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Department of Biology

Welcome to the Biology Department


Welcome to the Department of Biology at Texas State University. The Biology Department is a large, multidisciplinary department with many strong research programs that are well funded. We serve about 14,000 students each year in modern facilities with up to date instrumentation emphasizing inquiry-based hands-on instruction. This year Biology has about 1,000 undergraduate majors and 130 graduate (masters and Ph.D.) students.

Our goal is to attain national and international prominence through integrating undergraduate and graduate education with multidisciplinary research programs. Through our educational, scholarship, and outreach activities, the department will enhance the image of Texas State by using the life sciences to help meet the current and future needs of society in Texas, the United States, and the world.


Latest News: 


Dr. Floyd (Butch) Weckerly, professor in Department of Biology, is the 2015 recipient of the Graduate College Outstanding Mentor Award. This award recognizes a faculty member who has had outstanding success in mentoring graduate students.  Congratulations to Dr. Weckerly for his excellent work, particularly with master’s students!  Dr. Weckerly will be recognized at The Graduate College’s award ceremony next April. 


Andrew MacLaren, current PhD in Aquatic Resources student, who earned his M.S. in Wildlife Biology has won The Graduate College’s Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award in the Life Sciences. His thesis, “Automated Detection of Rare and Endangered Anurans Using Robust and Reliable Detection Software” was directed by Dr. Michael Forstner, Professor of Biology. Andrew will receive $500 and will be recognized at The Graduate College’s Awards Ceremony next April. 


Zara Flores, an undergraduate student studying at Texas State under the Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program, was recently honored with a 2015 SACNAS Student Presentation Award at the 2015 National Conference of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science. Zara’s work, titled “Development of Gfap Expression in the Optic Nerve of Zebrafish”, is advised by Dr. Dana Garcia. 

"Pete" Pedro “Pete” Gonzalez (M.S. Thesis student, Advisor: Dana Garcia) was awarded a Thesis Research Fellowship from Texas State’s graduate college.  Funds from the fellowship will support his research exploring aging-related changes in the optic nerve of zebrafish.
Goyla Golya Shahrokhi (M.S. Thesis student, Advisor: Dr. Clay Green) won the Best Student Poster Presentation award at the 39th Annual Meeting of the Waterbird Society in Bar Harbor, Maine. Her poster presentation was on "Gene flow between distinct management units of the Reddish Egret". She was recognized at the Awards Banquet of the Waterbird Society and presented with a certificate and $250 cash award. 
Congratulations to Dr. Adam Duarte, a recent graduate of the Ph.D. in Aquatic Resources program. Adam has won The Graduate College’s Outstanding Dissertation Award in the Life Sciences.  His dissertation, “Population Dynamics and Habitat Conservation for the Golden-Cheeked Warbler (Setophaga chrysoparia)”, was co-directed by Dr. Floyd W. Weckerly, Professor of Biology, and Dr. Jeff S. Hatfield, Research Ecologist at the U.S. Geological Survey. Adam will receive $1,000 and he will also compete in the Council of Graduate Schools' competition for best dissertation in the Life Sciences. For more info, click here!

The Instream Flow Council honored Dr. Thomas Hardy, the Meadows Professor of Environmental Flows, in April with their Lifetime Achievement Award. The award was presented at the Council's Symposium in Portland, Oregon on April 28, 2015.


The award  celebrates Dr. Hardy's distinguished career of excellence at Utah State University and then at Texas State University  where he mentored future experts in the art and science of instream flows. The award also commemorates Dr. Hardy's foundational work on multidisciplinary assessment methods, tools, and technology. 

The Instream Flow Council is a nonā€profit organization made up of all fifty states in the U.S., Canadian provinces, and territorial fish and wildlife agencies working to improve the effectiveness of instream flow programs and activities for conserving fish and wildlife and related aquatic resources.  This award highlights the long standing and continuing work of Texas State's Aquatic Biology program and Department of Biology.


Dr. Caitlin Gabor  has been nominated and approved for a Visiting Erskine Fellowship at Canterbury University in New Zealand.

She will live in Christchurch for one month (May 2016) while co-teaching a course in Neurons, Hormones and Behavior. This fellowship comes on the heals of a Fulbright Specialist Grant to give seminars and do research in Hungary (May 2015).


