Learning Opportunities

Our Unique, Natural Region

Kelso Wildlife Sanctuary

(maintained by the Department of Biology) As one of the few universities that offers a program specifically for wildlifers, you're going to love it here. Kelso Wildlife Sanctuary is a typical Ozark borders oak-hickory forest that is used in classes and in independent student research projects. It's located just minutes away from campus with easy access, but you'll feel miles away from civilization as you stroll through its woods.

Miller Research

(owned and maintained by the Department of Biology) The Miller Reserve is a 27.22-acre plot located on Highway N south of Scott City, Missouri. The site was received by the Southeast Missouri University Foundation as a charitable gift from the family of the late Georgia Lee Miller Lawrence. In addition to the reserve, Mrs. Lawrence's sons, Dr. Addison Lee Lawrence and Dr. John Lawrence have established the Georgia Lee Lawrence Fund. This fund helps to provide scholarships to graduate students in Southeast's Department of Biology to conduct ongoing thesis research on the site. Students from Southeast will have opportunities to conduct approved graduate and/or undergraduate projects on the reserve in the years to come. There has been an ongoing cooperative effort from Natural Resources Conservation Service, Missouri Department of Conservation and Southeast faculty and staff to restore the site into a functioning wetland. The goal is to restore and manage the reserve as a bottomland hardwood forest containing ephemeral pools and open wetland areas. A parking lot and a shed have recently been added, so ongoing management can take place on site. 

Natural Laboratory Space

Our close proximity to the interior highlands (Ozark and Ouachita Mountains), swamps of the Mississippi Flood Plain, and the Shawnee National Forest offer additional natural laboratory space. Southeast Missouri State University is located at the head of the Mississippi River Delta. Just one mile from the Mississippi River, the University offers a unique setting for aquatic studies. Upland, our students work with conservation personnel to study and maintain Missouri natural resources. Downstream, our faculty and students collaborate with the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory for study and research on marine environments. The Shawnee National Forest, the most northern Bald Cypress swamp, lies just across the Mississippi. Whether you are interested in aquatic wildlife (plants, inverterbrates, or animals), marine animal behavior, or limestone cave life left by ancient water systems, Southeast is the place to study!

Travis Brooks Herbarium

Our herbarium houses approximately 15,000 plant specimens. The facility includes a drying cabinet and a mounting area. The herbarium continues to expand as faculty and students document area plant life.


(maintained by students through an experiential learning course) The Department of Biology has two greenhouses located adjacent to Rhodes and Magill Halls. The greenhouses contain conditioned rooms for xerophytes, aquatic plants, and plants that require high humidity. In addition, there is space for faculty and students to conduct research and independent classroom study.

Center for Environmental Analysis

The Center for Environmental Analysis is actively involved in several public health and environmental health research areas. Project areas include the assessment of surface water quality impacts resulting from agricultural run-off, indoor air quality and pediatric health, dermal absorption of organophosphate insecticides, groundwater assessment, atmospheric deposition of metals on soils and vegetation, wildlife impacts resulting from environmental pollution, geophysical testing and GIS/remote sensing. The Center combines the efforts of three analytical laboratories and a geoprocessing laboratory in these research efforts and utilizes state of the art analytical instrumentation and geographical information system technologies and software. Come to Southeast and develop the scientific skills needed in today's job market.

Collaboration with the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, Ocean Spring, Mississippi

Down the Mississippi, down to the delta, it's a natural extension of study at Southeast. Missouri's waters may be fresh, but Southeast doesn't stop there. Our collaboration with the GCRL provides a way to study and research salt water organisms, both in the water and in the terrestrial coast communities.

Member of the Reis Biological Station Consortium

(owned and maintained by Saint Louis University) Located in the Ozarks, the Reis Biological Station is home to 225 acres of upland oak-hickory forest. The station also harbors short leaf pine, calcareous ferns, and a diverse group of wildlife. The unique setting emerges from the Emmince-Potosi Limestone formation, which outcrops there and forms the foundation for glades, caves, springs, ponds, rivers, and reservoirs. Reis Biological Station is the destination for field trips, mini-courses, and students engaging in research.

