Biology faculty recognize the complementary roles of teaching and research in educating students. We believe that research is fundamentally important to the growth of the faculty and the teaching vitality of the department.
In 1989, former Department Head Dave Sever and current Department Head Chris Beachy disagreed with one another regarding the evolution of the “mental [or chin] gland” found only in a select group of salamanders. However, they have been friends and colleagues since 1989 and, when Beachy arrived in 2013, decided to update their analysis. They have discovered that the story is more complicated than either ever supposed in the first place!
Luke Bower, a biology graduate student discovered that the place a fish chooses to occupy is very reliably predicted by the fish's shape. This pattern exists even among unrelated species of fish, which is an idea that was formerly disregarded. The discovery was made possible by the powerful use of gene sequences and the geometric morphometric tools that were used in a new way.
Diego Elias, a member of Dr. Kyle Piller’s research team, was recently awarded with “Best Student Paper” at the fourth Latinoamerican Symposium of Ichthyology. Diego works on a fish called the “threadfin shad” in Mexico and uses molecular biology tools to understand the reasons for the unusual distribution of the this fish in Mexico.
Dr. Janice Bossart is spending two years serving the U.S. scientific community as a Program Director at the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NSF selects only a few scientists to these prestigious and time-consuming positions. Bossart’s role is to coordinate the review of grant proposals to the NSF, which funds hundreds of the finest research programs in the world.
Biology Professor Roldan Valverde is following in historic footsteps. He recently became the Scientific Director of The Sea Turtle Conservancy. The first director was Archie Carr, who is the most important turtle biologist of all time. Valverde is a perfect fit for this tradition given his unique combination of skills as a turtle conservationist and an endocrinologist.