This 20th Annual Department of Biology Colloquium was another success. Many thanks to the 28 students who presented this year. In the unanimous opinion of the judges, all students had very well prepared oral and poster presentations. 
  • Best talk at the MS level: April Bonnard with co-authors Yogendra Bordiya, Ji Chul Nam and Hong-Gu Kang: Characterizations of chromatin remodeling factors in disease resistance in plant immunity. 
  • Runner-up: Andrew MacLaren with co-authors Michael Forstner and Shawn McCracken: Teach your computer to be a better listener: A lesson on development and implementation of automated audio recognition tools. 
  • Best talk at the PhD level: Katherine Bell, with co-authors Premal Shah, Romina DiMarco, Chris Nice and James Fordyce: Exploration of the evolutionary landscape of chemical sequestration using a model system. 
  • Runner-up: Thilanka Jayaweera with co-author Nihal Dharmasiri: IBR5, a dual specificity phosphatase, regulates SCF dependent protein degradation. 
  • Best Poster: Elia Lopez with co-authors Praveen Kumar Kathare, Thilanka Jayaweera and Nihal Dharmasiri: The function of ROP GTPase in plant auxin response.



image12 Congratulations to Dr. Caitlin Gabor, Professor of Biology, for being the 2015 honoree for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Scholarly/Creative Activities. http://www.president.txstate.edu/presidential-award-winners.html
upchurch Where have all the flowers come from? Over a century ago, Charles Darwin labelled the evolution of Angiosperms (flowering plants) an abominable mystery. Indeed, their ancestral ecology continues to be a subject of ongoing scientific debate. Recent work highlighted that low transpirational cooling rates would have confined primitive angiosperms to shaded habitats, ostensibly resolving this scientific controversy. However, through modelling fossil leaf temperatures, researchers at University of Nottingham and Texas State Universitiy (Dr. Gary Upchurch, Department of Biology) have demonstrated that small leaf size could have protected some early angiosperms from overheating, enabling survival in the sun. Thus, the early angiosperms could have occupied a variety of habitats, once again reviving the debate. This research has been recently published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 
duarte Adam Duarte, Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Biology (Dr. Butch Weckerly, advisor), was awarded the Clarence Cottam Award at the 51st annual meeting of the Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society. This competitive award is given to recognize and promote outstanding student research efforts and comes with a $500 monetary award. The title of Adam’s talk was “Estimating Golden-cheeked Warbler Immigration: Implications for Conservation”.
kolbe Nicholas Kolbe, M.S. student in the Department of Biology (Dr. Butch Weckerly, advisor) was awarded the Dan Boone Memorial Scholarship at the 51st annual meeting of the Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society. The Dan Boone Memorial Scholarship commemorates Dan Boone who passed away while conducting bald eagle surveys in 1995. Dan graduated from Texas A&M University and was a biologist for Texas Parks and Wildlife who focused on conservation of lessor-know species for more than 20 years. The scholarship was given to Nicholas for his achievements in the field of wildlife management and academic accomplishments.


Daniel C Huston (B.S. in Wildlife Biology 2011, M.S. in Biology 2014) was awarded a University of Queensland International Scholarship (approximately $108,000) to pursue his Ph.D. in Queensland, Australia studying larval trematode ecology and taxonomy in the Great Barrier Reef. For his M.S. Thesis at Texas State University (Major Advisor: Dr. David Huffman), Daniel studied the invasive trematodes Centrocestus formosanus and Haplorchis pumilio of Central Texas.
Trinity River Dr. Josh Perkin (Dr. Tim Bonner, graduate advisor), Assistant Professor at Tennessee Technological University and graduate alum (MS in Aquatic Resources, 2009) of Texas State University recently published a paper in River Research and Applications that documented improvements in water quality and fish biodiversity in the Trinity River watershed following the Clean Water Act and similar legislation. For more info, please read here

Daniel Wolcott, Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Biology (Dr. Butch Weckerly, advisor) has a featured article entitled “Overcoming Cohort Effects in a Mediterranean Ecosystem: The Role of Density and Precipitation on Southern Mule Deer Body Mass” in the November issue of the Journal of Wildlife Management. 




The Texas State University student chapter of the Wildlife Society had a very busy 2013-2014 year. Among the numerous student chapter activities included participation in the WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) conference, volunteer work at the San Antonio Zoo, Wildlife Extravaganza in Bastrop, trail maintenance and clean up at Enchanted Rock State Park and spearheading a prairie restoration project at Warbler Woods near Schertz, Texas. All of the hard work and efforts of the student chapter culminated in the chapter being selected as the Outstanding Student Chapter of the Year award at the Annual Meeting of the Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society. For more information about the student chapter, please click here

Bell and Rylander

Kate Bell, Ph.D. student (Dr Chris Nice, advisor) and Rebekah Rylander, M.S. student (Dr. Clay Green, advisor) were recently awarded Freeman Fellowships through the Freeman Center at Texas State University. These fellowships include $3,000 in funding for tuition assistance and research support. For more information about the Freeman Fellowships, please click here

Troy Maikis, M.S. Student in Wildlife Ecology Troy Maikis, M.S. Student in Wildlife Ecology under the supervision of Dr. Ivan Castro-Arellano, was awarded the William B. Davis award for best oral presentation at the Texas Society of Mammalogists annual meeting in Junction, Texas. The title of Troy's talk was Tick Prevalence from Rodent Assemblages at Peridomestic and Sylvan Sites across Texas. The William B. Davis award comes with a $400 honorarium.

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Explore some of the different fields and activities within the Biology Department!