Areas of Study in Biology

Undergraduate Programs


In Biology at Pitt State, you may study from in variety of emphasis areas including pre-professional health and clinical laboratory sciences, cell and molecular biology and genetics, field biology and environment, ecology and organismic biology, and secondary education. See Biology Academic Programs for more information.

Pre-Professional Health, Clinical Laboratory Sciences, Cell and Molecular Biology


Lab ClassThe Biology Department has excellent facilities and faculty for the preparation of students interested in professional health and laboratory science careers. Competition for entry into health-related professional schools is keen. A student must expect to have an outstanding academic record to gain admission to a professional school. PSU students have been successful at gaining entrance to professional schools and excel in the programs.

Emphasis programs are available for students desiring to meet the requirements for entrance into medical, dental, optometry, veterinary, physical therapy, and cell and molecular biology. There is also a separate degree program in medical technology.

Students in any area of pre-med, health, and laboratory science options can earn the Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology. Students emphasizing medical technology can earn the Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology which includes a 4th clinical year or earn the Bachelor of Science in Biology and do a clinical experience post-graduate.

The PSU Health Professions Handbook is also available for further information on health professions, including general information, application information, and a pre-med overview.

  • Pre-Medical/Pre-Dental: preparation for entry into to medical schools (medical, osteopathic medicine, optometry, dental, veterinary) or graduate medical research programs.
  • Pre-Physical Therapy: preparation for entry into further specialization in physical and occupational therapy.
  • Cellular and Molecular Biology: preparation for graduate school or entry-level employment in biotechnology.
  • Medical Technology: preparation for clinical work in hospitals or private labs.

The Pittsburg State University pre-medical/pre-dental\pre-veterinary/pre-optometry program allows students to pursue interests in pre-medicine (prepare for entry into medical, osteopathic, and dental schools or graduate medical research programs), pre-physical therapy (prepare for entry into further specialization in physical and occupational therapy), cell and molecular biology (prepare for graduate school or entry-level employment in biotechnology), and medical technology (prepare for employment in hospitals or private labs). Note: The department also offers pre-professional work in optometry and veterinary medicine. 

See additional information on the Biology Academic Programs page and for Careers under Health and Laboratory Sciences on the Biology Prospective Students page.

Student Activities

lab class student in lab
pre med graduates lab study group

Faculty in the Pre-Medical/Pre-Dental/Pre-Veterinary Medicine/Pre-Optometry Program

Peter A. Chung, Ph.D.
Professor of Microbiology
Department of Biology
Office: 303 Heckert-Wells Hall
Phone: 620-235-4736

Anuradha Ghosh, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Environmental Health
Department of Biology
Office: 321 Heckert-Wells
Phone: 620-235-4532

Phillip A. Harries, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Molecular Biology
Department of Biology
Office: 222 Heckert-Wells Hall
Phone: 620-235-4864 

Mandy M. Peak Bryan, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biology
Department of Biology
Office: 203 Heckert-Wells Hall
Phone: 620-235-6541 

Virginia C. Rider, Ph.D.
University Professor
Department of Biology
Office: 213 Heckert-Wells Hall
Phone: 620-235-4739 

Neal D. Schmidt, Pharm.D.
Instructor
Department of Biology
Office: 304 Heckert-Wells Hall
Phone: 620-235-4737

Daniel M. Zurek, Ph.D.
Professor
Department of Biology
Office: 222 Heckert-Wells Hall
Phone: 620-235-4746

This is an online information and orientation source for students seeking information about Pre-Physical Therapy at PSU.

The Biology Department program is a pre-professional program in physical therapy. The curriculum includes these courses needed to qualify for a BS in Biology and those needed for admission into Physical Therapy Graduate Programs at other universities, including Kansas University and Wichita State University. Graduate PT programs require a BS degree, but not necessarily a biology degree. However, since there are many science requirements, it is difficult to get a non-biology degree in four years and still meet the PT course requirements.

Get all of this including the linked material here (PDF).

See additional information on the Biology Academic Programs page and for Careers under Health and Laboratory Sciences on the Biology Prospective Students page.


General Curriculum Information: Pre-Physical Therapy Curriculum

Students take the standard biology coursework, plus a minor in chemistry, psychology or physical science. A Physical Science Minor is "standard' with our Pre-PT curriculum. A normal course load is around 16-credit hours/semester and can be completed in 4 years. Freshmen will take one biology course plus one chemistry or physics course per semester and perhaps one summer to finish the degree in 4 years. The schedule is filled in with General Education Courses, but remember to save a few Gen Eds for near the end of your degree since you will need to get out of Heckert-Wells Hall occasionally.

Transfer students as entering juniors will need to take two biology courses plus chemistry or physics course per semester with most likely one summer to finish the degree in 2 PSU years. This will be very busy for you since you are doubled-up on the science curriculum to finish on time. Keep in mind that mainly lower division courses are offered over the summer, so it may be to your advantage to take summer classes as a Freshmen or Sophomore!


