Graduate opportunities

The Department of Biological Sciences provides a high-quality education while you pursue a graduate degree in Biology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, or Environmental Science at the University of North Texas.

Scholarly research, strong professor-student mentoring, high-quality instruction and professional community service are the foundation of the department.

The cornerstone of our graduate programs is the creation of new knowledge through research. Research is supported through numerous federal, state, private and nonprofit sources. We offer opportunities to conduct research in:

  • Aquatic biology
  • Aquatic toxicology
  • Cell and molecular biology
  • Ecology
  • Environmental science
  • Forensic biology
  • Genetics
  • Neurobiology
  • Physiology
  • Plant sciences

Our faculty members include internationally renowned researchers who have earned recognition from the National Science Foundation, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Society for Microbiology, among others.

The rigorous curriculum has helped students receive prestigious appointments and awards from organizations including the Entomological Society of America.

The department’s facilities for research and graduate training occur in the Life Sciences Complex; Science Research Building; and the Environmental Education, Science and Technology Building. The Life Sciences Complex, which has Gold-level Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification for sustainability, includes an aquatics laboratory and four climate-controlled rooftop research greenhouses.

Research centers and institutes

The Center for Network Neuroscience focuses on in vitro preparations, especially monolayer cultures of mammalian central nervous system cells, and emphasizes research on pattern generation, storage and recognition.

The BioDiscovery Institute (BDI) operates through a pipeline linking sustainable plant production platforms, metabolic engineering and the development of new materials. The institute touts a multidisciplinary team of researchers committed to collaborating on large research projects with an emphasis on application of findings and solutions to meet market issues and needs.

The Center for Watershed and Reservoir Assessment and Management conducts research on techniques and best management practices for assessing and managing watersheds and reservoirs, addressing current and emerging problems and issues.

The Advanced Environmental Research Institute (AERI) houses multidisciplinary research teams that conduct science-based environmental research that provides an understanding of how human actions impact the environment, and then use that knowledge to suggest scientific, engineering, policy and/or educational solutions.

Attending UNT

Admission requirements

You’ll need to meet the requirements for the Toulouse Graduate School® and specific program requirements. Visit our website or the catalog website for specific requirements.

Degree requirements

Master of Arts degree

  • Biology — a 36-credit-hour, non-thesis degree with 5000-6000 level coursework and a foreign language requirement (Students completing the M.A. are not eligible for our Ph.D. program.)

Master of Science degrees

  • Biology — a scholarly research degree requiring 24 credit hours of coursework, special problems and seminars and a 6-credit-hour thesis (Concentrations are available in Computational Life Science or Sub-Antarctic Biocultural Conservation.)
  • Biology: Teaching in the Life Sciences — a non-thesis degree that includes teacher certification in the life sciences at the secondary level and requires 18 credit hours each in biology and secondary education (Admission to the secondary education courses requires meeting College of Education requirements.)
  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (option I) — a scholarly research degree requiring 24 credit hours of coursework, special problems and seminars and a 6-credit-hour thesis
  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (option II) — a non-thesis professional science master’s degree that prepares students for science and technology careers in industry and government and requires 36 credit hours, including a 4- to 6-credit-hour internship
  • Environmental Science (option I) — a scholarly research degree requiring 30 credit hours of coursework, special problems and seminars and a 6-credit-hour thesis
  • Environmental Science (option II) — a professional science master’s degree requiring 10 credit hours of core environmental science courses; 12 credit hours of environmental science electives; 12 credit hours of courses in business, writing, communication, public administration, economics and philosophy; and a 3- to 6-credit-hour internship

Doctor of Philosophy degree

A Ph.D. degree in Biology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, or Environmental Science requires 72 credit hours beyond the bachelor’s degree or 42 credit hours beyond the master’s degree. Specific requirements may vary among the three programs.

Financial assistance

Qualified students are supported through competitive teaching assistantships or research assistantships funded by research grants to faculty members. Nine-month stipends and tuition scholarships are available for entering master’s and doctoral students. Out-of-state and international students who are supported at least one-half time are eligible for in-state tuition. Contact the department for information about assistantships.


Samuel F. Atkinson, Regents Professor and Acting Department Chair; Ph.D., University of Oklahoma. Environmental systems modeling using satellite imagery; water resources and water quality; environmental impact assessment; environmental determinants in the transmission of disease.

Brian Ayre, Associate Professor; Ph.D., University of Alberta. Plant physiology; tissue-specific metabolic engineering to understand nutrient partitioning and signaling via phloem with an emphasis on sugar transport and biomass accumulation; phloem-mobile signals that regulate flowering.

Rajeev Azad, Assistant Professor; Ph.D., Jawaharlal Nehru University. Bioinformatics and computational biology; genome evolution; pathogenomics; metagenomics; gene prediction; structural variation detection; disease gene identification.

Robert C. Benjamin, Associate Professor; Ph.D., Harvard University. Forensic applications of DNA profiling; characterization of avian loci useful for population and lineage analyses.

Warren W. Burggren, Professor; Ph.D., University of East Anglia. Developmental physiology; environmental and genetic influences on developmental trajectories of developing vertebrate embryos and fetuses; neural and endocrine regulation of embryonic physiological processes; science policy and processes of science evaluation.

Kent Chapman, Regents Professor; Ph.D., Arizona State University. Lipid signaling pathways in plants; engineering added-value traits in cotton; phytochemicals and agricultural biotechnology; compartmentation of neutral lipids in plants; cellular and subcellular lipidomics.

Dane Crossley, Assistant Professor; Ph.D., University of North Texas. Developmental vertebrate physiology; study of plasticity of cardiovascular physiology and the differences in cardiovascular maturation between vertebrate species during embryonic development using phylogenetic, pharmacological, environmental and molecular techniques.

