The mission of the Department of Biology is to promote research programs of national and international prominence and to provide strong undergraduate and graduate educational programs that emphasize integrative approaches to biological problems. In doing so, our programs support preparation in professional development for careers related to the biological and health sciences.

Our faculty tend to conduct research in three focus areas:

Cell and Developmental Biology

Radhika Atit – Skin and bone development and disease

Nicole Crown – Molecular genetics of meiosis

Chris Cullis* – Plant genomes and crop improvement

Yolanda Fortenberry – Blood disorders, regulation, and mechanism

Stephen Haynesworth* – Mesenchymal stem cells and adipocyte cell fate

Emmitt Jolly – Gene regulation in the parasitic schistosome worm

Brian McDermott – Hair-cell development

Claudia Mizutani – Genetic Mechanisms of body axis patterning

Charles Rozek* – Fly Genetics

Robert Ward – Regulation of tissue growth and morphogenesis

Peter Zimmerman – Global Health and Malaria

* Not currently accepting graduate students
italics indicate adjunct and secondary faculty

Neurobiology and Neuromechanical Systems

Hillel Chiel – Soft tissue biomechanics, neural modeling, and soft robots

Angela Dixon – Modeling of neurological diseases

Jessica Fox – Neurobiology, sensory systems, insect behavior

Gabriella Wolff – Neuroethology; evolutionary and comparative neurobiology; olfaction; learning and memory

Kristen Lukas – Effects of designed environments on animal behavior

Peter Thomas – Mathematical biology, computational neuroscience

Mark Willis – Olfactory orientation and flight behavoir

* not currently accepting graduate students
italics indicates secondary or adjunct faculty

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Karen Abbott – Theoretical Ecology

Sarah Bagby – Environmental microbiology; microbial evolution; bioinformatics; and ecoinformatics

Michael Benard – Evolutionary and population ecology

David Burke* – Rhizosphere and plant ecology

Jean Burns – Community assembly and invasion

Darin Croft – Mammalian paleontology, ecology

Pam Dennis – Environmental influences of health; physiologic influences of behavior; One Health

Sarah Diamond – Evolutionary ecology

Noah Dunham* – Feeding ecology; energetics; locomotion

Elliot Gardner – Plant Biology

Abdel Halloway – Coevolution in Ecological Communities

Diana Koester* – Effects of environment on animal welfare; endocrinology; reproductive physiology

Ryan Martin – Evolutionary ecology

Robin Snyder – Effects of environmental variation

Scott Simpson – Human evolution, anatomy

* not currently accepting graduate students
italics indicates secondary or adjunct faculty

An integrated systems approach to addressing biological problems is also used in each of these major areas of concentration.

The primary function of each of the three focus areas is to provide a unifying framework for a group of faculty to share some common research interest and graduate training. However, faculty are neither required to exclusively conduct research in a focus area nor be identified with an area of concentration. Instead, the three focus areas aid in developing cross-collaborative initiatives that ultimately lead to the pursuit of program research and training grants. Our three focus areas have already proven to promote a vibrant scholarly environment and have strengthened the identity of the Department of Biology.

Our identity has been further strengthened by expanding the size of our faculty in each of the three focus areas. The Department of Biology is committed to providing a supportive and collaborative environment for the development of our junior faculty, especially through the promotion of active mentoring programs. Such an environment also serves to enhance research productivity and scholarship of senior faculty and ultimately ensures equitable use of departmental resources for the professional development of all faculty within the Department of Biology.

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