Microscopy Room

Imaging at Southeast is digital. In research experiences, you'll be able to capture micrographs on the computer or view and analyze gels with our Kodak Imager. Analyze western blots with our LI-COK C-Digit Chemiluminescent Blot Scanner that is specifically designed for acquisition and analysis of chemiluminescent western blots. Light and fluorescent microscopy needs can be met with our Nikon Eclipse NiE upright microscope with epifluorescence digital camera and software. If electron microscopy is your interest, several labs collaborate with Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, just an hour drive from Southeast. You also can capture those images you need of the classroom, animal behavior, or plant specimens with numerous digital cameras in the department. Southeast faculty and students actively employ a variety of molecular techniques in research. Our curriculum is designed to foster critical thinking about microbiology, molecular biology, and genetics, along with a familiarity with the primary scientific literature in these fields. In classes and independent research you can learn skills in microbiology, immunobiology, gene cloning, sequencing and characterization, bioinformatics analysis, protein biochemistry, organismal physiology, and this list goes on. Graduates from this program can go on to post-graduate study or directly to employment in laboratory research careers. If you are looking for an academic home that will nurture you toward your goals and allow you to develop the skills you need to succeed, it's Southeast.


Academic Distinction in the department of the major is earned by completing a scholarly paper or special project under the supervision of a committee of at least three degreed faculty and/or staff members. The project may not be used to earn any other form of honor, and the steps detailed below must be followed, including deadlines. Failure to meet criteria and/or deadlines will disqualify the student from earning this honor.


The student making the application shall at the time of application have a minimum of 75 semester hours of credit, a 3.25 grade point average in the department of the major, and a 3.0 overall grade point average, as verified by the Office of the Registrar.


  1. The student must first read the information in this handbook about Academic Distinction in the department of the major. When the student has a tentative topic, he or she will identify a member of the faculty in the major to serve as the proposed chair of the project.
  2. The student completes the form “Application for Academic Distinction in the Department of the Major” available in the Registrar’s Office.
  3. The Registrar’s Office determines whether the student meets minimum qualifications:
    1. Completion of a minimum of 75 degree hours
    2. Minimum grade point average of 3.25 in the major
    3. Minimum overall grade point average of 3.0
    4. The student must apply and complete steps 1-8 prior to the first day of classes in the student’s graduation or commencement semester, whichever is first. After evaluation of the student’s eligibility, the Registrar’s Office will forward a completed copy of the form to the proposed committee chair.
  4. If the student meets the minimum qualifications, he or she, in consultation with proposed committee chair, will describe the proposed scope and nature of the project or paper, with a tentative thesis statement and the plan for completion. The proposal will be forwarded to the chair of the department of the student’s major.
  5. Upon the chair’s approval, the student, committee chair, and department chair will develop a proposed committee member list numbering not less than two faculty or staff members, in addition to the committee chair.
    1. If the project proposed is of an interdisciplinary nature, the committee shall include representative(s) from all disciplines.
    2. At least one member of the committee must not serve in the department of the major.
    3. Members who fulfill the requirements of Item A may also fulfill the requirements of Item B. For example: If the study involves effects of primitive cultures on pre-school age children, and the student’s major is child development, a member of the anthropology faculty could serve both as a representative of one of the disciplines and also as a member not in the department of the major.
    4. The chair of the student’s department of major shall serve as an ex-officio member of the committee and shall not be considered one of the three required committee members.
  6. Using the “Proposed Committee” form available in the Registrar’s Office, the proposed project and committee composition will be forwarded to the dean of the college housing the student’s major. The dean may:
    1. Approve the committee and project
    2. Disapprove the committee or the project or both
    3. Return the proposal for clarification. The dean’s office shall notify the student, department chair, committee chair, and Office of the Registrar of his or her decision, using copies of the “Proposed Committee” form. The Registrar’s Office shall review the composition of the committee to verify all criteria are met and notify the committee chair of the outcome.
  7. Upon approval of the project and committee, the committee chair convenes a meeting of the committee. The chair of the department, as an ex-officio member, shall be invited, but not required, to attend.
  8. The committee may choose any one of three actions:
    1. Approve the project as described
    2. Suggest amendments to the project
    3.  Disqualify the project entirely. If the committee disqualifies the project, the rationale must be stated and reported to the dean of the college and the Registrar’s Office. Normal reasons for disqualification would include plagiarism or a project that does not require scholarly activity above and beyond normal classroom requirements. If the committee accepts the project, notification is provided to the department chair, dean of the college and the Registrar’s Office using the “Committee Action Report” form available in the Registrar’s Office.
  9. The student will complete the project, distribute copies of written material associated with the project for review to all committee members, and meet again with the committee to provide an oral defense of the project. The department chair is invited, but not required, to attend the oral defense. Deadlines for completion and distribution of the finished project are: one calendar year after the committee’s initial meeting, or, if the student is graduating, as listed below:
    • Graduation/Commencement-Deadline
    • Spring-End, 8th week of the spring semester
    • Summer & participating in Spring Commencement-End, 8th week of the spring semester
    • Summer & not participating in Spring Commencement-Eight weeks before end of summer semester
    • Fall-End, 8th week of the fall semester
  10. Upon completion of oral defense, the committee may choose one of three actions:
    1. Accept project
    2. Reject project
    3. Return project to the student for revisions, which must be completed within two weeks. The committee shall inform the department chair and dean of its actions, using the “Acceptance Page for Completion of Academic Distinction” available in the Registrar’s Office.
  11. The department chair and dean will review the project and either reject it or accept it as completed. If accepted, the department chair and dean complete their portion of the “Acceptance Page for Completion of Academic Distinction” and forward copies of the form to the student, committee chair, and Registrar’s Office no later than six (6) weeks prior to commencement or end of the student’s last term of study, whichever is earlier.
  12. Upon acceptance of the project at all levels, the student shall provide final copies of the project, including the acceptance page noted above, to each member of the committee and the department chair, in either printed or electronic form. The student shall also present to the collections librarian in Kent Library a copy of the project in electronic form. The deadline to accomplish this is six weeks prior to commencement or end of the student’s last term of study, whichever is earlier.

