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General Information


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Program in Systematics

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International Center
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 University of Missouri
St. Louis

Department of Biology

General Information

The University of Missouri-St. Louis is one of four campuses that together make up the University of Missouri, the ninth largest university in the United States. UM-St. Louis is a young campus, established in 1963 to serve the needs of the St. Louis area in higher education. Since its founding, UM-St. Louis has grown to over 16,000 students on a 250-acre campus in the northwestern suburbs of the city. Although most undergraduates come from the St. Louis metropolitan area, the University's graduate programs attract highly qualified students from all over the world. Among the campus facilities of importance to students in biology are the Thomas Jefferson and Health Sciences Libraries. In spite of UM-St. Louis's relative youth, the libraries' collections consist of about 850,000 volumes, 2,900 periodical subscriptions, and over one million U.S. Government documents. On-line catalog access, bibliographic searches, and interlibrary loan are excellent.

The Department of Biology provides undergraduate academic programs leading to the B.A. or B.S. in biology. The Biology Department has particular strengths in ecology, evolutionary biology, conservation biology, and biotechnology, including cell and molecular biology and biochemistry. In cooperation with the School of Education, the department also offers a B.S. in secondary education along with the B.A. or B.S. in biology with teacher certification. Of particular note are the department's graduate programs leading to the Master of Science and the Doctor of Philosophy degrees in biology.

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Relationships with other area institutions

The Department of Biology at UMSL has particularly close relationships with sister departments at two private universities in St. Louis: Washington University and St. Louis University. UMSL students may register for courses at each of these universities, and at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, through a cooperative enrollment arrangement that provides access to a wide variety of courses that otherwise would not be available. The universities also collaborate on other aspects of their programs, such as graduate and departmental seminars. Washington University is well-known for its strengths in cell, molecular, and developmental biology, as well as population genetics and evolutionary biology. St. Louis University has strengths in aquatic biology and conservation. Washington University is only 20 minutes from UMSL by car or public transportation; travel to St. Louis University requires about 30 minutes.

The Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics graduate program in the Department of Biology has been closely associated with the Missouri Botanical Garden for more than a decade. The Garden has the largest staff of systematists of any herbarium in the United States, and one of the most important collections of research materials and library holdings in systematic botany in the world. Many of the Garden staff are adjunct members of the Department of Biology and several of our graduate students conduct their research at the Garden. We are beginning to develop a similar relationship with the St. Louis Zoo, where there are particular research strengths in the endocrinology and physiology of mammalian reproduction. Both the Garden and the Zoo are deeply involved in the conservation of biological diversity and provide excellent environments for UMSL students to pursue conservation and management interests.

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St. Louis and Surrounding Area

The University of Missouri-St. Louis is situated on an attractive campus in the suburban northwest quadrant of the metropolitan area. With more than 2 million residents, the St. Louis metropolitan area offers every amenity of life in a major city. The downtown area, a national model for renewal and vigorous growth, is a major center of commerce and tourism, emphasizing St. Louis's historical role as the Gateway to the West. At the same time, local neighborhoods and suburban communities vary widely in atmosphere, and many have a small-town "feel." The local economy is diverse, with strengths in business, finance, industry, education, health, and life sciences and technology. St. Louis is home to a world-class symphony orchestra, a wealth of music and art, excellent movie houses, and numerous ethnic restaurants. A great variety of opportunities exists for choices in housing, education, employment, and entertainment. Of large American cities, St. Louis is one of the most friendly and easy to live in, offering a unique mixture of midwestern, southern, and cosmopolitan charm. In addition, St. Louis is located just 90 minutes from the beautiful Ozark Mountains, where hiking, camping, caving, and canoeing can be enjoyed.

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Department Seminar Program

The Department of Biology holds a weekly seminar series featuring speakers from outside the University of Missouri St. Louis. Many of these speakers are sponsored jointly by the Department of Biology at Washington University. In addition, the International Center for Tropical Ecology hosts speakers who address problems of conservation and management of tropical ecosystems. Graduate students have ample opportunity to interact with visitors during individual appointments, informal discussions, and evening social events. (See list of previous speakers .)


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Journal Clubs, Lunch Groups, and other events

Most lab groups have weekly lab meetings during which ongoing research in the lab and related literature are discussed. In addition, each subdiscipline has a weekly lunch meeting at which time students, postdocs, faculty, and visitors to the department present talks on current research. The largest of these events is Wednesday Ecolunch, but there are also active lunch groups in molecular biology, biochemistry, and behavioral biology.

Each year in the fall, the ecology, evolution, and systematics faculty and students at UMSL and Washington University hold a day-long retreat at the Missouri Botanical Garden, with presentations of the latest research from each of the lab groups. Washington University and UMSL students also get together each month for an evening ecology/evolution journal club to discuss topics featured in recent literature.

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