Department of Organismal Biology & Anatomy
The Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy provides graduate training
in organismal biology. Organismal biology deals with the problems of how
organisms work; how their structure is related to their function; how
their structure develops through both evolutionary and developmental processes;
and how their structure is related to their environments. It calls upon
concepts and techniques from many disciplines of the biological sciences,
including cell and molecular biology and neurobiology, and from the physical
and engineering sciences.
Research and training in the department focus on five areas.
Biomechanics is concerned with the application of concepts and
methods from engineering and physics to biology. It involves analyses
of the mechanical forces involved in animal behaviors such as feeding
and locomotion and in fluid flow in blood vessels and in other organ systems.
Developmental biology is concerned with the processes underlying
the development of organisms. Work on developmental biology in the department
places particular emphasis on the interface between development and evolution.
Neuroethology is concerned with the evolution of the nervous system
and with the neuronal mechanisms underlying natural behaviors.
Paleobiology is concerned with the interrelationships between
organisms and with their evolutionary histories.
Physiology is concerned with the mechanisms of organismal function.
Work in the department on physiological problems focuses on the evolution
of physiological systems and on the relationship of the organism to its
Training in the department places an emphasis on familiarity with a broad
range of ideas and skills in organismal biology. Although students can
conduct research in any of the areas represented in the department, they
are encouraged to develop research programs that capitalize on the talents
of two or more faculty members with different perspectives. The department
also encourages students to interact with other units on campus (such
as the Department of Ecology and Evolution and the Committees on Developmental
Biology, Evolutionary Biology, Genetics, and Neurobiology) as well as
the Field Museum of Natural History, the Brookfield and Lincoln Park Zoos
and the Shedd Aquarium. Students earning doctorates through the department
will be qualified, following suitable postdoctoral training, for research
and teaching careers in biology departments, anatomy departments and museums.