Dr. Gray's lab conducts work at the molecular, organismal, and ecological and evolutionary levels.
Limited Space Remains in Summer Costa Rica Class
For the twelfth and final time Dr. Jim Dole will be taking a class to Costa Rica this summer for an introduction to tropical biology. The last offering is scheduled for June 8-22, 2002. Says Dr. Dole, "The class is almost full. We have room for just three more."
During a two-week visit the class will explore four kinds of tropical forests where students can expect to see hundreds of kinds of tropical birds, several kinds of monkeys and numerous other mammals such as sloths, agoutis, tyras, coatis, kinkajoos and bats of a variety of sorts. Beetles the size of a human hand, leaf-cutter ants, and leaf-mimic katydids are regularly encountered.
The class visits the research facilities of Dr. Dan Janzen, an internationally acclaimed tropical biologist. On a river float trip students usually see caimans, turtles, Jesus Christ lizards (crested reptiles that run on the water's surface) spectacular flocks of storks, parrots, egrets and other birds. The group will also peer into the crater of an active volcano and visit the capital city of San Jose.
Travel costs ($2546) cover round-trip airfare from LAX, travel in Costa Rica, lodging, fees, taxes and most meals. Students wishing degree credit pay a $471 university fee; without degree credit the fee is $157.
Mr. Frank Hovore, an expert in tropical insects, and Ms. Betty Rose, biology professor at College of the Canyons, co-teach the class with Dr. Dole.
Taken as Bio. 326, the course is a 3-unit biology elective; as Bio. 524 it meets major's ecology requirement or counts for graduate credit. Those enrolled for non-degree credit (Bio. 826) need not take exams. For information contact Dr. Dole in Science 2102 or at 677˝3356.
Microbiology Students Association
This fall, MSA heard Dr. Mark Martin of Occidental College speak on Bdellovibrio, an intriguing group of bacteria. The group also heard a representative from Kelly Scientific Resources talk about resume writing, summer internships, and finding a job in microbiology.
Spring semester the MSA will visit Byron Winery in Santa Maria to learn about the microbiology and chemistry of wine making. Other speakers are also planned. Watch for posted announcements.
A new MSA T-shirt will soon be available; wear one and show your "Prokaryotic Pride." MSA officers are Jeanie Paris, Pres.; Raquel Martinez, VP; Denise Bell, Secretary; and Natalie Chikhani, Tres. Membership is $5 per year. Applications are on the door of Science 4203.
Bios invites articles written by students about their personal "biological experiences." Interested students are encouraged to consult with the editors regarding their ideas.
Applicants Sought for NIH Sponsored Programs
Three National Institutes of Health-sponsored programsˇMARC, MBRS RISE and Bridges to the Ph.D.ˇare seeking both undergraduate and graduate students interested in earning a Ph.D. All three programs target students belonging to minorities underrepresented in science. The targeted groups include African Americans, Native Americans, Chicanos/Latinos, and Native Pacific Islanders. Applications can be obtained from the NIH-sponsored Programs office in Science 2128.
Alumnus & MARC Student Returns as Post-doc Researcher
Loretta Roberson is returning to her undergraduate roots in the Biology Department as a newly minted Ph.D. She has accepted a postdoctoral position with Dr. Robert Carpenter and will be working with him on his NIH-SCORE-funded project at the Wrigley Marine Science Center on Catalina Island.
Loretta graduated from Cal State Northridge in 1994 and was named Outstanding Biology Student. She went on to Stanford University and was awarded both NSF and Office of Naval Research Predoctoral Fellowships. Her doctoral dissertation was on morphological plasticity of kelps related to their nutrient uptake. Loretta will relocate to Catalina, but she also will spend some time on campus, perhaps even teaching a course or two.
Former MARC Students Earn Ph.D.s
Dr. Patricia Mora-Garcia earned her Ph.D. from UCLA and is now completing post-doctoral work there. Dr. Eric Villegas earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and is doing a post-doctoral study at UC Berkeley. Dr. Loretta Roberson earned her Ph.D. from Stanford University and soon begins a post-doctoral stint at Cal State Northridge (see above).
Says Dr. Maria Elena Zavala, Director of the MARC/MBRS/Bridges programs, "The NIH-sponsored Programs office has tons of announcements for summer research programs. Please come find an exciting way to spend your summer vacation!" Although some programs are limited to minority students, many are not. The office is in Science 2128.
Fall Semester Class Offerings
Catalina Marine Biology Semester Slated
Professors Larry Allen, Robert Carpenter, and Peter Edmunds will be teaching the Marine Biology Semester on Catalina Island next fall. Courses to be offered are Invertebrate Zoology, Algal Biology and Ecology, Ecology of Marine Fishes, and Independent Study. The courses are offered sequentially. Students enroll in all four courses.
All courses are taught at the Wrigley Marine Science Center. The program is open to students from all universities. Application are due March 15 but will be accepted until the courses are filled.
Interested students are urged to contact one of the three faculty members listed above, pick-up a brochure and application in the Biology Office, or check-out the web page at http://www.bcf.usc.edu/~scmi/Sites/catalina.html.
Anyone for Bioinformatics?
This coming fall, Dr. Virginia Vandergon will teach an experimental course in Bioinformatics. Says Dr. Vandergon, "The goal of the course is to focus learning on the enormous information potential available from analyses of protein, DNA, and RNA sequence data."
According to Dr. Vandergon, "Bioinformatics is a hot, new field that is proving critical to modern molecular studies. Students who understand bioinformatics will be better prepared to do work on molecular relationships and to apply analytical skills in biotechnology." Bioinformatics has many applications beyond the biological community, however. "Burgeoning data on genes is increasing the demand for engineers, computer scientists, physicists, chemists and mathematicians knowledgeable about the subject," she says.
