Skip to body

Biology

College of the Sciences

Contact Us

Biological Sciences
Science Building 338
(509) 963-2731
biology@cwu.edu

Follow Us

Graduate Program

Our Mission

The Biology Graduate Program prepares enlightened, responsible, and productive scientists with essential skills, a deep understanding of their discipline, respect for diversity, and the ability to think critically and communicate clearly.

 

We offer a Master of Science in Biology degree; please note that we do not offer a Ph.D. degree.  Our program, which typically requires two years, provides advanced training and expertise in biology through coursework, research, and a strong academic environment.

Our graduates go on to be:

• Biomedical researchers in academic, government, and industrial labs
• Technicians in research labs
• Field biologists in federal, state, local, and tribal agencies
• Biologists with environmental and other consulting firms
• Educators at K-12 schools and community colleges
• Doctorates in the sciences (Ph.D.) and professional fields (e.g., M.D., DVM, and other advanced medical degrees)

Links 

Program Outcomes 

Program Requirements 

Biology Faculty 

Funding Your Graduate Program 

Graduate Student Research 

How To Apply 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Graduate Student Handbook


Program Outcomes

 

Our graduate students will:

• Demonstrate a general knowledge of biology grounded in evolution.
• Compare foundational and current scientific literature and explain how knowledge in their sub-discipline has evolved over time. 
• Design and conduct an original research project, which will serve as the basis of their thesis. 
• Orally present and defend the results of their graduate research and write a professional-quality graduate thesis.   
• Demonstrate professional behavior, including strong scientific ethics, the ability to communicate clearly with both professional and non-technical audiences, and a commitment to furthering the knowledge of their field.

 

Program Requirements

We help students design a course of study, comprising 14 credits of required graduate courses, 16 credits of research (BIOL 595 and BIOL 700), and 15 elective credits (total, 45).  Students are mentored through the process of conducting original, independent research by their faculty advisor and thesis committee members.  We support two thesis formats: a traditional thesis, and a journal-ready manuscript option.

 

Biology Faculty

Biology faculty are active in research in many areas of Biology, including Ecology & Evolution, Physiology & Organismal Biology, and Cell & Molecular Biology.

Clay Arango, Associate Professor
Stream ecosystem ecology, nitrogen cycling, human-ecosystem interactions

Daniel Beck, Professor
Ecology, behavior, and physiology of reptiles in the Pacific NW, southwestern USA, and western Mexico

April Binder, Assistant Professor
Reproductive biology focused on hormonal control of ovarian function and development

Lucinda Carnell, Professor
Regulation of behavior in the nematode, C. elegans

David Darda, Professor
Evolutionary vertebrate morphology, herpetology

Jennifer Dechaine, Associate Professor
Plant evolutionary genetics

Blaise Dondji, Associate Professor
Cellular immune responses to hookworm and Leishmania infections

Kristina Ernest, Professor
Terrestrial ecology: small mammals, species interactions, connectivity

Jason Irwin, Professor
Physiological and ecological aspects of cold tolerance in insects and amphibians

Paul James, Professor
Ecology & fisheries biology

Jim Johnson, Professor / Department Chair
Mycology, molecular systematics, molecular ecology and amphibian disease

Holly Pinkart, Professor
Microbial ecology and physiology, microbes of saline alkaline lakes

Mary Poulson, Professor
Plant physiology, photosynthesis, and photosynthetic responses to the environment

Wayne Quirk, Professor
Sensory Physiology

Ian Quitadamo, Professor
Neuro-cognitive basis of critical thinking, assessment of science learning

Linda Raubeson, Professor  
**ON SABBATICAL 2018-2019**
Phylogeny of conifers, chloroplast genome evolution, conservation and ecological genetics of local plants

Alison Scoville, Associate Professor
Ecological and evolutionary genomics, rapid evolution and conservation biology

Gabrielle Stryker, Associate Professor
Protozoan parasites, paraflagellar rod proteins in kinetoplastids, cell motility, immunology

Lixing Sun, Professor
Ecology and evolution of animal behavior (especially communication systems), primatology

