May 27, 2024  
2018-2020 Graduate School Catalog 
2018-2020 Graduate School Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

PhD Bioenvironmental Sciences, Program Information

Program Faculty

Department Chair + Associate Dean

Gaston N’Guerekata, PhD

University Distinguished Professor


Program Director

Chunlei Fan, PhD

Associate Professor

Department of Biology

Office: Key Hall 166

Phone: (443) 885-4468



Program Faculty

Biology Chair: Cleo Hughes-Darden

Yun-Chi Chen Ph.D., Associate Professor

Frank Denaro Ph.D., Associate Professor

Douglas Dluzen Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Chunlei Fan Ph.D., Associate Professor

Gloria Hoffman Ph.D., Professor

Christine Hohmann Ph.D., Professor

Cleo Hughes-Darden Ph.D., Associate Professor

Farin Kamangar Ph.D., Professor

Michael Koban Ph.D., Associate Professor

Yuejin Li Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Gabrielle L. McLemore Ph.D., Associate Professor

Saroj K. Pramanik Ph.D., Associate Professor

Mathumathi Rajavel Ph.D., Associate Professor

Viji Sitther Ph.D., Associate Professor

James Wachira Ph.D., Associate Professor


Chemistry Chair: Angela Winstead

Fasil Abebe Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Maurice Iwunze Ph.D., Professor

Santosh K. Mandal Ph.D., Professor

Pumtiwitt McCarthy Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Jiangnan Peng Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Alexandr Samokhvalov Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Angela Winstead Ph.D., Professor

Hongtao Yu Ph.D., Professor


Computer Science Chair (Interim): Md. Rahman

Iman (Abdollah) Dehzangi ,Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Md. Rahman Ph.D., Associate Professor


Physics Chair: Willie Rockward

Yucheng Lan Ph.D., Associate Professor

Abdellah Lisfi Ph.D., Professor

Birol Ozturk Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Willie Rockward, Ph.D., Professor

Dereje Seifu Ph.D., Professor

Ramesh Budhani Ph.D., Professor


Patuxent Environmental & Aquatic Research Laboratory (Director: Scott Knoche)

Scott Knoche Ph.D., Senior Research Economist

Ming Liu Ph.D., Research Associate

Thomas Ihde Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor

Program Description

Bioenvironmental Science is the systematic study of the interactions between biological systems and the environment using innovative applied research tools and fundamental research. Morgan State University’s Ph.D. program in Bioenvironmental Science is the only such program in Maryland’s higher education system. The program integrates strong academic training and fundamentals through applied research with interdisciplinary faculty members from various disciplines of the University into a cohesive program of study that focuses on an array of environmental issues affecting biological systems.

Program Objectives

  1. To provide graduate students with essential academic knowledge, research, and practical skills needed for successful careers in Bioenvironmental Science related jobs in government agencies, academia, and industries.

  2. To train students on the interaction between various components/systems of the environment and how to protect the health of humans in the changing environment.

  3. To provide interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research training that addresses the understanding of the underlying mechanism by which physical, chemical, and biological agents cause alterations in ecosystem integrity and cause morbidity and mortality in humans, animals, and other organisms, especially those of commercial value.

  4. To develop cost-effective methodologies whereby the impact of various environmental pollutants and toxic substances may be detected, prevented, and/or controlled.

  5. Establish partnerships with other research universities, government agencies, museums, international organizations, and the private sector that will provide training and internships to facilitate applied research activity and future career opportunities for students.

  6. To reach out to the community and provide awareness regarding the impact of physical, chemical, and biological agents generated by natural or anthropogenic events on human health.

General Requirements

Advanced Track: Candidates for the PhD in Bioenvironmental Sciences degree who already possess a master’s degree in a related field must complete a minimum of Thirty-Six (36) academic credit hours, pass comprehensive exams, and submit an acceptably written dissertation. 

Standard Track: Candidates for the PhD in Bioenvironmental Sciences degree who possess a baccalaureate degree in a related field must complete a minimum of Sixty (60) academic credit hours, pass comprehensive exams, and submit an acceptably written dissertation. 

C or lower grades are not accepted for satisfying the requirements of the core courses. In order to be considered in good academic standing, students must maintain an overall GPA of 3.0 and not obtain C or lower grades in more than twenty (20) percent of the total credit requirement for the degree. Students may retake courses in which they obtained C or lower grades to satisfy program requirements.


To be eligible for admission, an applicant must:

  • Have earned a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university, a strong background in basic sciences including biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics. Course work in statistics and competence with computers are particularly important for prospective students.

  • Possess an undergraduate cumulative grade point average (G.P.A.) of 3.0 or better to be considered for regular admission. Under some special situations, the GRE requirement could be waived. Please contact program director for details. Students who possess a cumulative undergraduate G.P.A. of between a 2.5 and < 3.0 may be considered for conditional admission.

  • Submit an application for admission to the School of Graduate Studies. All required documents must be submitted as directed by the School of Graduate Studies prior to program review and admission decision.

