Jun 29, 2022  
2009-2010 Graduate Catalog 
2009-2010 Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]


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Professor Kaius Helenurm, Chair
Department of Biology
Churchill-Haines, Room 191
414 East Clark Street
Vermillion, SD 57069
Phone: 605-677-5211



Master of Arts (non–thesis)
Master of Science (thesis)
Doctor of Philosophy

Department Chairperson: Professor Kaius Helenurm
Graduate Program Director: Professor Kenneth Renner

Graduate Faculty


Hugh B. Britten, Ph.D., Montana State University. Specializations: Population Genetics, Evolution, and Conservation Biology.
Kaius Helenurm, Ph.D., Washington University-St. Louis. Specializations: Plant Conservation Genetics and Island Evolution.
Karen L. Koster, Ph.D., Cornell University. Specializations: Plant Physiology, Cell Biology, and Environmental Stress Tolerance in Plants.
Paula M. Mabee, Ph.D., Duke University. Specializations: Bioinformatics, and Fish Evolution and Development.
Kenneth J. Renner, Ph.D., University of Kansas. Specializations: Neuro-endocrinology and Reproductive Physiology.
Cliff H. Summers, Ph.D., University of Colorado. Specializations: Neuro-endocrinology, Reproductive Biology, and Vertebrate Stress Physiology.
David L. Swanson, Ph.D., Oregon State University. Specializations: Physiological Ecology of Vertebrates, Ornithology, and Vertebrate Cold Adaptation.

Associate Professors:

Molly Nepokroeff, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin–Madison. Specializations: Plant Molecular Systematics, Biogeography and Speciation.
Daniel A. Soluk, Ph.D., University of Toronto–Ontario, Canada. Specializations: Aquatic Ecology, Conservation Biology, and Endangered Species. 
John G. Swallow, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin–Madison. Specializations: Comparative Physiology and Animal Behavior.

Assistant Professors:

Mark D. Dixon, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison, Specializations: Landscape and Community Ecology, Plant Ecology, Riparian Systems.
Jacob L. Kerby, Ph.D., University of California-Davis. Specializations: Ecotoxicology, Conservation Biology, and Behavioral Ecology.
Alicia F. Paulson, Ph.D., University of Minnesota–Twin Cities. Specializations: Cell Biology and Developmental Biology.

Program Description

The University of South Dakota’s Department of Biology is one of the largest departments in the College of Arts and Sciences and employs thirteen full-time, tenured (or tenure-track) faculty. The research interests of the faculty encompass the areas of ecology, physiology, neuroscience, cell biology, developmental biology, and evolution. Particular strengths of the department are conservation biology, environmental stress physiology, neuroscience, and population and evolutionary biology. The Biology faculty collaborates with biologists in the Sanford School of Medicine and at South Dakota State University as well as with colleagues at other institutions nationally and internationally. For information about the department, the faculty, and graduate programs, please consult www.usd.edu/arts-and-sciences/biology/graduate.cfm.

The M.S. and M.A. programs in Biology are recommended for students with professional goals in biology, such as continuing graduate education, working for a federal or state agency, securing employment in industry, or teaching in secondary and higher education. The M.S. degree requires a thesis. The M.A. does not. The Ph.D. in Biological Science is intended for students that are interested in careers in research and/or academia.


Admission Requirements

  • Baccalaureate degree or an equivalent degree from an institution with full regional accreditation for that degree. An undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better, based on 4.0 scale, is required for full admission.
  • The GRE General test is required for those seeking the M.S. and Ph.D. in Biology. There is no minimum score required; the score is considered along with the other application materials.
  • Applicants should have a minimum of the undergraduate equivalent of the Biology core curriculum.
  • A statement of purpose is required.
  • There are additional requirements for international applicants.

Subject to faculty approval, those who do not meet all of the criteria above may be admitted on a provisional basis.


Specific Areas of Research Emphasis

Specific areas of research emphasis in which the department offers graduate courses are: animal physiology, behavioral ecology, biostatistics, cell biology and physiology, conservation biology, developmental biology, ecotoxicology, endocrinology, entomology, evolutionary biology, genetics, histology, ichthyology, molecular biology, neurobiology, ornithology, physiological ecology, plant evolution, plant physiology, plant structure, plant systematics, reproduction, and vertebrate anatomy.


Library and Research Facilities

Facilities available to students in the Biology Department: a large collection of biological periodicals, government documents and other publications are available in the University Libraries (I.D. Weeks Library and the Lommen Health Sciences Library ). Online journals, database searches, electronic document delivery, and interlibrary loans are also available.

Other facilities include laboratories for faculty and graduate students, a greenhouse, environmentally controlled growth chambers, the South Dakota Herbarium, controlled environment animal quarters, a histology facility, radioisotopes laboratory, cold rooms, aquarium rooms, wet and dry collection rooms, computer labs, molecular biology core facility (genetic analyzer, etc.), and a shop. Close by, there are numerous aquatic and terrestrial habitats for field study, including native tallgrass prairie habitat and the Missouri River. The Missouri River Institute on campus provides a focal point for scholarly activity, education and outreach pertaining to all aspects of the Missouri River Basin. The Missouri River Institute also boasts a newly constructed field research laboratory facility on the Missouri River about 25 miles from campus.

Biology Course Note: All graduate courses, except where indicated, assume the student has completed at least two semesters of introductory biology.

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