Biology Pre-Physical Therapy FAQ

1. How do I find out more about physical therapy careers?

Contact a physical therapist and ask about the job, plan a visit.

2. What courses do I take?

See the current catalog or, if you have earlier enrollments, the appropriate catalog.

3. Who is my advisor?

The Biology office will assign an advisor to you from those Biology faculty who advise pre-PT students. GUS will have this information when it is available. Advisors are here for you and provide: help, moral support, letters of recommendation, advice, insight, and guidance.

4. What are the most important items for me to act on?

  • Apply early
  • Get all your observation hours
  • Be sure you have the right required coursework for your intended school
  • Get good letters

5. How do I get observation hours?

Contact a physical therapist or physical therapy clinic (free-standing or hospital-affiliated). Be professional! Get the right number of hours needed for your school. Here are some common guidance pointers for a successful observation experience:

  • Adopt a professional attitude
  • Arrive for appointments on time
  • Always call ahead if you can't make it or will be late
  • Wear appropriate professional clothing (no jeans, flip-flops, revealing clothing, clothing with messages or printing)
  • Always be aware of HIPAA and patient confidentiality issues

6. How do I apply for physical therapy school?

  • Contact you advisor for support
  • PT Program Application Process [link]

Faculty in the Pre-Physical Therapy Program

Peter A. Chung, Ph.D.
Professor of Microbiology
Department of Biology
Office: 303 Heckert-Wells Hall
Phone: 620-235-4736

The Cellular and Molecular Biology program meets all of the requirements for a baccalaureate degree with a major in biology and minors in chemistry and physical science at Pittsburg State University. This program will provide training to prepare a student for employment in the biotechnology field, forensics, or pharmaceutical development upon graduation, or pursuit of further studies at the graduate level.

See additional information on the Biology Academic Programs page and for Careers under Health and Laboratory Sciences on the Biology Prospective Students page.

Student Activities

student presenting kinbre research bacteria in petri dish
students in lab class students with kinbre poster research

The Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology program at Pittsburg State University.

See additional information on the Biology Academic Programs page and for Careers under Health and Laboratory Sciences on the Biology Prospective Students page.

Student Activities

student with kinbre research poster medical technology lab setup
burner lab class

Faculty in the Medical Technology Program

Peter A. Chung, Ph.D.
Professor of Microbiology
Department of Biology
Office: 303 Heckert-Wells Hall
Phone: 620-235-4736

Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Botany, Ecology and Field Biology


field Trip

These emphasis areas can lead you down the road to entry-level positions or graduate work related to fisheries and wildlife biology, threatened and endangered species, conservation, natural history, environmental monitoring and assessment, environmental science, parks, zoos and nature centers, nature interpretation, and traditional studies in zoology (ichthyology, herpetology, mammalogy, ornithology, entomology) or botany (plant ecology or taxonomy), among many other possibilities.

The Biology Department has excellent facilities and faculty for the preparation of students interested in field biology and environment. A strong feature of the program is the Southeast Kansas Biological Station with several field sites and facilities. Read more about the Station, field sites, and facilities.  Read more about the Station, field sites, and facilities.

We feature a broad program designed to meet the needs of a variety of students - those more interested in practical aspects of environment and conservation and those more interested in the science side.

Many universities seem to be downsizing the field components of their biology programs these days, even in the face of increasing ecological stresses and the real need for well-trained naturalists, taxonomists, ecologists, and environmental managers. PSU is proud of its continued and enhanced field-oriented programs.

  • Wildlife Ecology and Conservation
  • Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
  • Botany
  • Ecology and Field Biology

The Wildlife Ecology and Conservation emphasis is for students who are specifically interested in careers related to wildlife biology. The proposed coursework is designed develop skills necessary to be competitive on the job market against graduates from other top wildlife programs. The course requirements are meant to compliment professional certification by The Wildlife Society, which is a nationally recognized standard of quality among wildlife professionals.

See additional information on the Biology Academic Programs page and the Prospective Students page.  

Faculty in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation

Andrew George, Ph.D
Assistant Professor
Department of Biology
Office: 332 Heckert-Wells Hall
Phone: 620-235-4030

Christine Brodsky, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Biology
Office: 330 Heckert-Wells Hall
Phone: 620-235-4947

The Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences emphasis is for students who are interested in careers in fisheries and aquatic sciences. The areas of interest range from traditional fisheries management to modern stream ecology featuring management in an ecological context.

See additional information on the Biology Academic Programs page and the Prospective Students page.  

