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Los Angeles: Departments


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Bacteriology
Biological Chemistry
Biomathematics
Biomedical Engineering
Biomedical Physics
Biostatistics
Botany and Plant Biochemistry

Bacteriology
General bacteriology was taught as early as 1921 in the Department of Biology on the Vermont Avenue campus, the enrollment being limited to home economics students. Three years later, bacteriology was offered only in summer sessions. This continued until 1933, when Theodore Day Beckwith, associate professor of bacteriology on the Berkeley campus, joined the Department of Biological Sciences at Los Angeles.

In 1935, the Life Sciences Group, composed of the Departments of Bacteriology, Botany, and Zoology, was formed and the association existed until 1947. The department's first chairman was Beckwith. Thee major in bacteriology and graduate courses in microbiology were announced in the 1935-36 catalogue. The first M.A. degree in microbiology was awarded in 1936 and the first Ph.D. degree in 1945.

The Department of Bacteriology administered courses in public health nursing as well as in public health from 1937-46. These courses led to the formation of the Schools of Nursing and Public Health.

By 1941, the department was suffering from a lack of space. Following World War II, the graduate student enrollment rose to a total of 40 students. Most graduates were forced to use student laboratories when not occupied by undergraduate classes; otherwise most work was accomplished in the evening and on weekends.

Greatly expanded facilities, especially for research activities, became available in 1955, when the department moved into the Life Sciences Building. As of 1964-65, majors numbered 206, graduate students, 22.

In 1945, there were three faculty members. Twenty years later, the department had 12 members, consisting of one emeritus professor, ten full-time professors, and one part-time member.

By the mid-1960s, the Master Plan for Higher Education in California, as well as interest in the molecular aspects of biology with the resulting utilization of bacteria and viruses, shifted the emphasis in the department for the undergraduate as well as the graduate student. A special supplementary program provided for those going into the clinical or public health laboratory fields terminated in June, 1966. Bacterial viruses and genetics, bacterial subcellular structure and function, and immunology began to receive attention equal to physiology and general microbiology, as well as with medical microbiology, later titled "host-parasite relations." During this period, faculty members began to share the teaching of undergraduate courses. source

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Biological Chemistry
The Department of Biological Chemistry was inaugurated as the Department
of Physiological Chemistry on July 1, 1948, with the appointment of Abraham White and Sidney Roberts as chairman and assistant professor, respectively. Both appointees had major research interests in regulation of metabolism. Among the early staff members were several research biochemists at the Veterans Administration, the Atomic Energy Project, and other nearby institutions who later became full-time members of the department. These included Robert M. Fink, David R. Howton, James F. Mead, Joseph F. Nyc, and Irving Zabin.

Toward the end of 1950, White resigned and Roberts was designated acting chairman. In August, 1951, Wendell H. Griffith was appointed professor and chairman. Coincidentally, the medical school accepted its first class of 28 students. The first-year course in medical biochemistry was initially taught in the former Religious Conference Building and later in the newly-completed Chemistry Building. Professorial appointments during this period included Ralph W. McKee (who also serves as assistant dean for student affairs in the medical school), John G. Pierce, John E. Snoke, and Marian E. Swendseid.

The department moved into permanent quarters in the Medical Center in the fall of 1954. In August 1962, Griffith left the University and Pierce was designated acting chairman. The following year, teaching and research in protein biochemistry received strong impetus by the appointment of L. Smith as chairman of the department (renamed biological chemistry); Pierce was named vice-chairman. Other new appointees who provided additional strength in the rapidly expanding fields of protein and nucleic acid biochemistry included Douglas M. Brown, Alexander N. Glazer, Charles B. Kasper, Albert Light, John A. Rothfus, Patrice J. Zamenhof, and Stephen Zamenhof. By 1965, the department was responsible for teaching biochemistry to 72 medical students and 28 dental students.

Graduate instruction in biological chemistry began in 1953 with enrollment of six candidates for advanced degrees. In 1964 this program was coordinated with that of the Division of Biochemistry, Department of Chemistry. Joint course offerings covered the major basic areas of modern biochemistry. A weekly seminar brought to the campus an impressive array of active investigators in all fields of biochemistry. A graduate training grant from the National Institutes of Health provided additional support for these activities. By 1965, 22 Ph.D. and two M.S. degrees had been awarded by the department; graduate enrollment included 20 candidates for the Ph.D. degree.

Departmental faculty members served as consultants for various governmental agencies, as editors of scientific journals, and as officers of professional organizations. Awards and honors recognized significant achievements by members of the staff in the fields of protein and lipid chemistry, biochemical genetics, and steroid metabolism. Extramural research grants, annually totalling over one million dollars by the mid-1960s, supported basic research in the department. source

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Biomathematics
There is no history currently available for this department.

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Biomedical Engineering
There is no history currently available for this department.

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Biomedical Physics
There is no history currently available for this department.

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Biostatistics
There is no history currently available for this department.

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Botany and Plant Biochemistry
In 1919, the only course in botany was taught by Professor Loye Holmes Miller, who had been head of the science department in the Los Angeles State Normal School. In 1920 and 1921, elementary botany was taught by Miller and Frederick M. Essig, instructor in botany and bacteriology. In 1922, Professor Olenus L. Sponsler joined the staff and he and Essig shared three courses. Essig left the staff in 1924 and in the same year Professor Carl C. Epling and Arthur W. Haupt joined the faculty. In 1925, the botany staff was further increased with the appointments of Professors Orda A. Plunkett and Flora M. Scott. With a staff of five botanists, a degree curriculum in botany was authorized in 1925, although botany was still an informal division in the Department of Biology. In 1926, the name of the department was changed to the Department of Biological Sciences and in 1933, a Department of Botany was created. Ten years later the department was transferred administratively to the College of Agriculture. In 1962, it returned to the College of Letters and Science. At this time, four academic positions from other departments in the College of Agriculture were added and the name was changed to the Department of Botany and Plant Biochemistry.

During the early years of transition from the normal school tradition to University status, laboratory, garden, and library facilities were inadequate, admission standards were low, and teaching loads were heavy. For the younger members of the department, 15 to 20 teaching hours per week were regarded as normal. On the Westwood campus, botany was housed in the Physics-Biology Building until the Plant Physiology Building was constructed in 1951 and the Botany Building completed in 1959, adjacent to the botanical garden.

The department offered instruction in anatomy, cytology, ecology, genetics, medical mycology, morphology, physiology, and taxonomy. The bachelor of arts degree in botany was first conferred in 1927, the first master of arts degree in 1934, and the first Ph.D. degree in 1946. The Ph.D. degree was originally in botanical science, but in 1962 was changed to plant science. An estimated total of 203 baccalaureate, 79 master's, and 94 doctoral degrees were conferred by 1965. Throughout the decade, there was a major increase in graduate study, particularly in the Ph.D. program. In 1965, there were 71 graduate students enrolled. There was also an increase in the number of postdoctoral trainees associated with the department.

In the earliest work in plant physiology, Olenus L. Sponsler, 20 years ahead of his time, investigated the molecular structure of starch, cellulose, and protein. The trend in cell physiology continued to be toward the biochemical aspects of the field. In anatomy and morphology there was a shift to the study of microstructure, particularly in relation to function, with the use of such tools as the electron microscope. The trend in taxonomy was from the descriptive to the experimental with an emphasis on population studies and the evolution of plant species. Studies in ecology became physiological and those in genetics emphasized function and development. source

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