LAS Gonafalon
      Terry O'Brien, Ph.D.      
Terry O'Brien
Associate Professor / Associate Chair
Department of Biological Sciences
Rowan University
Campus Address:  201H Science Hall
Telephone and Voicemail:  856 256-4500 ext. 3587
     Postal Address:       
Department of Biological Sciences
Science Hall
Rowan University
Glassboro, NJ  08028  U.S.A.

Transfer Advisor for Biology Majors (see below)
Program Coordinator, Environmental Studies Concentration

Summer office hours are by appointment only
(phone or e-mail for an appointment )

Fall 2010 Office Hours:
Tuesday:  9:30 – 10:30 a.m.
Thursday:  11:00 a.m. - Noon

The New Jersey Pine Barrens

Sphagnum pulchrum White Cedar Swamp Gentiana autumnalis Pine Barrens Savanna
Sphagnum pulchrum Chamaecyparis thyoides Swamp  
Gentiana autumnalis   Pine Barrens "Savanna" (a poor fen)

New Transfer Students From Other Instiutions to the B. S. in Biological Sciences program

Prospective Transfer Students From Other Instiutions to the B. S. in Biological Sciences program

If you are already a student at Rowan and considering becoming a biology major, I am not your advisor.  Please contact Tricia Milano (; 130 Science Hall) for an advisor assignment.

If you are a new transfer student from another institution (not Rowan), I will be your academic advisor  during your first year of studies.   Click here for a Powerpoint presentation on important resources and information you should know about as you begin your studies at Rowan.

If you are a prospective transfer student from another institution and have questions or need assistance with the transfer process, I can also help you. 

For more information about the major --- including course requirements for transfer students: visit this link, visit my office during office hours, contact me by phone (ext. 3587),  or send me an e-mail (

Environmental Studies Concentration with a B. S. in Biological Sciences:

I am the Program Coordinator for the Environmental Studies Concentration.   For more information about the concentration, visit this link, contact me by phone (ext. 3587), visit my office during office hours (posted above on this page), or send me an e-mail (


No appointment is necessary if you visit me during my office hours (listed above).  Appointments are available for other times.  During the Fall and Spring semesters, a sign-up sheet of available appointments is posted outside my office door.  Please help yourself, rather than phoning or e-mailing me.

During the summer or between semesters, please call me (ext. 3587), or send me an e-mail ( to arrange an appointment. 

Fall 2010 and Spring 2011 Research Opportunity for Biology Majors: 

My current project involves production and analysis of DNA sequences from the moss Aulacomnium palustre.   Although the overall objective of the project is to determine the evolutionary pattern of the moss in relation to its geographic distribution, this project involves learning molecular techniques used in a range of fields of biology (for example: biotechnology, medicine, conservation biology,  and evolutionary biology).

Participants receive 3 hours credit of Lab/Field Research for each semester.  A minimum commitment of two semesters is expected, as well as a professional presentation of the research during the Spring or Summer of 2011.   Biology majors who will be sophomores, juniors or seniors next year are welcome to apply.

To apply: write a letter of interest to me, at, or see me in person.

Employment and Volunteer Opportunities for Biology Majors:

Please contact me if you are interested in working or volunteering in the greenhouse during the 2009-2020 academic year.  To apply: contact Dr. O'Brien, at, or by phone at 856-256-4500 ext. 3587.

Courses: Introductory Botany   (BIOL 02.200; open to both biology majors and nonmajors)
Plant Diversity    (BIOL 02.201; open to both biology majors and nonmajors)
           Web access is via Blackboard-CE:
General Biology:  Plants and People   (BIOL 01.115; approved general education course for nonmajors)
Flora of New Jersey   (BIOL 02.350; open to both biology majors and nonmajors)
Special Topics in Biological Sciences: Genetically Modified Organisms (BIOL 01.445, for biology majors)
Biology 2:  Concepts in Genetics (BIOL 01.106; primarily for freshman science majors) 
 Web access is via Blackboard-CE:

Natural Resources (BIOL 20.100; for nonbiology majors)
           Web access is via Blackboard-CE:
Biometry (STAT 02.280; for biology majors)
 Web access is via Blackboard-CE:

Educational Links:
Botany on the World Wide Web
Trees of the Campus
Nature in New Jersey

