Organisms have evolved diverse mechanisms to cope with the myriad of environments on Earth, while being continually challenged by pollutants, climate change, and other human influences. The Ecotoxicology/Physiological Ecology Area of Emphasis (AOE) provides training to students interested in developing cross-disciplinary approaches to explore the mechanisms driving organismal performance in past, present, and future environments from the scale of nucleotides to communities.
The Ecotoxicology/Physiological Ecology (EPE) AOE broadly focuses on the study of organism-environment interactions, mechanistically linking integrative function at the individual level to its abiotic and biotic environment. A highly integrative AOE, students and faculty utilize cutting-edge techniques and diverse approaches from disciplines such as biomechanics, energetics, genomics, behavior, pharmacology, and geochemistry to investigate ecological questions in topic areas such population biology, conservation, environmental health, and evolution. While students may study a wide range of taxa (microbes to megafauna) in diverse types of ecosystems (e.g., tropical, polar, aquatic, montane, paleoclimates), this AOE especially serves students interested in applying experimental approaches and/or measuring sub- to whole organismal metrics to inform their research questions.
Students may concentrate primarily on ecotoxicology or physiological ecology, but all students will engage with the core concepts shared by both fields. Ecotoxicology focuses on understanding and solving ecological problems associated with contaminants and other co-occurring environmental perturbations and their effects on biological systems. Physiological ecology examines how life forms function mechanistically and physiologically in their environment, incorporating behavior, phenotypic plasticity, and adaptation to link performance attributes with population and community level theory.
Curriculum for Masters and Ph.D. Programs
All Ecotoxicology/Physiological Ecology (EPE) AOE students must fulfill the course requirements of the GGE. The intent of the EPE AOE curriculum is to provide students interested in the AOE guidance and additional structure in their coursework. The EPE AOE recognizes that individual students may have highly diverse interests and needs. Modifications in the requirements of a student's course program may be made subject to the approval of the EPE AOE Adviser and Chair.
AOE Required Courses
Students must complete a single graduate AOE core course in either Physiological Ecology (WFC 230 or ECL 203) OR Ecotoxicology (ETX 240). Additional courses related to the field of study, and that include graduate seminar courses and courses in quantitative methods, are decided by the student, faculty advisor and guidance committee.