Research Focus Clusters for Graduate Study
Maine has more lakes, miles of rivers, and acres of wetlands than all of the remaining New England states combined. These aquatic resources have provided ecosystem services to Maine residents since prehistory, and sustaining development in the State depends on a thorough understanding of their ecology. The University is uniquely positioned to provide research leadership and education in aquatic ecology.
Whether focused on birds, fish, or other organisms, SBE faculty are investigating a wide range of fascinating questions regarding the behavioral ecology of interacting species and the evolutionary origins of behavior.
Physiology and developmental biology lie at the core of advances in biomedical research. SBE faculty members conduct research in these areas, with a particular focus on functional analysis of the heart, kidney, and sensory organs, and molecular mechanisms underlying embryonic development of muscle and epithelial-mesenchymal interactions.
Integrative approaches to biology and evolution are so strong in the fields of development and genetics that the new terms Eco-Devo and Evo-Devo have been coined to accommodate them. SBE faculty in these fields use molecular and genetic tools to investigate problems related to the genetics of behavior, the genetics and molecular biology of differentiation, cardiac pacemaker physiology, and the genetics of environmental adaptation.
Organisms grow, reproduce , and respond to their environmental surroundings and stressors with a variety of physiological mechanisms and adaptations. SBE faculty are pursuing a number of intriguing research questions in the areas of ecophysiology and stress physiology.
Evolutionary theory is one of the foundations of modern biology, and all levels of biological study require a consideration of the patterns and processes of evolution. SBE faculty are investigating core evolutionary concepts as they apply to animals, plants, and fungi, including the origins of biodiversity, phylogenetic relationships of taxa from species groups to phyla, and the nature of evolutionary processes that continually shape species interactions with their environment.
Managing pests such as plant-infesting insects and fungi and controlling invasions of exotic species requires research tools from the molecular and physiological to the broadly ecological. The State of Maine has a natural-resource based economy that is heavily dependent on forestry, agriculture, and tourism, all of which are influenced by pest insects, fungi, and other pathogens. Faculty members in the School of Biology and Ecology with backgrounds in entomology, plant pathology and invasion ecology are addressing issues related to pest biology and management in the traditional land grant areas of forestry and agriculture and are also investigating introduced, invasive organisms that threaten the integrity of our ecosystems.