Alfred P. "Hap" Wheeler

Professor and Department Chair

Contact Information

Phone: 864 656-1415
FAX: 864 656-0435


  • Ph.D. Zoology (minor Biochemistry), Duke University, 1975
  • B. S. Chemistry & Zoology, Butler University, 1969

Research Interests

  • Dr. Wheeler has been involved in the study of carbonate calcification using a variety of groups including calcifying algae, echinoderms, molluscs and crustaceans. In conjunction with other workers, he has attempted systematically to identify and then investigate several questions that are common to all of these groups. These investigations have ranged from establishing growth patterns in molluscs to identifying viable mechanisms for pH regulation at mineralizing sites. For many years his research has focused on understanding the function of the organic matrix of calcified structures and in particular the shells of oysters.. He and his co-workers have established that the matrix is a potent regulator of calcification both in vitro and in vivo. Most recently the advanced oyster research lab at Clemson has been involved in elucidating the role of hemocytes in oyster shell formation. In addition, to the basic work, Dr. Wheeler, in conjunction with collaborators at other universities and industry, has developed synthetic biodegradable polypeptides based on biomineral matrix proteins for use in a variety of applications for which non-degradable polymers are currently employed. These applications include use as mineral regulators, such as needed for scale prevention in cooling water and off-shore oil wells, as dispersants, detergent additives and superabsorbents. In addition, some of these synthetic polymers have been demonstrated as effective in enhancing crop growth. Dr. Wheeler along with Donlar Corporation was the 1996 recipient of the EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Award in 1996 for development of thermal polyaspartate commercial polymers.

