Aug 19, 2022  
2021-2022 UMass Dartmouth Graduate Catalog 
2021-2022 UMass Dartmouth Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Department of Biology

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Faculty and Fields of Interest

Diego Bernal (Graduate Program Director) physiology of high performance fishes, shark biology

Erin Bromage immunology, microbiology, biosensor and vaccine development

Richard C Connor evolution of social interactions, marine mammal biology

Robert E Drew genomic analysis of quantitative traits

Tracie L Ferreira molecular biology, developmental biology, embryology

Robert Griffith marine vertebrate physiology, origin of vertebrates

Whitney E Hable molecular, cellular and developmental biology

Peter Hart molecular, and cell biology, cancer biology, epigenetics

Kathryn D Kavanagh evolutionary and ecological development biology

Cynthia Ladino medical microbiology, cell biology and biochemistry

Marc A Laxer anatomy and physiology, parasitology

Nancy J O’Connor (Chairperson) invertebrate biology, nonindigenous marine species

Kenneth Oliveira fish biology,  life history strategies and age and growth of fishes

Guillermo Paz-y-Mino C evolution, animal cognition, conservation biology

Tara K Rajaniemi plant community ecology, plant competition and species diversity

Jefferson Turner (Chairperson) biological oceanography, marine plankton, biogeography

Alan Ventetuolo medical microbiology, anatomy and physiology


The Department of Biology offers programs leading to the Master of Science degree in Biology or Marine Biology. Either program may be undertaken as a research or library thesis course of study. Students interested in a research career or continued graduate education may elect a program culminating in a research thesis. Educators and others interested in broadening their backgrounds in biology, but not in laboratory or field research, should elect a program of study culminating in a library thesis.

UMass Dartmouth’s proximity to a variety of coastal habitats provides a special emphasis in both faculty research and course offerings on the estuaries and near-shore environments of the Buzzards Bay region of the Massachusetts coast. The University is within a one-hour drive of the major libraries, museums, and academic and research institutions of the Boston and Woods Hole areas. The Department houses several teaching and research laboratories that are equipped for most standard physiological, molecular, and ecological analyses. A fifty-foot oceanographic research vessel, R/V Lucky Lady, and a Boston whaler are available for coastal marine research. The Department also maintains museum collections of fishes and invertebrates, seaweeds, diatoms, and the terrestrial plants of the southeastern Massachusetts region. The university library subscribes to many marine biological journals and supports state-of-the-art literature search engines.

Recent graduate student projects have been in fields such as molecular ecology, plankton ecology, harmful algal blooms, environmental microbiology, gene transcription, aquaculture, marine mammal biology, marine bioinvasions, biofouling, parasites of marine fishes, diatom morphometrics, and fisheries biology. Some projects have involved collaborative research with the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the UMass Cranberry Experiment Station, and the Mystic and New England Aquariums.

Graduate students plan their course of study with the assistance of their thesis committee, and are urged to complete most of their course requirements during their first year.

Admission Requirements

Applicants for the MS in Biology/Marine Biology must submit the required application materials to the Graduate Office. In addition,

  • They must submit Graduate Record Examination general and subject test scores.
  • Their personal statement must indicate their specific biological interests and goals.

Applicants are selected both on the basis of their qualifications and the fit of their research interests with those of the faculty who have openings for graduate students.

Financial Assistance

A limited number of assistantships are available on a competitive basis. Applicants desiring teaching or research assistantships should submit completed applications by March 15th. Other assistance, such as loans or work study, may be available to you. Please refer to the chapter on “Expenses and Financial Assistance.”


Dr Diego Bernal, Graduate Program Director, Biology/Marine Biology
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
285 Old Westport Road
North Dartmouth, MA 02747-2300
508 999-8217

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