Department Of Biology

The Graduate Program In Biology

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The Graduate Program in Biology has been a successful component of the University's mission in education, scholarship, and service for over 30 years. The Master's degree in Biology has served as both a terminal degree meeting professional requirements, and as a bridge towards the doctoral degree.

Graduate have entered careers in education, research, and government service. Candidates for the master's degree reflect the diversity found in San Antonio and surrounding communities. Hallmarks of graduates are the skills and attitudes to become independent scholars. Two degrees are offered. The Master of Arts in Biology provides a broad background of course work in biology, including molecular and cellular biology, environmental biology, and organismal biology. The Master of Science in Biology provides additional training in laboratory-based or field research through completion of a thesis.

Admission Requirements:

Applicants must submit official transcripts and official GRE scores in order to be considered for admission to the Graduate Program in Biology. In addition to the general requirements listed in the Graduate Admissions section of the Bulletin, the following are prerequisites for the Graduate Program in Biology: a bachelor's degree in Biology or closely related field, either a 3.0 GPA in Biology or a GRE minimum combined scores of 300 on Verbal and Quantitative sections, 8 semester hours credit in principles of chemistry, 6 semester hours of organic chemistry, and 12 upper-division hours in biology. Students with deficiencies in these areas will be required to take these courses for undergraduate credit. Courses in general physics, pre-calculus, and statistics are strongly recommended.

Requirements for the Master of Arts:

A minimum of 30 semester hours of graduate level courses. At least 24 hours must be in biology.The following areas, if not already part of the baccalaureate degree, are expected to be made up in addition to the 30-hour requirement: a. Genetics (with laboratory) b. Environmental Biology c. Organismal BiologyA minimum GPA of 3.0 must be maintained. A master's candidate will be removed from the program if a grade of "C" is received in two courses or if a grade of "F" is received in one course.BIOL CE90 Comprehensive Examination is required for MA candidates only.

Requirements for the Master of Science:

The requirements are the same as 1-3 above, but six hours of the 24 hours in biology must be in the thesis courses, BIOL 63TP and BIOL 63TR. The thesis must be defended before a committee of faculty. M.S. students are also required to take MATH 6363, Research Statistics.


6345 - Biogeography Analysis of present and past global patterns of distribution of plants and animals and the ecological, evolutionary, and tectonic factors that have influenced these patterns.

6370 – Molecular Biology Study of the structure, expression, replication, and recombination of DNA. Discussion of current technology of recombinant DNA, its application in medicine, agriculture, and industry, and its implications in contemporary society.

6373 - Tropical Parasitology Study of the biology and systematics of parasitic organisms with a special emphasis on etiological agents of human diseases prevalent in tropical climates.

6375 - Medical Microbiology Mechanisms of host defense, pathogenesis, and antimicrobial therapy. A survey of medically important bacteria and viruses and their epidemiology. Brief introductions to medical mycology and protozoology.

6380 – Virology Study of viruses that infect animals including humans. The molecular mechanisms by which viruses replicate and cause disease. Host immune responses to viral infections.

6385 – Immunology Study of the human immune system and its responses to microbial pathogens and cancers. Mechanisms of cellular and humoral immunity.

6392 - Advanced Human Physiology Human physiology with major emphasis on the nervous, endocrine, digestive, circulatory, respiratory, and excretory systems.

6399 - Selected Topics in Biology Offered periodically including Human Evolution, Medical Entomology, Neurobiology, Behavioral Endocrinology, and Muscle Physiology.

63TP/63TR - Thesis Proposal/Thesis Research Laboratory or field-based research, under the direction of a graduate faculty member, leading to completion of a Master's Thesis. The research is based upon a Thesis Proposal, which should be completed by the time admission to candidacy is filed, i.e., before the student registers for the last 18 hours of graduate study.

CE90 - Comprehensive Exam A written examination covering questions from three graduate faculty who have been selected by the candidate and the Director of the Graduate Program.


1. Veronica Martinez Acosta, Associate Professor of Biology. B.A., B.A., St. Thomas University, Ph.D., Texas A & M University. Area of research: developmental neurobiology.

2. David Coleman, Assistant Professor of Chemistry. B.S., Emory University, Ph.D., University of North Carolina. Area of research: structure and function of proteins.

3. David Foglesong, Professor of Biology. B.S., Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, Ph.D., State University of New York at Stony Brook. Area of research: gene expression in human leukocytes.

4. Carlos Garcia, Dean, School of Mathematics, Science & Engineering. B.S., M.S. University of Texas at El Paso, Ph.D. University of Houston. Area of research: encephalopathy in diabetes.

5. Edward Gonzalez, Associate Professor of Chemistry. B.A., M.S., University of Texas, M.A., University of Texas at San Antonio, Ph.D., University of Texas. Area of research: natural products of plants.

6. Barbara Herlihy, Professor of Biology. B.S.N., Boston College, Ph.D., University of Virginia. Area of research: education in physiology.

7. Alexander Hutchison, Assistant Professor of Biology. B.S., University of Puget Sound, M.S., Texas A & M University, Ph.D., University of Houston. Areas of research: Exercise-induced immunosuppression; early HIV pathogenesis; effectsof different forms of exercise upon appetite.

8. Jessica Ibarra, Assistant Professor of Biology. B.S., University of Texas at San Antonio, Ph.D. University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Areas of research: Inflammatory factors that promote disease progression; cellular mechanisms that govern inflammatory cells in health and disease.

9. Sara Kerr, Professor of Biology. B.S., Portland State University, M.Ag., Ph.D., Texas A & M University. Area of research: transmission of pathogenic protozoa.

10. Bin Kong, Professor of Chemistry. B.S., Seoul National University, M.A., M.S., Ph.D., University of Florida. Area of research: environmental chemistry.

11. Betsy Leverett, Assistant Professor of Chemistry. B.S., University of Oklahoma, Ph.D., Purdue University.  Area of research: biochemistry of unicellular algae.

12. Christy MacKinnon, Professor of Biology. B.S., University of Michigan – Flint, M.S., Michigan State University, Ph.D., Colorado State University. Area of research: professional development of educators in science.

13. Bonnie McCormick, Professor of Biology. B.B.A., University of Texas, M.A., Incarnate Word College, Ph.D., University of Texas. Area of research: education in science.

14. Richard Peigler, Professor of Biology. B.S., M.A., Clemson University, Ph.D., Texas A & M University. Area of research: evolution and natural history of silk moths.

15. Russell Raymond, Associate Professor of Biology. B.S., M.S., University of the Incarnate Word, Ph.D., Texas A & M University. Area of research: transmission of pathogenic protozoa.

16. Sara Tallarovic, Associate Professor of Biology. B.S., Northern Arizona University, Ph.D. Oregon State University. Area of research: behavioral physiology of weakly electric fish and behavioral effects of aquatic pollutants.

17. Ana Vallor, Assistant Professor of Biology. B.S., St. Mary's University, Ph.D. University of Pittsburgh. Area of research: investigation of adherence factors and biofilm formation of pathogenic bacterial and fungal species.