Tentative Teaching Schedule: Summer 2010
No Teaching
Fall 2010
Biology 2:  Concepts in Genetics
Spring 2011
Biology 2:  Concepts in Genetics


Science Hall became the department's home in the 2003-2004 academic year. Facilities in the building include six 1150 sq.ft. research labs with student writing stations and computers, and ten 1250 sq. ft. teaching laboratories fully equipped for computer and audiovideo technologies.  Facilities and new equipment supporting plant research include:

Born:  Seattle, Washington
Raised in Iowa City, Iowa
Graduate of City High School, Iowa City

Ph. D.   University of California at Berkeley
M. S.    University of Iowa
B. S.     University of Iowa

Research Interests: Bryology
Plant and Molecular Systematics
Plant Population Ecology
Plants and Human Nutrition  
Native and Cultivated Plants of North America
Conservation Biology 

Lab Alumni:
2008 - Kristine Matacchiera
2007 - Rachael Hopko
2006 - Tammy Egner
2005 - Katiana Christophe, Alexis Draper, Alanna Jones, Linda Oppong
2004 - Jason Kelsey, Amber Peterson, Jenna Smaniotto, Laura Tuminello
2003 -  Jessica Cornish, Jennifer Harker and Sarah Martin
2002 - Carla Bass, Jessica DiMichele, Jackie Lypowy, Leslie Velez and Jill Whidby
2001 -  Raina Berner, Dae-Jak Kim, Lori O'Hara and Stacey Wallace

Undergraduate Research Presentations:

Matacchiera, K. and T. J. O'Brien.  2008.  The Use of DNA Sequencing to Help Trace the Phylogeography of the Moss Aulacomnium palustre.  11th Annual STEM Symposium, Rowan University.

Christophe, K., A. Draper, A. Jones, L. Oppong and T. J. O'Brien.  2005.  Are the benefits of cultivation of plants in hydroponic systems worth the cost?  8th Annual STEM Symposium, Rowan University.

Smaniotto, J., L. Tumminello, and T. J. O'Brien.  2004.  Effects of Selected Organic Fertilizers on Selected Crop Plants.  7th Annual STEM Sympoosium, Rowan University.

Peterson, A., D. Dagit, C. Spolsky, and T. J. O'Brien. 2004. Molecular evidence for the relationships of Chimaeroid fishes.  7th Annual STEM Symposium.

Harker, J., S. Martin, A. Peterson, J. Cornish, J. Whidby and T. J. O'Brien.  2003.  The use of DNA sequences to assess phylogeography in the moss Aulacomnium palustre.  6th Annual STEM Symposium, Rowan University.

Bass, C., L. Velez, J. Dimichele, Jill Whidby, J. Lypowy, and T. J.  O'Brien.  2002.  Cryptic speciation in the moss Aulacomnium palustre :  I.   DNA isolation, amplification of the ITS region, and sequencing.  5th Annual STEM Symposium, Rowan University.

Whidby, J., J. Lypowy, J. DiMichele, C. Bass, L. Velez, and T. J. O'Brien.  2002.  Cryptic speciation in the moss Aulacomnium palustre:  II.  Analysis of sequence data and implications for species concepts.  5th Annual STEM Symposium, Rowan University.

Kim, D.-J. and T. O'Brien.  2001.  What do we know about the moss flora of southwestern New Jersey?  4th Annual STEM Symposium, Rowan University.

Ozeki, R., G. B. Hecht, P. Mosto, L. T. Holbrook and T. O'Brien.  2001.  Phylogenetic study of the rbcL gene of Klebsormidial algae using molecular methods.  4th Annual STEM Symposium.

Wallace, S., A. Prieto, and T. O’Brien.  2001.  Development of a protocol for the extraction of DNA from shed snake skin and its use in the development of phylogeny.  4th Annual STEM Symposium, Rowan University.  

Master's Thesis:

Egner, Tamara L.  2006.  Usage of Plant Examples in Secondary School Biology Classes.  Master's Degree Thesis, Rowan University.

Publications and Professional Reports:

O'Brien, T.J.  (In preparation).  Helodium. Bryophyte Flora of North America

Bell, N. E., D. Quandt, T. J. O'Brien and A. E. Newton.  2007.  Taxonomy and phylogeny in the earliest diverging pleurocarps:  square holes and bifurcating pegs.  The Bryologist 110:533-560.

