The Department of Biological Sciences at Murray State University offers a four-year program leading to the Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree in the area of fisheries or aquatic biology. This program is designed to provide students with solid foundations in biology, chemistry and applied mathematics, and advanced courses in fisheries biology or aquatic biology. Development of problem solving and communication skills, and an understanding of resource management are major objectives of the program. Students who successfully complete either option are well prepared to compete for state and federal jobs or for admission to graduate programs. Students graduating in the fisheries option meet certification requirements of the American Fisheries Society.
Field Investigations are a major component of courses in fisheries and aquatic biology, and are conducted through use of the region's diverse aquatic habitats and the outstanding facilities available at the Hancock Biological Station on Kentucky Lake. Students have opportunities for individualized instruction, participation in research projects and for on-the-job experience through a variety of grant and contract research projects. Many of these projects have led to publications and to presentations at regional and national scientific meetings.
Murray State University is located in a region of diverse aquatic ecosystems which are used extensively in the fisheries and aquatic biology program. These aquatic systems contain more than 150 fish species and a diversity of other aquatic fauna and flora. The region is bounded by the Mississippi, Cumberland, Tennessee, and Ohio Rivers, and Kentucky and Barkley Lakes are two of the largest reservoirs in the southeastern United States. These two reservoirs are separated by public land known as Land Between the Lakes (LBL) which has been designated by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve. Classes also visit cypress dominated aquatic ecosystems in nearby Reelfoot Lake and Murphy's Pond, and study streams in the Great Smoky Mountains.
The Hancock Biological Station began operation in 1971 as a field extension of Murray State University. The Station is located on 75 acres of woodlands on the western shore of Kentucky Lake approximately 17 miles from the main campus. The close proximity of the Station to Kentucky and Barkley Lakes and the Land Between the Lakes makes it an ideal location for ecologically oriented teaching and research programs. Open year-round, the Station has a boathouse, covered floating dock, and cabins for visiting scientists and students. The Station also operates a fleet of boats and is well-equipped with instrumentation and equipment necessary for field and laboratory studies. A summer program of courses is offered each year at the Station. Classes are kept small to provide the maximum opportunity for individual work and interactions with faculty. Classes meet all day, twice per week, and many students take two courses or one course plus research or independent study. Students enrolled in these classes may elect to stay in one of the cabins at the Station and thus have a total summer field station experience. The Station is also used by visiting classes and faculty, several of which provide seminars. Thus, students enrolled in Station courses have opportunities to interact with people from other institutions.
In 1987, the Kentucky Council on Higher Education established a Center for Reservoir Research at Murray State University. The Center is charged with conducting research on aquatic ecosystems and the education of aquatic scientists. The Center consists of research and teaching facilities at the Hancock Biological Station, Mid-America Remote sensing Center and Chemical Services Laboratory and relies on the expertise of associated faculty in the Departments of Biological Sciences, Geosciences and Chemistry. An aquatic science curriculum can be designed for students interested in course work in each component of the Center.
University Studies - 50 hrs: Required Biology Courses - 48 hrs including Freshman Orientation, The Cellular Basis of Life, Biological Inquiry and Analysis, General Zoology, General Botany, Principals of Ecology, Genetics, Limnology and 19 hours to be chosen from aquatic oriented courses. Co-Requirements - 7-9 hrs (Chemistry). Required Minor - 21 hrs (Chemistry Co-Requirements and Chemistry University Studies courses, CHE 201 and CHE 202, apply to a Chemistry minor). Electives - 2-20 hrs. Total curriculum Requirements - 128 hrs.