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Faculty and Areas of Research

The following is a brief description of research programs of full-time faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences, and the institution that awarded their doctorate degree.

Faculty available to serve as undergraduate & thesis advisors:

Bengt J. Allen, Ph.D. (State University of New York, Stony Brook). Marine Community Ecology. Effects of climate change on the structure and function of rocky shore communities. Interactions between native seagrass and an invasive marine (home page)

James W. Archie, Ph.D. (State University of New York, Stony Brook). Evolutionary and Ecological Genetics; Population Biology; Biostatistics. Evolutionary and ecological genetics of lizards in the genus Sceloporus. Phylogeography of S. occidentalis and S. graciosus. Evolutionary significance of mtDNA clade boundaries.

Flora Banuett, Ph.D. (University of Oregon). Fungal genetics and cell biology. Molecular mechanisms of cell morphogenesis in the fungus Ustilago maydis. Signal transduction and plant-pathogen interactions. Genetic determinants of the life cycle – the mating types.

Renaud Berlemont, Ph.D. (University of Liege, Belgium). Microbial genomics and bioinformatics. Comparative (meta)genomics and polysaccharides processing by environmental microbial isolates/communities (e.g. cellulose degredation). Lab Website

Judy A. Brusslan, Ph.D. (University of Chicago). Plant molecular biology. Leaf senescence in Arabidopsis thaliana.Genetic and genome-wide analysis of histone modifications that accompany leaf senescence.; Lab Website

Ashley Carter, Ph.D.  (Yale University).  Theoretical and empirical evolutionary biology.  Theoretical: mathematical and computer simulation models of evolutionary processes, comparative allometric studies.  Empirical: insect quantitative genetics and morphometrics, fluctuating asymmetry. Lab Website

Jesse Dillon, Ph.D. (University of Oregon). Microbial ecology and evolution. Molecular diversity and ecophysiology of microbial communities in extreme environments.; Lab website

Elizabeth D. Eldon, Ph.D. (Indiana University, Bloomington). Developmental biology. Genetic and molecular analysis of receptor signaling in development and innate immunity.

Amanda E. Fisher, Ph.D.(Idaho State University)Plant evolution and systematics, especially Acanthaceae and Poaceae. Floristics and plant conservation.

Deborah A. Fraser Ph.D. (University of Wales, Cardiff) Investigating molecular mechanisms of the innate immune response. We are looking at the role of complement proteins in inflammatory diseases such as atherosclerosis, to identify novel therapeutic targets.

Editte Gharakhanian, Ph.D. (University of California, Los Angeles). Molecular cell biology. Identify genes and gene products involved in trafficking of proteins to the lysosome of Baker’s yeast; study their conservation in humans and their connection to human diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cancer. Lab Website.

Michael Harris, Ph.D. (University of British Columbia ). Physiology. Our research is primarily focused around questions of how the body sets and meets the demands of metabolism. Studies of metabolic regulation, and of the cells and neuronal circuits that respond to CO2 and O2 and modulate breathing and blood flow. Also, the evolutionary origins and consistency of these mechanisms across species from invertebrates to mammals.

Erika Holland, Ph.D. (University of California, Davis). Aquatic Toxicology. My aim is to understand the impact of pollutants on aquatic organisms, particularly fish. Ongoing research focuses on chemicals that alter Ca2+ signaling pathways essential physiological processes including neurodevelopment, striated muscle function and oocyte fertilization.

Darren Johnson, Ph.D. (Oregon State University). Ecology and evolutionary biology of reef fishes. . Field studies of demographic rates and population dynamics. Quantitative genetics of growth and behavior. Natural selection in the sea., Lab website

Sandy Kawano, Ph.D. (Clemson University). Comparative physiology, biomechanics, and morphology of vertebrates. My research broadly addresses the origins and maintenance of phenotypic diversity by examining how musculoskeletal design drives the performance of fitness-related traits in different environments. Research questions often relate to the locomotion of fishes and amphibians (extinct or extant) across water and land, but are also open to other systems

Balwant S. Khatra, Ph.D. (University of Leeds, England). Metabolic regulation. Hormonal regulation of cellular metabolism.

