Department of Biology

Address: P.O. Box 23360, San Juan, Puerto Rico 00931-3360

Telephone: (787) 764-0000, ext. 2912, 2569

Fax: (787) 772-1471, 764-2610

Web address: http://biology.uprrp.edu/graduate_program


MS in Biology


James D. Ackerman, PhD, Florida State University, 1981, Professor.
Ecology and evolutionary biology, plant reproductive ecology, plant systematics, and biology of orchids

Ingi Agnarsson, PhD, George Washington University, 2004, Assistant Professor.
Systematics; biogeography; social evolution; arachnid taxonomy; phylogenetics of arachnids and mammals

Mitchell Aide, PhD, University of Utah, 1989, Professor.
Tropical plant ecology: biogeography, conservation, molecular evolution, plant/herbivore interactions, plant phenology, population genetics, and restoration ecology

Paul Bayman, PhD, University of California at Berkeley, 1987, Professor.
Mycology, plant-fungal interactions, mycotoxins, biodegradation

Graciela Candelas, PhD, University of Miami, 1966, Professor.
Differential expression of tissue-specific and developmentally expressed polymerase III genes during the synthesis of fibroin by spider silk glands

Elvira Cuevas Viera, PhD, Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas, 1983, Professor.
Ecosystem ecology, nutrient cycling

María Gloria Domínguez Bello, PhD, University of Aberdeen, 1990, Assistant Professor.
Microbiology of the gut and rumen, Helicobacter

José E. García Arrarás, PhD, Harvard University, 1981, Professor.
Organogenesis, developmental biology, sympathetic nervous system, nervous system development and degeneration

Tugrul Giray, PhD, University of Illinois, 1997, Assistant Professor.
Social behavior of the honey bee, Apis mellifera; physiology; neuroendocrinology; genetics of behavior

Carlos I. González, PhD, Rutgers State University, 1996, Assistant Professor.
Molecular biology; control of gene expression

Tomas Hrbek, PhD, Washington University, 1999, Assistant Professor.
Population biology; evolution; phylogeography of fish and Amazonian vertebrates

Rafael L. Joglar, PhD, University of Kansas, 1986, Professor.
Systematics, ecology, and conservation of West Indian amphibians and reptiles; biology of the neotropical frogs of the genus eleutherodactylus; conservation biology

Jose A. Lasalde Dominicci, PhD, University of Puerto Rico, 1988, Associate Professor.
Acetylcholine receptor structure and function, lipid-protein interactions in biological membranes, neural acetylcholine receptor and nicotine addiction

Carmen S. Maldonado Vlaar, PhD, Northeastern University, 1994, Associate Professor.
Neurobiology of drug addiction; behavioral neuropharmacology; functional neuroanatomy

Steven E. Massey, PhD, University of Kent at Canterbury, 2004, Assistant Professor.
Bioinformatics; molecular evolution; genome evolution

Sandra Peña Ortiz, PhD, University of Cincinnati, 1994, Associate Professor.
Molecular biology of the memory

Jason Rauscher, PhD, Washington University, 2000, Assistant Professor.
Plant evolutionary genetics; molecular systematics of plants
; polyploidy and hybridization in plant evolution

Carla Restrepo, PhD, University of Florida, 1995, Assistant Professor.
Landscape ecology, macroecology, frugivory and seed dispersal; conservation biology

Eduardo Rosa Molinar, PhD, University of Nebraska Medical Center, 1977, Associate Professor.
Comparative and evolutionary neuroembryology, developmental neuroendocrinology, biological microscopy and imaging

Alberto M. Sabat, PhD, State University of New York, 1990, Professor.
Population dynamics in age/stage structure populations; reproductive strategies in plants and animals

Eugenio Santiago Valentín, PhD, University of Washington, 1999, Assistant Professor.
Evolution and conservation of island floras

Richard Thomas, PhD, Louisiana State University, 1976, Professor.
Systematics and ecology of neotropical vertebrates, with special emphasis on amphibians, reptiles, and bats

Gary A. Toranzos, PhD, University of Arizona, 1985, Professor.
Environmental microbiology: behavior of genetically engineered microorganisms, gene transfer in the environment, environmental pollution and biodegradation of xenobiotics

Irving Vega, PhD, Rutgers University-Graduate School of New Brunswick, 2002, Assistant Professor.
Neurodegeneration and Tau microtubular protein aggregation


Grisselle González, PhD,Colorado University, 1999.
Environmental, population, and organismal biology

Deborah Jean Lodge,PhD, North Carolina State University, 1985. Botanist (Mycologist), USDA-Forest Service; Northern Research Station.
Woodland fungi; systematics; biogeographic evolution; pathology; decomposition ecology

Ariel E. Lugo, PhD, University of North Carolina, 1969.
Management of tropical forests and wetlands.

Joseph Wunderle, Jr., PhD, University of Minnesota, 1980, Adjunct Professor of Biology; International Institute of Tropical Forestry.
Studies on tropical forest life; Ecological studies; Neotropical bird behavior and conservation


Nicholas Brokaw, PhD, University of Chicago, 1980.
Forest ecology

Olga Mayol Brocero, Post Doctoral, Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie (Mainz, Germany), 2001. PhD, University of Puerto Rico, 1998.
Atmospheric chemistry, aerosols, climate

Elvia Meléndez Ackerman, PhD, University of California, 1995.
Plant ecology, evolution of plant-animal interactions

Jorge R. Ortiz Zayas, PhD, University of Colorado, 1998.
Tropical limnology, water resources management

Alonso Ramírez, PhD, University of Georgia, 2001.
Ecology of riverine ecosystems
, systematics of aquatic insects

Raymond L. Tremblay, PhD, University of Puerto Rico, 1996.
Conservation biology, metapopulation biology, evolution of orchids

Mei Yu, PhD, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Assistant Professor.
Plant ecology

Jess K. Zimmerman, PhD, University of Utah, 1989.
Forest dynamics, restoration, effects of land use history, plant phenology and reproductive biology.

Xioaming Zou, PhD, Colorado State University, 1992.
Soil ecology, biogeochemistry


Admission Requirements

In addition to the requirements for admission to graduate studies at the Río Piedras Campus and in the College of Natural Sciences, the Department of Biology requires the following:

  1. At least one course in two of the following areas: genetics, developmental biology, cellular biology, molecular biology, or organismal ecology, evolution, and biology 
  2. The following one-year courses and their respective labs: General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, General Physics
  3. One Calculus course
  4. GRE (Graduate Record Examination) results

Graduation Requirements

In addition to completing all requirements for graduation from the Río Piedras Campus, the student must complete the following:

  1. 30 credits with a minimum overall grade point average of 3.00
  2. a minimum of one semester as a teaching assistant, for all students with no previous university teaching experience

Program of Study

Program Requirements


Required Courses


BIOL 6999 Special Topics in Modern Biology

BIOL 6001 & 6002 Biology Colloquium I & II

BIOL 6920 Comprehensive Examination




BIOI 6997 Master’s Thesis Research

BIOI 6998 Continuation of Thesis Research

Total Credits


* These are courses chosen under guidance.Students may transfer a maximum of eight of these credits from graduate courses taken prior to entering the program.

Description of Courses (PDF)


Office of the Dean for Graduate Studies and Research©2009-2011
University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras Campus

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