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Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Master’s Guidelines

These guidelines defines specific timelines, course requirements, breadth requirements and examination formats for students in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology concentration within the Biological Sciences M.S. degree programs. These guidelines were established by the EEB faculty to ensure that all students receive broad-based training in ecology, morphology, and evolution. Students should view these guidelines as a time schedule to be completed as reasonable progress toward their degree. Failure to meet the following guidelines can result in dismissal from the program.

Students entering the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology program should consider themselves colleagues in the EEB focus group and take an active role as members of the program. The Ecology and Evolutionary Biology faculty believe firmly that a vital component of a student’s training is the interaction and collaboration with all members of the program, including undergraduate and graduate students. Similarly, students are encouraged to interact and collaborate with faculty and students that are not in EEB. The student’s advisor will help in the formulation of a thesis project; however, the student is expected to identify a topic of mutual interest appropriate for their research. The faculty strongly believe that, with their help, students should develop an independent research program that defines them as scientists.

Entry Evaluation

On arrival to the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology program, a student’s level of preparation for the degree pursued will be reviewed by EEB Graduate Steering Committee (GSC). This committee will consist of the student’s preliminary choice of research adviser and the two members of the graduate steering committee elected annually by the EEB program faculty. The meeting will be organized by the GSC and will occur before or during the first semester of study.

During this meeting:

  1. The student will be briefed on the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology guidelines and expectations and the consequences of failure to meet these requirements. Any questions or concerns about the guidelines should be addressed at this time.
  2. Preliminary research interests will be discussed.
  3. Course deficiencies will be identified and the EEB Graduate Student Curriculum Plan will be recorded and approved by the student and GSC.

Program of Study

The following guidelines identify the academic responsibilities necessary to complete an M.S. degree in Biological Sciences with an Ecology and Evolutionary Biology concentration. EEB masters students must complete 6 graded courses not including BIOS 794, Ecolunch. At the GSC meeting, the specific requirements will be established based on the student’s need to increase his or her background and training. The GSC will develop specific program of courses for each student.

Course Requirements

  1. All EEB MS students must show competence in univariate statistics. This requirement is fulfilled by taking BIOS 6700 Biostatistics I (5 credits).
  2. The EEB Program requires that students show competence in the disciplines of ecology, evolution, and morphology. Therefore, required coursework will be distributed across these fields. (See Areas of Emphasis below).
  3. Core Requirement: M.S. students must take three courses in one core area and two courses in a second core area.
Areas of Emphasis
Ecology
  • Bios 5160 Biogeography
  • BIOS 5770 Population Ecology
  • BIOS 5780 Community Ecology
  • BIOS 5620 Animal Ecological Physiological
  • BIOS 5310 Aquatic Biology
  • BIOS 5290 Marine Biology
  • BIOS 5810 Animal Conservation Biology
  • BIOS 7970 Seminar in Conservation Biology
Evolution
  • BIOS 5250 Evolutionary Genetics
  • BIOS 5570 Animal Systematics
  • BIOS 5730 Animal Behavior
  • BIOS 682 Behavioral Ecology
  • BIOS 558/559 Amphibians/Reptiles
  • BIOS 5650 Ichthyology
  • BIOS 5710 Ornithology
  • BIOS 5740 Mammalogy
Morphology
  • OUCOM Medical gross anatomy
  • OUCOM Neuroanatomy
  • BIOS 5030 Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy
  • BIOS 530 Invertebrate zoology
  • BIOS 520 Comparative vertebrate biomechanics
  • BIOS 5360 Field Entomology
  • BIOS 880B Techniques in Electron Microscopy

Additional course requirements may be made at the discretion of GSC in consultation with the adviser. These requirements will be based on the student’s area of interest, research focus, and prior coursework. The student, in consultation with the adviser, may submit a written request to the GSC that other courses not listed may substitute where appropriate.

Ecolunch

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology M.S. students must enroll in 1 credit of BIOS 794 Ecology Colloquium (“Ecolunch”) during all academic quarters unless there is a conflict with field research or teaching. Each student must present 1 seminar in BIOS 794 during the second year and will register for two graded credits that quarter.

Academic Standards

Students are bound by the latest version of By Laws of the Graduate Program in Biological Sciences. Note (Section VIII, A) that students will receive a letter of concern if their GPA falls below 3.2 and that any student that receives a second grade of a C+ or below is likely to be dismissed from the program.

Timetables and Forms

It is the student’s responsibility to check the university and departmental timetables to ensure that deadlines for applying for graduation are met. The Ecology and Evolutionary Biology faculty also expects students to adhere to the responsibilities and deadlines identified in this document.

The student is required to bring the appropriate forms to all meetings and to ensure that the forms have been sent to the appropriate EEB, departmental, and university representatives.

