Summer Courses for 2020

"The best courses I've ever taken at Pitt!" 

- PLE student evaluation

In 2020, we have an amazing collection of top-quality field courses that are sure to pique your interest. Courses span 3 weeks and they run in sessions from mid-May through the end of July.  Click on the PDF thumbnails below to check out the syllabi for the courses.


Session 1 : 11 May - 29 May 2020

Image result for tree ecology pa

Ecology & Lab

(Biosc 0370/0390)

Dr. Matthew Venesky
Allegheny College
4 Credits

What better way to learn ecology than to be outdoors seeing it for yourself! Lectures and laboratory exercises emphasize environmental factors, populations, communities, ecosystems, and biodiversity. Outdoor experiments and field trips are a great way to help understand the lecture material. Pitt students should enroll in both the lecture (BioSc 0370) and the Lab (Biosc 0390).


Conservation Biology

(Biosc 1610)

Dr. Steve Latta
National Aviary
3 Credits

To protect and conserve the diversity of plants and animals in nature we need to understand how to integrate ecology, management, and public policy. Dr. Latta uses activities such as bird banding, camera-trapping, mark-recapture experiments, and multi-taxa censuses, as well as field trips, to offer hands-on demonstrations of conservation principles.

Image result for pa wetland bird

Wetland Ecology

(Biosc 1310)

Dr. Bob Booth
Lehigh University
3 Credits

Discover the wonders of wetlands! This course will help you discover them and gain understanding of the physical, chemical, and biological processes that occur in wetlands and how these processes relate to the wetland management. Visit many different types of wetlands in northwestern PA!

Behavioral Ecology

(Biosc 1140)

Dr. Kurt Regester
Clarion Univ.
3 Credits
Why do animals do what they do? This course covers the principles of animal behavior with an emphasis on observing animals in nature. Through lectures, reading, experiments, and field observations, you'll learn about how animals make decisions related to feeding, mating, territoriality, predator defense, habitat selection, and parental care.

Session 2 : 1 June - 19 June 2020

Ecology of Amphibians and Reptiles

(Biosc 1180)

Dr. Peter Lindeman
Edinboro Univ.
3 Credits

What is the difference between a salamander and a lizard?  You will learn this and much more on just the first day of class!  You will canoe in rivers and cruise in a pontoon boat on Pymatuning Lake in search of amphibians and reptiles while learning about their identification, ecology, and conservation.


Field Entomology

(Biosc 1340)

Dr. Randy Layne
Slippery Rock Univ.
3 Credits

This course examines the fascinating biology of insects! You will learn to sample natural communities and identify different body structures, ecological relationships, life cycle dynamics, physiology, and taxonomy. Also learn about physiological ecology and co-evolved interactions with plants.

Image result for pa wildflowers

Field Botany

(Biosc 1330)

Dr. David Krayesky
Slippery Rock Univ.
3 Credits

June is an excellent month to view wildflowers and all of the other spring and summer plants. This course teaches you how to identify wildflowers, shrubs, and trees as well as how to collect and prepare specimens. Day trips to beautiful locations are on the schedule!

Session 3 : 22 June - 10 July 2020

Ecology & Lab

(Biosc 0370/0390)


Dr. Rickey Cothran
Southwestern Oklahoma State Univ.
4 Credits
Through the use of field and laboratory exercises, Dr. Cothran brings the main concepts of ecology to life!  You will be exposed to the study of ecology from organisms to ecosystems, highlighting some ecological problems that we face as a society all while developing your ability to think scientifically about problems, interpret scientific data, and communicate science to others.  Pitt students should enroll in both the lecture (BioSc 0370) and the Lab (Biosc 0390).

Disease Ecology

(Biosc 1400)



Dr. Shane Hanlon
American Geophysical Union
3 Credits

This course is designed to introduce you to some of the major plant and animal diseases, including diseases that can be transmitted to humans. Through a combination of lectures and fun field trips, you will build on your knowledge of ecology and apply it to the fascinating world of diseases.  (Please note that this course has a pre-requisite of Ecology)


Ecology of Fish

(Biosc 1270)

Dr. Andy Turner
Clarion Univ.
3 Credits

The Pymatuning area’s lakes, ponds and streams are perfect for studying fish! Learn about population and community ecology of freshwater fishes, including identification, age and growth, life history differences, trophic interactions, and the biogeography of fish. Daily trips to various aquatic habitats will provide valuable field experience.

Session 4 : 13 July - 31 July 2020

Field Techniques in Ecology and Conservation

(Biosc 1390)

Dr. David Janetski
Indiana Univ. of PA
3 Credits

The course is designed to give practical, hands-on experience in a variety of field techniques used in aquatic and terrestrial ecology and conservation. Topics include orienteering, vegetation sampling, GIS & GPS, animal population sampling, aquatic insect surveying, and the design of research studies.

Wildlife Management

(Biosc 1420)


3 Credits

The core concepts and techniques of wildlife management will come alive to you through
hands-on field trips around the Lake Pymatuning area and through stimulating discussions around the campfire.  Wildlife management is the natural product of where theory meets application.  Class experiences will focus on diverse taxa (birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and more) and incorporate all of Leopold’s 5 tools of management – “fire, ax, cow, gun, and plow.”


Undergraduate Research (Biosc 1903) PLE Faculty
1 - 6 Credits
This course entails the execution of independent research, developed and supervised by Pymatuning faculty. Prior consent of faculty advisor is required. The number of credits depends on the design and duration of the project.