Student Research

As a biology student, you have the opportunity to undertake guided research in the laboratory or in the field under faculty supervision. To receive credit, you must first contact a specific faculty member and arrange to perform research with them. Then, you must register for the appropriate research course.

For undergraduates, if you plan to fulfill your capstone experience requirement by completing a research thesis, and/or are seeking honors in biology, you should take Guided Research (BIO 498) followed by Guided Research: Capstone Experience (BIO 499). If you are looking to get research experience and are unsure of whether you will continue, you can begin with Guided Research in Biology (BIO 497) and have the option to continue in your research either with BIO 498 (thesis not required) or with BIO 499 (thesis required). Note that by taking these courses, you are required to present your research at the end of each semester in the Biology Department Undergraduate Research Seminars.

For graduate students, if you are planning for or are in the thesis track, you should take a pre-thesis course (BIO 790 or 791 or 792 or 793), followed by two semesters of thesis research (BIO 798 and BIO 799). If you are planning for or are in the non-thesis track, you can still do research on a voluntary basis (subject to approval of the faculty member who will guide you) or for credit (BIO 790 or 791). If you are matriculated in our MS Biology program, feel free to contact the faculty below to ask them about their research.

Faculty Research

As a biology student, you have access to many resources, perhaps none more important than our leading faculty. Experts in their fields, our faculty members are consistently performing research around the globe. Here are their stories.

Hannah Cates, PhD, Assistant Professor

The Cates lab studies the epigenetics of addiction using bioinformatics and molecular biology. The main focus of the lab is on the noncoding portions of the genome, previously called “junk DNA,” and how these regions are affected by drugs of abuse.

Tandra Chakraborty, PhD, Professor

Dr. Chakraborty focuses on three chief issues in the interplay between endocrinology and neurobiology: Changes in the estrogen receptors with senescence, Changes with obesity and The action of estrogen in the glucose homeostasis and apoptosis of cell in tissues subjected to hypoglycemic conditions.

Jonna Coombs, PhD, Associate Professor

Bioremediation is the use of living organisms (usually plants or bacteria) to clean up environments that have been contaminated with hazardous wastes. Dr. Coombs’ research in heavy metal bioremediation focuses on three major questions: What kinds of bacteria are capable of bioremediation, and how do these bacteria survive in environments contaminated with hazardous waste?, What are the structural changes that affect the stability, catalytic efficiency and substrate specificity of the proteins involved in metal resistance? and How has horizontal gene transfer (HGT) played a role in the evolution of metal resistance and other environmentally relevant traits?

Michael D’Emic, PhD, Assistant Professor

Dr. D’Emic studies the evolution and ecology of dinosaurs and other reptiles. Each summer he leads fieldwork expeditions to dig up dinosaurs and other extinct animals in the western USA. He also studies how bones and teeth grow at the cellular level in a variety of animals.

Dominic Evangelista, PhD, Assistant Professor

Dr. Evangelista is an evolutionary biologist interested in how insect biodiversity originates through evolutionary processes. Current research aims to infer phylogenies using genome-scale data, map biological trends over evolutionary histories, and improve upon phylogenetic methods. Past research has explored palaeoentomology, tropical community ecology, niche evolution, and species delimitation. View The Roach Brain Lab for biodiversity studies through molecular systematics.

Matthias Foellmer, PhD, Professor

Dr. Foellmer’s research interests include the evolutionary consequences of anisogamy (in particular the evolutionary significance of sexual dimorphism, gender roles, and sexual conflict), as well as the ecology of Long Island salt marshes, focusing on anthropogenic effects such as habitat fragmentation and pollution. Dr. Foellmer uses spiders and insects as model organisms.

Aaren Freeman, PhD, Associate Professor

Dr. Freeman’s research interests are in marine biology, evolution and ecology of marine organisms, biology of invasive species, predator-prey interactions, phenotypic plasticity and trait-mediated indirect interactions.

Alexander Heyl, PhD, Associate Professor

Dr. Heyl works on the evolution and function of signaling pathways. In particular, he is interested in the origin and in the molecular mechanisms of the signal transduction pathway of a class of plant hormones called cytokinins. Wet lab experiments and bioinformatics analysis tools are used towards these goals.

Lawrence Hobbie, PhD, Professor

Dr. Hobbie collaborates with Dr. Alexander Heyl in studies of the function and evolution of genes and proteins in the signaling pathway of the plant hormone cytokinin. Dr. Hobbie is also investigating teaching practices among the science faculty at Adelphi, and implementation of evidence-based instructional practices.

Natalia A. Prado-Oviedo, PhD, Assistant Professor

Dr. Prado-Oviedo strives to bring together various research disciplines (e.g., behavior, endocrinology, genomics, proteomics) to better understand the unique physiological parameters of endangered species so that we may continually improve their daily management, breeding, welfare, and conservation, both under human care and in range countries. She has collaborated on research projects with North American zoos to conduct genetic, fertility and welfare assessments on over 80 zoo held species. Dr. Prado has active research with African and Asian elephants, Cuban crocodiles, Andean bears, sloth bears, brown kiwi, and lowland gorillas.

Alan Schoenfeld, PhD, Professor

Dr. Schoenfeld performs research on cancer genetics, in particular the class of genes known as tumor suppressor genes. His investigations have centered on uncovering the normal cellular function(s) of the protein products of the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor gene.

Aram Stump, PhD, Associate Professor

Dr. Stump’s research involves the evolution of genes. He has studied how the iron-binding protein lactoferrin evolved to have an antibacterial activity in certain mammals. He’s also mapped the evolution of an important part of eukaryotic RNA polymerase II that is involved in the regulation of gene expression.

Eugenia Villa-Cuesta, PhD, Associate Professor

Dr. Villa-Cuesta is interested in how genes and environment influence aging and disease, and her research uses Drosophila melanogaster and cultured cells to study the molecular mechanisms by which nutrition influences life span and health span.

Andrea Ward, PhD, Interim Associate Provost for Student Success

In her research, Dr. Ward incorporates evolutionary biology, functional morphology and developmental biology. She specializes in the evolution of the elongate body form in fishes, and she has examined the developmental origin of body elongation as well as the effect of body elongation on locomotion.

Benjamin Weeks, PhD, Professor

Dr. Weeks focuses on the effects of xenobiotics on the cellular mechanisms of development and disease.

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