R. Steven Wagner, Professor
**ON PROFESSIONAL LEAVE FROM CWU 2018-2019**
Amphibian decline, genetics, herpetology, conservation biology, road ecology, primate behavior

 

back to top

Funding Your Graduate Program

Many of our graduate students are supported by teaching assistantships, which are normally guaranteed for two years (six quarters), given adequate research progress and satisfactory teaching evaluations. Please note that while some students need more than two years to finish their degree, financial support (through graduate assistantships) is available only during the first two years.  Applicants who would like to be considered for a teaching assistantship must complete an assistantship application form (in addition to the application for admissions). Research assistantships and summer stipends are occasionally available on a competitive basis, as are other sources of funds related to specific externally-funded projects.

For information on graduate tuition and fees, assistantships, grants and fellowships, scholarships, financial aid, and student employment, please see the Graduate Student Funding section of CWU's Graduate Studies and Research webpage.

 

CWU Graduate Student Fellowships and Grants

Washington State Distinguished Fellowship in Biology

The Botanical & Mycological Research Fund

Kittitas Audubon Research & Tuition Scholarship

CWU Graduate Student Research Support Award

CWU Graduate Student Summer Research Fellowship

CWU Retirement Association (CWURA) Graduate Student Scholarship

CWU Office of International Studies and Programs Tuition Waiver

CWU Graduate Student Travel Funds

See Also:  CWU Scholarship Office

 

External Research Funding Sources  

Northwest Scientific Association Student Research Grants

The Wildlife Society Grants & Scholarships (Washington State Chapter)

Washington Native Plant Society Conservation Grants

Society for Northwestern Vertebrate Biology, Student Scholarships

Sigma Xi, Grants-in-Aid of Research 

back to top

Graduate Student Research

 
Thesis titles of recent graduates:  https://digitalcommons.cwu.edu/biotheses/

 

2018-2019 Cohort

Josh Johnson

B.S., Biological Sciences, Central Washington University
Researching:  social mobility, behavioral biology, olfactory communication and group decision making.
Mentor: Dr. Lixing Sun

Danielle Kuchler

B.S., Biology Teaching, Central Washington University
Researching: science education, critical thinking, multidisciplinary teaching strategies.
Mentor:  Dr. Ian Quitadamo

Alex McCarrel

B.S., Environmental Studies, Linfield College
Researching:  Fry emergence and ensuing juvenile development of Kokanee Salmon in the presence of North American beaver dams.
Mentor:  Dr. Paul James

Anneliese Myers

B.S. Biology and B.A. Chemistry, Whitworth University
Researching:  The effect of landscape fragmentation on amphibian populations.
Mentor: Dr. Jason Irwin

Jim Robertson

B.S., Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, Washington State University
Researching: Microbiome of common hops, Humulus lupulus.
Mentor:  Dr. Alison Scoville

Jordan Ryckman

B.S., Biological Sciences, Central Washington University
Researching: Small mammal monitoring on the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East Project. Specifically, genetic diversity and habitat preference of shrews.
Mentor: Dr. Kris Ernest

Lauren Segarra

B.S., Bio/Ecology, Appalachian State University
Researching:  Physiological traits of drought and nutrient stressed sunflower.
Mentor:  Dr. Jenny Dechaine

Nick Werner

B.S., Biological Sciences, Central Washington University
Researching:  Effects of induced polycystic ovary syndrome in NAG-1 transgenic mice.
Mentor: Dr. April Binder

Dana Whitmore

B.S., Biological Sciences, Central Washington University
Researching: Ectomycorrhizal diversity in soils on and around the I-90 wildlife crossing structure.
Mentor:  Dr. Jim Johnson
 2017-2018 Cohort

Katie Boyd

B.S., Biological Sciences, Central Washington University
Researching:  Serotonin signaling and adaptation in C. elegans.
Mentor:  Dr. Lucinda Carnell

Naomi Bryant

B.S., Biological Sciences, Central Washington University
Researching: Endogenous gene tagging of pfr2 and pfr5 in Trypanosoma cruzi  using CRISPR/Cas9.
Mentor: Dr. Gabrielle Stryker