Rebecca Dickstein, Professor; Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University. Genetics, biochemistry and molecular and cell biology of developing symbiotic nitrogen fixing nodules in legumes.

Richard Dixon, Distinguished Research Professor; Ph.D., University of Oxford. Modification of lignin and cell wall polymers in bioenergy crops; improvement of forage quality in alfalfa; flavonoid compounds and human health.

Edward Dzialowski, Associate Professor; Ph.D., Drexel University. Cardiovascular and respiratory developmental physiology; physiological ecology; physiological responses to environmental stress and toxins.

Jannon L. Fuchs, Professor; Ph.D., University of California-San Diego. Role of primary cilia in the nervous system; cell proliferation, neural development and neurodegenerative diseases.

Harrell Gill-King, Professor; Ph.D., Southern Methodist University. Human identification; skeletal biology; taphonomy; thermobaric trauma in humans; craniofacial effects of intranasal/intraoral methamphetamine and/or cocaine use.

Art Goven, Professor and Acting Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; Ph.D., University of North Carolina. Comparative immunology; immunotoxicology; immunoparasitology.

Guenter W. Gross, Regents Professor; Ph.D., Florida State University. Network neurophysiology, pharmacology and toxicology using neuronal networks growing on microelectrode arrays; applications to drug development and biosensors.

David J. Hoeinghaus, Assistant Professor; Ph.D., Texas A&M University. Responses of aquatic comminutes and ecosystems to environmental change; food webs; biodiversity and ecosystem function; fisheries; tropical rivers.

Lee E. Hughes, Associate Professor; Ph.D., University of North Texas. Pyrimidine metabolism in actinomycetes; student learning and retention through undergraduate research experiences; assessment of blended and online learning in the biological sciences.

Ione Hunt von Herbing, Associate Professor; Ph.D., Dalhousie University. Marine conservation physiology; use of physiological tools to study impacts of anthropogenic stress on marine fish populations.

Pudur Jagadeeswaran, Professor; Ph.D., Indian Institute of Science. Genetics of blood diseases; use of zebrafish as a model to study mammalian hemostasis and thrombosis; role of aquatic proteins in hemostasis.

Jaime Jimenez, Professor; Ph.D., Utah State University. Ecology and conservation of terrestrial vertebrates; trophic ecology.

Jeff A. Johnson, Assistant Professor; Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Evolution; speciation; systematic; phylogenetics; phylogeography; population genetics; conservation biology.

James H. Kennedy, Regents Professor; Ph.D., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Ecology and life cycles of benthic invertebrates; ecotoxicology.

Daniel A. Kunz, Professor; Ph.D., University of Minnesota. Cyanide biology; enzymology and molecular biology of microbial cyanide metabolism; bacterial physiology; antibiotic resistance.

Amie Lund, Assistant Professor; Ph.D., University of New Mexico. The effects of environmental (air) pollutants on progression of cardiovascular disease and neurovascular blood brain barrier disruption.

Ed Mager, Assistant Professor; Ph.D., University of Miami. The effects of environmental pollutants on the physiology and life stages of marine and freshwater organisms.

Brian McFarlin, Associate Professor; Ph.D., Purdue University. Understanding the role of exercise and nutrition in altering the immune system; A particular interest is associated with understanding the role of the immune system in chronic disease and risk of upper respiratory tract infection.

Ron Mittler, Professor; Ph.D., Rutgers University. Reactive oxygen metabolism and signaling; abiotic stress tolerance and stress combination; genes of unknown function; gene discovery.

Pamela Padilla, Associate Professor; Ph.D., University of New Mexico. How organisms respond to and survive environmental stress.

Aaron P. Roberts, Associate Professor; Ph.D., Miami University. Environmental toxicology.

Douglas D. Root, Associate Professor; Ph.D., University of California-Los Angeles. Molecular motors; single molecule assays; protein chemistry; molecular modeling; super-resolution microscopy; fluorescence spectroscopy; muscle contractile proteins.

Harris D. Schwark, Associate Professor; Ph.D., University of Illinois. Neurobiology primary cilia with emphasis on roles in the somatosensory system.

Jyoti Shah, Professor; Ph.D., University of Notre Dame. Plant defense mechanisms against pathogens and insects; signaling mechanisms in plant stress response; long-distance communication in plants; genetic engineering for stress resistance in plants.

Vladimir Shulaev, Professor; Ph.D., Rutgers University. Metabolomics technology and bioinformatics; novel analytical techniques for metabolomics; systems biology; fruit functional genomics; Arabidopsis gene function elucidation; cancer development and progression; malaria and mode of action of antimalarial drugs; modeling and simulation of biological networks; yeast systems biology.

Nicoladie Tam, Associate Professor; Ph.D., University of Minnesota. Behavioral and computational neuroscience; multi-unit spatiotemporal neural spike train analysis; emotional processing, cognition and emotional intelligence, simulation and analysis; neural encoding and decoding; neural network and learning; sensorimotor integration; neurophysiology; neuropsychopharmacology; neuroengineering; brain-computer interface; brain imaging.

Ruthanne Thompson, Associate Professor; Ed.D., University of North Texas. Science education; science efficacy.

Barney Venables, Professor; Ph.D., University of North Texas. Biological effects and instrumental analysis of environmental contaminants; comparative immunotoxicology.

Jakob Vingren, Associate Professor; Ph.D., University of Connecticut. Exercise Physiology related to resistance exercise and the effect of alcohol on the endocrine system, muscle tissue, and athletic performance.

Amanda J. Wright, Assistant Professor; Ph.D., Harvard University. Genetic analysis of the control of division plane orientation in maize and Arabidopsis; plant cell biology.