Last updated: August 26, 2019 @ 03:13PM

Biological Sciences

Master of Science in Biological Sciences
Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Sciences

Field(s) of Specialization

Cell and Molecular Biology
Ecology and Evolution
Neurobiology and Physiology
Plant Sciences and Oenology and Viticulture

Dean
S. Ejaz Ahmed
Faculty of Mathematics and Sciences

Associate Dean
Cheryl McComick
Faculty of Mathematics and Science

Core Faculty
Professors
Michael Bidochka (Biological Sciences), Douglas H. Bruce (Biologcal Sciences), Robert L. Carlone (Biological Sciences), Alan Castle (Biologcal Sciences), Vincenzo De Luca (Biologica Sciences), Fiona F. Hunter (Biological Sciences), A. Joffre Mercier (Biological Sciences), Gary Pickering (Biological Sciences), Andrew G. Reynolds (Biological Sciences), Miriam H. Richards (Biological Sciences), Gaynor Spencer (Biologal Sciences), Glenn J. Tattersall (Bilogica Sciences), Liette Vasseur (Biological Sciences)

Associate Professor
Charles Després (Bological Sciences), Ping Liang (Biological Sciences), Adonis Skandalis (Biological Sciences), Jeff Stuart (Biological Sciences)

Assistant Professors
Aleksandar Necakov (Biological Sciences)

Participating Graduate Faculty

Associate Members
Stefan Brudzynski (Psychology), Dan McCarthy (Earth Sciences), Francine M.G. McCarthy (Earth Sciences), Paul Le Blanc (Health Sciences), Cheryl McCormick (Psychology), Michael Pisaric (Geography)

Adjunct Professors
Ralph Brown (University of Guelph), Wangxue Chen (National Research Council, Ottawa), Frederique Guinel (Wilfrid Laurier University), Belinda Kemp (CCOVI), Janet Koprivnikar (Ryerson University), David Liscombe (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Vineland Station), Wendy McFadden-Smith (McSmith Agricultural Research Services), Antonet Svircev (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Vineland Station), James Willwerth (CCOVI)

Graduate Program Director
Ping Liang
pliang@brocku.ca

Graduate Administrative Coordinator
Elena Genkin
905-688-5550, extension 3115
Mackenzie Chown, D473
fmsgradoffice@brocku.ca

Program Description
The department offers research-based graduate programs leading to MSc and PhD degrees in Biological Sciences in the following fields: Cell and Molecular Biology; Ecology and Evolution; Neurobiology and Physiology; Plant Sciences, Oenology and Viticulture.

Admission Requirements - MSc
Successful completion of an Honours Bachelor's degree, or equivalent, normally with an average of not less than 82% (in years 3 and 4) and having sufficient concentration in the life sciences, physical sciences or mathematics. Agreement from a faculty supervisor to supervise the student is also required for admission to the program.

Those lacking sufficient background preparation may be required to complete a qualifying term/year to upgrade their applications. Completion of a qualifying term/year does not guarantee acceptance into the program.

The Graduate Committee will review applications and recommend admission for a limited number of suitable candidates.

Part-time study is available.

Degree Requirements - MSc
Students may be admitted on either a part-time or full-time basis. Students registered as full-time will normally complete all degree requirements within two years. Students registered as part-time will normally complete all degree requirements within four years. Students who wish to transfer to the PhD program must complete one year (12 months) of full-time study as MSc students and then must successfully complete the predoctoral exam (see Program Requirements - PhD below).

All students must complete a research project that culminates in a thesis and demonstrates a capacity for independent thought and work. There will be an oral defence of the written thesis.

Students must enroll in BIOL 5F90 each term. In addition to BIOL 5F90, candidates must complete a minimum of one and one-half credits of course work at not less than 70 percent. These must include BIOL 5P95; at least one-half credit from BIOL 5P85, 5P86, 5P87 or 5P88; and one-half credit from BIOL courses numbered 5(alpha)00 or higher. Courses are chosen in consultation with the Supervisory Committee. The thesis supervisor may not instruct all the courses in a candidate's program. Additional credits may be required of candidates with insufficient preparation in the area of research specialization.

In addition to the above coursework, students will participate in the running of undergraduate courses in the Department of Biological Sciences at Brock University as teaching assistants for a minimum of one term (for which a graduate teaching stipend will be received).