Ronald E. McNair, Ph.D. Scholarship Program

Ronald Erwin McNair was born October 21, 1950 in Lake City, South Carolina. While in junior high school, Dr. McNair was inspired to work hard and persevere in his studies by his family and by a teacher who recognized his scientific potential and believed in him. Dr. McNair graduated as valedictorian from Carver High School in 1967. In 1971, he graduated magna cum laude and received a Bachelor of Science in physics from North Carolina A&T State University (Greensboro). Dr. McNair then enrolled in the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1976, at the age of 26, he earned his Ph.D. in laser physics. His dissertation was titled, "Energy Absorption and Vibrational Heating in Molecules Following Intense Laser Excitation." Dr. McNair was presented an honorary doctorate of Laws from North Carolina A&T State University in 1978, an honorary doctorate of Science from Morris College in 1980, and an honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of South Carolina in 1984.

While working as a staff physicist with Hughes Research Laboratory, Dr. McNair soon became a recognized expert in laser physics. His many distinctions include being a Presidential Scholar (1971-1974), a Ford Foundation Fellow (1971-1974), a National Fellowship Fund Fellow (1974-1975), and a NATO Fellow (1975). He was also a sixth degree black belt in karate and an accomplished saxophonist. Because of his many accomplishments, he was selected by NASA for the space shuttle program in 1978. His first space shuttle mission launched successfully from Kennedy Space Center on February 3, 1984. Dr. Ronald E. McNair was the second African American to fly in space. Two years later he was selected to serve as mission specialist aboard the ill-fated U.S Challenger space shuttle. He was killed instantly when the Challenger exploded one minute, thirteen seconds after it was launched. Dr. McNair was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. After his death in the Challenger Space Shuttle accident on January 28, 1986, members of Congress provided funding for the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program. Their goal was to encourage low-income and first generation college students, and students from historically underrepresented ethnic groups to expand their educational opportunities by enrolling in a Ph.D. program and ultimately pursue an academic career. This program is dedicated to the high standards of achievement inspired by Dr. McNair's life.

Jane Stephens Honors Program

The Jane Stephens Honors Program helps you stand out from your peers. By offering educational opportunities tailored to the special needs, aspirations, and motivations of students whose intellectual and creative abilities are outstanding, the Jane Stephens Honors Program underscores Southeast Missouri State University's commitment to quality and excellence in matters of knowledge, creativit,y and leadership. The goals of the Jane Stephens Honors Program reflect this basic commitment. These goals are:

  • To address the special needs of outstanding students by providing a center of identity for formulating personal goals, developing self-esteem, and increasing the desire for self-directed learning.
  • To contribute to the general advancement of learning by encouraging the active pursuit of academic goals, as exemplified by research, scholarly activity, and creative endeavor.
  • To encourage an intellectual orientation by providing a model of academic endeavor which emphasizes analytical thought, insight into the methodologies of different disciplines and cross-disciplinary synthesis.

Benefits of the program:

  • Early registration for sophmore and juniors
  • Interactive and engaging classes
  • Challenging yet personable faculty
  • Honors housing in LaFerla Hall
  • Volunteer and leadership opportunities
  • Social events
  • Fun, exciting, and educational field trips
Contact Us
Rhodes Hall 224
Mailing Address
One University Plaza, MS 6200
Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63701