May 25, 2022  
2018-2019 University Catalog 
2018-2019 University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Cell and Molecular Biology – Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

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The department offers a PhD degree option in cell and molecular biology. The degree requires completion of 20 didactic credits and at least 20 credits of research. The degree is a research-focused degree in which the student completes a body of novel and significant research that will result in a written dissertation that is defended before the program faculty. In addition, PhD students are expected to present the results of the research efforts in professional meetings and through publication. The objectives of the PhD program are to provide opportunities for each student to:

  • Develop skill and knowledge in the fields of cell biology, biotechnology, molecular biology, and related disciplines of bioinformatics, developmental biology, microbiology, or biophysics.
  • Initiate, conduct, and complete a research project that makes use of the knowledge and skills relevant to the program.
  • Demonstrate an improving set of oral and written presentation skills for communication of research results.
  • Develop competence and proficiency in acquisition and interpretation of the scientific literature relevant to the program disciplines.
  • Become skilled in the process of grantsmanship through courses and the faculty mentor opportunities and interaction.


Courses from other programs may be elected with permission of the program director; it is the responsibility of the student to fulfill course prerequisites. PhD students must complete at least 6 credits at the 800 level. Program electives include:

In addition to the program core outlined above, the PhD students will complete the following courses:

Students who contemplate submission of proposals for extramural funding or participation in such research are highly recommended to complete BS 786 - Research Ethics  Credits: 1.


Required at the discretion of the program director.

Faculty – Graduate Biological Sciences Programs

Shivendra Sahi 
BS (Gorakhpur University, India); PhD (North Carolina State University)
Professor of Biology
Chair, Biological Sciences  
Phone: 215.596.7417
Research: focuses on understanding uptake and transport mechanisms of excess phosphorus and heavy metals in plants and developing remediation strategies against thee pollutants  

Ara DerMarderosian
BS, MS (Massachusetts College of Pharmacy); PhD (University of Rhode Island)
Professor Emeritus of Pharmacognosy
Research Professor Emeritus of Medicinal Chemistry
Phone: 215.596.8915

Grace Farber
BS (Rider University); PhD (University of Pittsburgh) 
Assistant Professor of Biology
Director, General Education  
Co-director, Neuroscience Program 
Phone: 267.295.3157
Research: scholarship of teaching and learning 

Matthew J. Farber 
BS (Seton Hall University); PhD (University of Pittsburgh) 
Assistant Professor of Biology
Director, Brewing Science Program
Phone: 215.596.7452
Research: applications of microbiology and biotechnology in brewing science  

Jason Heindl
BA (Amherst College), PhD (Harvard University)
Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences
Research: Agrobacterium tumefaciens

Christopher Janetopoulos
BS (Augustana College); PhD (Texas A & M University)
Associate Professor of Biology
Phone: 215.895.3118
Research: The establishment and maintenance of  polarity during migration and  cell division. Techniques: Molecular biology, biochemistry, high-end fluorescence microscopy and advanced microfluidic techniques in single and multi-cellular organisms.

Margaret R. Kasschau
BA (University of Rochester); MS, PhD (University of South Carolina)
Professor Emeritus of Biology

Zachary Klase
BS (Rutgers University); PhD (George Washington University)
Assistant Professor of Biology
Phone: 215.596.8521
Research: human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) pathogenesis; control of viral transcription, interaction with the human immune system and the effect of RNA interference on viral replication.

Zhijun Li
BS, MS (Tsinghua University, China); PhD (Vanderbilt University)
Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Director, Graduate Program in Bioinformatics
Phone: 215.596.7539
Research: Research: focuses on generation and analysis of 3D structures and proteins using computational and bioinformatics tools. His group relies on a broad range of techniques to tackle complex biological problems in multiple dimensions.

Suzanne K. Murphy
BA (Rosemont College); PhD (Hahnemann University) 
Professor of Biology
Dean, Misher College of Arts and Sciences
Director, Pre-Health Professions Programs

Phone: 215.596.8921
Research: analysis of expression of the ras oncogene; perturbations in signal transduction pathways and expression of heat shock proteins

Kenneth Myers
BS (Philadelphia University); PhD (Drexel University)
Associate Professor of Biology
Co-Director, Cell Biology and Biotechnology Graduate Programs
Phone: 215.596.7531
Research: microtube dynamics of endothelial cells in branching and directed motility; interactions with the extracellular matrix; high-resolution light and fluorescence microscopy 

Dana Pape-Zambito
BA (University of Delaware); PhD (Pennsylvania State University)
Associate Professor of Biology
Phone: 267.295.3173
Research: breast cancer initiation and progression; mammary gland development and lactation; influence of endocrine disrupter hormones

Margaret Pearce
BS (Le Moyne College), PhD (SUNY Upstate Medical University)
Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences
Research: neuroscience

Bela Peethambaran
BTech (St. Xavier’s College, India); MS (Gujarat University, India); PhD (Mississippi State University)
Associate Professor of Biology
Co-Director, Cell Biology and Biotechnology Graduate Programs  
Phone: 215.596.8923
Research: plant metabolic engineering for antioxidant and bioactive compound production; manipulation of plant signaling pathways to enhance stress responses; anti-cancer activities of plant extracts 

C. Nicole Sunnen
BS (University of Guelph, Canada); PhD (Baylor College of Medicine)
Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences
Phone: 215.596.7420
Research: molecular mechanisms of neurodevelopment and disease; epilepsy; STEM education


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