Admission Requirements - PhD
Successful completion of a Master's degree, or equivalent in Biological Sciences with an overall average of not less than 80%. Alternatively, students who have successfully completed one year in the Brock Biological Sciences MSc program, normally including completion of all MSc course work with grades of at least 80% in each course, may apply to transfer to the PhD program following successful completion of the Biological Sciences pre-doctoral exam. Current guidelines for transferring from the MSc to the PhD program should be obtained from the Graduate Program Director. Agreement from a faculty member to supervise the student is also required for admission to the program.

The Graduate Committee will review applications and recommend admission for a limited number of suitable candidates.

Part-time study is not available.

Degree Requirements - PhD
Students will normally complete all degree requirements within four years following entry into the PhD program. All students must complete a research project that culminates in a thesis and demonstrates independent thought and work, and which represents an original contribution to scientific knowledge. There will be an oral defence of the written thesis. The student will be guided in all aspects of his or her graduate program by a supervisory committee.

Students must enroll in BIOL 7F90 each term. In addition, course work is required of all PhD students. Students entering the PhD program after completion of an MSc must satisfactorily complete at least two half courses, namely BIOL 7P95 and a 5(alpha)00 course not cross-listed with a 4(alpha)00 course. Students who transfer from the MSc to the PhD program must satisfactorily complete at least five half courses, namely BIOL 5P95; BIOL 7P95; one of BIOL 5P85, 5P86, 5P87 or 5P88; one half-credit course numbered 5(alpha)00 or higher that is not cross-listed with a 4(alpha)00 course; and one additional BIOL course numbered 5(alpha)00 and higher. The thesis supervisor may not offer all the courses in a candidate's program. All courses in which the student is enrolled must be approved by the student's supervisory committee. When appropriate and with permission of the supervisory committee, courses offered outside the Department of Biological Sciences may be taken to fulfill course requirements. Additional credits may be required of candidates with insufficient preparation in the area of research specialization.

Continued enrolment in the Doctor of Philosophy program requires the successful completion of a pre-doctoral examination. The pre-doctoral examination will comprise an oral exam on the student's written examination proposal, completed no later than the sixth term of study (third or fourth term is recommended). The Pre-doctoral Examining Committee shall consist of the student's supervisory committee plus two faculty members from the Department of Biological Sciences, one of whom shall be the Departmental Chair or the Chair's Representative. The pre-doctoral examination has three possible outcomes for students registered in the PhD program: Pass (students may continue in the program), Probation (students will be required to retry the pre-doctoral exam within a specific time frame, not to exceed 3 months), Fail (students will be required to withdraw from the program immediately). Students on probation will be allowed to retry the examination only once. The pre-doctoral examination has two possible outcomes for MSc students who wish to transfer to the PhD: Pass (students may transfer to the PhD program), Fail (students will be allowed to submit and defend an MSc thesis).

Facilities
The department is well equipped with state of the art laboratory equipment for all fields of biology research. A greenhouse, plant growth chamber and facilities for the growth and maintenance of terrestrial and aquatic animals are available to students. Also available are facilities for culture of animal, yeast and bacterial cells; a walk-in plant tissue culture room and associated tissue culture facility; and laminar flow tanks for aquatic animal research. The department's specialized equipment holdings include spectrophotometers, a fluorescence spectrometer; a phosphorimager scanner; a scanning electron microscope; fluorescence microscopes and state of the art computer imaging systems; a confocal microscope; a laser capture microscope, a two-photon laser scanning microscope; computer controlled electrophysiological research stations for stimulation and recording of muscle, nerve and whole animal electrical activity; microplate readers; fluorescence imagers; real-time PCR machines; biophysical spectrometers for high sensitivity absorbance, linear dichroism, circular dichroism, photoacoustic and picosecond time-resolved fluorescence; and a parallel computing PC cluster for mathematical modeling of biological systems. Through the University, we also have free access to the state-of-the-art high performance computing facility at Compute Canada.

Associated with the Department of Biological Sciences, the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) is housed in Inniskillin Hall. The CCOVI research facilities include a biotechnology laboratory, viticulture laboratory, a state of the art sensory evaluation laboratory, pilot winery and a 43,000 bottle wine cellar which includes the Canadian Wine Library.

Course Descriptions

Note that not all courses are offered in every session. Refer to the applicable timetable for details.

Students must check to ensure that prerequisites are met. Students may be deregistered, at the request of the instructor, from any course for which prerequisites and/or restrictions have not been met.
BIOL 5F90
MSc Thesis
The preparation and public defence of a thesis which will demonstrate the candidate's capacity for independent study.