Lisa S. Klig, Ph.D. (Albert Einstein College of Medicine). Molecular genetics and bioinformatics.Analysis of inositol metabolism in the model organism Drosophila melanogaster. Inositol is a sugar that can serve as a precursor for a membrane phospholipid (phosphatidylinositol), a second messenger in signal transduction, an osmolyte, or an energy source. Disruption of inositol metabolism has been observed in patients with bipolar disease, developmental disorders, and diabetes. Inositol metabolism may also be involved in the pathogenicity of specific fungi that infect humans. Furthering the understanding of inositol metabolism may lead to effective therapeutic agents.

Kay Lee-Fruman, Ph.D. (Harvard University). Cancer cell biology/immunology. Molecular mechanism of immunosuppressant and anti-cancer drugs. We study the signal transduction pathways regulating cell growth and proliferation, with an emphasis on kinase enzymes.

Brian Livingston, Ph.D. (UC Santa Barbara) Development and Evolution. We study the development and evolution of mineralized tissue in echinoderms. We use proteomics and genomics to identify genes that encode proteins involved in forming a skeleton. We use molecular techniques to study expression of these genes and to study how they evolve. Lab Website.

Christopher G. Lowe, Ph.D. (University of Hawaii, Manoa). Physiological and behavioral ecology of teleost gamefishes and elasmobranchs. Emphasis on bioenergetics, physiological and behavioral fisheries ecology, and movement patterns of gamefishes and elasmobranches.; SharkLab website

Douglas Pace, Ph.D. Ecological Physiology.Physiological mechanisms of adaptation. Elucidation of the molecular and biochemical pathways that allow organisms to tolerate environmental stress and variability. Laboratory focuses on cellular physiology through investigations of the parasitic protozoan Toxoplasma gondii and organismal physiology through research on marine invertebrate larvae., Lab Website

Bruno Pernet, Ph.D. (University of Washington, Seattle). Marine invertebrate biology. Development, functional morphology, and evolution of marine invertebrate larvae.; Lab website

Bryan Rourke, Ph.D. (University of California, Irvine). Integrative animal physiology. Vertebrate muscle physiology, effects of hibernation, exercise, and metabolism.; Lab website

Kevin Sinchak, Ph.D. (Michigan State University) Reproductive behavioral neuroendocrinology; neuroscience and neurosteroids. I study the gonadal steroid regulation of neural circuits that control reproductive behavior, and the physiology and function of steroids made in the brain (neurosteroids).

Ted Stankowich, Ph.D. (University of California, Davis) Evolutionary Behavioral Ecology. Evolution of predator-prey interactions, including antipredator behavior, defensive weaponry, predator recognition, coloration, risk assessment, and escape decisions. Main focus is on mammals but enjoys working on other taxa as well. Lab website

Houng-Wei Tsai, Ph.D. (University of Kentucky) Epigenetic neuroendocrinology. My research interest is to understand the neuroendocrine mechanisms that regulate reproductive function and behaviors at molecular, cellular, and systemic levels. I use epigenetic approach to identify the sexually dimorphic genes that control sexual differentiation in the mouse brain structure and behavior. Lab website

Dessie L. Underwood, Ph.D. (University of California, Davis). Insect biology. Insect behavioral ecology; plant-insect interactions; the evolution of cooperation, division of labor, and sex ratio; lepidopteran cytogenetics; chromosomal non-disjunction., Research page

Christine Whitcraft, Ph.D. UCSD - Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Wetlands Ecology. Conservation Biology, Human Impacts on Salt Marsh Ecosystems & Food Webs.; Lab website

Raymond R. Wilson, Ph.D. (University of California, San Diego-Scripps Institution of Oceanography). Marine ichthyology. Population genetics of marine fishes.

Kelly Young, Ph.D. (John Hopkins School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD). Reproductive biologist. Seasonal changes in reproductive physiology; photoperiodic regulation of ovarian/testicular function.

Mason X. Zhang, Ph.D. (University of Wisconsin, Madison). Host-pathogen interactions. Genetic engineering of human antibodies; host defense mechanisms against microbial infection.