David Farr

B.S., Biological Sciences, Central Washington University
Researching: Development of software for genome-wide statistical analysis, comparison of evolutionary divergence, and epigenetic mechanisms associated with plant defense in E. guttata.
Mentor: Dr. Alison Scoville

Thomas McIntyre

B.S., Environmental Science, Northeastern University
Researching:  Stress levels of pikas along the I-90 corridor of the Central Cascade Range.
Mentor: Dr. Kris Ernest

Enrique Reyes

B.S., Biological Sciences, Central Washington University
Researching: The validity of the assumption that the stool microbiome is an adequate proxy for intestinal microbial composition, by comparing the microbial communities of different portions of the gut and stool using 16s rDNA data.
Mentor: Dr. Holly Pinkart

Bikesh Shrestha

B.A. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Cornell College
Researching:  Effects of 5 a-Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) on mice gut microbiome -- a study of sex differences and hormonal effects on gut microbiome composition.
Mentor:  Dr. Holly Pinkart

Mark Young

B.S., Biological Sciences, and B.A., Music, Central Washington University
Researching:  Effects of microbiome assemblage on plant productivity and stress tolerance in the model plant, Arabidopsis thaliana.
Mentor: Dr. Mary Poulson

Victoria McPherson

B.S., Microbiology, University of Washington
Researching: Evaluation of anthelmintic properties and toxicity of pure compounds isolated from Dalea Spp. (Plantae: Fabaceae).
Mentor: Dr. Blaise Dondji
 
back to top

 

 

 

 2016-2017 Cohort

Frank Addeo

B.A., Studio Art, Marist College
M.A., Anthropology, Columbia University
Researching: Yeast biodiversity, natural history, and fermentation characteristics in brewing.
Mentor:  Dr. Steve Wagner
Frank is the Director of the Craft Brewing and Distilling Program at South Puget Sound Community College 

JD Brooks

B.S., Biology, Southern Oregon University
M.S., Central Washington University (Spring 2018)
Thesis: Coloration, camouflage, and sexual dichromatism in the Northern Pacific Rattlesnake.
Mentor:  Dr. Dan Beck

Casey Croshaw

B.S., Biological Sciences, Central Washington University
M.S., Biology, Central Washington University (Winter 2017)
Thesis: Characterizing Low nutrient stress resistance in crop sunflowers (Helianthus annuus).
Mentor:  Dr. Jenny Dechaine
Casey is a Biological Science Technician for the U.S. Forest Service.

Logan Kral

B.S., Biological Sciences, Central Washington University
Researching:  Entomology and plant pathology; cold-tolerance of insects.
Mentor: Dr. Jason Irwin

Zach Lessig

B.S., Biological Sciences, Central Washington University
Researching:  Western Spruce Budworm as a resource subsidy to stream salmonids.
Mentor: Dr. Clay Arango

Alan McNolty

B.S., Biological Sciences, Central Washington University
Researching: Antibody-dependent enhancement of visceral leishmaniasis.
Mentor:  Dr. Gabrielle Stryker

Lindsay Millward

B.S. Biology, Belmont University
M.S., Biology, Central Washington University (Spring 2018)
Thesis: Small mammal microhabitat use and species composition at a wildlife crossing structure compared with nearby forest.
Mentor:  Dr. Kris Ernest

Troy Peterson

B.S., Biological Sciences, Central Washington University
Researching: The behavior and ecology of the Colorado Checkered Whiptail Lizard (Aspidoscelis neotesselata) in Washington State.
Mentor: Dr. David Darda

Caitlin Wilkes

B.S., Biological Science, University of Missouri, Rolla
Researching: Sea Star Wasting Disease
Mentor:  Dr. Lixing Sun
 
back to top
 2015-2016 Cohort

Therese Balkenbush

B.S., Biology, Southern Oregon University
M.S., Biological Sciences, Central Washington University (Spring 2018)
Thesis:  Using plastome data to resolve lower level relationships in gymnosperms.
Mentor:  Dr. Linda Raubeson

Corey Brumbaugh

B.S. Biological Sciences, Central Washington University
M.S., Biology, Central Washington University (Spring 2018)
Thesis:  Life In The Dirt.
Mentor:  Dr. Steve Wagner
Corey is a Pest Control Technician at Crazy Frog Pest Control, Tri-Cities, WA.