Selected Publications

  • Wheeler, A.P., P.L Blackwelder and K.M. Wilbur. 1975 Shell growth in the scallop Argopecten irradians.. I. Isotope incorporation with reference to diurnal growth. Biol. Bull. 148:472-482.
  • Wheeler, A.P. and K.M. Wilbur. 1977. Shell growth in the scallop argopecten irradians. II. Processes of shell growth. J. Moll. Stud. 43:155-161.
  • Wheeler, A.P., J. W. George and C.A. Evans. 1981. Control of CaCO3 nucleation and crystal growth by soluble matrix of oyster shell. Science 212:1397-1398.
  • Wheeler, A.P. and E. Harrison. 1982. Subcellular localization of and characterization of HCO3-ATPase from the mantle of the freshwater clam Anodonta cataracta. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. 71B:629-636.
  • Sikes, C.S. and A.P.Wheeler. 1982. Carbonic anhydrase and carbon fixation in coccolithophorids. J. Phycology 18:423-426.
  • Swift, D.M., C.S. Sikes and A.P. Wheeler. 1986. Analysis and function of organic matrix from sea urchin tests. J. Exp. Zool. 240:65-73
  • Sikes, C. S., and A. P. Wheeler. 1986. The organic matrix from oyster shell as a regulator of calcification in vivo. Bio. Bull. 170:494.
  • Wheeler, A.P., J.W. George, K. Rusenko and C.S. Sikes. 1987. Calcium-binding properties of oyster shell soluble matrix. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. 87B: 453-460.
  • Wheeler, A. P., K. W. Rusenko, D. W. Swift, and C. S. Sikes. 1988. Regulation of in vitro and in vivo CaCO3 crystallization by fractions of oyster shell organic matrix. Mar. Biol. 98:71.
  • Sikes, C.S. and A.P. Wheeler. 1988. biopolymers from biominerals as regulators of mineralization. CHEMTECH 18:620-626.
  • Wheeler, A.P. and C.S. Sikes. 1989. Matrix-crystal interactions in CaCO3 biomineralization. In: Biomineralization: Chemical and Biochemical Perspectives. S. Mann, J. Webb and R.J.P. Williams, eds. VCH Publ., Weinheim, pp. 99-131.
  • Gunthorpe, M.E., C.S. Sikes and A.P. Wheeler. 1990. Evaluation of promotion and inhibition of calcium carbonate crystallization in vitro by matrix protein from blue crab exoskeleton. Biol. Bull. 179: 191-200.
  • Wheeler, A.P. and C.S.Sikes. 1990. Calcium mineral-peptide interactions. In: Materials Synthesis Utilizing Biological Processes. P.C. Rieke, P.D. Calvert and M. Alper, eds. Materials Research Society, Pittsburg, pp. 45-50.
  • Sikes, C.S. and A.P. Wheeler. 1991, Surface Reactive Peptides and Polymers: Discovery and Commercialization. ACS Books, Washington, DC, 416p.
  • Borbas, J.E., A.P. Wheeler and C.S. Sikes. 1991. Molluscan shell matrix phosphoproteins: correlation of degree of phosphorylation to shell mineral microstructure and to in vitro regulation of mineralization. J. Exp. Zool. 258:1-13.
  • Wheeler, A.P. 1992. Mechanisms of molluscan shell formation. In: Calcification in Biological Systems. ed. E. Bonucci, CRC Press, Boca Raton, pp. 179-215.
  • Heuer, A.H., D.J. Fink, V.J. Laraia, J.L. Arias, P.D. Calvert, K. Kendall, G.L, Messing, J. Blackwell, P.C. Rieke, D.H. Thompson, A.P. Wheeler, A. Veis and A.I. Caplan. 1992. Innovative materials processing strategies: a biomimetic approach. Science 255:1098-1105.
  • Swift, D.M. and A.P. Wheeler. 1992. Evidence of an organic matrix from diatom biosilica. J. Phycol. 28:202-209.
  • Wheeler, A.P. and L.P. Koskan. 1993. Large scale thermally synthesized polyaspartate as a biodegradable substitute in polymer applications. In: Biomolecular Materials. S.T. Case, J.H. Waite and C. Viney, eds. Materials Research Society, Pittsburg, pp. 277-283.
  • Alford, D.D. A.P. Wheeler and C.A. Pettigrew. 1994. Biodegradation of thermally synthesized polyaspartate. J Environ. Polymer Degrad. 2:225.
  • Myers, J.M., A. Veis, B. Sabsay and A.P. Wheeler. 1996.A method for enhancing the sensitivity and stability of stains-All for phosphoproteins separated in SDS PAGE. Anal. Biochem. 240:300.
  • Low, K.C., A.P. Wheeler and L.P. Koskan. 1996. Commercial poly(aspartic acid) and its uses. In: Hydrophilic polymers: performance with environmental acceptance. J.E. Glass , ed. ACS, Washington D.C. pp. 99- 111.
  • Koskan, L.P., R.J. Ross and A.P. Wheeler. 1997. Superabsorbing polymeric networks. U.S. Patent 5,612,384.
  • Mosig, J., C.H. Gooding and A.P. Wheeler. 1997. Kinetic and thermal characteristics of the hydrolysis of polysuccinimide. Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 36: 2163.
  • Sikes, C.S., E. Martin, A. Wierzbicki and A.P. Wheeler. 1997. Atomic force microscopy and enzymatic degradation of oyster shell protein and polyaspartate. Macromol. Symp. 123:85-92.
  • Latour, R.A., Jr., J.K. West, L.L. Hench, S.D. Trembley, Y. Tian, G.C. Lickfield and A.P. Wheeler. 1997. Adsorption of L-lysine onto silica glass: a synergistic approach combining molecular modeling with experimental analysis. Bioceramics 10:541-544.
  • Sikes, C.S., A.P. Wheeler, A. Wierzbicki, R.M. Dillaman and L. DeLuca. 1998. Oyster shell protein and atomic force microscopy of oyster shell folia. Biol. Bull. 194:304-316.
  • Latour, R.A., S.D. Trembley, Y. Tian, G.C. Lickfield and A.P. Wheeler. 2000. A fundamental study of protein-surface interaction: thermodynamics of peptidyl lysine adsorption onto glass. J. Biomed. Mat. Res. 49:58-65.
  • Sikes, C.S., A.P. Wheeler, A. Wierzbicki, A.S. Mount and R.M. Dillaman. 2000. Nucleation and growth of calcite on native versus pyrolyzed oyster shell folia. Biol Bull. 198:50-66.
  • Wheeler, A.P. and C.S. Sikes. 2000. Proteins from oyster shell: biomineralization regulators and commercial polymer analogs. In: Mineralization in Natural and Synthetic Biomaterials. P. Li, P. Calvert, T. Kokubo, R. Levy and C. Scheid, eds. Materials Research Society, Warrendale, PA, pp. 209-224.
  • Tang, Y. and A.P. Wheeler, 2001. Environmental factors that influence biodegradation of thermal polyaspartate. In: Biopolymers from Polysaccharides and Agroproteins. R. Gross and C. Scholtz, eds. ACS, Washington, DC, pp. 157-177.
  • Xiong, L., H.D. Skipper, B. Murdock and A.P. Wheeler. 2003. Biodegradation and sorption of polyaspartate in soils. Soil Sci. 168
  • Mount, A.S., A.P. Wheeler, R.P. Paradkar and D. Snider. 2004. Hemocyte-mediated shell mineralization in the Eastern oyster. Science 304:297-299.
  • Myers, J.M., M.B. Johnstone, A.S. Mount, H. Silverman, A.P. Wheeler. 2007. TEM immunocytochemistry of a 48 kDa MW organic matrix phosphoprotein produced in the mantle epithelial cells of the Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica). Tissue and Cell. 39:347-256.

Recent Courses

  • BIOSC 490 - Selected Topics in Biological Sciences :Clinical Applications and Medical Practice
  • BIOSC 493 - Senior Seminar: Biology in Context
  • BIOSC (AG E) 458, H458, 658 - Cell Physiology
  • BIOSC 223 - Human Anatomy and Physiology II
  • ZOOL 460/660 - General Physiology
  • BIOSC 461/661 - Cell Biology
  • BIOSC 459/659 - Systems Physiology
  • ZOOL 223 - Human Physiology
  • BIOSC 871 - Special Topics in Physiology

Graduate Students

  • Mary Beth Johnstone, Ph.D. Zoology
  • Shitabalen Patel, M.S. Microbiology
  • Kevin McCarthy, Ph.D. Genetics