  • Use the application system to ask three recommenders to submit their letters of recommendation directly to the application system. These letters must be from officials or faculty members of institutions previously attended who are acquainted with the applicant’s ability for graduate study or from employment supervisors where applicable.

  • Submit an essay regarding the candidate’s personal, academic, and professional plans and the reasons for selecting Morgan State University.


Meeting the minimum eligibility requirements and submitting all the required documents do not guarantee that an offer of admission will be made to the applicant. The decision of the Program Admissions Committee involves a review and analysis of all the elements of the application as well as the availability of positions in the program. The committee recommends to the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and an admission will be made based on the recommendation.


Admission to candidacy reflects agreement among the student, Graduate Committee, and the School of Graduate Studies that the student has demonstrated the ability to do acceptable work and that satisfactory progress has been made toward the degree. This action usually means that all prerequisites to admission have been completed and a program of study has been approved. A student may be admitted to candidacy for the doctoral degree after: (1) formation of the Graduate Advisory Committee, (2) passing the comprehensive examination, (3) maintaining at least a “B” average in all graduate coursework, and (4) obtaining the Graduate Advisory Committee’s approval of the dissertation proposal and courses.

Once a student achieves candidacy, enrollment in any course other than BIOL/CHEM 997 is generally prohibited. Students seeking additional skills, knowledge, or a certificate must seek approval by the Faculty Advisor and Program Director. The request must be accompanied with a revised Plan of Study.

Graduate Comprehensive Exams

The graduate comprehensive exams will take place in the first week at the beginning of the second academic year. The written examination consists of two tests from the core course: Biochemistry, Environmental Chemistry, Fundamentals of Bioenvironmental Sciences (required), Environmental Biotechnology, and one test in the area specialization (biology, chemistry, physics, or computational biology etc.). Examination results may be used by the student’s advisory committee to guide the student’s selection of additional courses to complete the program. Comprehensive exams should be completed between 12 and 24 months after entrance into the program.

Teaching Requirement

At least two semesters of teaching assistantships must be completed for all students. As part of the commitment of the department to give complete education to the graduate students, it has been recommended that all graduate students in the program teach a minimum of 2 semesters. This requirement should be met early in the students’ education, preferably before completion of the third semester of the program, to give them sufficient time for their research project in the latter semesters.

Seminar Requirement

As a program requirement, all students must complete 3 semesters* of seminar (BIOL 625) in the biological and environmental science fields. It enables students to review the research literature, attend interdisciplinary seminar series, and provide discussions/presentations on the topics. Following the first year of seminar, students are expected to attend the journal club for current literature review and presentations.

*NOTE: All students are required to complete at least 2 semesters of seminar (BIOL 625).  If the student does not wish to take a third seminar course, they must take a 3-credit elective instead.


A Dissertation Committee must be formed and approved by the Graduate School Dean at least one semester before the defense. The Committee should consist of five members: 1) Committee Chair: Advisor who may also serve as the Committee chair, 2) An external member who is an expert in the area of the student’s research and who must gain approval as adjunct graduate faculty status prior to joining the committee, 3) three other faculty members of the Bioenvironmental Science PhD Program.

A dissertation is expected to be in a topic related to the candidate’s area of specialty with high quality, original and publishable research results. A general guideline is that a typical dissertation is equivalent to at least two publications in peer-reviewed journals. A written dissertation must be prepared and approved by the Dissertation Committee, the Program Director, and the school Dean before a public defense can be scheduled. After revisions are made subsequent to the defense and approval by the student’s Dissertation Committee, the final dissertation draft should be submitted to the Program Director, who upon approval will submit to the Dean of the School for review and approval. The School Dean will forward the final copy of the dissertation to the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies.

Additional Requirements

The limitation for completing the degree is seven (7) years on the full-time status. Comprehensive exams should be completed between 12 and 24 months following initial enrollment in the Ph.D. program. Doctoral research proposal should be prepared and defended successfully within the second year of study.

The student must register continuously for courses, 600 level or above, (minimum of 3 hours) from the time the doctoral research proposal is approved, admission to candidacy is accepted, registration for 600 level courses is begun, whichever comes first, including Summer semester and the semester in which the dissertation is approved and accepted by the School of Graduate Studies. A minimum total of 57 credit hours is required before the dissertation is accepted.

Program Course Requirements

PhD Bioenvironmental Sciences (36/60 credit hours): 

Candidates for the Ph.D. Program in Bioenvironmental Science must complete a minimum of 36 hours of graduate coursework beyond the master’s degree in a closely related field (Advanced Track) or a minimum of 60 hours of graduate course work beyond the Baccalaureate degree in a closely related field (Standard Track). Candidates also need to pass comprehensive exams, and submit an acceptably written, professional dissertation along with a successful public oral defense of the dissertation.

A minimum of 18 semester hours of coursework must be completed in residence at Morgan State University, exclusive of dissertation guidance hours. All core courses must be passed with a grade of B or higher. In addition, a minimum of 9 hours per semester of 800 or 900 level courses (Doctoral Research and Dissertation) are required during the last two years of the student’s tenure.


Core Courses: (9 Credit Hours Advanced Track / 15 Credit Hours Standard Track)

BIOL 639: Fundamentals of Bioenvironmental Sciences 3

BIOL 624: Environmental Biotechnology 3

BIOL 631: Bioethics & Communications 3

CHEM 600: Advances in Biochemistry 3

CHEM 601: Environmental Chemistry 3


Seminars: (3 Credit Hours Advanced Track / 3 Credit Hours Standard Track)

BIOL 625: Seminar in Modern Biology & Environmental Science 3 (3 @ 1 credit each)*


*NOTE: All students are required to complete at least 2 semesters of seminar (BIOL 625).  If the student does not wish to take a third seminar course, they must take an additional 3-credit elective instead.


Elective Courses: (3 Credit Hours Advanced Track / 21 Credit Hours Standard track)

Electives in Environmental Biology

BIOL 522: Modern Research Techniques 3

BIOL 533: Environmental Toxicology 3

BIOL 602: Environmental Immunotoxicology 3

BIOL 626: Environmental Physiology of Plants 3

BIOL 628: Environmental Carcinogenesis 3

BIOL 629: Developmental Neurotoxicology 3

CHEM 602: Pollutants in the Environment 3


Electives in Environmental Chemistry

CHEM 533: Statistical Methods in Analytical Chemistry 3

CHEM 551: Advanced Organic Chemistry 3

CHEM 581: Techniques in Chemistry 3

CHEM 602: Pollutants in the Environment 3

CHEM 603: Physical Chemistry of Environmental Sciences 3


Electives in Environmental Ecology

BIOL 521: Bioecology 3

BIOL 531: Environmental Science 3

BIOL 603: Marine and Aquatic Biology 4

BIOL 604: Ecosystem Analysis 4

BIOL 626: Environmental Physiology of Plants 3

CHEM 602: Pollutants in the Environment 3


Electives in Environmental Health Science

BIOL 520: Biological Chemistry 3

BIOL 522: Modern Research Techniques 3

BIOL 524: Advance Molecular Genetics 3

BIOL 527: Microbiology of Emerging Pathogens 3

BIOL 528: Immunobiology 3

BIOL 536: Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience 3

BIOL 620: Environmental Genetics 3

BIOL 628: Environmental Carcinogenesis 3

BIOL 629: Developmental Neurotoxicology 3


Electives in Environmental Biophysics

PHYS 500: Mathematical Physics 3

EASC 521: Earth Science 3

PHYS 523: Nuclear Physics 3

PHYS 525: Computational Physics 3

PHYS 526: Biophysics 3

PHYS 528: Quantum Mechanics 3

PHYS 535: Survey of Current Materials Physics 3

CHEM 605: Atmospheric Chemistry 3


Electives in Bioinformatics & Computational Biology

BIOI 513: Bioinformatics III 3

BIOI 521: Bioinformatics Tools and Databases 3

BIOI 531: BioProgramming 3

COSC 541: Scientific Visualization 3

MATH 631: Computational Mathematics 3

MATH 631: Biostatistics 3


Doctoral Research: (18 Credit Hours Advanced Track / 18 Credit Hours Standard Track)

BIOL 800: Supv. Doctoral Research 3

BIOL 801: Supv. Doctoral Research 3

BIOL 802: Supv. Doctoral Research 3

BIOL 803: Supv.  Doctoral Research 3

BIOL 804: Supv.  Doctoral Research 3

BIOL 995: Dissertation Research 6 

BIOL 996: Dissertation Research 6 


Dissertation: (3 Credit Hours Advanced Track / 3 Credit Hours Standard Track)

BIOL 997/998: Dissertation Guidance / Dissertation Defense 3/9* 


* Note: 

Upon achieving Doctoral Candidacy, the student will continuously register in Fall and Spring terms for BIOL 997 (Dissertation Guidance) until the Dissertation is completed and submitted to the School of Graduate Studies for review.  The course is used only when the curriculum has been completed, candidacy has been achieved, and the student is completing the research and writing of the Dissertation. The BIOL 997 course registration maintains the student status as a matriculated, full-time student (student is registered for 3 credit hours and the system reports a full-time 9 credit hour load).  

After the Intent to Defend the Dissertation form has been received by the School of Graduate Studies, this course registration will be changed to BIOL 998 (Dissertation Defense) for the given semester and count for 3 credit hours of curricular coursework (BIOL 998 will also count as 9 credits of load).  BIOL 997 will not count toward curricular credits. Other courses cannot be substituted for BIOL 997 (Dissertation Guidance). The only eligible grade for BIOL 997 (Dissertation Guidance) is the grade of “S” and the only acceptable grade for BIOL 998 (Dissertation Defense) is “P/F” (Pass/Fail).