O'Brien, T.J.  2007.  The phylogenetic distribution of pleurocarpous mosses:  evidence from cpDNA sequences.  Pp. 19-41 in A. Newton, E. de Luna and R. Tangney (editors), Pleurocarpous Mosses: Systematics and Evolution.  CRC Press.

O'Brien, T.J.  2005 (electronic).  2008 (print). Echinophyllum.  In:  Flora of North America Editorial Committee (eds.),  The Flora of North America North of Mexico. Vol. 28.  Oxford University Press.

O'Brien, T.J.  2004.  Review of Shrubs and Vines of New Jersey.  Plant Science Bulletin 50:97.

O'Brien, T.J.  2004.  Illustrating heterochrony and heterotopy:  two developmental patterns in the evolution of organismal form.  Pp. 63-67 in B. F. Shmaefsky (editor),  Favorite Demonstrations for College Science.  NSTA Press, Arlington, VA.

O'Brien,  T. J. and J. Kelsey.  2003.  A survey of the plants at a  site along the Great Egg Harbor River (New Jersey).  Report prepared for The Palace Outfitters, Weymouth, New Jersey.

O'Brien, T. J.  2001.  Illustrating heterochrony and heterotopy.  Two developmental patterns in the evolution of organismal form. Journal of College Science Teaching 31:130-133.   Summary

 O'Brien, T. J. and D. Horton.  2000.  Bryochenea (Musci; Thuidiaceae) is Cyrto-hypnum (Thuidiaceae), but B. sachalinensis is Echinophyllum (Thuidiaceae), a new genus from the Pacific Rim.  The Bryologist 103:509-517.   Abstract

 O'Brien, T.J.  2000.  A new synonym in Leptotheca Schwaegr. (Musci; Rhizogoniaceae). Tropical Bryology 18:13-14.  Abstract

O'Brien, T.J.  2000.  Noteworthy Collections:  California.  Campylopus introflexus (Hedw.) Brid. (Musci).  Madroño 46:113-114.

Horton, D.G.,  T. J. O'Brien, M. MacIndoe, K. Schmidt, R. Cruden, P. Rudolph, C. Rogers, N. Klaus, O. J.
Gode & K. Baker.  1996.  An assessment of the natural habitats and biota of the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant, Middleton, Iowa.  Iowa Chapter of the Nature Conservancy.

O'Brien, T.J.  1994.  An additional locality for Zygodon apiculatus .  Evansia 11:79-80.

O'Brien, T.J.  1994.  A taxonomic note on Crassicosta hermannii .  The Bryologist 97:174-175.

O'Brien, T.J.  1993.  Bryochenea sachalinensis (Thuidiaceae) new to North America in southcentral Alaska.  The Bryologist 96:205-209.

Professional Presentations (since 2000):

O'Brien, T. J. and T. L. Egner.  2007.  "Usage of Plants in Teaching Biological Principles in Secondary School Education."  Annual Meeting of the Botanical Society of America, Chicago, Illinois.

O'Brien, T. J.  2004.  "The origins of pleurocarpous mosses, as inferred from the chloroplast genes atpB, rbcL, rps4 and trnL.".  Symposium on the Evolution of the Pleurocarpous Mosses, Cardiff, United Kingdom.

O'Brien, T.J.  2004.  Spatial Patterns of Species Richness of Mosses in Southern New Jersey.  Annual Meeting of the Botanical Society of America, Snowbird, Utah.

O'Brien, T.J.  2003.  Mosses and the conservation of natural communities.  Invited presentation to The Philadelphia Botanical Club.

O'Brien, T.J.  2002.  "A holey umbrella:  hotspots of rare vascular plants as an indication of rare mosses."  Invited presentation to The Philadelphia Botanical Club.

O'Brien, T.J.  2001.  "Another abominable mystery:  the origin and early diversification of pleurocarpous mosses."  Invited presentation, Philadelphia Academy of Sciences.

O'Brien, T.J.  2001.  "The dubious origins of pleurocarpous mosses:  molecular evidence for the phylogenetic positions of Aulacomnium Schwägr. and Rhizogoniaceae."   Annual meeting   of the American Bryological and Lichenological Society.  Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Membership in Professional Organizations:

American Bryological and Lichenological Society
American Society of Plant Taxonomists
Botanical Society of America
International Association of Bryologists
Philadelphia Botanical Club
Society of Systematic Biologists
Torrey Botanical Society

This page last updated June 2010