Faculty in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences

James Whitney, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Biology
Office: 324 Heckert-Wells Hall
Phone: 620-235-4735

Joseph A. Arruda, Ph.D.
Professor
Department of Biology
Office: 323 Heckert-Wells Hall
Phone: 620-235-4738

The Botany emphasis is for students with interests in plants and who want field or museum-related research experience. This emphasis is broad and can support learning in basic and applied aspects of botany, including invasive species management, biodiversity, conservation, consulting, and even agricultural applications. Entry-level positions requiring plant identification skills have increased in recent years.

See additional information on the Biology Academic Programs page and the Prospective Students page.  

Student Activities

plant taxonomy people in the field plants in lab

 Faculty in Botany

Neil W. Snow, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Director, T.M. Sperry Herbarium
Department of Biology
Office: 302 Heckert-Wells Hall
Phone: 620-235-4424

Hermann F. Nonnenmacher, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Biology
Office: 325 Heckert-Wells Hall
Phone: 620-235-4834

James T. Dawson, Ph.D.
Professor
Department of Biology
Office: 218 Hartman Hall
Phone: 620-235-4734

The Ecology and Field Biology emphasis is specifically designed to complement the other three programs (Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Botany). It can provide flexibility for students who wish to gain skills in both terrestrial and aquatic ecology. Because the course requirements are more general than for the other three programs, this emphasis will also facilitate students who transfer to PSU from other institutions or who change majors after their first year.

See additional information on the Biology Academic Programs page and the Prospective Students page.  

Student Activities


students on field trip
students in river students looking through river

 Faculty in Ecology and Field Biology

Joseph A. Arruda, Ph.D.
Professor
Department of Biology
Office: 323 Heckert-Wells Hall
Phone: 620-235-4738

Christine Brodsky, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Biology
Office: 330 Heckert-Wells Hall
Phone: 620-235-4947

Andrew George, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Biology
Office: 322 Heckert-Wells Hall
Phone: 620-235-4030

Hermann F. Nonnenmacher, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Biology
Office: 325 Heckert-Wells Hall
Phone: 620-235-4834

Neil W. Snow, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Director, T.M. Sperry Herbarium
Department of Biology
Office: 302 Heckert-Wells Hall
Phone: 620-235-4424

James E. Whitney, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Biology
Office: 324 Heckert-Wells Hall
Phone: 620-235-4735

Secondary Education


The teaching of biology at the high school (secondary) level continues to attract and place many students. Our program in secondary education is among the best - if not the best - in Kansas and the region. Graduates of this program now teach in many area high schools, providing the best in biological education to the high schools they serve. The curriculum - and the job - is demanding but the rewards are very great.

Faculty in the Biology Education Degree Program
Christine Brodsky, Associate Professor of Biology

 

Minor Programs in Biology


  • Minor Programs in Biology

Minor in Biology

Those persons interested in biology as a second teaching option should contact the Bachelor of Science in Education advisor in the Department of Biology or the Director of Teacher Education, Hughes Hall, for specific requirements.


Minor in General Science

Those persons interested in teaching sciences in addition to Biology may find this minor of value in preparation for licensure exams. However, licensure exams for teaching various sciences vary widely and therefore other minors should be considered as well. Students should seek advisement from the Bachelor of Science in Education advisor in the Department of Biology or the Director of Teacher Education, Hughes Hall, for more detailed recommendations.


Minor in Natural History

Those persons interested in the above minor should contact the Department of Biology for information.


Minor in Cell Biology

This minor is intended to provide biology courses for students pursuing a Chemistry major with an emphasis in biochemistry. Those persons interested in this minor should contact the Department of Biology for information.

Master's Degree


Typically, the Master's Degree is obtained within two years of matriculation. Individual master's programs are developed by the student in consultation with her or his advisor and a graduate committee. Areas of study depend on the research interests of individual faculty.  Three options are available: Thesis, Problem, and Professional.

See additional information on the Biology Master's Degree Academic Program page.

Master's degree
  • Admission to Graduate Studies in Biology
  • Assistantships

Basic Departmental Academic Admission Requirements: Students who begin work in biology for the degree of Master of Science must have completed a minimum a BS in Biology with at least 25 hours of acceptable undergraduate courses in biology. These should include fundamental courses in botany, ecology, zoology, genetics, microbiology, and physiology. A cumulative total of 13 hours of chemistry, including organic chemistry is required. However, a student may apply certain senior-graduate or graduate level chemistry on the degree requirements upon the recommendation of the advisor.

 

  • Teaching: A limited number of graduate teaching assistantships become available each year in the Department. These provide a small stipend and valuable teaching experience. Assignments are usually made into the laboratory sections of undergraduate courses. You will receive an application for an assistantship with your admission packet of information.

  • Research: Additionally, sponsored research is conducted by various faculty in which there are funded graduate research assistantships. This research may be ongoing or may result from a grant proposal initiated considering the student's interests. Contact individual faculty for information about their research programs.