  1. Meet the EEB Graduate Steering Committee—First year, early first semester. At the conclusion of this meeting a completed copy of the EEB Graduate Student Curriculum Plan Form must be provided to the student, the adviser, chair of the GSC, and the student’s departmental file.
  2. Organize Thesis Committee—By the end of the winter of first year. At this time the student should submit to the Departmental Graduate Secretary the completed CAS #5 - Thesis Committee Information Form.
  3. Proposal Defense—The defense of the thesis proposal must be held before the end of spring semester of the first year. Distribute thesis research proposal to each committee member at least two weeks prior to proposal defense and only after approval by the thesis adviser. The proposal must be submitted to each committee member in hard copy. The student must bring to the proposal defense the Biological Sciences Department Report of Thesis Proposal Examination. The student must provide completed copies of the form to the adviser, all committee members, and the Biological Sciences Department graduate secretary who will forward the appropriate forms to the college. It is the student’s responsibility to schedule the examination at a time when all committee members can attend.
  4. Thesis Defense
    • Set Thesis defense date – Spring semester of the second year.
    • Distribute copies of the thesis to all committee members—at least two weeks prior to defense and only after approval by the thesis adviser. The thesis must be submitted to each committee member in hard copy.
    • The student must also provide the Biological Sciences Department graduate secretary and the College of Arts & Sciences with the CAS #7 - Arrangements for the Oral Examination on the Thesis Form at least two weeks prior to the defense. Note: If the committee has changed the student must resubmit a Biological Sciences Department Thesis Committee Information Form and /or Biological Sciences Department Thesis Adviser Information Form.
    • Thesis Defense. The student must bring to the defense a copy of the CAS #8 - Report of the Oral Thesis Examination/Thesis Defense. The student will be responsible for delivering a completed copy of each form to committee members and the Biological Sciences Department graduate secretary who will forward the appropriate forms to the college.

Examinations

There are two major examinations for M.S. students: the proposal defense and the thesis defense.

Proposal Defense

Prior to the proposal defense, the student must establish a thesis committee. The thesis committee will consist of the student’s adviser and a minimum of two additional committee members (all must be in attendance at the thesis defense), selected in consultation with the thesis adviser. The proposal defense is an oral defense of the student’s thesis research proposal. The defense should occur by the end of spring quarter during the first-year.

Students whose research involves fieldwork should recognize that if they need to begin their work in the spring, they should make very effort to have their proposal approved earlier than the guidelines require.

The proposal defense will be attended by the student’s committee. At least two weeks prior to the proposal defense, and only after considerable review by the thesis adviser, the student is required to submit to each committee member a written proposal of their research plans. Students are strongly encouraged to discuss their proposal with committee members to identify any weaknesses or problems prior to the defense. Immediately preceding the defense, the student will present the proposed research as either an Ecolunch presentation or as a private (committee only) 15 - 20 minute presentation. The length of the defense is at the discretion of the committee, and the discussion will pertain to the student’s proposed research.

There are three outcomes to this defense:

  1. Pass.
  2. Fail, with invitation to revise and re-defend the proposal by a specific date. Students that fail a second proposal defense are no longer eligible for a M.S. in the program.
  3. Fail, leave the program.

The student is required to bring the necessary forms to the examination and ensure that the forms become record. The approved proposal forms the expectations of the research to be completed for the M.S. degree. The outcome of the proposal defense will be reported to the Biological Sciences Department graduate committee, the student, and all members of the examination committee by the chair of the student’s thesis committee.

Thesis Defense

This is the final step in the process for M.S. students. The thesis committee normally is the same as the proposal committee; however, the faculty recognize that certain committee members may not be available for both exams and, therefore, do not require that both committees have exactly the same membership.

At least two weeks prior to the defense, the student must provide all committee members with a copy of the thesis that has been approved by the adviser. Thus, the thesis will have gone through revisions with the adviser well before this time. Students are encouraged to meet with the members of their committee to discuss their thesis and identify any weaknesses or problems prior to the defense.

The defense has two components. First a public seminar will be held that is open to any member of the department and the general public. (Ecolunch is not an appropriate venue for the thesis defense seminar.) The public seminar will be followed by a question-and-answer period in which any member of the audience may ask questions.

Following the public seminar, the student will defend his or her thesis with the thesis committee. There are two outcomes to this defense:

  1. Pass—any revisions to the thesis recommended by the committee must be made prior to graduation.
  2. Fail—the student will have the option to re-defend within one year or before the end of the seventh year enrolled at Ohio University, whichever comes first.

It is the student’s responsibility to bring the appropriate forms to the defense and to ensure that all forms are received by the Biological Sciences Department graduate committee, the College of Arts & Sciences Graduate Office, the student, and all members of the examination committee.

Teaching Requirements

Excellence in teaching is an essential aspect of a career in academia. Thus, all students in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology program, regardless of their funding source, must participate in teaching. The workload will vary from course to course. Teaching assistants are expected to attend laboratory preparation meetings, teach their assigned laboratory or recitation sections, attend the corresponding lectures, and participate in the grading of lecture exams.

Students completing an M.S. must teach a minimum of one semester. The minimum teaching requirement can be fulfilled at any time during the student’s tenure. Students funded through a departmental teaching assistantship will be expected to teach during each semester of funding.

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