The Department of Biology provides training for both undergraduate and graduate students. The strongest areas of training in the program are in Animal Behavior, Biochemistry, Cell and Developmental Biology, Computational Biology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Genetics, Molecular Biology, Neurobiology, Physiology, and Plant Biotechnology. In addition, the Department is closely affiliated with other divisions such as the School of Medicine and the Case School of Engineering at Case Western Reserve University. Cooperative programs outside of Case, including the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, and the Holden Arboretum allow for students to have a variety of resources at hand. Research in the department is primarily conducted in one of three focus areas: Cell and Developmental Biology, Neurobiology and Neuromechanical Systems, or Evolution and Ecology. This focus framework allows faculty to build on common research interests. Mentored teaching and research programs with faculty and students foster a strong educational environment in the Department.
The director of Case Western Reserve’s University Farm dresses elegantly and works out of a charming office on the top floor of a former dairy barn. But Ana Locci once had a less illustrious post on these 400 acres 10 miles east of campus. During the early 1980s, while completing her master’s degree in aquatic ecology, she assisted her faculty advisor on the farm. Once a week, she climbed inside giant, foul-smelling fish tanks and scrubbed them clean. Fieldwork in the Snowbelt was no joke either, particularly for a native Venezuelan. “I was in the ponds in the middle of the winter, breaking through the ice and doing all sorts of water measurements,” she laughs. “It nearly killed me!”
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Two undergraduate students in Biology, Riley Tedrow and Russell Engelman, make new species discoveries and become lead authors of the papers that described them. Read more about it in THINK:
CWRU researcher studies how weather affects wood frogs: After warmer winters, wood frogs breed earlier and produce fewer eggs, a Case Western Reserve University researcher has found.
Michael Benard, an assistant professor of biology, also found that frogs produce more eggs during winters with more rain and snow.
Benard’s study, published Monday in the journal Global Change Biology, is among the first in a natural habitat to measure the consequences of one of the major effects of climate change: warmer temperatures that lead to earlier breeding in amphibians and other animals.
Benard also found that when wood frogs breed early in the year, their offspring have delayed development but still metamorphose earlier in the year. He identified the broad patterns by examining and tracking important life events of more than 50,000 juvenile and hundreds of adult wood frogs over seven years and comparing the data to winter weather records.
“There have been lab studies on the effects of warming on frog breeding, but what we see in the lab is not exactly what we’re seeing in the field,” Benard said.
Benard was a fellow at the University of Michigan’s when he began the study at six ponds. Benard is now continuing the study in Northeast Ohio.