Among the topics to be addressed are: the nature of genetic sequence data, methods of searching databases and how to reconstruct gene phylogenies. Students will also learn about gene linkage studies, gene identification and genome searching.
The course, BIOL 595, is tentatively scheduled for Monday and Wednesday evenings. Students electing the course must have successfully completed Genetics (Biology 360). With approval of the Graduate Committee, the course may meet the graduate statistics requirement. For more information, contact Dr. Vandergon in Science 3218A or via email at email@example.com.
New, Rarely Offered Fall Classes (Mainly for Seniors)
Drs. Lisa Banner and Maria Elena Zavala will jointly teach Cell and Tissue Culture (BIOL 577) next fall. The class emphasizes the application of cell cultures to solving current biological problems. In the class, students will learn techniques for handling both plant and animal cells, including techniques for isolating and propagating primary and continuous cell cultures, cell quantitation, cloning, and storage.
Dr. Steve Dudgeon will be teaching Population Biology of Clonal Organisms (BIOL 595D, DL, DF). The course has been previously taught as part of the Catalina Semester, but this will be its first offering on campus.
Fall Graduate Seminars
There will be three graduate seminars in the fall. Dr. Robert Espinoza will be teaching a seminar on the Biological implications of body size (BiOL 615C) at 6-9 Wednesday evenings. Dr. Rheem Medh's seminar (655D), on the mechanisms of cell death, is scheduled for 5-8 Tuesday evenings. Dr. Hertel will teach a seminar on functional morphology (615B) from 6-9 on Thursday evenings.
Earning a Biology degree at CSUN can involve much more than lectures and labs. A case in point is the Tropical Semester scheduled for Spring 2003.
Drs. Jennifer Matos, Fritz Hertel and Polly Schiffman have developed a new Biology program to be taught in the amazing tropical ecosystems of Costa Rica. It combines academics with natural history observations and hands-on research projects.
In addition, students will be exposed to the food, music, language and geography of Central America. "We will immerse ourselves in the tropics and the program will be a truly memorable experience," says Dr. Schiffman. "It will be an opportunity of a lifetime for any student interested in environmental biology!"
"Conservation of nature is a high national priority in Costa Rica and so the rainforests and other ecosystems that the class will visit are large and relatively pristine," says Dr. Hertel. "This means that we will study the kinds of spectacular plants and animals that most people only see on TV or in National Geographicˇincluding exotic birds and mammals, colorful frogs and other amphibians and reptiles, cryptic insects and the fantastic complexity of forest plants that support this diversity of highly specialized tropical animals."
"Students enrolled in the program will do observational studies and manipulative experiments involving these species," says Dr. Matos. "In fact, it's likely that some of our Tropical Semester students will be so inspired by the experience that they'll later decide to expand their studies into honors or M.S. thesis projects."
The program involves a fully integrated set of 4 courses: Biology of Tropical Vertebrates, Tropical Botany, Tropical Ecology and Conservation (5 units each) and Seminar on Topics in Tropical Biology (3 units). These courses will fulfill the comparative biology and environmental biology requirements of the Biology B.A., or the zoology, botany and ecology requirements of the Environmental B.S. option. Enrollees must have completed BIOL 106/L, 107/L and 322. Grad students will take a parallel set of courses, graded separately so that they don't compete with undergraduates with less field experience.
The first five weeks of the Tropical Semester will be spent on campus. By way of lectures and laboratory activities, reading and discussions of relevant literature, students will learn background information, field sampling methodologies and techniques of experimental design and analysis.
During weeks 6-10, the class will travel to Costa Rica to visit a diversity of localities and ecological systems including Parque Nacional Santa Rosa, a seasonally dry forest; Reserva Monteverde, a magnificent cloud forest; Estacion Biologica La Selva, an Atlantic lowland rainforest, and the Cerro de la Muerte area, a high elevation subtropical forest that includes the northernmost example of paramo. Because several days will be spent at each field location, students will have ample time to observe and identify organisms, devise individual and group research projects, gather field data, and present their findings.
The final five weeks of the semester will be spent back on campus analyzing data, doing literature research, writing papers on field experiments, and presenting final projects.
Students interested in an unforgettable experience should contact Dr. Fritz Hertel (677-3353), Dr. Jennifer Matos (677-2158) or Dr. Polly Schiffman (677-3350) for an application and an information brochure. Applications must be received by July 15, 2002.
Notes from the Advisement Center
Advisement Center Hours
Students are invited to stop by the Biology Advisement Center to have academic questions answered. The advisors are Dr. John Kontogiannis, Dr. Joyce Maxwell, and graduate students Jennifer Termeer and Josey Allen. The Advisement Center, Science 2133, is open Mondays through Fridays from 9:00-12:00, Tuesdays from 12:00-4:00 and Wednesdays from 1:00-4:00.
Upper-division Writing Exam, a Must for Graduation
Students expecting to graduate must attempt the Upper Division Writing Proficiency Exam no later than the semester in which they have completed 90 units. Students planning to graduate in spring 2002 must pass the exam no later than April 20. For more information call the Testing Office at 677-3303.
Expecting to Graduate Next Year? File Grad Check Now!
Undergraduates expecting to graduate spring or summer 2003 must file a Graduation Evaluation form (Grad Check) no later than May 3. Students may have their forms completed at the Biology Advisement Center.
Accessing Advisement Info
A free Biology Advisement Handbook provides invaluable information on program requirements and course equivalencies. The Advisement Handbook can be obtained in the Advisement Center or at www.csun.edu/biology.
Career Information Available
Career sheets are available in the Advisement Center. Each sheet describes career opportunities associated with each option in the Biology major.