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Graduate Faculty Research Interests

The graduate faculty listed below have or have had graduate students in our programs. * denotes that they may be available for lab rotations for Ph.D. students. Visit this page to see which of the faculty below are actively recruiting students this year. 

Joshua Alper*, Assistant Professor in Physics and Astronomy, Ph.D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2010. Molecular biophysical mechanisms of cytoskeleton-driven cellular dynamics. Use and develop interdisciplinary approaches including high resolution microscopy, force spectroscopy, cell biology, genetics, and biochemistry to resolve fundamental questions in model organisms (e.g. Chlamydomonas reindhardtii) and develop novel treatment strategies for pathogenic organisms (e.g. Trypanosoma brucei). Email:

J. Antonio Baeza*, Associate Professor, Ph.D. University of Louisiana, LA, 2006. Behavioral ecology, molecular phylogenetics, fisheries biology.  Email:

Lisa J. Bain*, Professor, Ph.D. North Carolina State University, 1997. Mechanisms of adaptation to toxicants; active transporters involved in drug and toxicant elimination; adaptation via cellular, biochemical, and molecular changes in fish exposed to environmental toxicants. Email

William S. Baldwin, Professor, Ph.D., North Carolina State University, 1995. Toxicology, Mechanistic Toxicology, Molecular Physiology. Adverse effects of toxicants on the liver, and the mechanisms (gene regulation, CYP metabolism) that different individuals employ to detoxify them. Using basic in vitro screening methods to determine the best models for studying toxicant-mediated disease. Investigation of toxic mechanisms in model systems. Email:

Kyle Barrett*, Associate Professor in Forestry and Environmental Conservation, Ph.D., Auburn University, 2009. Conservation and ecology of vertebrates in wetland and stream ecosystems; influence of climate change and land-use change on organisms. Email:

Sharon Bewick*, Assistant Professor, Ph.D. Princeton University, 2006. Population and community dynamics, particularly how detailed species life-histories can alter survival outcomes and how this is likely to interact with perturbations. Email:

Douglas G. Bielenberg*, Associate Professor, Ph.D. Pennsylvania State University, 2000. Physiological and molecular mechanisms of plant-environment interactions. Current emphasis on the molecular and genetic regulation of seasonal dormancy in woody perennials using high-throughput sequencing and novel germplasm. Email:

Richard W. Blob, Professor, Ph.D. University of Chicago, 1998. Biomechanics and the evolution of animal function; animal locomotion; comparative vertebrate anatomy, physiology, and functional morphology; herpetology; vertebrate paleontology. Email:

Barbara Campbell*, Associate Professor, Ph.D. Cornell University, 1993. Activity, function and interactions of microbes in their natural environment; comparisons and controls on microbial activity and function; linking modern, high throughput molecular methods and analysis of microbes with environmental parameters. Email:

Min Cao*, Associate Professor, Ph.D. Cornell University, 2002. Microbial Genetics, Microbial Pathogenesis and Genomics; using the food-borne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes as a model to study bacterial stress response (especially oxidative and nitrosative stress), identify novel virulence factors and develop new genetic tools (e.g. mariner-based transposon system). Email:

Susan C. Chapman*, Associate Professor, Ph.D. King's College London, 2002. Developmental biology, embryology and genetics of congenital birth defects; vertebrate development of hearing apparatus and identification of inductive tissue and molecular interactions in caudal spine patterning. Email:

Wen Chen, Professor, Ph.D. Ohio University, 1991. Prolactin receptor antagonists for anti-human breast cancer therapy.Development of protein based therapeutics. Molecular cloning of novel genes related to breast cancer formation. Email:

Michael J. Childress, Associate Professor, Ph.D. Florida State University, 1995. Behavioral ecology, marine ecology, comparative sociobiology, invertebrate zoology, animal behavior, communication, evolutionary biology. Email:

Saara J. DeWalt*, Professor and Chair, Ph.D. Louisiana State University, 2003. Population ecology and genetics of native and non-native plants; community ecology of plants with emphasis on lianas (woody vines); secondary succession; tropical forest ecology. Email:

Sourabh Dhingra*, Assistant Professor, Ph.D. Northern Illinois University, 2013. Molecular mechanisms governing drug response and pathogenesis in eukaryotic pathogenic mold Aspergillus fumigatus; role of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) in pathobiology of Aspergillus fumigatus. Begins in Fall 2019. Email: 

Zhicheng Dou*, Assistant Professor, Ph.D. The University of Southern Mississippi, 2009. Nutrient acquisition and utilization by a protozoan pathogen, Toxoplasma gondii. Use of molecular biology, biochemistry and cell biological approaches to study the mechanistic underpinnings of acquisition and utilization of host macromolecules by Toxoplasma through its endocytic pathway. Email:

David M. Feliciano*, Associate Professor, Ph.D. University at Buffalo, 2008.  Identification of molecular and genetic mechanisms which govern neural stem cell function during embryonic development.  Generation and characterization of novel transgenic mammalian models which recapitulate the etiology and pathology of neurodevelopmental disorders. Email:

Kevin Finneran, Associate Professor in Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences, Ph.D. University of Massachusetts at Amherst, 2001. Biodegradation and bioremediation of organic and inorganic contaminants, characterization of combined microbial and chemical reactions for remediation applications, altering microbial physiology via extracellular electron transfer for production of biofuels, and microbial ecology. Email:

Xiuping Jiang*, Professor in Food, Nutrition, and Packaging Sciences, Ph.D. University of Maryland, 1996. To develop novel methods for rapid detection or inactivation of foodborne pathogens in food and farm environments. To investigate the microbiological safety of fresh produce production using compost as soil amendment and organic fertilizer. To determine the emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance in human pathogens and commensal bacteria in food production system. Email:

David Karig*, Associate Professor in Bioengineering, Ph.D. Princeton University, 2007. Synthetic Biology, Systems Biology, Microbiome Analysis and Engineering. Develop and ruggedize 'cell-free' protein expression systems for in vitro synthetic biology applications (sensing, remediation, therapeutics).  Analyze and engineer bacterial cell-cell communication and consortia. Understand microbiome systems, e.g. the human skin microbiome. Email:

Matthew H. Koski*, Assistant Professor,  Ph.D. University of Pittsburgh, 2015. Evolutionary ecology of plants with a focus on floral coloration and mating systems; abiotic drivers of floral diversity; plant-pollinator interactions; responses to global change; influence of biogeography and evolutionary history on reproductive diversity.  Begins in Fall 2019.  Email: 

Harry D. Kurtz, Associate Professor, Ph.D. University of Idaho, 1989. Microbial ecosystems living in the deserts of southeastern Utah. Develop management tools for use by the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service for the maintenance and care of parks and monuments in the area. Develop methods to aid efforts to stabilize coastal dunes in South Carolina. Email:

Christopher L. Parkinson*, Professor in Biological Sciences and Forestry and Environmental Conservation. Ph.D. University of Louisville, 1996. Genomics, evolution of biodiversity, molecular evolution, phylogenetics, systematics and taxonomy. Primarily study snakes and other vertebrates. Email:

Kara E. Powder*, Assistant Professor, Ph.D. Washington University in St. Louis, 2011. Genomic basis of craniofacial diversity; evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo); population genomics, quantitative trait loci mapping, and bioinformatics; utilizing natural variation in cichlid fishes to understand human disease. Email:

Samantha A. Price*, Assistant Professor, Ph.D. University of Virginia, 2005. Biodiversity and Macroevolution. Evolution of Vertebrate Form and Functional Diversity. Phylogenetic and Computational Approaches. Paleontology. Email:

Margaret B. Ptacek, Professor, Ph.D. University of Missouri-Columbia, 1991. Speciation; animal behavior and mating systems; population divergence in fishes; conservation genetics. Email:

Charles D. Rice, Professor, Ph.D. College of William and Mary, 1989. Comparative marine immunobiology, with a special interest in the immunobiology of fishes. Veterinary immunology. Molecular and cellular aspects of neuroendocrine-immune interactions. The ontogeny and phylogeny of tumor immunology. Immunotoxicology. Email:

Vincent P. Richards*, Assistant Professor, Ph.D. Nova Southeastern University, 2010. Comparative genomics, transcriptomics, population genomics, and phylogenomics of human and animal bacterial pathogens; focusing on their evolution, adaptation, and response to different environments and hosts. The study of human and animal microbiomes. Email:

Emily Rosowski*, Assistant Professor, Ph.D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2013. Host-pathogen interactions in zebrafish. Email:

Michael W. Sears, Associate Professor, Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania, 2001. Physiological and behavioral ecology with an emphasis on thermoregulation and energetics; responses of organisms to climate change; computational modeling; evolutionary ecology; landscape ecology. Email:

Anna M. Seekatz, Assistant Professor, Ph.D. University of Maryland School of Medicine, 2013. Interactions between infectious diseases and the gut microbiota; fecal microbiota transplantation; Clostridioides (Clostridium) difficile. Email:

Salvatore A. Sparace*, Professor, Ph.D. University of Wyoming, 1980.  Biochemistry and physiology of higher plant plastids, especially the metabolic interactions in the functions of plastids in fatty acid biosynthesis, nitrogen and sulfur assimilation, and starch synthesis and degradation.  Model plastid systems include developing soybean somatic embryo plastids, germinating pea root leucoplasts and spinach leaf chloroplasts. Email:

Lesly A. Temesvari*, Professor, Ph.D. University of Windsor (Canada), 1987. Molecular and cellular mechanisms that govern the biogenesis and function of endosomes and lysosomes; cellular and molecular biological approaches used to investigate the role of several small molecular weight Rab GTPases in endosomal and lysosomal membrane and protein trafficking and in pathogenicity of the protozoan parasite, Entamoeba histolytica. Email:

Matthew W. Turnbull*, Associate Professor, Ph.D. University of Kentucky, 2001. Insect gap junctions; insect immunity and development; insect virology; studies of insects and symbiotic organisms including pathogens.  Email:

T-R. Jeremy Tzeng*, Associate Professor, Ph.D. Clemson University, 1998. Evaluation of nanoparticle compositions for their ability to neutralize microbial pathogens. Evaluation of phytochemical compounds for antimicrobial and anti-tumor activities. Email:

Peter van den Hurk, Associate Professor, Ph.D. College of William and Mary, 1998. Toxicology of environmental pollutants in aquatic ecosystems; effects of mixtures of contaminants on enzyme systems responsible for the detoxification of pollutants; fish species as relevant models and effect indicators for contaminated field situations; metabolism of toxicants in liver cells and intestinal subcellular fractions; cytochromes P-450, sulfotransferase, UDP-glucuronosyltransferase and glutathione-S-transferase. Email:

Yanzhang (Charlie) Wei, Professor and Associate Chair, Ph.D. Ohio University, 1996. Cancer immunotherapy: Dendritic cell mediated cancer immunotherapy. Cancer gene therapy. Novel approaches for targeted cancer therapy. Email:

Christina E. Wells*, Associate Professor; Ph.D. Pennsylvania State University, 1999. Tree physiology and genomics; computational biology and bioinformatics; plant stress physiology; belowground image analysis and fine root demography. Email:

Xianzhong (George) Yu, Associate Professor, Ph.D. Ohio University, 1998. Molecular and cellular mechanisms of tumor angiogenesis. Gene therapy targeting on tumor angiogenesis. Establishing tumor models through transgenic technique. Tumor therapeutic agents screening. Email: