Biological Sciences

This is an exciting time to study biology, with never-before-seen breakthroughs in molecular genetics, cellular biology, neurobiology, and a deeper understanding of the natural environment.

Biological sciences researchers at Southern Miss seek answers to questions to advance the body of scientific knowledge about the environment. How do plants accumulate toxic metals, and what environmental conditions promote metal uptake? What are some of the biochemical and physiological responses that take place in marine invertebrates and fishes when exposed to environmental stress? Does population growth on the Gulf Coast increase fecal coliform pollution along beaches, and can we trace specific sources of pollution? What do migratory birds eat during migration, and how does food availability influence their behavior?

This research encompasses three core areas:

  • Ecology & environmental biology
  • Marine biology
  • Molecular biology & microbiology

Faculty research programs, which range widely across the biological disciplines, enjoy support from a variety of funding sources including:

  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • National Science Foundation
  • Department of Defense
  • National Institutes of Health
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Center for Disease Control/Mississippi Department of Health
  • Department of Energy

Research topics include the study of patterns of fish biodiversity and related conservation implications, the spread of West Nile virus and eastern equine encephalitis virus, and the study of carbon deposits in marine sediments and implications for global warming.

Learning through research

Based at Southern Miss in Hattiesburg, the Mississippi Functional Genomics Network is a collaboration with other research institutions in Mississippi with the goal of enhancing biomedical research and training in the state. A central feature of the project is to foster collaboration between laboratories at undergraduate institutions (newly established in the early stages of the project) and experienced NIH investigators at the research institutions in Mississippi, particularly at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson and at Southern Miss.

Hands-on biology

Researchers and students alike take advantage of the Lake Thoreau Center, a 131-acre nature preserve tucked away in West Hattiesburg that provides a place for environmental education and research. Lake Thoreau is a university and community partnership which meets the need for scientific literacy, plus it provides children a slice of nature on the edge of their metropolitan world.

The Southern Miss Biological Sciences Learning Center is a seeing, feeling, interactive bio-learning experience touching the lives and imaginations of all who enter. From science labs to biology trails and science camps, the learning center is its own ecosystem for knowledge.