Joey Chase

B.S., Natural Resources, Cornell University
M.S., Biology, Central Washington University (Fall 2017)
Thesis: Impacts of wildfires on rattlesnake growth and movement.
Mentor:  Dr. Daniel Beck

Jacob Darley

B.S., Biological Sciences, Central Washington University
Researching:  Phage therapy, specifically the efficacy of bacteriophage treatment of Clostridium difficile infection.
Mentor:  Dr. Holly Pinkart

Izak Neziri

B.S., Biology Teaching, Central Washington University
Researching:  Stream ecology, ecosystems
Mentor:  Dr. Clay Arango
Izak currently teaches at Olympic High School in Bremerton, WA.

Connor Parrish

B.S., Natural Resource Sciences, Washington State University
M.S., Central Washington University (Fall 2017)
Thesis:  Shedding light on urban streams: the impact of buried stream sections on Brook Trout movement in an urban ecosystem.
Mentor:  Dr. Paul James
Connor is a Project Manager at Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group.

Brandon Rossi

B.S. Biological Sciences, Central Washington University
Researching:  avian and terrestrial ecology
Mentor:  Dr. Alison Scoville
Brandon is a Junior Biologist at Stell Environmental (Yakima Training Center).

Naomi Sibayan

B.S., Biological Sciences, Central Washington University
M.S., Biology, Central Washington University (Winter 2018)
Thesis: Cold tolerance, diapause, and survival of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (Halyomorphia halys).
Mentor:  Dr. Jason Irwin
Naomi is currently a Temporary Research Associate II at Synthetic Genomics.

back to top

 

How To Apply

New students are normally accepted for entry in the fall of our academic year (mid-September).  Applications for fall quarter priority admission and assistantships are due by February 1st.  Admission is a two-step process. Applicants must first meet the general requirements of the School of Graduate Studies and Research.  This includes a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, and a minimum GPA of 3.0 (in the last 90 quarter hours or 60 semester hours).  If applicable, please also read the School of Graduate Studies and Research information for international students before applying.

Applicants must then meet the specific requirements of the Department of Biological Sciences:

• An undergraduate degree in biology or closely related field. Deficiencies in the student’s undergraduate training as determined by the Department of Biological Sciences at the time of admission to the program must be removed without graduate credit during the first year of graduate study.
• A faculty member must be willing to serve as the applicant’s graduate faculty advisor.  Prior to completing your application, contact prospective faculty advisors to ask if they are interested in taking new students.

All applications go through the School of Graduate Studies and Research.  A complete application for Biology will include the following:

1. CWU School of Graduate Studies and Research Application (including $75 application fee; waivers are available).

2. Statement of objectives.  The Statement of Objectives is limited to 500 words and serves as a sample of your writing abilities.
 

Please address the following points within your statement:

  • What is your motivation for seeking a graduate degree in Biology and how will a M.S. in Biology help you reach your career goals?
  • Describe your research interests in Biology, indicate potential faculty advisor/s, and describe previous research experience and any relevant skills or training.
  • Provide an example of how you have shown persistence in overcoming obstacles to reach an academic or career objective you set for yourself.

3. Letters of recommendation (3)

4. Official transcripts

5. Curriculum Vitae (academic resume)

6. GRE scores for the general test

7.  English proficiency for international students for whom English is a second language.  Several options are available to satisfy this requirement.  Please see: http://www.cwu.edu/masters/prospective-international-students#english

 

FAQ 

back to top

For further information about our graduate program, please contact:

Dr. Kristina Ernest
Graduate Coordinator
Department of Biology
Central Washington University
Ellensburg, WA 98926-7537
Kristina.Ernest@cwu.edu

Take the Next Step to Becoming a Wildcat.

Admissions@cwu.edu