BIOL 5P03
Topics in Photobiology
(also offered as CHEM 5P03)
A graduate seminar/lecture course covering topics in photobiology. A series of lectures designed to introduce some of the major research areas in photobiology will be followed by student seminars on selected topics (usually two or three papers on one subject).
Note: course taught in conjunction with BIOL/BCHM 4P03.

BIOL 5P04
Evolutionary and Ecological Physiology
An exploration of topics in animal or plant physiology as they relate to evolution, ecology, and their environment. A critical analysis of the literature will be expected from student seminars and written work. Emphasis will be on how function evolves and responds to changing environments. Topics may include physiological evolution within a developmental context, epigenetics and physiology, or conservation physiology.

BIOL 5P06
Advanced Topics in Bioinformatics
(also offered as BTEC 5P06)
This course will investigate advanced topics of bioinformatics including, but not limited to, analysis of high throughput genomic sequencing and functional genomics data (e.g. gene expression, DNA methylation, chip-seq) and related databases and tools. The format will be a combination of lectures, seminars, readings, and data analysis projects.
Note: An appropriate background in molecular biology, bioinformatics and computer programming is recommended. Course taught in conjunction with BIOL/BCHM/BTEC 4P06.

BIOL 5P10
Mechanisms in Plant Biochemistry
(also offered as BTEC 5P10)
Molecular and chemical control of plant disease processes and development. Focus on the detailed signaling mechanisms and outcomes of signal transduction to a plant phenotype. Emphasis on case studies that highlight the different phases of this process, including the identification of signals, signal perception, signal transduction and reaction to the signal transduction cascade to produce a phenotype.

BIOL 5P13
Bioenergetics
Current topics in the molecular and biochemical basis of animal cell bioenergetics, including oxidative phosphorylation, production of reactive oxygen species, apoptosis, and mitochondrial function in health and disease.
Note: course taught in conjunction with BIOL 4P13.

BIOL 5P20
Advanced Sensory Evaluation of Wines
This course will focus on the measurement techniques used in the sensory evaluation of wine and food. Other topics covered include the physiology of taste and olfaction, chemistry of aroma and flavour, and advanced readings in current topics in sensory evaluation and sensory science.
Note: course taught in conjunction with OEVI 4P20.

BIOL 5P22
Current Topics in Conservation Ecology and Biodiversity
(also offered as SASS 5P22)
This course aims to explore and discuss current trends in this field using an interdisciplinary approach. Topics may include concepts related to conservation strategies, impacts of conservation efforts on ecosystems, communities or species populations, biodiversity assessment, invasive species, balance of conserving biodiversity versus ecosystem services, and issues related to policy, management, economic and social concerns.
Note: Completion of this course will replace previous assigned grade and credit obtained in BIOL 5P02.

BIOL 5P26
Stream Structure and Function
Exploration of the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of stream systems.
Note: Course taught in conjunction with BIOL 4P26, ERSC 4P26 and GEOG 4P26.

BIOL 5P28
Developmental Neurobiology
A seminar course on the principles of neural development. Topics include cell lineage and early determinative events, trophic functions, growth and plasticity, synaptogenesis and gene expression in the establishment of the nervous system.
Note: course taught in conjunction with BIOL 4P28.

BIOL 5P29
Current Topics in Animal Physiology
Topical subjects in animal physiology, covering recent and/or controversial research in respiratory, thermoregulatory, and cardiovascular physiology and their neural control. Topics may vary from year to year depending on student interests.
Note: course taught in conjunction with BIOL 4P29.

BIOL 5P34
Neural Networks and Behaviour.
Neuronal networks and integrative mechanisms in the nervous system. Selected topics include the visual system, rhythm generators and motor function, and learning and memory.
Note: course taught in conjunction with BIOL 4P34.

BIOL 5P35
Biology of Sensory Systems
(also offered as BIOL 4P35)
Analysis of the anatomy, physiology, molecular and cellular mechanisms of sensory mechanisms in animals, with select examples in humans. Emphasis on the comparative biology of olfaction, gustation, vision, mechanosensation, thermal sensation, nociception, and chemosensation and magnetoception through analysis of recent scientific articles.
Restriction: Open to graduate students in the biological sciences and biotechnology programs
Prerequisite(s): BIOL 3P34; one of BIOL 2P97, 3P35, NEUR 3P81, 3P82 or permission of the instructor.

BIOL 5P41
Human Molecular Genetics
(also offered as BIOL 4P41)
Principles of human genetics, human genome organization, pedigree, disease gene mapping, forensic and cancer genetics, genome sequencing, personal genomics via lectures, projects, and student seminars.
Restriction: Open to graduate students in the biological sciences and biotechnology programs
Prerequisite(s): BIOL 3P50 or 3P51 or permission of the instructor.

BIOL 5P56
Genes and Behaviour
Genetic, developmental and environmental influences on the behaviour of invertebrates and vertebrates. Single versus multilocus effects and the inheritance of quantitative behavioural traits. Analyses of gene expression and genetic pathways influencing behaviour in model animals.
Note: course taught in conjunction with BIOL 4P56.

BIOL 5P57
Bacterial Genetics
(also offered as BTEC 5P57)
Molecular and transmission genetics of bacteria. Bacterial genetics from early description of transformation and transduction to current developments in molecular genetics.
Note: course taught in conjunction with BIOL/BTEC 4P57.

BIOL 5P58
Fungal Genetics
An examination of transmission and molecular genetics of fungi. Recent advances in gene manipulation and the contribution of studies on these organisms to general genetics principles.
Note: course taught in conjunction with BIOL/BTEC 4P58.

BIOL 5P64
Insect Behaviour
Exploration of selected topics in the field of insect behaviour. Topics include programming and integration of behaviour, orientation and dispersal, feeding behaviour, chemical, visual and acoustical communication, defensive behaviour, reproductive behaviour and the eusocial insects.
Note: course taught in conjunction with BIOL 4P64.

BIOL 5P66
Insect Biology
Current topics in the field of insect biology. Possible course themes include: behavioural ecology of insects, insect systematics, coevolution of plants and insects, speciation processes, evolution of insect mating systems, insect metamorphosis.

BIOL 5P67
Biophysical Techniques
(also offered as BTEC 5P67 and CHEM 5P67)
An advanced seminar/lecture course on experimental techniques in biophysics. The focus is on understanding the theory, applications and limitations of a variety of techniques students will encounter during their graduate studies. Techniques will range from advanced spectroscopy (absorption, fluorescence, NMR, X-ray diffraction) to molecular biochemistry.
Note: course taught in conjunction with BCHM/CHEM/BTEC 4P67.

BIOL 5P68
Sociobiology
How natural selection shapes social behaviour, with emphasis on kin selection, reciprocity, and exploitation in the evolution of co-operation and altruism. Particular attention will be paid to insect societies.

BIOL 5P73
Advanced Wine Flavour
Flavour compounds. Critical analysis and discussion of current literature, and how it informs our understanding of the specific roles of viticultural and oenological practices in the formation of wine flavour. Recent advances in the analytical and sensoric measurement of aroma, taste and tactile stimuli.
Note: an appropriate background in wine chemistry and sensory evaluation is recommended.

BIOL 5P85
Current Topics in Ecology and Evolution
Examination of three or four current topics in ecology and evolution and involve critical analysis and discussion of current literature. Topics drawn mainly from human evolution, social evolution, population ecology, and community ecology.

BIOL 5P86
Current Topics in Basic and Applied Plant Biology
(also offered as BTEC 5P86)
An investigation into a number of topics in plant biology. Topics will vary and may include plant disease, signal transduction, secondary metabolism, physiology and photosynthesis, biotechnological applications and oenology and viticulture.

BIOL 5P87
Current Topics in Neurobiology or Physiology
Topics in contemporary Neurobiology and or Physiology at cellular, molecular or systemic levels. Students will present recent scientific discoveries and engage in a critical analysis of the literature.

BIOL 5P88
Current Topics in Cell and Molecular Biology
Recent advances in cellular and molecular biology, including topics such as aging, adaptation, pathological dysfunction, cancer biology, and flow of genetic information.

BIOL 5P95
MSc Research Seminar
Designed to familiarize students with areas of research in all fields of biological science, with emphasis on preparation, presentation, critique, and group assessment of NSERC-style research proposals. Attendance at the Biological Sciences Departmental Seminar Series is mandatory.
Note: Course taught in conjunction with BIOL 7P95.

BIOL 5V80-5V99
Selected Topics in Biological Sciences
An investigation of a specific area or group of related topics in biology. Approval of the departmental Graduate Studies committee is required prior to registration.

BIOL 7F90
PhD Thesis
Preparation, public defence, and examination of a thesis that demonstrates the candidate's capacity for independent thought and study at the appropriate level.

BIOL 7P95
PhD Research Seminar
Designed to familiarize students with areas of research in all fields of biological science, with emphasis on preparation, presentation, critique, and group assessment of NSERC-style research proposals. Attendance at the Biological Sciences Departmental Seminar Series is mandatory.
Note: Course taught in conjunction with BIOL 5P95.