Faculty Research

As a matriculated MS 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.

Shana Caro, PhD

Dr. Caro researches how evolutionary conflicts shape social behavior. Specifically, she studies how birds divide resources among their offspring, and how offspring attempt to influence that division through begging signals. For her research, she uses a combination of fieldwork, comparative studies and theoretical models. Her lab aims to identify sources of evolutionary conflict, investigate how conflict shapes behavior and determine the hormonal and neural mechanisms controlling social behavior.

Tandra Chakraborty, PhD

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

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: 1) What kinds of bacteria are capable of bioremediation, and how do these bacteria survive in environments contaminated with hazardous waste? 2) What are the structural changes that affect the stability, catalytic efficiency and substrate specificity of the proteins involved in metal resistance? 3) How has horizontal gene transfer played a role in the evolution of metal resistance and other environmentally relevant traits?

Michael D’Emic, PhD

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. His research has also found that some dinosaurs replaced teeth as fast as sharks and that some undertook long-distance migrations. In addition, Dr. D’Emic has done research on prehistoric flowering trees.

Matthias Foellmer, PhD

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

Dr. Freeman’s research interests are in marine biology, evolution and ecology of marine organisms, biology of invasive species, predator-prey interactions, kelp aquaculture and oyster bed restoration.

Alexander Heyl, PhD

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 for these studies.

Lawrence Hobbie, PhD

Dr. Hobbie does biology education research, with recent projects including the effects of exam correction assignments on student learning, how to teach students effective learning strategies and the role of genetics and genomics in undergraduate nursing education.

Natalia A. Prado-Oviedo, PhD

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. By doing so, 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 and lowland gorillas.

Alan Schoenfeld, PhD

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

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

Dr. Villa-Cuesta is interested in how genes and environment influence aging and disease. 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

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

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

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